With a ghostly wail I'm handed my dream - It's a bathtub, floating in a purple lake. A toy ship bobs in the bathtub, while bubbles hover in the air.
I look over the potential murder weapons - a gun, a cricket bat, a small green bottle (could be poison?). An old rope. My cryptic dream points to a murder, an awful deed that can't be undone and must be revealed. Time is running out. Nothing is clear. I'm playing a game of mind reading, intuition and cooperation - Mysterium.
Tajemnicze Domostwo, otherwise known as Mysterium, is a card based game where you are trying to catch a killer.
One player takes on the role of a ghost who hands you oversized dream cards. The dream cards are detailed illustrations, incredibly creative and drawn in hues of gold, purple, grey and dark green.
Often they will depict an object or an act, or a feeling or a scene. They are open to interpretation and inference.
On the table are a row of murder weapons, a row of locations and a row of suspects. The ghost knows which murder weapon he thinks was used, and guides you to this selection using the Dream cards. However, being incorporeal you can't talk to the ghost and he can't talk to you. The only medium of communication is the dreams.
The other players are also trying to interpret their own dreams, each of them being guided to a different weapon. You are allowed, and indeed encouraged, to ask for help and to offer your help to them.
You guess at which weapon you think the ghost is trying to guide you to. If you guess correctly, you move onto the location row. If you are incorrect, you are afforded another dream. After you guess the location correctly you move on to the suspect.
Once all players have a weapon, a location and a suspect, a final round is played to reveal who is the true murderer.
The game plays in around an hour and is for 2 to 7 players. The first few rounds are quite difficult but there is a nice catch-up mechanic built in. If you guess incorrectly, you are offered more clues in the form of extra dream cards. Also, as other players guess their cards correctly, they are removed from play (no two players can have the same weapon assigned to them) so you have less choices to make. If you can't decide if your dream points to the cricket bat or the green bottle, and somebody else correctly guesses their weapon was the cricket bat, suddenly your choices are much easier.
The deduction element is really entertaining, sometimes it is obvious which card you are being directed to, other times you really have to study your dream card and make the decision, is it the colour or some minute detail in the background? Or am I missing something obvious?
My worry is that once you have gotten to know the cards a little then you can become used to the signs and the game becomes much easier. Similarly, if you play with the same group regularly then the familiarity with each other may also have the same effect.
However these are small criticisms, to be weighed against the enormous fun that this game offers. When you are looking at the dream cards you feel lost and confused and unsure but when you correctly guess a card you feel like Marvo the Amazing Mind Reader. I'm sure the ghost feels the same way, I haven't played as the ghost but I imagine it must be just as intense. I love the artwork on the cards and the interaction with the other players that is generated.
So to sum up I really like this game, it's not going to hit the table every day for your Euro or Wargaming crowd but I think it's a game everyone can enjoy and everyone should try - at least once.