GDJ Detective – Because we knew why

I always say, and I am dead serious here – Przemek could easily work for HBO writing scripts for shows like True Detective or Rome.

He takes it seriously. Before we wrote all the Cases, before we sat to design all cards and paragraphs, Przemek wrote the whole big story. I mean the really big story. He knew all the details about each character, about their background, motivation, what they did, and why they did it. It was a ton of files with data about the characters, places and the events. It was a script for a great novel. A ton of work.

Did we use all this content in the game? That’s a good question. We didn’t. And yet, somehow we did.


We knew all about those characters and events that happened, and with that knowledge, we were able to write extremely consistent cases and cards. We knew who, we knew how, and most importantly we knew why. When you’ll play the game, you’ll read fluff on the cards, you’ll try to catch all the critical details, and you’ll find only small bits, those some parts that are most visible. You’ll find a small piece that makes sense, and you’ll be doing a great job as an investigator. On the other hand, you’ll miss a dozen other small clues hidden in the fluff. Each card, each file hide a couple of small clues. Each group will find something different.

If you play the second time, knowing the story, you’d find so many more details. That is why – at some point – we even planned to introduce the Game Master mode. The mode in which first you play the game with your friends, and then, you go with your copy of the game to the other group, play with them as a silent observer. You’d enjoy them solving the case, watch them debating, drawing different cards and taking different leads, other than those you draw in your first game. But what is more, you’d have this small booklet with small paragraphs. Each paragraph dedicated to 1 card, each with a small bit, pointing you at the small detail hidden in the card and telling you more about the background story, revealing the behind the scenes events, showing you how, telling you why…

Afterall we abandoned this idea. We were afraid of the feedback, afraid that players would complain about this half-delivered replayability and that instead of being happy with the Game Master mode, they would just see us trying to desperately offer you fake replayability. We decided to kill Game Maser mode.

The official claim – there is no replayability. You solve the case, you are done.
Unofficial claim – I personally believe you could play the game again and find so many new clues and exciting cards and enjoy the experience again. Out of 35 cards on average you see only 20…


One day we might go back to this booklet idea and reveal part of the background story. We might give you tools to look at each case again, with this magic magnifying glass and let you see all the small details that we hide on cards. There is a ton of these small bits, one-sentence clues, or strange words we chose to wink to you…

When I was presenting the game at Niagara Falls there were these awesome moments, one with Jeff, one with Tom, and one with Stephanie. Each of them found a strange word or sentence that get their attention. They didn’t know what’s that, but they felt they found something important. A very tine clue, that – believe it or no – none of my playtesting groups found before.

There is a ton of such crumbs in Detective. We could add them to cards because Przemek wrote the whole amazing story. Because we knew who, we knew how and most importantly because we knew why…

Originally posted on BTTS Blog on BGG Forum. Click here to read there!


We are bookworms. Movie maniacs. Story addicts. We grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Herbert, Dick, Lem… We were watching Willow, Blade Runner, Never Ending Story, Robin Hood…

And yet, we don’t write books… we don’t make movies. We don’t make those things, because we make games. We make games that tell stories.