Dixit and Cluedo mixed into one game - Mysterium was a great idea with a unique theme that sat very well with me upon my first few plays. Making Cluedo a co-op experience and extracting the fun party atmosphere of Dixit into a deduction game, this was a solid case for innovation in board games. Now I know that technically Portal came out with the Polish version first, but I've preferred the aesthetics of the Asmodee reprint personally.
However despite the decent amount of variety in the game, I have felt that it needs a boost once you've played it enough so you don't get bored of the same old cards turning up all the time. So cue a case of printing money with an expansion and we've got Hidden Signs.
Not a great deal to talk about with this, so I'll get stuck in now. Is this a must-have for Mysterium or can you leave the ghost to slumber?
Designer: Oleksandr Nevskly & Oleg Sidorenko
Time: 42 min (yeah work that one out!)
Who You Gonna Call? Someone Competent!
They thought the secret of Warwick mansion had been solved and the spirit had found peace, but now new signs have emerged that were previously hidden. New suspects, places and objects that do not fit into the picture - and the presence of the ghost is strong once again.
In Mysterium: Hidden Signs, the spiritualists must return to the old mansion and investigate these disturbing visions. Will they understand all the instructions this time and give the ghost its final rest?
One More Word From Scrappy-Do And The Ghost Gets A New Pet
What you get inside the box will look good, but don't expect a ton of content here. In total you have:
42 vision cards
12 object cards
12 suspect cards
12 location cards
And that's pretty much it. It almost seems a little lacklustre not having that sensation of "oooooh look at all this cool stuff". But that's not the intention of this expansion. It's providing us with more of the same, more of what we had in the base game of Mysterium. Now if you haven't sleeved the cards there's a good chance everything will still fit in the base box, but if you've sleeved, all bets are off. I long ago chucked the insert anyway because I sleeved my cards.
There's not even any new mechanics which is a shame, as maybe just a small addition would have been nice, but then I don't want Mysterium to creep out of the gateway game genre as it's currently on the upper threshold as it is. It could have been a good opportunity as well for the publishers to consider an update to the previous rules. A common piece of feedback on Mysterium from the negative camp is the final phase of the game where you're actively taken from a pure co-op into almost a competitive game by voting on the correct set of clues to win. It's a little weird I admit, but I don't mind it that much, it doesn't ruin the experience for me. However this could have been a chance to maybe include a new variant rule or two and seems a missed opportunity.
Of course the artwork remains the same style as before and thus looks gorgeous from every angle. There's a good variety in the new clue cards and when added to the base game, it should erase that problem of seeing the same people, items and places turn up again and again. Same goes for the Vision cards, which again feature even more engaging, artistic drawings to make you wonder what the Ghost was smoking before he died.
Rather Look At Nice Drawings Then Make Bad Pottery
Like with Dixit, the base game of Mysterium came with 84 vision cards - seriously what is it with that weird number? Typically each Dixit expansion would give the same number of cards and thus the collection got insanely bit over time. Here you only get 42, so half the amount that is normally expected, probably because you've got those additional clue cards as well. That's a bit of a shame, as if you gave me a choice of more of one than the other, I'd pick more vision cards to allow the ghost more room to try weird and different ways of thinking outside the box.
It's still a good mix of drawings though and 126 vision cards is a decent mix to accomodate most games of Mysterium, baring in mind you don't go through as many cards in one game as you do in Dixit. As I mentioned, it was starting to get to the point where you notice the same cards popping up so I welcome any new cards into the fray and these have been designed with the current list of clue cards in mind, unlike Dixit cards which when merged with Mysterium create what I like to call "crazy mind bending hard mode". As a result, when looking through these cards I don't see an issue with deck dilution as plenty of ideas could be formed of how to relate these to the clue cards from the base game.
Verdict on Mysterium: Hidden Signs
Pretty straightforward this one, if you enjoyed Mysterium, you'll want this expansion. It adds more of the good stuff and beefs up the variety already present without having to resort to the drastic action of mixing in Dixit cards with the game, a practice of which I'm not entirely convinced is a good idea.
It would have been nice to maybe introduce one new mechanic or maybe even improve on old ones, but I'd rather Mysterium didn't end up too complex anyway as it sits at that upper borderline for a gateway game currently and I'd like it to stay there. 42 vision cards seems a little low, but they work well combined with the base cards and deck dilution hasn't been an issue.
It's not going to change a thing for you if you didn't enjoy Mysterium to begin with, so if you didn't like the base game, you can move on past this, but for any Mysterium fans like me I recommend grabbing this when you've got a few quid spare, but there's no mad rush.
If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/
YOU WILL LIKE MYSTERIUM: HIDDEN SIGNS IF:
You enjoyed the base game and just want to add more variety into the mix.
You didn't like having to canabalize your Dixit game to try and improve things.
You don't want Mysterium to get any more complex.
YOU WILL NOT LIKE MYSTERIUM: HIDDEN SIGNS IF:
You didn't like the base game to begin with, this won't change a thing for you.
You're happy enough with what you got before and don't feel the need to add anything else.