Skip to Content

Provoking the "law and order" feel

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/31/1969

So my wife wants me to design a detective game for her, like Clue, but different and able to be played with only two players.

I know she's a huge Law and Order buff, and I want to stick to mechanics that, without adding chrome or flavor text, provoke the same kinds of feelings that watching Law and Order provokes.

Here are some of my ideas:

There are several Witness spaces, each with a differing number that represents their willingness to talk to you. Each Witness space has an Interview card face down on it.
By paying some resource inversely proportional to the witness' willingness to talk, you get to look at the Interview card and put it back, face-down, on the space.
The card has either a No Relevant Testimony (x5), a Lead!(x4), or an Eyewitness Testimony (x1).
Getting a Lead! might give you another turn, and part of the win condition is being able to flip over the Eyewitness Testimony card on your first try.

The middle part of the board is removable, and there are 12-18 different Crime Scenes you can put into the middle slot, each of which has about 12 items pictured in it. As the game progresses, the players draw Search cards, each of which has three items pictured on it. By matching items in the Crime Scene to items on the Search cards, the players collect Clue tokens.
1 match on a card - 1 Clue token
2 matches on a card - 3 Clue tokens
3 matches on a card - 6 Clue tokens.
Part of the win condition is having at least 12 Clue tokens.

Anyone have any other ideas (or changes to these ideas) to help my wife get her Law and Order fix from a board game?


Joined: 12/31/1969
Provoking the "law and order" feel


Sorry, I don't watch that show.

Live long and prosper, Qundar out.

P.S. Personally, I find it annoying how many different Law and Order or CSI shows they come up with (of course, others could say the same thing about my fav: Star Trek).

Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Provoking the "law and order" feel

Essence wrote:
So my wife wants me to design a detective game for her, like Clue, but different and able to be played with only two players.

This is a neat problem! I don't have enough time to think it through right now, but one idea comes to mind: what if you made it a two-player non-collectible card game?

I suggest this because deduction games with two people are often slow and once you've played a prepackaged crime a few times, you might find an optimal solution to beat it. The following "design sketch" allows one person to create a new crime and act as the witnesses and perps being investigated, which should mean that no two games are ever alike.

One person plays the "L&O" side, investigating with 2 police officers and 2 officers of the court (DA and assistant DA).

The other person plays the "bad guys". The "bad guys" construct a crime from an assortment of cards: clues, locales, witnesses, and perps. There might be a trade-off in the sense that the more of these cards used to describe the crime, the harder it is for the "bad guys" to defend them, but the more are needed to finally solve the crime (i.e., convict the perp).

After assembling the crime cards, game play begins. Players use decks of Action and Event cards to expose the crime cards (L&O side) or hide it ("bad guys"). The 4 L&O characters each have a special ability they can use, but you have only so many actions in a turn, so you can't go crazy with those, etc.

There is a limit on game length. If the L&O guys convict before the game ends, they win, otherwise the "bad guys" win.

I hope something in there is useful.


Joined: 08/13/2008
Sounds like a good option for a cooperative game.

I'm going to just ramble here. Maybe some useful ideas will fall out.

First, it sounds like a good cooperative game idea. The players against the game, or more likely against the clock. As time passes, it becomes more difficult to catch the criminal, or they just escape after a certain amount of time.

I envision a sort of branching tree. Evidence leads to a person or location with more evidence or useful information. The problem is representing the tree without actually showing it to the players.

Maybe a booklet to go with the board? Maybe cards like the Lord of the Rings movie games? (OK, so they are bad games, that doesn't mean you can't use an idea from them to make a GOOD game.)

I'm going to follow this idea. You start with a crime scene and get three cards: A body (physical evidence), a neighbor (witness) and info about the victim. Each of these has a card and some options. Maybe give different investigators different skills, like "Betrayal at House on the Hill". You pick your approach (1-3 options) and make a roll. Given the option chosen and the result of the roll, place another card next to the original. Have an arrow for each option.

For example, The body has one option: Examine or Collect Evidence or somethign like that. So, you put a counter for your investigator on that card and roll their "Examine" skill. The card says on a success place card #23 (Fingernail Cuttings) and on a failure place card #14 (nothing found).

This gives the option to have red herrings, where you follow a trail but it leads nowhere.

Maybe have a way for the trails to cross. Put the whole thing on a grid, so two starting points can lead to the same evidence or person later on. Use tiles instead of cards.

Charge one turn to move from one 'thread' to another. You have a certain number of turns to figure out the mystery or the criminal escapes. Or maybe an 'escape track' that drops by one each turn, but certain actions can make it move faster, like the Sauron track in the good Lord of the Rings game.

I know I'm mentioning a lot of existing games. 90% of creativity is intellectual property theft.

Anyway, with a 4x4 or 5x5 grid, you should be able to lay out a pretty good story. If you go 5x5 and use 4" or 5" tiles it should fit fairly easily on the average table with plenty of room for graphics and a fair amount of text. Maybe put the big descriptions in a booklet. (I am kind of hung up on booklets right now. Comes from liking "Betrayal at House on the Hill" so much.

Anyway, that's that. Hope something in there is useful.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Provoking the "law and order" feel


I may not know much about L&O, but I have played a good detective/mystery game called 221B. Baker Street. It's a Sherlock Holmes game where you all agree on a random mystery to play (numbered 1-20, and you can buy expansion packs each with 20 more) and it's just a little card with a quick description of the mystery. It gives a few clues and locations, and gets you started on the solving of it. Then you and your opponents start going around London to places like Scotland Yard, the paper, the apothecary, hotel, etc. And at each place you look at the mystery card which has a number for each place, then you look in the booklet that comes with the game and look up the number, which gives you a clue (each mystery has different numbers for the places). And you gotta piece together the clues, and when you think you have it solved, race back to 221B. Baker St. and then declare what you think is the sollution. If you are right (determined by the player looking it up in the book), you win, if not, you keep the true sollution a secret and you are out of the game.

Hope this helps.

Live long and prosper, Qundar out.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut