Updated: Apr 10
Partners is a Role Playing game (RPG) for two players who take on the realm of murder mystery – drawing cards to find out what happened and, more importantly, whodunnit!
You had to go waving your gun around . . .
Yes, my dear Geeks and Geekettes you read that correctly, Partners is for two players, meaning it is the perfect game for being stuck in a national lockdown with no-one but your dearly beloved. But as lockdown comes to an end the game Partners is just getting started, with creator Steve Dee of Tin Star Games ready to launch the game on Kickstarter in May.
So . . . if the game isn’t even on Kickstarter yet then why do a review? Early access! (I love my job)
Steve has been kind enough to grant us a sneak peek at the game, and so far I have to say I am on board.
I love RPGs, and this one is no exception. The game has been designed like your own private TV show; each scene is set out in a series of episodes. Episode 1 is your introduction
You and your partner get to meet the world for the first time, like any good cop drama (Sherlock, Castle, Bones, CSI) your first episode is getting to know your characters.
One of you plays the Straight Shooter - someone who plays by the rules, takes their job seriously and gets a real sense of accomplishment from their job. The other will play the Wild Card - the risk taker, the crazy stunts, walking the line of the law kind of character. You’re thrown together on a case, and you may not like each other much, but there’s at least one thing you admire about your partner, that means respect, and a building block of trust.
Once your main characters are created, you can create four additional characters who will be involved with your story somehow. Now, ordinarily more characters would either be played by more players, or by a Games Master (GM). In Partners the additional roles are split between you, though if you’ve a friend who is new to RPG and wants to “sit in” then playing a supporting character in Partners is an excellent way for them to dip their toes.
These additional characters will help, or hinder, your characters as they play through each of their episodes, they might be the Precinct Chief, an informant, the CSI-know-it-all that brings you your evidence, or the killer in disguise!
Once your cast and crew are lined up, it’s time to play.
As a murder mystery, each episode brings you new clues and new information. It’s up to you and your partner how to turn this information into a narrative. You are both writing the story as you go along, each episode adding more clues and twists, until you eventually find the culprit.
Each Episode you come up with suspects and clues on how you want the story to progress. But you don’t have to have the devious mind of a killer to come up with the perfect crime, the game can help and guide you.
It was all just a terrible, terrible mistake, I never meant to shoot him!
With the game you need a stack of playing cards. For different areas of the story, you can draw a playing card and have the game lead the way.
Example in play: You and your partner are talking suspects, you decide that the husband is a fair choice (because statistics say you’re more likely to be killed by someone you know than a stranger) but you also know that good cop shows have more than one suspect, so you draw two cards to find out who your next two suspects will be.
You draw a 10 of clubs and 7 of diamonds. These relate to a Sibling, and a Boss respectively. Now maybe so far in your story the victim is an only child and is self-employed, it doesn’t mean your random cards are useless, oh no, we all have a friend that is like a Brother or Sister to us (Mr Chris The Founder), and few of us are privileged enough to be our own boss from the start, so maybe it’s an old boss who is jealous at the victim’s success? Ooohhh jealousy is a powerful motive. Speaking of . . .
What was the motive? Now if you binge watch cop shows like I do, then you probably have some ideas lined up, but if not, fear not, for the draw of a card can help you here too. Drawing a 10 means it’s all a big conspiracy (I tip my foil hat) or a Queen means it was all just a terrible, terrible mistake . . . *cough* sure *cough*
In Partners you take it in turns to lead the story, as the Wild Card do you get angry that the case clues are random? . . . “They have no meaning, how is anyone to put this together? I’m heading to the pub...”
As the Straight Shooter are you frustrated by the Wild Card’s behaviour? . . . “We wouldn’t be in this mess if you’d waited five minutes like I asked you to, but no, you just had to wave your gun around!”
Take it in turns to guide the story, until you find out the real culprit.
Now, I’ve played D&D, Shadowrun and a host of the other big RPG games out there. They all have their own game mechanics, some you need a PhD in maths but for Partners the set up is easy and straight forward. I love the card mechanic and the tables that are provided as easy look ups.
In addition to the cards you can also use a random word generator (the book gives a few suggested links) and this can also add to the very random clues you encounter. In my random word generator, I got “Orange” as a clue . . . was my perp wearing an orange hoodie or do I just need the extra vitamin C? I decided that my suspect is a horticulturalist and grows Calamondin oranges as house plants, the plant’s crushed, white blossoms were left at the scene.