14th May 2019.
Tuesday has rolled around again and that can only mean gaming night at 'The Sovereigns'
First game of the night is Mysterium'. Mysterium is like a ghostly version of Cluedo.
It's quite unusual in that it is both an asymmetrical and co-operative game.
One player takes on the role of the ghost of a murder victim.
All the remaining players assume the roles of psychics or mediums.
The game takes place during a 'seance' in which the ghost will feed all the other characters with confusing and strange imagery, hoping they will figure out the murder
The ghost player knows who their murderer is and is trying to communicate this to the other players.
What's in a game?
The ghost player sits behind a screen which contains information pertinent to them. The ghost player also keeps a deck of cards behind the screen.
Each of the other players is given a character to play in the form of a character portrait printed on what can only be described as sort of 'pocket'. The art for the characters is good and makes them look suitability exotic for people that can communicate with the dead. Each player is also given a meeple.
Markers are set out for the 3 different clue types. These represent the classic Cluedo cards for person, location and weapon.
The game also has a vintage looking clock which serves as a turn counter.
Before the game starts the ghost player determines who the murderer and suspects are.
The in line with each respective clue marker they layout a number of cards (dependant upon difficulty). Thus next to the person marker, they would lay the murderer, suspects and innocent people. Next to the location marker, they would lay the murder site, suspected sites and unrelated sites - and the same for the murder weapon.
And now you're pretty much ready to go.
How does it Play?
The ghost player is trying to provide the other players with the information on who the killer is, where the murder occurred and what was used to do it. But cannot talk to the other players at all.
Every turn, the ghost player draws a number of cards from their deck. The ghost play can give them to the other players. These cards contains all manner of strange and weird imagery.
When the ghost player gives other players these cards, they are trying to get them to pick the correct clue card.
For example; if the killer was a fisherman, you might give them a card with picture of a boat or a fish or even the colour blue.
So once the psychic players have received cards from the ghost player, they have to use them to try choose the right card. When they have selected what they feel is the right card, then they put their meeple on the card.
Once all the players have done this. The ghost player will indicate if they are correct.
If a psychic player is correct, then they take the clue card, put it into their pocket and move their meeple on to the next set of clues.
If the player's guess was incorrect then they stay on the current set of clues.
Play proceeds until all psychic players have 3 cards in their pockets, or time runs out, (In which they all lose.).
If all the players manage to get their 3 clues in time, the play proceeds to the epilogue.
During the epilogue, all the clues for all the characters are revealed. The psychic players now have one attempt to guess who the killer is from all the available clues.
If they guess incorrectly, everybody loses.
If they guess correctly, everybody wins.
I've glossed over the rules somewhat, but the gist of it is there.
Apparently, the game can involve using a secret voting mechanic when making choices. But all the players I spoke to prefer the idea of open discussion when making choices and I have to agree. The group discussions add a lot to the game in my opinion. This makes the game a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
The art on the cards is a mixture of weird and wonderful imagery, highly detailed and allowing the ghost player a lot opportunities to use them as hints and clues. In fact the whole look of the game and it's art direction is moody and evocative. I like the clock as the game timer.
I also like how the game manages to be both asymmetrical and co-operative. Quite often asymmetrical games can be a lonely experience, (As anybody who has played the prison guard in 'Escape from Colditz can attest.), but Mysterium changes that dynamic.
I think this is an entertaining game and one to be played socially. It's also straightforward enough that anyone can join in a contribute.
Finally, now everyone is on the same side and you can watch the ghost player try to keep a neutral expression when you are about to make a stupid choice!
I play, I paint.