Having received the game from a friend as a present (which is the biggest mystery of all, if you knew who this particular friend is) I knew that the best chance to try it out would be during New Year's Eve with the in-laws.
As I doubt anyone on this forum would have ever ready any of my other session reports, I should point out that it is not easy to find a game group in rural Japan due to this hobby not being so wide spread in this country. I did have a great group for a few years, but they are all gone now--scattered to the four corners of the globe. Fortunately my wife's family are keen to play a number of the games that I own, provided that they are not too complicated and don't rely too heavily on language, aside from her brother who is willing to try some of the heavier stuff as long as I explain what the cards say.
With that preamble out of the way, let's get into the New Year's Eve Session. This is game 00 because we are playing the most simplified version of the game (and simplifying it even more) to learn it and to teach it to my in-laws.
Note: As this is an extraordinarily casual session, I did not take detailed notes as I would for a more serious game. This report is more of a take on how the game felt than a turn-by-turn examination.
Ghost - n107
Alphonse de Belcour - The Missus
Madam Wang - The Missus
Jessalyn Smith - Bro
Ardhashir - Bro
Although I was intending to play without speaking as the Ghost, I had to explain the rules as we were going through the turns. So I kept as quiet as I could and opted for the "knocking" for yes and no. However, we chose to do it reverse of the rulebook: 1 knock = "no", 2 knocks = "yes". This way there is a little bit of tension about whether that second knock is coming.
The first hour of Vision Interpretation wasn't too bad. The Vision Cards I had were really good for the suspects. I had the Vision with the ball of yarn and one of the suspects was the Seamstress so that was quite clear. The others, too, were pretty spot on for each suspect. Sure enough, both The Missus and Bro nailed all four of the suspects in the first go.
Once they reached the second stage to find the location, things got a little trickier. Now I found that the cards weren't as clear for this step as they were in the first. Only Jessalyn Smith managed to find the correct location on the first try. From Hour 3 onwards, I made liberal use of my Raven to try to cycle my hand to something usable but it was still difficult. It wasn't until Hour 5 that all the Psychics passed their locations. At this time, Jessalyn Smith had also become the first to reach the Mission Accomplished Space. Luckily, by Hour 7, all of the other Psychics also reached the end.
Now it came time for Phase 2: Revealing the Culprit. As this was the easy version, both players would get to see all three cards. Sadly, even with the Raven token, I did not have anything great for communicating the correct suspect, location and weapon.
I tried to give a Vision with long, metallic machines to try to convey the image of the pens and other long tools in the School Teacher's picture. Then a garden-esque card to represent the Garden Shed and finally a Knight to represent the dumbbell with metal, strength and a weapon. The correct set was Culprit 1.
After a long time debating over the correct suspect, the Psychic team chose Culprit 2.
And so the mystery remained unsolved and the Ghost would remain unquiet.
This first game went from extremely easy in the beginning to wildly difficult at the end. It was so hard trying to align the detail I could find in the image with the interpretation the Psychics would make for ALL of the details in the image.
It wasn't until the final round when we lost that The Missus and Bro began ridiculing me for choosing terrible Visions. I assured them it is a lot harder than it looks. The Missus said she wanted to be the Ghost for the next session so we got ready for that.
We actually ended up playing five more times with my wife's brother and parents (2 more on New Year's Eve and 3 more on New Year's Day). The in-laws loved it, as I had hoped, just as they love Dixit. It's very similar in style and they like being able to cooperate and talk with each other about finding the right answer. You would be reading about those but for some reason my computer closed and, apparently, the data wasn't saved, though I'm certain I saved it. Perhaps it was the work of a ghost?
In any case, my thoughts about the game are that I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to find pictures to convey the correct clue while playing as a ghost but I actually found it less satisfying than giving verbal clues in Dixit. As the mediums, it is interesting trying to decipher the clues and the teamwork involved is very fun and led to a lot of laughter in the games. But while I was teaching the in-laws the game, we were playing an extremely simple version of the game and didn't use the sand timer. In thinking about it, I think the timer would be much more useful because it forces the mediums to stick with their instincts rather than overthinking the pictures and going down a wrong path. I'm hoping to add the timer in (as well as the voting) in the next games now that everyone knows the rules.
Until then, I'll just sit her and lament on the loss of all of my notes about the five missing games.