Which of these 625 scoundrels is the real culprit? Mia London, kid detective, is on the case.
What Is Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels?
Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels is a memory-based game for 2 to 4 players, ages 5 and up, and takes about 10 minutes to play. It retails for $22.99 and is available for pre-order now from Iello USA, with deliveries beginning on August 30, and will be in game stores after that. The game has fairly simple rules and relies on memory, players with better memory skills will thus have an advantage, something to keep in mind when pairing adults or older kids with younger kids.
Mia London was designed by Antoine Bauza and Corentin Lebrat, published by Scorpion Masque (and distributed in the US by Iello USA), and illustrated by NIKAO.
Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels Components
Here’s what comes in the box:
- 4 Investigation Booklets
- 40 Accessory cards:
- 10 Hats
- 10 Glasses
- 10 Moustaches
- 10 Bowties
The accessory cards are coaster-sized square cards; each deck has 2 copies of each of the 5 possible versions of that accessory. They have different colors for the card backs and background colors, as well as a highlighted icon on the backs, to make them very easy to sort out. (The differences in the accessories are not color-based, so the game is color-blind friendly.)
The investigation booklets are small booklets with a plastic binding. Inside are four sets of flaps for the hats, glasses, mustaches, and bowties, which can be flipped individually to mix and match portraits of the suspected scoundrels. The scoundrel itself is a goofy purple creature. The front cover has a flap that acts as a bookmark and also shows the five versions of each accessory, and the inside covers have little drawings and other decorative elements that aren’t for gameplay but just add to the theme. The flaps are made of cardstock and seem fairly sturdy, but I would keep an eye on younger players so they don’t pull too hard on them.
The artwork in the game is a lot of fun, but the one thing that felt a little strange is the absence of Mia London herself in the game. You can see Mia on the side of the box and on the rulesheet—she’s a spunky-looking kid with a bag of tricks—but she’s not on any of the game components themselves. On the one hand, I suppose it’s because you’re all supposed to be playing as Mia, tracking down the scoundrels? But it seems a shame not to use this great illustration somewhere in the game itself.
The box itself (which does not have an insert) isn’t huge, though a rectangular box the size of the booklets would have been perfect and reduced wasted space.
How to Play Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to correctly identify the guilty scoundrel from among 625 possible combinations.
Shuffle each of the accessory decks separately, and remove one card from each deck and set them aside without looking at them. This combination of hat, glasses, mustache, and bowtie is the guilty scoundrel.
Give each player an investigation booklet.
The oldest player (or the player with the best memory) is the Chief Investigator and is in charge of revealing the various cards in the decks. The Chief Investigator will flip through each of the four accessory decks one at a time, with an opportunity for players to record their selections after each deck.
The decks are revealed from top to bottom: hat, glasses, mustache, bowtie.
For the hats, the Chief Investigator will lay out the cards into four face-up piles so that everyone can see them (giving a brief pause between each card) and covering up previous cards when they reach the end of the row.
After all the cards have been revealed, each player then secretly uses their investigation booklet to find the hat that only appeared once during the reveal. Use the front flap to save your answer, and close your booklet.
The same process is followed for the rest of the accessories, except that there are fewer piles as you progress: 3 piles for glasses, 2 for mustaches, and 1 for bowties.
After all four accessory piles have been revealed, everyone opens their investigation booklets to show which scoundrel they think is guilty. Reveal the four accessory cards that were set aside during setup to show the correct answer.
The player who correctly identified the most accessories wins, with ties going to the player who identified the lowest accessory.
Why You Should Play Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels
Mia London is a fairly simple game that is basically a test of observation and memory. I had a flashback to playing Mystery Express and trying to narrow down the time of the murder, as one player flipped through a seemingly overwhelming number of clock cards. Fortunately, Mia London only has 10 of each accessory, so it’s not nearly as difficult to keep track of which ones you’ve seen.
The decreasing number of stacks is an interesting twist: for the hats, there are four piles, so five of the cards eventually get covered up but four are visible at the end. By the time you get to the bowties, however, all the cards are dealt into a single pile, so you have to pay close attention. Not only that, but the bowties can be tricky because there are two types of polka dots and three types of stripes, so they’re easy to mix up.
The game is designed for ages 5 and up, and I think will primarily be engaging for those who will find it a challenge to keep track of everything. My 7-year-old daughter was getting 3 out of 4 correct, but my older daughter and I found the culprit each time, and it’s not quite as entertaining if it’s too easy for you. At the same time, the player must want to be challenged, too: if your imperfect memory is a struggle for you, you may not want to be reminded of it by playing a game.
I think the game is a good one for practicing memory and could be a welcome change from the classic matching-pairs memory game for younger kids, and the investigation booklets themselves may also be fun for younger kids to play with, just as a mix-and-match book. However, it’s not really the sort of game you’ll play with a wide range of ages at once. Older kids and adults may not find it quite as appealing.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.