Mysterium

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One player is an ever changing spirit, giving clues about who, where and how they died.

Mysterium
Designers: Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko
Publishers: Asmodee, Bergsala Enigma, Esdevium, F2Z Digital Media Inc., Filosofia Éditions, Gém Klub Kft., GoKids 玩樂小子, Kaissa Chess & Games, Lautapelit.fi, Libellud, Morapiaf, Z-Man Games
Time: 45 Minutes
Ages: 10+

Mysterium_all
A sampling of all the different cards and items from the Mysterium box, and the first expansion, Hidden Signs.

Mysterium was designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, and is a bit more abstract than the average game. The best way to describe it is a fantastic blend of Dixit and a murder mystery. One player takes on the role of a ghost that is attempting to implicate their murderer. The only what the ghost can communicate is through the Dixit like pictures. Fantastic, but VERY, VERY confusing.

The box itself just drew me in with the front cover. After picking it up and taking a look, I was liking what a saw. It’s basically a picture association game where up to 7 players work together trying to solve the murder of one player.

Setting up Mysterium takes a little bit of effort. There are duplicate decks of murders, locations, and weapons, one being small and one large. The ghost player gets the small set, and the others get the large set (except for the items for some reason). The ghost will then randomly draw a given number of each deck based on how many players are in the game as instructed by the manual (always more than the players in the game). The other players will then find the same cards (identified by numbers on each card) and spread them out for everybody to see.

Mysterium Character, Location, and Weapon/Item cards.
An assortment of the cards the players have to choose from. Top: weapons/items. Bottom characters and locations.

These will be all of the possible choices for the non-ghosts. The ghost will then take the set of cards they have, shuffle and then draw a card for each player and set it up in there player screen. This is done for all types of cards. Basically each player is only receiving messages from the beyond about a certain incident, not necessarily the murder of our ghost (but more on that later).

Mysterium Spirit Screen
A look behind the spirit’s screen. Showing each of the other player’s character, location, and item card. Along with a set of clue cards.

Each round the ghost will have a hand of cards that they must use to give each player clues about the encounter they are receiving visions for. The players have to progress through each type of card before moving to the next. This starts with the murderer, followed by the location and ending with the weapon. The ghost can give up to three cards to each player on a given round. They keep these a secret until all players have their cards for the round. The ghost then starts the timer and all players can show and talk about what they think the cards mean. Meanwhile the ghost has to remain silent and watch as they inevitably misinterpret what was trying to be said.

During this timed phase, players place their intuition token onto the card they think was meant for them. Multiple players can place on the same card, but one will be wrong. Now after players have done this but before the ghost indicates who is correct or incorrect, the players can bet on whether their companions were correct or not in there guess. If the player’s bets are correct they gain a rank on the clairvoyance track, which is used in the final stage of the game. Now the ghost gets to have some fun, and be as dramatic or boring as they wan’t revealing in story who is correct and who is not. Correct players take there card out of the spread, proceed to the next card type, and discard their current visions. The incorrect players keep their current visions, and will get receive more in the next round.

Mysterium Clue Cards
Some of the incredible clue cards that will befuddle the players attending the seance.

All of this will continue until all players have figured out their cards or the game clock ticks down to zero. Yeah, you all only have some many chances before you can all fail as a team, but you are able to change this number to adjust the difficulty of the game. If you have figured everything out, it’s now time to deduce what story the ghost is really trying to show you. The ghost with their final hand of visions then picks one player’s set of cards in secret, and has to get all other players to vote in majority on that set of cards based on only three visions.

BUT WAIT! That sounds too easy? You’re right! Here’s where the clairvoyance ranks come into play. Based on this, you will know how many of the visions you actually get to see before casting your vote. The ghost will shuffle the vision cards, then reveal one at random. Players that only get to see that many cast their vote in secret. Then another is revealed etc, etc until all players have voted. The votes are then tallied and the group sees if they won.

This game is really boils down to a simple concept with a few extra mechanics bolted on to the side. It’s really quite easy to understand and start playing and quite good. The games themselves can be a bit long unless your ghost is really good at giving clues, but part of the fun is the discussion about all the cards and all of the perplexing looks around the table. While this is just a great game, I think that I would rather play Dixit with my normal group of friends. I feel like it keeps more players involved, and is more dynamic. Meaning, each round is it’s own entity in Dixit that is done and over, you don’t have the chance to get stuck trying to guess the same card for three turns, completely bewildered by your clues. That being said, Mysterium is definitely a solid game all around, and a fun change of pace.

Pros:

  • Fantastic artwork.
  • Excellent theme and setting.
  • Easy to play and teach.
  • Expansions already out to add content.
  • Very well suited for larger groups (up to 7).
  • Full cooperative game play.

Cons:

  • Can lead to lots of frustration when your stumped.
  • While it is straightforward to setup, there are a lot things that happen during the setup which can take a bit of time.

 

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