Scrutinizing the Lineup

Continuing our recommendations for games to play with family and friends for Games and Puzzle Month and beyond, Lineup is a favorite in my household. Cutely subtitled by MindWare as “the memory game of quick looks and tricky crooks,” it’s really one that requires careful observation more than anything.

Two to six players move their markers around the board by throwing dice to visit six crime scenes – a car lot, bakery, bank, pet shop, warehouse, and wharf – and bring a suspect back to the police station. The “suspect” is a card labeled with the location and a mug shot of a shady character. The card each player draws from a pile of 16 at each location is automatically presumed guilty, but when the player returns to the police station s/he must identify the suspect in a lineup of three cards. If the player is successful, the next suspect will have to be identified from among four cards. With each successful identification, more cards will be added to the next lineup, up to a total of 10.

Players are given just five seconds to look at each card and absorb all the details before the card must once again be placed face down, not to be seen again until such time as another player sets up the lineup back at the police station, trying to hide the suspect among the decoys. It seems easy, and sometimes is. Eight of the car lot suspects show the same red-haired woman with long hair and eight show her with shorter hair. If you know your suspect had short hair and the two other suspects randomly paired with her for the lineup have long hair, you can find your suspect easily from among them. But if all three have long hair, then you must look closer. Did she have pouty lips? A crooked nose? A pointy chin? And when the number of suspects in the lineup add up to five or more, it becomes trickier. “Lucky Break” cards may win you another look or a direct return to the police station or a chance to trip up your opponents.

Another layer of difficulty is added if a player collects several suspect cards before returning to the police station, because then s/he must remember subtle details on multiple faces. Confident or experienced players can elect to start their line-up with six suspects in the line-up instead of just three, and move up from there.

This game represents a fun way to work on your concentration and observational skills. It’s also easy to give someone a head start by giving him a chance to look at all 16 suspects for one crime scene before beginning so that he can get a sense of the subtle differences he’s expected to recognize. Practice tends to improve performance, too.

To order LineUp from Amazon, click here.

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