This was the second time we played Mystery of the Abbey; this time with 5 players (3 newbies to the game) compared to the 3 players in our first game.
As rule explainer and boardgame advocate; I spent the first 10 minutes giving a brief outline of the rules. In fact, I got so hung up I almost forgot to put the murderer card under the board (possibly resulting in a new game variation - "Innocents of the Abbey").
That said, the high quality of the game product I think helps keep potential players interested. An indication of the age of our group was shown by the need for most to go for their glasses to read the suspect sheet!
With the expectations from the earlier 3 player game, I felt the 5 player game took a bit longer to get going. I think this is because with the 3 player game, the cards circulate much quicker around all players.
So, for the first half of the game, I was getting itchy with the seeming inaction and not actively listening. Which ended up being an unwise move, as with greater numbers, there are more questions asked and answered between the 4 round masses. So with careful listening, it is possible to determine where many cards are before they get mixed/transfered when Mass is called (as the winner of the game calmly explained at the end!).
The other feature picked up too late is that with 5 players, you can better manipulate your cards so that the player on your right will have very little chance of seeing a number of cards (as it must pass thru three lots of hands). Therefore, your questioning should be more focused to the players on your right (again, a strategy made clear at the end of the game by the person who seemed to follow me like a shadow for the entire game).
Also with five players, there are just more scriptorium cards used/played between your turns, making the game seem slightly more chaotic, as there is more opportunity for things to happen (we ended up with a priest card on the bridge which required everyone to visit, everyone being forced to make a revelation guess very earlier in the game, and everyone being forced to their bedrooms).
So, albeit based on only two games, I think the 5 player version requires better note taking and active listening, as you need to infer a bit more information than you would in the 3 player game, where you tend to see most of the cards as they go thru your hand.
I guess this also means with a 5 players there is more chance of "wrong" information being accidently introduced, although in my rules discussion I made it clear there was benefit in recording cards you actually have seen against those you infer from questioning.
Regardless, when it came to the exchange of cards at the end of the 4th Mass round, it was clear most people (except me) had narrowed it down to 2 or 3 suspects. Ms Big_Picture decided to take a punt on an accusation, and successfully revealed the murderer, much to the groans of the other players.
After the successful revelation, a health chat followed with each player discussing how their investigation / deduction unfolded, people asking about who had what card etc. This alone to me suggests that the game was well enjoyed by everyone.
It was during this chat Ms Big-Picture revealed her deduction logic, and it was generally agreed that there was a lot of dodgy guess work involved (for example, she claimed she had eliminated all the Templars by the end of the first round, using a logic that even author Dan Brown would be ashamed to use!). But that was probably just me grumbling at how poorly I played.
I don't think Mystery of the Abbey will continue to be the regular game (especially with a number of still untried games in the cupboard), but it will probably be the good backup if we cant agree on another game or we want to introduce more newbies to boardgaming.
Leeds, West Yorkshire
I agree - I think this is a good introductory game.
The production values, the theme, and the fact everyone playing has a realsitic shot at winning are all part of the appeal.
Like you say, there always seems to be some post game analysis, which I take as a good sign.
The only downside is it probably runs a bit too long for some - I've noticed in the middle third of the game that there can be a bit of 'I've no idea who it is or what to do next' going on, causing a dip in interest.
I always play with the six-player movement rules to keep the pace up as much as possible.