Mrs. Langsdowne has invited you to tea at her country estate. You replied with a yes after receiving her card because society expects this of you. You did your duty even if you can’t stand the sight of that vile woman. However, now that all of the party guests have arrived and the water has boiled, the wealthy Mrs. Langsdowne has gone missing and is soon discovered murdered. All of the guests, including you, are suspects. The constable is on his way and wants all the guests to stay there. Even though there has been a murder, there is no reason to waste a good tea party. Plus you can try to deduce who the murderer might be over a hot beverage and finger snacks.
What Is Elevenses: The Guilty Party?
Elevenses: The Guilty Party is a card game for 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 30 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $15 for a copy of the game. This pledge also includes 5 Elevenses: The Guilty Party handkerchiefs which are a direct exclusive. There is also a pledge level called the Tea Trolley where you can get the entire series of four Elveneses games together in a bundle for only $55. This includes the original Elevenses, Elevenses: Tea for Two, Elevenses for One and of course Elevenses: The Guilty Party. Elevenses: The Guilty Party was designed by David Harding and published by Grail Games, with illustrations by Stephanie Böhm.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
Elevenses: The Guilty Party Components
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.
- 6 Guilt cards
- 5 Guest cards
- 55 Tea party cards
- 1 Sugar bowl card
- 5 Plates
- 30 Suspicion cubes
- 1 Starting server card
- 5 Player aid cards
There are four guilt cards with a cup of tea on them, one with a bottle of poison, and one with a knife. They are used to designate the murderer for the game.
Each player gets a guest card which they reveal when they have played the unique combination of cards shown on the guest card. Revealing their guest card gives a player two points toward morning tea.
Players each receive tea party cards numbered from 1 to 11 with their own unique china pattern on the back. Cards may have teaspoons in the corner which add to the score for morning tea if they have been played. Each card also has an action that the player may choose to use after playing a card.
The suspicion cubes are like sugar cubes that are placed on the sugar bowl card. Players can move the cubes to the plates that each player has in front of them during the game to represent the amount of suspicion the other players have that they are the murderer.
The server card is used to designate the player who goes first. The player aid cards contain a list of all the various actions on each of the tea party cards as well as where those cards can be played.
How to Play Elevenses: The Guilty Party
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
Each player is a guest suspect in a murder and all have a motive and are without a good alibi. The goal of the game is to put the most suspicion cubes on the plate of the player who is the murderer. The player who is the murderer must try to avoid having the most suspicion cubes at the end of the game.
The sugar bowl card is placed in the center of the play area with all of the suspicion cubes placed on top of it. Each player is then given a plate with an additional plate set near the sugar bowl. This last plate is for Mrs. Langsdowne, the victim of the crime. Give each player a player aid card as well as eleven tea party cards with matching backs. Players shuffle their cards and then place eight of them face down in two rows of four to create their spread. The remaining three cards form a player’s hand. The player can look at their hand, but cannot look at the cards in the spread nor in other player’s spreads. Next players are each dealt a guest card. They may look at this and then place it face down in front of them. Now the guilt cards are placed into a pile with one teacup card for each player and either the knife or poison card included. Shuffle them and deal one to each player with the final card placed near Mrs. Langsdowne’s plate in the center. Players may look at their guilt card but do not reveal it to other player’s unless an action allows them to do so. Finally, the player who looks the most suspicious, or randomly selected, is given the starting server card and also places three suspicion cubes on their plate. The player to the left of the starting player places two cubes on their plate and everyone else gets one cube. A cube is also placed on Mrs. Langsdowne’s plate as well. You are now ready to begin the tea party.
Elevenses: The Guilty Party is played with each player taking a turn and then the next player. During a turn a player can either play one tea party card from their hand to their spread or make one or two re-arrangements to their spread.
Playing a Card
When a player chooses to play a card from their hand, they must place it in the spot that matches its number. Cards 2 through 9 are placed onto the eight facedown cards already in the spread while cards 1 and 10 are placed off to the side. The elevenses card can only be played later in the game once certain conditions have been met. If placing a card on a facedown card, place the card from the hand faceup in that spot, and then take the facedown card into your hand. Placing a 1 or 10 actually reduces the number of cards in your hand since there is not one to pick up from those spots. If you have placed the third tea party card shown on your guest card, you can must flip over your guest card to reveal who your identity and give you two more points at the end of morning tea. Finally, the player must carry out the special action listed on the card they just played. The may require you to place suspicion cubes, move cubes, cause everyone to pass a card to the right or left, peek at someone’s guilt card, swap guilt cards, and even look at another player’s hand and swap a card. When placing cubes, you can also place them onto Mrs. Langsdowne’s plate if you think she committed suicide.
Make a Re-arrangement
Instead of playing a card, a player may instead take one of the cards in their hand and swap it with a facedown card still in their spread. The other players do not get to see the card placed face down in your spread and the replaced card comes into your hand. Since the card is placed face down into the spread, it can go into any spot, not just the one where you would have to place it face up. A player may re-arrange once or twice during their turn.
The game ends when someone plays the elevenses card. This card can only be played once a player already six face-up cards in their spread. Also the elevenses card cannot be passed or swapped. Once the elevenses card is placed, the tea party is over. Players then count up the number of teaspoon on their face-up cards in their spread. The two teaspoons on face-up guest cards are also included in the tally. The player with the most teaspoons has the most valuable morning tea and takes three cubes from the sugar bowl into their hand. The second most valuable tea gets one cube. For four or five player games, the second most valuable tea gets two cubes and third place gets one cube. In case of a tie, the person that played the elevenses card wins or the player closest to the left of that player. Now, starting with the one with the elevenses card, players who took cubes into their hands take turns placing them one at a time on whichever plate they want until all cubes have been placed.
Once all cubes have been placed, the player with the most cubes on their plate reveals their guilt card. In case of a tie, both players reveal their guilt cards. If one of them has either the poison or the knife, then the player with the least amount of suspicion cubes is the winner. If the player(s) with the most suspicion cubes are innocent, then the player that is the murderer reveals their card and they win. They avoided being arrested and got away with murder. The winning or losing person could be Mrs. Langsdowne if she has the guilty card.
Why You Should Play Elevenses: The Guilty Party
Elevenses: The Guilty Party is a very fun game to play. I was actually surprised at the depth of the game. While the rules are fairly straightforward and a player’s turn is spent trying to get as many points for their spread, the actions that you must play on the tea party cards, as well as when to play them, really add some thinking to the game. If you are the murderer, you want to make sure you don’t have the most cubes on your plate at the end of the game. However, you also don’t want to try too hard to get rid of cubes or you might be suspect. Plus with some actions allowing you to swap guilt cards, whoever started out as the murder may not be at the end. I found the artwork on the cards and plates really create the illusion of an actual tea party. Since a game of Elevenses: The Guilty Party only lasts about 30 minutes, it makes a great starter for game night or play several games back to back. I really enjoy the simplicity of the gameplay mixed with thoughtful strategy, all wrapped up in the beautifully illustrated theme of having morning tea with a group of people who are all suspects in the murder of their hostess. I recommend helping support this game by making a pledge for Elevenses: The Guilty Party. At only $15, you may want to get a few extra copies to give as gifts since this is a great game to add to any collection.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Elevenses: The Guilty Party Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.