“The crows saw it all. Who died, who did it, where it happened… even how it was done.”
Atlas Games recently released Murder of Crows 2nd Edition, a quick card game of a murder most foul by Eduardo Baraf and Thomas Denmark where players are trying to be the first to spell “Murder” first. The new edition contains a facelift of the original, with artwork done by Thomas Denmark’s on tarot-sized cards. There’s also a new two-player variant called Murder in the Third, though you can just download the variant rules for use if you already have the first edition of the game.
Murder of Crows starts after removing the reference cards from the deck, shuffling the cards, and dealing 4 cards to each player. The most suspicious looking player is the first to take their turn, drawing a card and playing a card from their hand to the table. The goal of the game is to be the first to spell “Murder” using the cards from your hand. This would be easy if it weren’t for the fact that each letter has a special power that’s used to either help yourself or hinder your opponents’ progress. The card powers are as follows:
- MISPLACE Take any one card of your choice from another player’s Murder and put it in your hand.
- UNCOVER Everyone else reveals their hands to all players; you choose one card from any other player’s hand and put it in your hand.
- REAP You draw one additional card from the draw pile. All “R” cards are interchangeable and can be used in either “R” slot to spell “Murder.”
- DRAIN Choose any letter; everyone else must discard one of that card from their Murder if they have it.
- EXPEL Everyone else discards their entire hand and draws three new cards from the draw pile.
Along with a letter, each card also has a certain amount of crows on it ranging from 1-3. Card powers can be blocked by other players if they discard a card with a matching amount of crows to the card being played. There are also Wild Crows which can count as any letter and can block any card’s power. A Wild Crow may only be used to replace one letter in a player’s MURDER.
Play continues around the table until someone spells “Murder.” and is declared the winner. That player then reads aloud the story of the murder from the blurbs on all their cards.
Murder of Crows comes in a beautiful tin that’s just a bit larger than the tarot-sized deck of cards it contains. Each card is wonderfully illustrated by Thomas Denmark and is wonderfully moody with its combination of blacks, browns, and hints of color. The graphic design aspect of the crows on each card is also partnered with the actual number written on the card for quick reference and ease of play. The included reference cards are also wonderfully laid out and easy on the eyes.
Murder of Crows is an excellent little filler that takes no time at all to learn, contains enough player interaction to keep players interested and involved, and a gloomy humor that just adds to the entire package. The included 2 player variant plays surprisingly well, though the game is best played with 4-5. While the tin says the game plays in 20 minutes it’s really more like 10, even with a full complement of players.
At $12.95 it’s an excellent deal and a great game to give as a gift.
There’s really not much more to say. Murder of Crows is a beautiful little game that’s sure to please both casual gamers looking for something new to try and hobby gamers looking for a great filler.
A copy of Murder of Crows was provided free for review by Atlas Games