Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is Perfect for Video Chat Remote Play

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(Photo: Portal Games)

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is the perfect remote play board gaming experience. As social distancing restrictions continue, many board game players are struggling to find ways to play games with their friends. While virtual tabletop systems like Tabletop Simulator exist and some digital versions of games provide a sort of alternative, there are few board games that are actually suited towards playing over popular video chat systems like Zoom or Bluejeans. However, one board game that actually works well with video chat and remote play is Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, released back in 2018 by Portal Games.

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is a classic "mystery in a box" style game. The base game comes with five scenarios that form an overarching storyline, with each scenario consisting of a set of 35 two-sided cards. The "board" component to Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is limited to a small board with tokens to show the time, the date, and what locations players are at. There are also a limited number of resource tokens that players can spend throughout the mystery to unlock additional clues.

Gameplay in Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is simple. At the start of each scenario, players read the premise from a casebook and are given a few leads, each of which are represented from a different card in the deck. Players have a certain number of days to solve the case, and each lead consumes time (both from travel and from the actual act of following certain clues or waiting for paperwork to process). Each lead card has two sides, many of which can only be flipped over by spending one of your resource tokens. "Digging deeper" on a lead sometimes leads to useful new information, while others lead to frustrating dead ends. Players also gain valuable insight from the online "Antares Database" - a website run by Portal Games that provides lengthy transcriptions of interviews along with evidence analysis.

Even when played at a single location, Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is more about deduction than it is about resource management. Players are encouraged to take notes and to take on certain roles in order to help keep track of the many moving parts involved in a case. That's why Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is actually great for playing over Zoom - an unlimited number of players can access the online Antares Database, and players simply need to pay attention to the narrative and put clues together to solve the mystery.

There are a few ways to "maximize" your remote play experience, either through the use of multiple cameras (a phone camera aimed at the board can help players keep track of their remaining in-game time) or a shared Google Doc to keep notes. I would also recommend that the person who actually owns the game take photos of lead cards so that other players can re-inspect them at their leisure.


Portal Games has some additional tips for playing Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game remotely, along with a free print and play scenario to try out among your group. If you and your friends like solving mysteries and need a game to play on a random night, give Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game a try. The base game is available for $50 (currently on sale at Amazon for $39.56), and the L.A. Crimes expansion is available for $30 (currently on Amazon for $23.99).

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