Thursday, January 7, 2021

Unboxing - Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes' Murder Castle

Blueprint Gaming Concepts is a local Chicago area publisher who just published their first game through Kickstarter.  Fulfillment for Crimes in History: H. H. Holmes' Murder Castle is currently happening and games should be arriving to backers this month.  Brent and Seth over there were generous enough to donate two copies of the game for the Extra Life Charity Auction this past November and they sent along an additional copy for me to review for them.  Last weekend I had a chance to unbox the game in preparations for playing it with my family this weekend.  I can say that we're all excited to play.  We love the idea of combining Action Selection (like in Puerto Rico) with exploring a haunted mansion (like Betrayal at House on the Hill), sprinkled with a bit of (slightly exaggerated) true history.  The stories, both true and fabricated, surrounding H. H. Holmes are fascinating, though a bit dark and macabre.  Holmes may not have murdered hundreds of people in the basement of his hotel, but he did kill quite a few and the hotel was an oddly constructed building, plus his schemes, scams, and fraudulent marriages were disturbingly fascinating.  

You'll be able to read more about my thoughts and opinions on making games based on true, macabre history, in my review, coming in a week or two.  In the meantime, enjoy these photos I took while I opened the box for the first time.  Overall the components are great, however there are a few minor issues.  Whether these are the results of first time publishers, or the manufacturer they chose (GameLand), or a combination, I don't know, but there are a few minor things that could have been done better.  There were also some things that were outstanding.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was that most of the punch boards were individually wrapped.  This kept pieces, especially the larger tiles, from popping out in-transit.  Maybe not completely necessary, but a nice touch.  The boards and tokens are all a decent thickness, the cards are decent quality (though they don't have a linen texture), and the art and printing is clean and clear.  

There are a number of colored cubes that look and feel great, and they're stored in draw-string bags with screen printed logos on them.  I did notice that one of the bags' draw strings were not tied, but that was a simple fix.  There's also a really cool brass plated key to use as a first-player token.

The game comes with seven miniatures; one for each plyer, plus Holmes.  You can also use the included cardboard standees if you prefer (and I had an extra stand).  The miniatures are nice - Victorian characters that match the artwork - though nothing exceptionally amazing.  

Despite the components being pretty good quality overall, I did have a few small issues.  They shouldn't affect the gameplay at all, but they were a little disappointing all the same.  First was the player boards.  When I pulled them out I noticed that they were all a bit warped.  They're double layered boards, so the cubes shouldn't fall off, even with the bow.  Second was the Ferris wheel rondel.  It looks like it was supposed to come assembled, but the top button that allows the arms to spin wasn't connected to the bottom piece.  When I went to snap them together I found that the hole in the arms wasn't large enough for the axel part to push through.  I ended up having to make the hole bigger with a hobby knife.  It's all connected and working fine now though.  Finally, on the punchboard for the 2nd Story expansion tiles the die cut wasn't completely through on all the tiles.  Punching them caused some of the printing to rip off.  Fortunately it was on the frame side and not the tile side of the cut, so I just trimmed the flap of paper and we're good to go.

Finally, the biggest disappointment, was the insert.  It's an oddly designed insert with specific places for some items and various sized wells for other items  Everything fits, but it's not clear at all where anything is supposed to go, except for the minis, Ferris wheel, and player boards.  There's no clear place to put all the room tiles, so they're just resting on top of everything else.  If there's a good way to get everything into the insert securely it would be great to see a guide.  

Like I said though, none of these are issues that couldn't be fixed, nor should they affect my enjoyment of the game.  I've read through most of the rules already and it looks like it'll be an easy game to learn with a lot of excitement and some good strategy.  My family and I are really looking forward to playing it this weekend!

Enjoy the rest of the unboxing pictures!


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