Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries – Murder in the West Wing [Review]

Government jobs are murder.

Location:  at home

Date Played: November 15, 2019

Team size: requires exactly 6

Duration: about 90 minutes

Price: $40 per player

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Murder in the West Wing was our third journey with Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries. We aren’t huge fans of murder mysteries in general, but we love doing them with Ghost Ship. Interestingly, we all took Murder in the West Wing very seriously and the result was that we kind of broke the game in an amusing and strangely fun way.

We played these characters realistically by present-day American politics standards. We were all laughably partisan and not a %^&*ing one of us ever openly admitted to wrongdoing (even when confronted with evidence). We all dodged, denied, and generally employed the Shaggy defense (which has a well-developed Wikipedia page).

Left to right, David, Lisa, Amanda, Lindsay, Mike, Andrew - all dressed well and looking silly.
Yes, I did in fact commission that painting… and it is a brutally accurate description of what went down.

The world was burning and we were all protecting our reputations and interests. Each one of us was far more concerned with our own careers and saw the murder as more of an inconvenience. None of us cared about the victim (which was the only significant flaw with the script). It was legitimately weird when we all claimed to know nothing, but we were all so busy covering our own asses and hoarding one another’s secrets to ever confront truth. By the end of the game we had all unwittingly turned Murder in the West Wing into a giant prisoner’s dilemma, and collectively lost in spectacular fashion… which was kind of amazing.

I think that there is a much tighter game within Murder in the West Wing than we allowed, had we followed the prompts more directly. That said, I love that we unintentionally turned this immersive game into an on-the-nose nihilistic microcosm of present-day politics.

If you like the idea of hosting an intimate murder mystery for 6 people, Murder in the West Wing is great… and I have a sneaking suspicion that you will have a different experience than we had – probably because your friends will take this a little less seriously than we did.

Who is this for?

  • Story seekers
  • Sorkin fans
  • Aspiring detectives
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Ghost Ship takes all of the labor and annoyance out of hosting a murder mystery gathering
  • To experience an unusual tale of political intrigue
  • Fantastic facilitation that pushes just the right amount to keep things moving

Story

Five government officials – each embroiled in their own scandals – and a mysterious stranger were summoned to the West Wing to meet with the President.

No one knows why they are all present.

Closeup of an Old Fashion with an orange.
If you’re looking for the right drink to pair with calamitous political decisions, the Old Fashioned is the drink.

Setting

Murder in the West Wing was set and structured exactly as Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries’ Space Smugglers. You can take a look back at that review to learn how they went about bringing a crime to our home.

This time, instead of dressing as space cowboys and space wizards, we wore suits.

Gameplay

As with the setting, you can reference our past review to get a handle on how Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries works.

Left to right, David, Lisa, Amanda, Lindsay, Mike, Andrew - all dressed well and looking very serious.
Serious face.

Analysis

➕ The tale of political intrigue was a fun, approachable theme with easy costuming.

Murder in the West Wing was a 6-player game (no more, no less). This was noticeably smaller than the other games we had played with Ghost Ship. As a result, it felt a lot more intimate. The trade-off was that it didn’t have the same scope, scale, and chaos of the other mysteries we had experienced.

➕ The first act was a gentle lead-in. It was a soft, approachable scene that let us all get comfortable.

➖ For us, the biggest flaw was that none of the characters had a great reason to care about the victim as a human being. The stakes were misaligned. We all had intrinsic motivations that felt generally greater than the murder in question.

➖ Too much of the hidden information was found too early and by the wrong people. This led to character breaks and some general holes in the story.

➕ Our facilitator did a great job of prompting and gently pushing for scenes to unfold… which was good because each and every one of us was slippery and evil. In our case, we didn’t do what was expected of us given those prompts.

➖ In our game, the information just didn’t flow. We didn’t necessarily know when to reveal certain information, and we were all so busy blackmailing or leveraging one another that we were tight-lipped about each other’s secrets even when they were revealed.

➖ Every handwritten note looked like a woman’s handwriting, which threw us for a loop.

➕ The use of cell phones in the game was great.

Tips For Visiting

  • This can be played in a small space. A larger space is better but not necessary.
  • It’s a good idea to tidy up your home before hosting.
  • A little bit of alcohol goes a long way in terms of loosening people up.
  • It’s fine to invite people who aren’t outgoing, but don’t invite people who are too cool to play.
  • Your home needs adequate cellular service to play Murder in the West Wing.

Book your hour with Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries’ Murder in the West Wing, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Ghost Ship Murder Mysteries provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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