Time Bomb Evolution: Social Deduction in a Steampunk London | Casual Game Revolution

Time Bomb Evolution: Social Deduction in a Steampunk London

Time Bomb Evolution

Moriarty has set bombs throughout the city. Sherlock’s trusted allies must rush to defuse them, but two among you are not to be trusted…

Published by IELLO, Time Bomb Evolution is an upgraded version of 2016’s Time Bomb. Now with a brand new variant that brings an extra layer of complexity to the game, it’s a fast, easy to learn social deduction game with some excellent suspense built in.


Each player is dealt a role card that says if you are a member of Sherlock Holmes’s team or Moriarty’s. You must keep your role card secret. In a five and six player game there are two members on the Moriarty team. In a four player game, one role card is set aside so you never know if there are two members on the Moriarty team or only one.

You then prepare the wire deck. There are six colors of bombs, each of which comes with five bomb cards. You take as many colors of bombs as there are players, taking all the bomb cards for those colors. Any remaining bomb cards are returned to the box.

All the bomb cards you are playing with are shuffled. You then remove as many bomb cards as there are players (without looking at them) and replace them with defusing wire cards. You shuffle the deck again and deal five cards face-down to each player.

Each player looks at their cards, then shuffles them and places them in a line, face-down, in front of themselves. You do not look at your cards again, so you do not know which card is which. The start player takes the wire cutters.

The game takes place over four rounds. Each round lasts until as many cards as there are players have been revealed. Each turn the player with the wire cutter must decide which card to reveal. She may freely discuss the decision with the other players before choosing. She cannot choose to reveal one of the cards in front of herself. Once she has decided, she places the wire cutter on top of the card she wishes to reveal. The player who that card belongs to will have the wire cutter for the next turn.

When you reveal a card, you place it in the center of the table. If four bomb cards of a matching color are ever revealed, the bomb explodes and Team Moriarty wins the game. If all the defusing wire cards are ever revealed, Team Sherlock wins the game.

Once the round ends, all the unrevealed cards are gathered together (without looking at them) and shuffled. Each player is then dealt one fewer card than in the previous round. Once again, everyone looks at their cards, shuffles them face-down, and spreads them out before themselves. Whoever ended the last round with the wire cutter takes the first turn of the new round. If Team Sherlock does not win by the end of the fourth round, Team Moriarty does.

There is also the evolution variant included in the game. In this version, the colors of the bombs are important, with each bomb having a special ability. When you reveal a defusing wire card, you assign it to a color of bomb that has already been revealed. That color can no longer explode. The green bomb explodes when the third card of its color is revealed. The orange bomb makes the final round last fewer turns the more of its cards that are revealed. The pink bomb automatically explodes if two pink cards are reveled in a row (this cannot be stopped by a defuse card). The yellow bomb cannot be defused. The blue bomb allows you to remove a defusing card from a bomb so that its color can explode again. Finally, the red bomb forces the next player with the wire cutter to choose a random player to reveal a card from.

Time Bomb Evolution Components


Time Bomb Evolution plays quickly but has a great sense of suspense and escalation built into its short fifteen-minute game time. As more and more cards are revealed, it becomes more and more important to choose the right ones to flip each turn.

The social deduction angle of this game is quite interesting. What information you reveal and what you keep back is important, no matter which side you’re on, as being completely open about your cards can be just as dangerous if you’re on Sherlock’s team and a traitor has the wire cutter. Although, with four players the game can feel unbalanced. You may only be playing with one traitor, but with two it’s going to be pretty difficult for Team Sherlock.

We liked that it’s a social deduction game that, even if you figure out who the traitors are, everyone is still in the game and has a chance to win. You need to flip those defusing wire cards so you may even find yourself having to hand the wire cutter over to a known traitor at some point.

There is also a certain push-your-luck element to the game. No one knows exactly which cards are which. So even if you know you have a defusing card in front of yourself, you have to balance how much risk is posed if one of your other cards gets flipped instead.

While the base game can be enjoyable and is a solid way to learn the game, the evolution variant is really intriguing. The different bomb abilities bring extra variety to the game and make communication decisions even more difficult.

The components are generally good. The oversized cards are nice, the wire cutter component is neat, and we appreciated little touches like including tokens for the rounds if you wish to use them. The theme of a Sherlock Holmes in steampunk London is interesting, but it would be nice if you could identify the characters on the cards with characters from the Holmes stories.

Time Bomb Evolution is fast and easy to learn. The blend of social deduction and push your luck keeps everyone in the game and everything suspenseful. The game is also short enough that it’s quite easy to play several rounds of it, giving everyone a chance to try out the different roles.

Pros: Blend of social deduction and push your luck, evolution variant, short game time

Cons: Not at its best with four players, theme slightly misses the mark

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