Review: The Babysitters Club Mystery Game
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Year: 1992
Tagline: Create Your Own Mystery Story as You Uncover the Clues!

The Babysitters Club Mystery Game box cover

how we met

Similar to the last review, I met this game at the Chicago Toy Show in spring 2017. We were introduced by a sensible man who understood the value of the games he had brought with him to the show. When I agreed to buy four of his games, he allowed me to purchase them for $2 each. And, oh, it was fun to drag them around until finally getting them to the car.

I had never read The Babysitters Club series when I was young, so the attraction for me was not related to this subject matter. However I am a sucker for mystery, detective, deduction and spooky games. I am also a sucker for 70s, 80s and 90s nostalgia. This game brings me a little of column A, a little of column B.

how it plays

This is a roll and move deduction game. And a pretty light one at that. Each player chooses to represent and choose descriptive words for either the WHO, WHAT, WHERE or WHY of a given incident. The object of the game is to deduce which two descriptive words each player has chosen, as well as complete four babysitting jobs. I use the term incident deliberately because crime seems too strong for the context of the game. Although ours ended up pretty horrific.

Close up of money, babysitting tokens and the yes/no token

Close up of some components


It is important to note that the game comes with little grease crayons that allow you to write on just about everything in the game for tracking purposes. It’s pretty great.

Here is the set up:

        1. Step 1: Decide which players represent the WHO, the WHAT, the WHERE and the WHY of the incident
        1. Step 2: Choose which babysitter you plan to be (this step is in no way important to gameplay)
        1. Step 3: Collectively decide the high level information of the incident. That’s right, your goal is not to solve the mystery. You start out knowing (deciding even) the WHO, the WHAT, the WHERE and the WHY of the incident by all agreeing and then marking them on the Mystery Case sheet
        1. Step 4: Finally each player spins their mystery-wheel until they are happy with two of the words describing whatever that player represents: WHO, WHAT, WHERE or WHY. These words must remain secret

The word choices will result in four numbers being shown on your mystery-wheel, which represent the houses where you must complete babysitting jobs before you can make an accusation in the game. You add tokens to these houses to reflect where you need to travel throughout gameplay.

Word wheels showing descriptive words like Smoky and Special

The descriptive words we chose


The remainder of the game involves roll and move to complete babysitting jobs (and collect payment for them) and get the opportunity to ask your fellow babysitters questions to try and deduce their chosen descriptive words. All questions must be yes / no. Questions are primarily asked using a telephone, so you can ask questions from a house or payphone of any person in a house. The majority of these questions will happen out loud (house to house) so all players can track the information. However, if your young babysitter decides to duck into a phone booth for privacy then you may have the opportunity to gain information that other players do not by asking a public question but getting a private answer (phone booth to house). From a phone booth you can question any one player in a house, but no one can question you in a phone booth – because no one has your phone number! Duh!

If you roll the BSC side on one die then you may choose to call a Babysitter’s Club meeting. If you roll BSC on both of the dice then a Babysitter’s Club meeting is mandatory: all babysitters must immediately move their pawns to Claudia’s house for a meeting. If they wish to ask questions of each other they must also pay club dues. (Note: only those able to pay dues may ask questions. No money? No progress.)

Dice showing 4 and 3

These dice have seen better days


how it went

The Babysitters Club Mystery Game is pretty straight-forward so we were able to get through set-up quickly. Only one of our party was familiar with the books, and even she chose her babysitter persona based on looks (Kristy has a look to her).

A large part of this game revolves around creativity and it can be embraced or not. Most people struggle ideating in a vacuum, and even the most creative minds I know excel with some directions or limitations to narrow their focus.

Mystery case card showing word choices

The narrative anchors

We already knew that this incident involved a ghost, money, curiosity and a hayride. We expanded on these narrative anchors with some additional details right from the start. Pretty gruesome ones, if I’m being honest. This had a couple of direct impacts on our play: for one, it introduced our dark humor into the game. For another, it gave us an edge when guessing by asking ourselves not just which words would this person use to describe the vague incident we defined on the Mystery Case card but what would this person use to describe the incident that we already elaborated on?

The instructions of the game encourage you to ask very direct, simple deduction questions such as, “Was the money expensive?” (expensive being a potential descriptive word for WHAT). This approach is fine and often necessary; you ask a single question and either confirm or deny a single possibility. However if you word questions carefully you can wipe out multiple possibilities at once and still stick to the technical rule of a yes / no question.

That said, it is important to pay attention during the game and frame your questions carefully. Otherwise you may end up architecting complex questions that ultimately do not result in any information. This type of question can be done as a gamble if one or the other answer results in a great deal of information. But a careless question can gain you no information regardless of the answer. Being annoyingly literal, as I am, can be handy in this game.

We had fewer private questions than would probably make the game interesting, largely due to the luck of the roll. If you decide to try this game out, make sure to beeline for those payphones. And when you get there make those questions count!

Towards the end of the game, I had all of the words I needed before the other players did because they were just missing mine. Unfortunately I was not able to escape my babysitting job (exit a house) before the end of all of their turns, which was enough time for them to collectively determine my words. By then it was a race to babysit. Ugh.

Game board showing pawns and babysitting tokens

Stoneybrook in all its glory

When the game was complete and all descriptive words were revealed, we followed the instructions and collectively described the incident in the necessary detail. In the right crowd this is actually rather fun. Kind of like improv’ing.

One point of criticism is that this game relies too heavily on color and is unfriendly to players with color blindness or sight limitations.

play or pass

Play. Even having never been familiar with the details of the book series this was a decent deduction game. It relied on the skill of asking questions so it felt like a mixture of deduction and word game. The option of creativity is also a nice break because it doesn’t put you on the spot but allows you to really fill in the details of what you are solving if you would like to. I can see this game being campy fun for the murderino crowd, where one can draw on their collective knowledge of true crime to really paint a picture. Perhaps even asking your fellow players to guess the suspect based on your details of the crime.

This is not the best deduction game you will ever play (hopefully), but if you find it in the wild it is well worth picking up if your group appreciates deduction, storytelling, nostalgia or true crime!

Full disclosure: I enjoy any game that allows me to call my friend John by the name Mallory