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    Review of STORM OF '76--A MURDER MYSTERY GAME by John W. Savage

    Valhalla Productions, LLC

    Reviewed by Cathy Richard Dodson (see her website)

    Valhalla Productions is an online company specializing in Murder Mystery Party games. One of the recent offerings, Storm of '76, offers party-planners a chance to host a different kind of evening. While some murder mystery games center around a dinner, this evening is strictly about the 'game.' The setting of this particular game is a fictional town called Viceburg, USA where, on the night of the worst storm in its history, a terrible murder will take place. When a shrewd and powerful technology mongrel becomes the victim of an unspeakable crime, the players must follow the clues to discover the identity of his killer-his boozing son, the mother of his illegitimate child, his bookie, or any of a host of others Herman has abused in his climb to success?

    This mystery is set up for 13 primary players and 6 secondary players, and the best part about these games is dressing up and getting into your character. This one provides roles for a bigger group than traditional murder mystery dinners. After having been purchased from the company's web site, a PDF file is sent to you, with all the information on how to host a murder mystery party. Information on the characters can be sent directly to participants via email, or you can mail it from your package. This game differs from one you might purchase in a traditional way by virtue of its packaging-instead of coming in a box, the material can be printed from your PDF file or viewed on a computer.

    The game is well-written, well-designed, and appears intriguing, I have a couple of problems with this packaging. At $25, these games aren't much-if any-cheaper than what you might buy in the store. On top of that, you have to print the files, which adds to your cost at 80+ pages. The game doesn't include party invitations either- but in keeping with the on-line nature of the game, the game companyoffers to send on-line invitations out for you.

    Other murder mystery games I've participated in involve a cast of characters who are all in the dark about who the murderer is. Part of the fun is unraveling the clues, and in the end, even the murderer finds out their identify along with everyone else. Often, the murder has been committed in advance of-or during play-but the victim remains either unseen or is only a 'prop' in the game. In this game however, both the murderer and the victim know who they are in advance. My preference would be for the murderer to remain anonymous, even to his or her self, and to keep an actual victim out of the play. Having players in these roles might lead to some weird dynamics during the game.

    If you're looking for a mystery game with a large number of characters and an interesting story, STORM OF '76 just might be right for you. The story and characters seem well-conceived, and the game includes everything you need to host a party-and a murder-right in your own parlor!

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/16/06

    Visit to purchase this mystery game

    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

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