Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game was one of my top 10 games from 2018 (just barely missing out on the top spot). So of course, when 3 more cases dropped for Detective, I jumped at the chance to play them! This time though instead of being set in modern times, the time line shifts back a few decades to that quaint period known as the 80’s. So grab your slap bracelets and tight roll your jeans as we review Detective: LA Crimes.
Cue the synthesizer music because all the components in LA Crimes have some nice 80s flair to them. The photos have that grungey, faded style you’d expect from a picture taken with your old 110 cartridge camera. In fact, the expansion comes with a new, dual-sided game board to replace the original one. Interestingly, this board only has 4 locations (vs 5 in the core game), so that should save players some time with less traveling. On a related note, there is a typo on the back side of the board. The name Blake should be Brown I believe.
Also included were three new cases. Much like the core game, each case is a stand alone experience that are connected with a much larger overall plot. Since this takes place in the 80s, and there was no internet yet, so the technology skill is not used in the game. Players won’t be hacking into anything to find out info on their suspects, the’ll be using old fashioned surveillance techniques.
In fact, the Anteres Database has actually been given a facelift for these cases. Gone is the slick, modern interface and replaced a with a blue screen command prompt. Personally, I would have preferred the cream spinach color of the old Apple IIe computers, as the blue constantly reminded me of the blue screen of the death instead of a DOS prompt.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
I’ll try to keep this one as spoiler free as I can. But if you were a fan of Detective, then chances are you’ll enjoy LA Crimes. The cases have a similar flow as the ones in the core game, so expect to be creating your mind map and digging into leads just as much as in the original. In fact, you’ll be in similar time crunches, so don’t expect to be able to follow up on every lead you can. Going with your gut is just as important here as in the core game.
Interestingly, I found that Authority Tokens were used much more in the expansion than the core cases. Without giving too much away, expect to have some options to do some less-than-legal police work in LA Crimes. You’ll know when I’m talking about when you get there, but I found it to be a nice, thematic touch.
Which brings me to the fact that overall, Portal Games has done well to utilize the theme of the 80s in this one. From the components visual style, to the Database reskin, to writing, this one definitely has a solid 80s feel. I almost felt the need to play some solid 80s music as we were playing. Although I should say that I actually preferred the feel of the original cases, as the 80s don’t really appeal to me much as a decade. That’s purely a personal preference mind you, and didn’t diminish my enjoyment of going through the cases.
Speaking of, much like in the core game, the first two cases are, again, fairly straight forward, with the 3rd case take you out of left field with a lot of twists and turns. I actually had a much harder time with this 3rd case than the core one. This one expected you to juggle a LOT more balls at the same time, and it was bit too much for me. I really struggled to keep my head around this one. So I would have preferred a bit more streamlining. Although I do appreciate the break from the standard format.
Finally, what’s interest about LA Crimes is that it’s almost a stand-alone expansion. It reuses some tokens from the core set and that’s about it. If you’ve already gotten rid of your core game, you could potentially proxy the tokens and be able to fully enjoy LA Crimes.
LA Crimes slots in nicely as more content for Detective, which I have been eagerly waiting for after blasting through the 5 core cases last summer. While the 80s theme wasn’t really my cup of tea, I do apprentice Portal Games giving us something different instead of just dumping a few more standard cases on us. I could really see them having a lot of fun with thematic expansions to the system (Cthulhu Mythos investigation please!).
If you were a fan of Detective, then picking up LA Crimes is an easy decision. The cases are just as good as the original, and the new spin on the game is a fun way to approach it. There is very minimal in the way of new rules, so expect to be able to jump right in to LA Crimes and start playing.
• Nice thematic touches.
• Mechanics adjusted to fit the time period.
• More cases!
• Typo on the back of the game board.
In the core game, the overarching narrative plots were exceptional but the scene-setting on the lead cards was abysmal. So much pointless minutiae about coffee drinking. Has the expansion improved in this respect?
I’d say the scene setting was about on par with the core game.
I strongly agree with Mat. We have, in fact, started to leave out all those boring bits pretty soon, and reading improvised summaries instead. I get that police work can be tedious (just as any other kind of work), but writing about it still could been done more interesting… or at least shorter.
The big story arc is interesting though (core game) which made me curious about this one.
The official description of the game actually says the interner is available to use in the entire game, instead of only on keywords.