Many of us love watching mystery films and thrillers where there is an elusive character that we can’t quite figure out. We will look for clues, observe them closely, and question every move they make. Once the truth is revealed, we’ll stare at the room and tell them, “I knew it!” even if we were only 80% sure.
Unsolved Case Files allows us to put ourselves into the movie and jump into a murder mystery where we’re in charge of figuring out all the clues. It’s up to our friends and us to figure out which newspaper clipping is essential, what suspect has a weird alibi, and just what evidence is important.
It’s a truly unique style of a board game that allows players to get out of their comfort zone and truly put themselves in the shoes of a detective. Here we will break down Unsolved Case Files and everything you need to make the most out of every clue.
Unsolved Case Files – A Quick Overview
- Players: 1-8
- Recommended age: 13+
- Playing time: 2-6 Hours
The Unsolved Case Files is a series of cold case files that require players to uncover clues to discover who the real murderer is. Every case has a different file, but it all plays pretty much the same.
Each case has a different set of suspects and multiple files that relate to the case. Players need to work together to solve three different objectives that will lead them to the killer.
Once one objective is completed, players can open an envelope that will lead them to more clues and new objectives. The third objective usually requires players to uncover who the real killer is.
The concept of Unsolved Case Files is to allow players to step into the shoes of a detective and uncover the truth about a case that has gone cold. They get all the materials left behind by the old detective, including any leads and clues.
There are no actual instructions on how to play the game. You’re simply given all these pieces of evidence that you and your friends will need to piece together to come to a conclusion.
There is usually A LOT of evidence. So it’s usually helpful if all the players devise some sort of plan of attack to help them come to a conclusion.
The first time I saw an Unsolved Case Files evidence pile, I was overwhelmed! There are newspaper clippings, journal entries, case files, suspect files, pictures, physical evidence, and sometimes even a few items to throw you off the trail.
Here we will examine every step you need before launching your detective career in Unsolved Case Files and the best strategy you and your friends can use to uncover who the real killer is!
Aim of the Game
The aim of Unsolved Case Files is simple, find the killer! There is no real winner in Unsolved Case Files besides justice. This means that it is highly recommended you work together with your friends! There is no reason for one person to venture out on their own and try to be a lone Sherlock Holmes.
Unsolved Case Files are supposed to promote communication between you and your friends. There is so much evidence that you will truly need it if you hope to make sense of anything! So work together! Unless it’s just you!
Unsolved Case Files can definitely be played by just one person. Pour yourself your favorite drink, put on some mystery music, and prepare for an evening full of self-doubt, lies, and murder!
How to Play
Solving an Unsolved Case File requires players to properly set up their workstations to their liking. Here we’ll teach you how to set up your evidence, play with friends, and investigate the case files to successfully uncover the killer.
When you set up an Unsolved Case File, there aren’t too many things you need to do, unlike most board games.
For starters, you’ll need to open up your package to reveal your case file and evidence. Lay out all the evidence in front of you and the other players. From here, there should be a few extra envelopes that instruct you not to open them until completing objectives 1, 2. and 3. Set these to the side.
Among the evidence will be a letter addressed to you explaining the situation. Read this out loud to everyone in the group.
There should also be a card that reveals what your first objective should be. Read this out loud to the group and keep it to the side.
Now you are ready to begin gameplay. I was surprised at how simple it was to set everything up too! But once you start looking for evidence, you’ll realize why you need all the time you can get when it comes to the actual gameplay!
How to Play
There is a very straightforward set of rules to follow while playing Unsolved Case Files.
- Do not open any envelope with requirements on it. This will reveal new clues that you should only be aware of once you’ve familiarized yourself with the case and reached the first objective.
- Read every piece of information available to you.
- Once you think you’ve found the answer to the objective, follow the website link to test your theory.
- Repeat until you’ve completed Objective 3.
Investigating the Case Files
Here is where things get interesting. There are no turns in Unsolved Case Files. What you are given instead is a task that everyone must fulfill together. Usually, this task will require players to find two pieces of evidence that will help them uncover the question presented in the objective.
To uncover what these two pieces of evidence are, players will need to read through every piece of evidence. This includes various newspaper clippings, police documents, evidence, pictures, physical items, and suspect files.
It can be daunting because there is a lot of reading to be done. But there are ways to make it a lot more manageable.
Start by reading all the suspect files and witness statements. These are important because one of these suspects is the real murderer. So you need to learn what each of these people had to do with the individual.
You will find that some of them will have clear motives for wanting the victim dead. Other suspects will have close ties to the victim but will be surprised that they had anything to do with it.
Oftentimes, you’ll find that one suspect is guilty, but another helped in some way. This is why it can get confusing to get the written pieces of evidence.
You think you’re certain of something, but suddenly you find a new piece of written evidence, and you’re all confused again. This is why understanding everything you read is critical.
After you have a good understanding of the suspects, then it’s time to search through all the witness statements, crime scene pictures, newspaper clippings, and photos.
Somewhere in there is something that contradicts someone’s alibi. Usually, the first objective you need to discover is where the body was hidden, where the murder weapon is, or if there is something missing from the crime scene.
Developing a Theory
Once you’ve investigated the evidence, it is time to start developing a theory. This will allow you to narrow in on certain pieces of evidence that relate to a few of the suspects and not have to constantly read every piece of evidence every single time.
Below you’ll find a few strategies for developing a theory depending on if you’re alone or with a group.
What I recommend doing is assigning the different suspects to different players. These players are in charge of reading the suspect files, observing any case files, and reading the witness statements that are tied to these accounts. The most important thing to look for is any alarming details about the character’s alibi.
Once each player has read through their suspect and their files, the search begins. Everyone needs to now comb through the different pieces of evidence until they find something that correlates with their suspect.
For example: If Ben said that he used a small boat to cross the river at night, but a small newspaper clipping reveals that the river was closed that night, then this is important.
These are the sort of correlations that you are looking for. Make sure every piece of evidence is passed around so that everyone can take a look! If you do find something, make a note of it and pass it around so everyone can see it.
There can be more than one clue, after all. Once everyone is satisfied with everything they’ve read, it is time to share any information you may have found with each other.
From here, you can begin to put together a theory on who the actual killer may be.
Solo play can be a lot more difficult simply because there is much more evidence to go by. I recommend having a journal handy to take notes of every suspect. Then go through each suspect and read their files.
Here is all the information you should detail in your journal while going through the suspect files:
- Write the name of every suspect in your journal. Give yourself either a whole page or half a page per suspect.
- Write down what their alibi is.
- Make a note of their witness and how they confirm the alibi.
- Observe what their relationship was with the victim.
- Find a motive. Every suspect should have some sort of motive, or else they wouldn’t be in this cold case file. Remember, the old detective narrowed it down to these suspects. There must be a reason why.
- Any strange details from their statements or witness statements.
Now that you’ve gone through the suspect files, it is time to comb through the evidence. Go through every piece of information. When there is mention of a suspect, note it in your journal. If there is ever something that correlates with an alibi in any way, note it in your journal.
Remember, this is about collecting information and discovering who the real killer is. You need to uncover clues that weren’t seen before. To do this, you need to make sure you are leaving no stone left unturned.
Once you’ve got all your clues, then you should be able to form a theory about what went down and why the victim was targeted.
Completing an Objective
To complete the objectives, you’ll need to find two pieces of evidence that pack up your theory. Finding these two pieces of evidence can be difficult, but it all relies on what your theory is.
Let’s say you believe the victim was targeted due to their social standing. You should look for two pieces of evidence that confirm the envy of others and confirm that the victim was high on the social ladder.
In this example, we could use the list of exclusive clubs as one piece of evidence. On the other, we could use a letter that the suspect wrote to a friend that was left behind. These are the type of things that you need to be looking for.
Once you think you have found two pieces of evidence that match your theory and solve the question the objective asked, then go to the link provided and submit your findings. Here you will immediately find out if you were right or wrong. If you were incorrect, then keep searching and come up with a new theory.
But if you were right on the money, then it’s time to uncover some exciting new clues. Once you’ve completed the second objective, then it’s time to put a nail on this case and find the killer.
Find a Core Suspect
This is where things get interesting. Now that you have a theory, you need to find your suspect. To do this, you need to begin completing objectives and unlock some hidden clues that weren’t available to the past detective. Thankfully, at this point, you should have already completed at least one of the objectives.
Look at your suspects and narrow it down to two after obtaining the new evidence from Objective #2.
Solving the Case
Once you have your suspect, it’s time to solve the cast. This usually means completing Objective #3. At this point, you should have opened the envelopes for completing Objective #1 and Objective #2.
This new information is critical in helping complete the case. Make sure you are scanning everything for items you might need. Usually, you’ll need at least one item from the new envelope to solve the case. Sometimes the new information is meant to elevate information you had from the beginning.
Whatever the case is, you’ll need to find the two or three pieces of evidence that you believe point to your final suspect and theory. Once you do, input them the same way you did the past objectives.
You’ll instantly find out if you are right or wrong. If you are wrong, look at your evidence and think about why it may not be the right one. It’s possible that you may have missed a key detail and that not all of your evidence was wrong.
Best Strategy for Unsolved Case Files
There are a couple of strategies that players can use to help them find clues in Unsolved Case Files. As a veteran detective myself, I’ll list out what I like to do when I get stuck. These are strategies that help, especially once I’ve already found the first objective.
Keep Notes on Every Suspect
This is important because there are so many pieces of evidence. Keep notes on every suspect, and you will start to notice that a few of them will have longer lists than others. Also, make a note of any motive. This is important because it will help you look for reasons the suspect would be around the victim.
Look For Contradictions in Alibis
Finding any faults in a suspect’s alibi is important because now it allows you to focus on where they actually were during the time of the murder. It also allows you to rule out suspects that have a strong alibi.
Most of the time, you’ll be able to confirm/disprove an alibi by reading deeply into the witness statements or anything that has to do with a location. This could be a receipt, pictures of an address, or so on. Anytime a piece of evidence has anything regarding a location, observe it carefully! It is usually very important!
Reread Witness Statements
Witnesses always have something important to say. A lot of the time, they’ll lead you to another suspect on the list for whatever reason. Sometimes it can also appear that these witnesses are covering up for the suspect. Make sure to note any suspicious statements. Rereading them can help you find clues that you missed before.
Newspaper Clippings Are a Gold Mine!
Newspaper clippings always offer important information about the city and any important figures. Usually, there will be one or two suspects on your list that will be mentioned in the newspapers.
This is usually important! Make a note of it. Also, look for any construction, parades, or events that will have closed off part of the city. This is helpful because it could discredit someone’s alibi.
Who is Unsolved Case Files For?
Unsolved Case Files is a board game that can be enjoyed by almost anybody, but due to its themes, it is recommended that only people 13 and older play.
This board game can also be enjoyed by both Solo and Group Players and requires very little instruction or prior knowledge to really get the hang of it. Up to eight players can enjoy this game to its full extent.
If you have more than eight players, then it is recommended you split the case up into parts since having so many people might leave someone without any materials to discover.
It can also be hard to coordinate a team of more than eight players. I think the sweet spot for Unsolved Case Files is four to five players. That way, everyone can get their own suspect and focus on that.
How Many Pieces are in Unsolved Case Files?
There aren’t any set number of pieces to Unsolved Case Files. Every cold case file has a different variety of evidence.
The only pieces that every Unsolved Case File has in common are:
- An envelope containing over 50 different pieces of evidence, photos, and documents
- Three Bonus Envelopes
- An introduction letter to the case
- A list of every piece of evidence
The different kinds of evidence that players may find in their envelopes include:
- newspaper articles
- crime scene photographs
- evidence reports
- phone records
- coroners reports
- fingerprint cards
- map of the crime scenes
- legal documents
- suspect interrogations
- witness statements
- character photographs
- physical evidence
There are also unique pieces of evidence that are sometimes included that aren’t listed here.
How to Turn Unsolved Case Files Into a Competitive Game
If you have a group of more than eight players, then it is recommended you split the group into two teams with two different case files. Once you’ve decided on the teams then, each team must race to see who can solve the Unsolved Case File first.
The team that solves its case first is declared the winner. But the losing team should continue until they’ve also found out who the killer was. The winning team should not join them since it defeats the purpose of the game!
All the Currently Available Unsolved Case Files
Here is every current Unsolved Case Files board game that you can purchase:
- Harmony Ashcroft – was found dead at her rehearsal dinner!
- Jamie Banks – fell to her death at school!
- Max Cahill – the new dean, was found dead in his office!
- Jane Doe – body, found on a remote island!
- Buddy Edmunds – used salesman sale gone wrong!
- Veronica Falcone – go back in time with a murder that took place after WWII!
- Zoey and Avery Gardner – one twin murdered, the other abducted, and the old detective went missing!
- Honey the Bunny – a family case!
Alternatives to Unsolved Case Files
When recommending games similar to Unsolved Case Files, I decided to split it up into two different factors. On one end are the board games that are easy to pick and play with large groups. If you have a group over and you just want to cut out the rules and get to play, then these are perfect!
On the other hand, we have two board games that will satisfy any mystery thriller craving you have. Except these are a little more complicated than Unsolved Case Files.
Easy Board Games to Pick Up and Play
Monopoly is a fantastic game to bring out at a party and one that everyone already usually knows how to play. The only drawback is that it can also cause some fights to break out since it is very easy to make your friends angry.
The whole objective is to bankrupt your friends and take all their money for yourself. All while buying everything you can to ensure that they constantly have to pay you.
- Players – 2-6
- Recommended age – 8+
- Playing time – 60-120 minutes
Check out a complete guide to Monopoly here!
Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity is not as tense as Unsolved Case Files, but it will satisfy any large group that you have over to play games. Up to 20 people can play! All you need is a sense of humor.
Cards Against Humanity is all about bringing out your dark humor and being the funniest player at the table. Players take turns reading funny prompts that other players must answer with their own cards. It can lead to some truly outrageous combinations!
- Players – 4-20
- Recommended age – 17+
- Playing time – 30-90 minutes
Check out a guide to Cards Against Humanity Bigger Blacker Box here!
Wits & Wagers
Wits & Wagers is a trivia game that you’re able to play with anywhere from 3 to 20 different friends! The whole object of the game is to obtain the most points by placing bets on the different answers on the board.
Get the correct answer, and you had a successful bet! It’s a trivia game where being the most knowledgeable isn’t always the best. You need to take risks. Especially with some of the questions you’ll find in Wits & Wagers.
- Players – 3+
- Recommended age – 6+
- Playing time – 25-90 minutes
You can check out a complete guide to Wits & Wagers here!
Mystery Thriller Board Games
13 Dead End Drive
13 Dead End Drive brings the beauty of a murder mystery to a highly competitive roll-the-dice style board game. In 13 Dead End Drive, the story centers around a feud that breaks out after an old woman leaves her will to her family.
To ensure they get the best part of the will, every member of the family will do their best to take out each other. This means that to win, all you need to do is survive. But sometimes this can be a lot harder than you think!
- Players – 2-4
- Recommended age – 8+
- Playing time – 60-120 minutes
You can check out our complete guide for 13 Dead End Drive here!
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detectives
If Unsolved Case Files makes you feel like Sherlock Holmes, well, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detectives actually puts you in the shoes of Sherlock Holmes as you chase some of the most notorious criminals around the world.
It’s perfect if you’re looking to take the next step in your detective career after Unsolved Case Files.
- Players – 1-8
- Recommended age – 9+
- Playing time – 90+ minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can You Play Unsolved Case Files by Yourself?
Answer: Yes, you definitely can play Unsolved Case Files on your own! Just make sure you have some great music, snacks, and your favorite drink because it can take solo players anywhere from 2-6 hours to complete an Unsolved Case File on their own!
Question: Can You Replay Unsolved Case Files?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. You will not be able to replay an Unsolved Case File. Not unless you have some sort of memory wiping tool! Once you discover who the murderer is and all the objectives, they will remain the same for every playthrough.
It is best to donate it to a friend so that they can enjoy the game next! Just make sure you remember what clues were meant to be in the envelopes, and don’t lose any evidence!
Question: Are Unsolved Case Files Based on Actual Events?
Answer: No, Unsolved Case Files are not based on actual real-life events. Unsolved Case Files are complete works of fiction but do take inspiration from many different case files.
Unsolved Case Files – Is It Worth Buying?
Yes, absolutely. Unsolved Case Files is a great time with friends. If you have a group that is looking for an enjoyable evening full of mysteries, then Unsolved Case Files is perfect.
Unsolved Cased Files is great for a small group or for groups of up to eight players! This means that no one is left out of the fun, and everyone can participate in some shape or form.
It’s also a lot of fun to just lose yourself in the case and work towards something together. It helps build bonds with your friends, and it can also be very interesting to see how the different suspects act throughout the evidence.
Even if you are a solo player, this can still be an enjoyable experience because it allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a detective that needs to discover who the murderer is to put the case to bed.
Overall, it’s a great experience and one that we definitely recommend. Just make sure you set yourself up for success! Sometimes it can be frustrating for players that can’t seem to find that one piece of evidence to get them to the next objective!
But just follows the tips that I presented in this guide and you shouldn’t run into that problem!
What’s more, every Unsolved Case File is different. So even if you’ve played one before, it doesn’t mean that you’ve played them all. Each case brings its own unique twist to the formula and includes a cast of characters that you’ll definitely want to dive deeper into!
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