I'll be honest the The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber looked really off putting, in fact I didn't want to play it. But I'm so glad I did. The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber is published by Beyondwordsgames.
It's an induction game, yes you read that right, its not a deduction game, its an induction game in which you are trying to through pattern recognition and inductive reasoning, work out the correct rules, with the aim being to make the most money.
One player plays as the gallerist, who knows the rules for puzzles, whilst the others are presenting drawings that they are trying to use to understand the correct rules. The gallerist uses the artist manifesto to document the rules and these could be as simple as have more black circles than white circles or something like have more triangles than squares. To something more complicated like only counter clockwise spirals.
The gallerist presents one correct drawing and the other players use this to draw as many drawings as they like over 6 rounds, which the gallerist will then assess and secretly mark as either original or fake.
But but here's the twist, after 6 rounds you'll then be presenting your best artwork for other players to guess whilst you guess theirs. You'll be looking to correctly guess as many as possible whilst scoring as few mistakes as possible, and of course being able to corrrectly guess the rule, which is determined by effectively a threshold of mistakes. As rules can go from simplest, to unique concepts which may make it hard to define word for word.
So you may have already worked out the rule, but if you present a gallery full of perfect artwork, where's the trickery in that? And maybe you think you know the rule, but you might want to squeeze out a few more drawings to test other theories to ensure you know how to spot a fake.
And that is where The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber comes into its own, its not necessarily a game of needing to fully understand the rule, its a game of being close enough to be able to fool and trick your opponents with your almost right but ever so slightly wrong artwork. And that is where the hook is, the catch, the thing that'll keep you coming back.
Most games of a similar nature say "hey here's a logic rule, be the first to guess it", or "everyone else has the logic rule, you don't, can you hide in amongst all the other players". The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber says, "hey you might know the rule, great! But don't give away too much" and that balance of gaining knowledge and sharing that as misinformation in the form of effectively knock off artwork is masterful.
And for me this is a party plus game, it sits above the likes of that's so clover, or just one or a fake artist goes to new york. And steps it up in terms of strategy, depth and puzzling. But I'm doubtful I could get this game to the table with say my family, I suspect for them its a little bit too much. Even for us, first time round the wording and explaination of the rules and effectively scoring, hurt my brain. And I suspect for my gamer friends, that first beginner game might be enough to scratch an itch, before progressing onto the intermediate game, in which it feels like The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber borrows from Dixit in that you want to be helpful, as you want people to be able to know the rule, but you don't want everyone to be wrong or right. There's also an expert mode, where the gallerist can change rules and it just adds more! I didn't try the expert mode.
I'm honestly feeling a bit mixed on the name and artwork, as that's what put me off. It didn't give me a welcoming vibe, in fact it made me want to run a mile, and when I introduced my friends to "Hey we're gonna play The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber" the response was a bit of a "sorry, what?"
As you know I rate games on a:
- Buy or play
- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ
For me this sits on a play if you like Dixit, Mysterium, A fake Artist goes to new york. It's got that drawing, or doodling is probably a better term. Combined with induction, with is in part genuis but also I think can be made or broken by the group sat around the table. I've seen games of Cryptid grind to a halt as nobody got it, in the same way Mysterium has. Admittedly this is all very much a drawing affair, but I suspect with the wrong group, the same thing could happen.
Disclaimer: I was sent a prototype copy to play, I wasn't paid for this content and then sent the game onto another reviewer.
The Strange Forgeries Of Mr. S.C.Rheber will be launching on crowd funding sites soon!