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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Mysterium) rss

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Michael Carpenter
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Box Art




SUMMARY
Style of Game: Cooperative, Deduction
Play Time: 45 minutes
Theme: Murder mystery
Number of Players: 2-7
Main Mechanics: Hand management, pattern recognition
Components: Very good
Weight: Light

SETUP
The setup in this game would sound a little complicated when reading through it so I am going to number the steps for simplicity.

1. Construct the clock board and set it to I.



2. Give each player a pawn, a character card sleeve, and the clairvoyance tokens (if using) of one color.



3. Layout the clairvoyance track at the top of the game progression boards. Place the object progression board below the clairvoyance track board. Place the location progression board below the object progression board. Finally, place the character progress board below the location progression board.



4. Setup the ghost screen so that when the ghost player is able to see the inside of the screen and is facing toward all the psychic players.

5. Next take the 54 psychic cards and separate them based on their type: 1-18 characters, 19-36 locations, and 37-54 objects. Next, shuffle each individual stacks and draw the number of cards from each stack that is given by the rule book. Once these cards are drawn, the matching ghost cards should be drawn by the ghost player and kept behind the ghost screen.





6. The psychic players should place all the drawn cards for each type face-up directly above the corresponding progression boards.



7. The ghost player should shuffle each stack of cards they have behind the ghost screen and choose one card for each psychic from each stack. Each drawn card should be placed in the appropriate slot for each psychic on the inside of the ghost screen. By doing this you will have created a combination of a suspect character, a location, and an object for each of the psychics.



8. The ghost player should take all the ghost tokens of the active players and place them inside the ghost screen.

9. The ghost player should then draw seven vision cards to make their starting hand.





10. Place all the pawns on the character progression board and begin the game.

As I said, the setup sounds confusing but with the components in front of you it isn't too difficult. The layout of the setup page in the rule book is a little strange but if you continue on in the rule book it will help walk you through the setup.


OBJECTIVE
The objective in Mysterium is for the ghost player to help the psychic players solve a murder case from years ago. However, the ghost player may not speak at all during the game. Instead, he or she must use vision cards (images) to convey messages about each psychic's suspect and the actual murderer.

GAMEPLAY
The gameplay of Mysterium is setup in two phases. The first phase of the game is the Reconstruction of Events. The second phase is Revealing the Culprit.

PHASE ONE: RECONSTRUCTION OF EVENTS
The first phase of the game is used to allow the ghost player an opportunity to give the psychics clues about each of their own suspects. This phase is split into two steps.

Step 1: Vision Interpretation
The ghost player will look at each of the psychic's suspect cards (in the first round, the character cards) and use the vision cards in their hand to give each psychic a clue or clues that are conveyed in the vision card or cards that have been handed to each psychic. The vision cards should be kept face down until all players have received their vision cards.



Once the ghost player has given a psychic a vision card they should slide the ghost token up against the inside of the ghost screen.

Once all psychics have received their clues play will transition to the second step.

Step 2: Spectral Manifestation
In this step each player will look at the vision card he or she has received and try to interpret the clue in the card. Each player will then place his or her pawn on the character card above the character progression board in the middle of the table. Multiple psychics may choose the same character card.

Once all players have chosen a character card the ghost player looks at each psychics and nods his or her head "yes or no" to tell the psychic if they have chosen the correct character card. Remember, this information is in each slot behind the ghost screen.

If a psychic has chosen the correct character he or she takes that card and places it in his or her sleeve then moves his or her pawn to the location progression board.



If a psychic has not chosen the correct character card then the player will place his or her pawn back on the character progression board.



If a players have not guess their current card correctly they will keep their vision cards until they find their current suspect card. Once a psychic has found their current suspect card that psychic will discard all visions cards they received while trying to find that specific suspect card.

Play will continue exactly like this for seven rounds. During round 2-7 some psychics may be trying to determine their character card while other players may be trying to determine their location card or object card based on their success in prior rounds.

The psychics have seven rounds (tracked on the clock board) for all psychics to determine their character cards, their locations cards, and their object cards. If any psychic fails to determined all three of their own cards then the game ends at the end of seven rounds and the players have lost the game.

If all psychics manage to determine all three of their cards then play moves to phase two, Revealing the Culprit.

PHASE ONE: REVEALING THE CULPRIT
In phase two players will go through three steps.

Step 1: Suspect line-up
All cards that were in the middle of the table that were not collected are removed from the game at this time. A ghost token for each psychic in the game is placed in the middle of the table and each psychic places their three cards and places them in the middle of the table under their ghost token. At this point the ghost player should also collect one culprit token for each psychic in the game (in smaller player counts a dummy suspect will be used in this step and a token will be collected for this dummy player also).



Step 2: Shared vision (Edited: thanks to elcoderdude for spotting this)
The ghost player should look at the vision cards he or she has available in hand and decide which of the suspects (card groups) he or she would like to choose as the murderer. The ghost then places the culprit token that matches the chosen suspect on the progression board and hands the psychics three vision cards.





In this example the ghost has chosen culprit token number one and will place it on the progression board.

Of the three cards given to the psychic one should be used to convey a clue about the character card that is the murderer. One of these vision cards should convey a clue about the location. One of these vision cards should convey a clue about the object.



These vision cards will all pertain to the cards of the suspect that has been chosen at the murderer.

Step 3: Straw Poll
During this step all psychics will have an opportunity to choose which of the suspects in the middle of the table in the actual murderer. This decision should be made based on the final vision cards that were given by the ghost. Each psychic will vote on a sispect by place his or her pawn on the ghost token of the three cards of the suspect they feel is the murderer.

To win a majority of the votes must be placed on the actual murderer. Once all pawns have been placed the ghost player will reveal whether or not the psychics have chosen the correct suspect. If a minority of psychics have chosen the correct suspect, the players lose. If a majority of psychics have chosen the correct suspect. the players win. Not all psychics have to vote for the correct suspect to win the game.



Two rules not mentioned during the gameplay run-through are the clairvoyance tokens and the raven tokens.

The clairvoyance tokens are added to the intuition of the psychics. When played correctly players can unlock extra clues in the second phase of the game.

The raven tokens are used to indicate that the ghost has discarded some of his or her vision cards to draw new ones. The number of these tokens used is determined by the difficulty of the game.

MIXTURE OF THEME AND MECHANICS
The mixture of theme and mechanics in this game are solid as long as the game is played by the rules. The ghost player should not speak at all during this game, so if he or she does, or gives small gestures to help the psychics, or any other means of breaking the communication rules, then the game isn't as thematic but that obviously shouldn't be done. It is just worth mentioning. Other than the fragility of the communication rules, the theme is there in this game and the mechanisms mesh well. With that said, the theme isn't dripping off this game because it is abstracted down to such a simplistic system for solving the case.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pros:
- A unique take on the cooperative genre
- Beautiful artwork and components
- Even though the review may make this game sound confusing and possibly clunky, it actually plays quite smoothly.

Cons:
- The design is somewhat fragile if the players do not respect the communication barriers.
- The game is/was considered a party game and while it can be enjoyed with a large group, I'm not sure it produces a party feel.
- The game does not give me the impression that is has longevity.

I understand this game is ranked highly and is designed well but for me it feels more like an activity than a board game, and an monotonous activity at that. I have not played the new expansion and I have felt like an expansion would possibly add to the longevity of this game, but I cannot speak to that without the experience of the expansion yet.

For me, this is the kind of game that can be quick enough with lower player counts to play multiple times in one sitting. Once everyone has gotten to be the ghost, the game basically ends there and there isn't much reason to play the game again for me. If you play this game with the same people regularly, the cards become infused with previous clues and interpretations of the images. This leads to the game being easier and the overall experience dimming a bit. I do not have tons of new players to play this with regularly and the one time I did play with the full compliment it was enjoyable, but small groups are not going to get as much out of this game in the long-run. Even if I were to play with new people regularly I am not sure I would enjoy this game all that much because it just doesn't offer me that stimulating of a feel. I definitely enjoyed the psychology of the game the first time, but it is a dulled experience now.

I cannot speak poorly of the way this game plays, just that it isn't a deep design that can withstand a lot of plays, for me. When I say a lot of plays, I am talking about 15+. Fifteen plays is a good amount for sure, but keep in mind to play this game fifteen times you are likely playing this game several times in one sitting so that is kind of a different scenario than getting this game to the table 15+ times. Also, I haven't really enjoyed more than half of the plays I have played with in those 15 plays. To be fair, I wasn't all that intrigued by the game to begin with. My wife was really interested in this game and enjoys it quite a bit and that is why I have played it a lot.

As I mentioned in the cons section, I have heard that the game is/was promoted as a party game but this does not make for a party atmosphere as much as a tense environment where each decision is far more critical than the decisions in the standard party game that produces a fun and excitable environment. This is not the kind of game you don't care if you lose like many party games devolve to. While 45 minutes is not a long time, and it can play faster than that with fewer players, the effort you invest and the decisions you make are not party game weight, in my opinion.

Overall, I have very little desire to play this game anymore (maybe the expansion would change that) but the design really is unique and well done so I cannot rate it low, I just can't rate it as high as most people because for me, the game falls flat rather quickly.




Rating - 6.5/10


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Brian Aldrich
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Great review. I played it for the first time last weekend with some people at a board game day and we had fun, although the setup for the ghost was a bit tough. The two people my wife and I played with had played the game before but not as the ghost, so we were all trying to quickly figure out how the ghost sets up. After that we had a good time.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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aldrichb wrote:
Great review. I played it for the first time last weekend with some people at a board game day and we had fun, although the setup for the ghost was a bit tough. The two people my wife and I played with had played the game before but not as the ghost, so we were all trying to quickly figure out how the ghost sets up. After that we had a good time.


Yeah. It can be a little confusing for some reason. Once you get through it, it's like a light bulb goes off and you realize it isn't hard but the first time is just not intuitive or something. I am glad you enjoy the game. Do you think it would have replayability?
 
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Robert O'Hearne
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This line

Review wrote:
The ghost player should randomly choose one of the culprit tokens to determine which of the suspects in the middle of the board is the actual murderer.


is not supported by the English rules for the 2015 edition.

The rules are not clear about how the culprit is chosen by the ghost, but they certainly do not say what you say.

The rules say the ghost chooses three vision cards which represent the weapon, location, and suspect of one of the culprit groups, then selects the number token which represents that group, and puts that on the epilogue progress board. The suggestion is the ghost chooses who the culprit is, based on the vision cards the ghost has. The ghost is free to choose the culprit which best matches the vision cards.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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I apologize, you are correct. I forgot when we started playing this game we house ruled the end to make it more difficult. We weren't a big fan of the choose a murderer part so we changed it a bit. Thank you for spotting the mistake! The review has been edited!
 
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