Review: Ace Murder Mystery Pirate Edition

Rating: ★★★☆☆
www.acemurdermystery.com

Rum helps us drink like pirates, costumes help us dress like pirates, and music helps us sing and dance like pirates. But there’s just not much out there that helps us ACT like pirates. Enter Ace Pirate Murder Mystery – you and seven-to-nine of your dearest friends get together to act like scalliwags, eat-drink-and-be-merry, and ruthlessly accuse each other of the most diabolical murder of Captain Kidd. Who could ask for more?

I was unsure what exactly a murder mystery party entailed, but when the package arrived I found a great deal of the work already done for me. 10 party invitations inluded an introduction to the game and ideas for how each character should dress for the evening – all I had to do was add a time and date, and figure out which character I thought would best suit each of my friends. Also provided was an instruction manual for me, the host, telling me what to do (and what not to do – no good peaking at something I shouldn’t, and thereby spoiling some surprises,) along with character-specific instruction booklets, secret clues, 2 CDs (one narrated, the other effective mood-setting background sounds), and name cards (just in case we forgot who was who.)

The evening began with my guests arriving to be seated around the dining room table, which I’d appropriately decorated with a parrot, pistol, and coins (leftovers from Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course.) This game is designed to work around a three-course meal, so once everyone was settled we poured the wine and started on hors d’oeuvres as we all opened our character booklets for the first time. The booklets informed us of who our characters were, what was known about them, and what secrets they carried. Once we were comfortably familiar with our new personalities, we commenced introductions, and then played the first track of the narrated CD, which would serve as our guide for the evening.

The speaker on the CD, Mr. Hatchet, immediately sets the tone of the party – his exhuberent greetings and quirky accent provided an odd mix of creepiness and wryly goofy humor. Following the introductory track the party took on a pattern of scripted discussion followed by some questions and answers amongst the guests. These interactions were speckled with clues about the guests’ secret lives, speculations as to guilt and innocence, and many wildly funny double entendre’s that had the entire group rolling in our chairs. This part of the game did get a little confusing at times, however, as the booklet was sometimes meant to be read aloud in script form, while other times addressed the reader directly. This didn’t seriously impact the game, but it did lead to many unintended laughs as readers mispoke, saying “I” when they meant “you” and such. Following the Q&A we were instructed to play another track from the CD, where Mr. Hatchet helped keep things rolling.

This pattern of discussion, questions, CD was repeated throughout the course of the game to make up the bulk of a very entertaining evening. I won’t go into detail, as the fun of such things is in the surprise. Suffice to say we conversated, drank wine, and accused each other of various crimes until we finally reached the point of deducing Captain Kidd’s murderer, with one of two final CD tracks to choose from depending on whether the group successfully guessed the killer’s identity. Alas, at my own party we were all too wrapped up in playing out our parts to pick up on the subtle clues needed to weed out the guilty party. But while we may have failed to solve the crime, we certainly had a splendid time of it. And although most guests wished they could have known more about their own characters in advance, they still easily managed to play their parts and “ham it up” very effectively.

With any game like this, the success of the evening relies partially on the material, and partially on the participants – the creators at Ace Pirate Murder Mystery have little control over the latter (that’s up to you,) but they do an admirable job setting up the former. Gather up some friends with the ability to play along and enjoy themselves, and you’re sure to have a highly enjoyable evening.

(p.s. – Ace Murder Mysteries also offers a Vampire and a Highwayman game – just in case you’re feeling mutinous.)