Hot Lead: An Investigative, Evidence Collecting, Family-Friendly Card Game | Casual Game Revolution

Hot Lead: An Investigative, Evidence Collecting, Family-Friendly Card Game

Hot Lead

Use your investigators wisely to collect evidence on a wide range of crimes. But don’t pursue any one crime too doggedly or you’ll scare off your target and have to start again from scratch.

Designed by Reiner Knizia (Lost Cities, The Quest for El Dorado) and published by Bitewing Games, Hot Lead is a light, 15-minute card game for 2-5 players.


The deck of Investigator cards is shuffled and 11 cards are dealt to each player. There are 55 cards in this deck, numbered 1-55. Any cards not dealt out are returned to the box for the remainder of the game. Next, you shuffle the evidence card deck, and draw one for each player in the game, laying them out in a display starting just below the evidence draw deck, forming a column.

There are 10 rounds in the game. Each round, every player simultaneously chooses one card from his hand and reveals it. Whoever played the highest numbered card takes the top card in the display, whoever played the next highest card takes the next card in the display, and so on down until each player has taken one card and added it to his personal tableau.

Evidence cards come in five different colors; they also have point values of 0-5. If you collect four cards of the same color, you must immediately discard all four of them.

After 10 rounds, the game ends. Players earn points for the point value of all the evidence cards they have collected. They earn 10 bonus points if they have at least one evidence card of each of the five colors, and 10 bonus points for each set of three matching colored evidence cards. The player with the most points wins.

Hot Lead Components


The hand management of Hot Lead is intriguing and fun. The game has a beautiful escalation as you have fewer and fewer cards in your hand, and it becomes more challenging to guess what numbers will be high or low and to specifically target certain cards in the display. Consequently, it’s important to plan ahead earlier in the game and consider what cards to keep for later on, when it might be harder to recover from gaining a card you don’t want.

As players collect more and more evidence cards, it can also become more important which cards you win. Maybe a card near the middle of the display is the only one that won’t make up a fourth of a certain color for you, but now that you only have three cards left in hand, deciding which one will win that middle card can be quite tricky.

There are two variants included in the game that are fun additions that add a couple of extra ways to score (or lose) points without bringing a lot of extra complexity to the gameplay. There are also special rules for playing with two people, but in general, the game works best with 3-4 players.

The artwork is fun and colorful, and while not every single investigator card features unique art, there are a lot of different characters depicted on them. In general, the colorful, cheery artwork, combined with the easy-to-learn gameplay, makes Hot Lead feel light, pleasant, and a great fit for families.

Pros: Artwork and colorful presentation, variants are solid editions without adding a lot more complexity, good escalation as the game progresses

Cons: Two-player game is a little weaker

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.