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Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game Overview

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game Overview

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game Overview

Welcome to our Game Overview for Portal Games excellent Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game.

In our overview, you will find a spoiler-free description of the game, along with details of the components and gameplay. Our Game Overviews strive to be informative and impartial.

If you want to find out HOW to play this game, read on. If you are interested in knowing what we think, check out our Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game Review.

The Game – Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is a fully cooperative game for 1- 5 players and is suitable for ages 16 & up due to the nature of the content in the game. Detective is considered a Campaign game and is played over five sessions, each having you solve a different case. Each case is related, and how you solve one case will impact subsequent cases. Detective, as the name suggests, is a game of deduction. You will have to use your interpretation skills and reading between the lines to figure out which clues are important and which aren’t. As members of the Antares National Investigation Agency, it is your task to unravel the mysteries and save the day.

Game Components

  • 5 case decks of 35 cards each 
  • 1 Game board featuring the five locations in the game, along with a day and time tracker
  • 1 Casebook – contains the introduction to each case
  • 5 double-sided character tiles – one side has investigators, the other side has consultants
  • 17 skill tokens – 3 Tech, 3 research, 3 perception, 3 questioning, and 5 wild
  • 30 character tokens – 15 Authority tokens, 10 Stress tokens, and 5 used ability tokens
  • 5 Special tokens
  • 3 wooden markers

Game Setup

In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, it only takes a few minutes to set up. You will first need to go to the Antares Database website and create a free account. An account is required to play. Then you will start the campaign with Case 1: The Man with a Golden Watch

To set up this case, you will take the Case 1 deck out of the box. Do not shuffle or look at the cards and place them on the table. Then Set out the board and place the wooden investigation team token on the Headquarters, the wooden red calendar token on Day 1, and the blue clock token at 8 am.

Each Player then chooses one investigator to play the double-sided character tiles and a used ability token. Each character has a unique ability and several tokens listed on the card. Once all players have selected a character, flip the remaining tiles to the consultant side. Add all tokens from the investigators you chose and the consultants you flipped to a general pool of tokens.

You may want to also have a notebook and pen as taking notes and comparing what you have found are essential aspects of the game.

Finally, open the Casebook to Case 1 and read the introduction. At the end of the introduction story, the game will tell you if any additional setup is needed for this story. Often this includes adding reminder tokens to the board and stress tokens to the pool.

Game Play

In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, you are detectives trying to unravel the mystery. In this section, we’ll go through HOW you do that.


Like any good detective, you will need to follow the clues and leads to advance your knowledge of the story. Leads give you a ton of information, but also at a cost. They take time to complete. After reading the introduction, you will know how many days you have to complete the case before submitting your final report. Each Lead you follow will take several hours to complete, and picking the correct leads will provide you with the information you need before you run out of time. At the start of the game, the introduction will end with a few leads listed out with a number – the Lead such as “Visit the crime scene” and a location – Fieldwork. The number represents the card in the case deck for that Lead. The location is where you have to be to follow that Lead. You can choose any lead to follow as long as the game directs you to the Lead specifically, and it is not a “Dig Deeper” lead which we’ll detail in a second. Do Not look at Lead cards unless you get a lead to it.

Each Lead is a story and will detail what your investigator is doing at the location; it will also describe how many hours this lead costs. So if the card shows two hours, for instance, you will advance the time tracker by two hours. Also, you will only read the front of the card. Some cards will show an arrow at the bottom of the card, which allows you to flip the card over, or it has a token icon and text about how you can flip it over. You are free to turn over any card you have read if there is an error at the bottom. If there is a token skill icon, read below in the “Dig Deeper” section to learn how to flip the lead card.

Further Leads

At the bottom of most lead cards, you will have additional leads that you can follow. You do not need to follow these leads immediately. You are free to follow these at any time before the end of the case.

Dig Deeper

When a lead card has a token icon, this is “Dig Deeper,” If you have the correct token in your skill pool or a wild token and the team thinks you should flip it over. You take the token from your collection and remove it from play. Then flip the card and read on in the story. If you choose not to or can not flip the card with the “Dig Deeper,” it is essential to note that you will not be allowed to do this action later in the game. The players can review all lead cards they have already uncovered at any time, but only the sides you have already read.

Plot Cards

Additionally, some cards you reveal are colored orange. These cards are unique and pertain to the overall campaign plot, and the game will direct you to the top of these cards to place them with a later case deck. They do not pertain directly to the current case but will become important later in the campaign.

Antares Database

Lead cards also have @Name, @File@Questioning, @Other with either a Name or a number after it. These bold tags are where the online Antares Database comes in. You will log in to the case and search similar to actual police work. 

  • Name will bring up a dossier of the person. The game box also comes with photos of the people you meet, as you will have to figure out how they are all related.
  • File will load up a file for you to read through with more information. 
  • Questioning is a transcript of an interview you have with a witness or suspect. 
  • Other is when you may need to look something else up.

Also, on the Lead cards, you may find evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, or trace material such as soil samples. The Lead card will show which it is along with a signature code. Again, you will log in to the Antares database, go to the Signatures section, and choose the type of evidence you’ve collected. 

  • SD evidence is fingerprint evidence
  • SDNA is DNA evidence 
  • SM is material evidence

Once you’ve typed in the signature code, the database will tell you if it has found a match in the system. It will also combine it with other evidence you already found in the current or previous cases. The system will tell you what percentage match your evidence is. Sometimes you will be lucky enough to find conclusive evidence, and the game will ask you to go right to the Final report. It will often give you a percentage match and tell you how it’s related to other evidence.

Write a Report

Once per day at any location, you may write a report to gain one Authority token as a team.

Authority Tokens

Specific lead cards, Investigator cards, and Antares Database information will allow you to spend Authority tokens to perform actions. If you have the required amount of authority tokens, remove them from the game to spend them.


When you question a witness or a suspect, note what they say and how much stress they are under, as indicated in the transcript. People under questioning will have either High, Medium, or Low-stress levels denoted by an HS, MS, or LS, respectively, next to their statements. People under High or Medium stress levels are possibly hiding something from you that warrants further investigation. Take note of this and if there is an opportunity to follow leads related to this, do that!

Browse the Internet

Next to pieces of information either on the lead cards or in the Antares database, you will see words underlined with a wifi-like symbol next to it. This symbol denotes that you can use the internet to look up this bit of information. This game takes place within the real world, and as such many historical events play into the cases. The information you will find while doing these searches will help give greater context to the case and may even help you solve the case directly.

Investigator Special Abilities

Once per day, your investigator can do their unique ability. These abilities range from writing a report to gaining skill tokens by spending authority tokens. Each investigator is different. Once you have used your skill, place the “Used skill token on your character tile to remind you and your fellow players that you have used that skill today. Once the investigation advances to 8 am the following day, you may remove the token and use that skill again.

Time Tracking and Stress

The other aspect of the game is to make sure you don’t run out of time. The game manages this by having lead cards take time. It also costs you one hour to drive from one location to another. So if, for instance, you were in Headquarters and you wanted to follow a lead at the Courthouse, you would need to advance the time tracker 1 hour to follow that Lead. Each working day is from 8 am until 4 pm. During those hours, you advance the time-tracker as usual. Also, as a team, you can end any day at any time and move to the next.

For every hour past 4 pm, you will need to remove one stress token from your pool. If you have 0 stress tokens left, you must submit your final report. The key to the game is to manage your stress. You don’t run out of tokens before the last day of the investigation.

We typically play here at Detective Hawk Games so that we try not to run over 4 pm every day but the last. Then on the last day, we spend all our remaining stress tokens to get to the end of the investigation.

End of Case

Whenever you reach the end of the case, either by submitting your final report or reaching 0 stress tokens, you need to go into the Antares Database and clicking on Final Report. You will answer a few multiple-choice questions about the case, and the system will tell you if you have passed or failed. If you have passed, Congratulations, you are moving on to the next case. If you have failed, you may start the case again and see if you can solve it or continue to the next case. 

One final important note is that you will not be able to follow every lead card for a case, and you will not get a perfect score at the end of each case. Most cases require overtime to solve, and this reduces your final score. 

If you’ve enjoyed this Game overview of Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, we’d love for you to get your copy. We have it in our store, and check it out today!