A smart party game for up to 10 players that challenges you to solve a murder mystery through lightning rounds of deduction and interrogation.
|Alibi||Mayfair Games||Card Game|
In The Box
Party games have a bit of a bad rap in the sense that many of them aim pretty low in terms of complexity, favoring something a big group of people can quickly pick up and play. There’s always room for Pictionary but we’d much prefer a smart “whodunit” like Alibi at our next party. Simple packaging comes down to 78 cards, a pad of tear-off sheets for recording clues gathered during the game, and a set of instructions.
The cards are also minimal in their design, consisting of a name, a color illustration in a very graphic style, and two icons. There are four color groupings, with blue cards showing suspects, green cards showing possible places for the murder, brown cards potential weapons, and red cards the emotion or motive behind the murder. The record sheets are distributed to each player and show the small icon combinations from every card in the game. None of the illustrations are gory, but you may end up answering some interesting questions from younger players wondering how piano wire ends up in the weapon category.
How It Plays
At the beginning of the game, one card from each color category is removed secretly, so not even the dealer is aware of what remains. After a thorough shuffle, all the remaining cards are distributed. It’s worth pointing out that although Alibi is perfectly playable and fun for three players, card management is pretty extreme with less than a group of five.
Our game group ended up relating Alibi to the classic Go Fish in the sense that each round consists of players asking each other questions about cards in circulation. The questions have to be framed in such a way that they can be answered in the form of a number. You can’t ask players to verify whether they have something specific, but you can ask them how many cards of a specific type or series they’re holding or test out a theory by asking players how many in a series of cards they’ve seen so far. Complicating things greatly is a rule that players must pass cards to the left after each round. This makes it difficult to just keep tabs on what each player is holding, since it changes constantly. The upside of passing cards is that you can at least make some assumptions based on what you know you passed off from the last round. Each time you can verify a card is in the game, you mark that card off on your record sheet.
When you’ve marked off enough cards to guess at least three facts about the crime and accuse a suspect, the game comes to a screeching halt. All players write down their best guesses, the mystery cards are revealed, and scores are tallied. Alibi is always an exercise in deductive reasoning, rewarding players who pay close attention to their own cards, and who listen to other players’ questions. Wrong answers are penalized, so guessing isn’t a great strategy. Grab this one for your next big gathering and you won’t be disappointed.
I especially love the social side of Alibi, listening to questions fly as your opponents try to figure out what cards are moving around the table. Don’t expect any easy wins with this one, and definitely resist the temptation to guess just so you can earn that First Accuser bonus.
Taking notes on your record sheet is a good way to keep track of cards you suspect are in the game but haven’t seen yet. The secret to winning is really just asking the right questions at the right times.