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Subject: Mysterium - The Dixedo Mystery - down to the basics review rss

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Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...

About Mysterium:

1) What is it?
Mysterium is Clue meets Dixit. Players are mediums that receive dreams from a Ghost (the clue giver), in order to solve a murder in the house in which it occured. The dreams are cards - in Dixit style (ie: weird and beautiful, with lots of possible interpretations) - that the Ghost send to them. Every player has a set previously made of Suspect/Place/Weapon, that they must discover in the time given. If everyone manages to discover their set, a final round will happen, in which the Mediums will have to uncover which set is the true one.

This is basically it. Mysterium has simple rules and is very easy to learn. Playing time do fits around the purposed 42 minutes, even when having a full table (7 players), but it gets shorter with less, as even with some of the game being simultaneous, when the Ghost give clues, the less she has to give, faster it is.

The game allows for cooperation, as players can help others in trying to "crack the code" of the messages and understand the meaning of them.

Overall, Mysterium provides a fun enviroment (with room for light banter - "what do you mean with this??"), with some tension (not much, but there is a timer, which always put pressure in decisions) and team work, all in a gorgeous package, with a short playing time.

2) How do you play?
After the set up, the Ghost player make random sets, among the cards used, and pair them with each player - this is the first goal of the Mediums players, but they don't have this information, of course.

All the medium players have Right/Wrong tokens, which they can use in the guesses of other players, accordingly to what they think - when they are correct, they advance on the track.

Players receive clue cards in order to guess first the Suspect, then the Place and finally the Weapon. If the player can't guess right on the first chance, they keep the card or cards received, and will receive more in the next round.

After every player received their clues, the time to guess starts. Players must use their Right/Wrong tokens also inside this time. Once the time runs out, the Ghost player announces who was right and who was wrong. The ones that got it right, advance to uncover the next piece of of information - the Place. The ones that didn't, stay to find the Suspect.

The clock advances 1 hour and a new round begins. Now the Ghost will give clues accordingly to the spot players are (so, she will give clues regarding Suspect for those still to find theirs, and Places, for those already there). This will continue until one or more players discover the three things they needed. These players will advance on the track 7 minus the Current Hour in spaces (so, the sooner, the better). After this, these players will still be able to help the others behind to uncover their sets, but will no longer receive clues themselves.

Finally, if everyone uncover all the needed informations, the final round will begin. The Ghost will select three cards, one to represent the Murderer, one for the Place and one for the Weapon - all of these three things will belong to just one of the sets the players uncovered. However, not everyone might be able to look at all the three selected cards before taking a guess about which is the correct set - this is decided by the place on the track the player is. The further, the best - that is why reaching the end soon and/or using well the Right/Wrong tokens count. Once everyone has chosen their guess about the correct set, the guesses are revealed and the set with the most votes will be the one selected. If the set is indeed the proper one, players win! If not, they lose.

Players also lose if the time runs out (7 rounds) and there are still someone who haven't discovered all the needed informations.

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
For the Ghost there are more decisions: which card or cards to send to each person. This is indeed the hardest part of the game. Not truly "hard", but sure can be tough.

For the Mediums, it is just a matter to see the clues and take informed guesses - both to find their own things, and also to use their Right/Wrong tokens. While understanding the clues can be a tough nut to crack, the decisions on themselves are rather easy and can even be left for chance.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Beautiful production - both for the components and the art;
- Easy to play;
- Quick playing time;
- While others can help you with the clues, the decision is personal, so there is little room for alpha players;
- Language independant.

5) Which are the bad news?
- Not everyone will want to play in the Ghost espectral shoes, so the position can be left several times with the same person, which can be a bummer;
- Due to the open nature of the clues and guesses, the game can frustrate players that like more control and objectivity;
- The added pressure of the hourglass doesn't fit well with everyone;
- There can be some downtime while waiting for the Ghost to give out clues.

6) How do you feel while playing?
Like playing Wraith: the Oblivion, without all the drama and with added colors. When playing Wraith we, sometimes, had to pass information to persons alive. Maybe an Espectre threatened them, or someone was robbing them, or even something as simply as reminding your wife to read a bed time story to your kid. The work of a bounded wraith is hard, though, so we had to use the little we had with a lot of cost in pathos. And almost all the time it went wrong.

Normal people simply aren't ready to deal with messages from beyond the shroud. But there are the Mediums - like Oda Mae Brown, from Ghost. They not only could hear better, they also, usually, don't freak out completely when a wraith spoke or wrote to them. Still, that doesn't mean they would understand our meaning - just that most wouldn't faint, die or eat pills to end the whispers. Again, the job of a vengeful ghost is hard. It seemed so simple to us!

Well, Mysterium makes the job of the Ghost a constant roller coaster of emotions, usually going from elation, of having a clue hit home, to utter frustration, of many losing their mark, even when they are as clear as possible, because one picture of a jungle full of dangers has a tiny image of a boat, so of course you meant the Sailor and not the Explorer. It makes sense! Now imagine that you, as a Ghost, truly wanted to do precisely this, because that was the only freaking card with a ship or even a sea on it!

Therefore, the guessing work for the Mediums isn't truly a piece of cake all the time. Sometimes you are 100% sure of something, only to discover that, well, 100% sure is one of the most assured ways to be wrong. This happens because the Ghost must send clues, even when she doesn't want to, because no card has a good connection to what she wants you to see, and, worst, they can send you off the track. It is usual that Mediums who made one of two wrong guesses to have conflicting clues in front of them, which can be exasperating. And in this is the fun of the game - otherwise it would be too easy and direct to be worth the trouble.

In the end, Mysterium fulfilled what I expected of it: a quick and fun game, with little to worry about and with some banter and laughs spread across the play. I recommend it.


Image credit: W Eric Martin

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Fabio Binder
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Well, my family loves Clue and Dixit. It seems Mysterium is a no brainer.
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