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Subject: Letting the cat out of the bag at the most inconvenient time rss

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Prologue
Played Mystery of the Abbey last night. I got the game as a birthday present a couple of weeks ago and since then, it has gotten a lot of plays in our group. I might even say it has been the hottest game we've had for a while - everyone is just thrilled to play. We've played with various amounts of players ranging from 3 to 6. Six-player game we had last weekend was an absolute blast - slightly chaotic but extremely fun. Yesterday evening, we wanted to play the game but this time we had only 3 players (me, M, and K), as it was a weekday.

Opening positions
I got a nice start - had 3 fathers in my opening hand, including both of the Benedictine ones. Also had some more Benedictines, for a total of four, so my beginning strategy was set: eliminate rest of the Blue bunch as suspects ASAP. M got an unlucky start: her color came up twice as we were rolling the dice to see who had been in the confession booths. I'm thinking a slight rules tweak is in place here - the same color shouldn't end up upwards in both booths at the beginning of the game. In three-player game the odds of that happening are actually pretty high (1 in 3, if I'm correct?) and it really feels lame when it happens to you. I had the same experience in the previously mentioned 6-player game and it really crippled me in the beginning. Now that I think of it, maybe there already is a rule like this in the official ruleset, but in any case, that's how we're going to play next time.

During the first couple of rounds, K and M switched back and forth in the confessionals, trading quite a lot of cards between the two of them, while I mostly visited the parlour. Somehow M managed to recover from her bad start and ended up having more cards in hand than K, who got a peek in the library. She got Calumnious Denunciation but in the end it didn't make a difference, as no false accusations were made. I also managed to sneak into K's cell 3 times, without getting caught once! She was always located in the other side of the Abbey, and I timed my moves so that my last move before the mass was always raiding her cell

The plot thickens
After we had depleted the suspect cards from the parlour, and had had a couple of masses, I was in a good position. I had a total of 5 monks that had been hidden from both M and K for the whole game, plus I had succeeded in eliminating all of the Benedictines. It looked like an easy game at that point, but things got more difficult from that point onwards. A 3-player Abbey is quite a tactical game, and it seems that this time everyone was in with a good strategy. Disappointingly, through clever questioning M and K were able to rule out some of those 5 monks that I was hiding from them. Information got more and more scarce, and questions started revolving around the same two or three groups of monks. Parlour was the main attraction at this point - being able to force an opponent to show a certain kind of card is really powerful in 3-player game, as you've got a pretty good picture of what cards the others are holding.

However, I was still feeling confident that I had gathered a bit more information than others, so I made a couple of quick revelations around the time of the 3rd and 4th mass - stating that the culprit was 1) thin and 2) beardless. I wasn't totally sure on the first one, but anyway had like 5 thin and 1 fat suspects left. The second revelation was 100% sure one (assuming that my deductions were accurate, of course).

Another mental note I made during the game is how short a distance you can actually move between two masses. You've got four turns, which means that normally you can take a maximum of 8 steps. That's not a lot, actually - usually you can reach maybe two destinations max, before the mass is called again. I know this is just basic observation but I hadn't really paid much attention to it before this game. This was the first game where I was really calculating my moves beforehand, instead of just wandering aimlessly around the Abbey.

Reaching critical mass
The decisive moment in the game came after the 5th mass. I had only two real suspects left - Novice Thomas and Brother Jacques. Perhaps there was one or two other monks that I hadn't completely ruled out, but I was pretty sure it was one the aforementioned two. For Novice Thomas, my notes stated that K had not seen him, and nothing else. Next to Jacques I had written that neither M nor K had seen him, but the notes were from different turns, so it wasn't bulletproof evidence. However, by some false reasoning on my part, I figured that based on these facts, Thomas was actually the more likely candidate (huh?). I decided that I was going to take a guess and headed for the Capitulum. But K had the same idea in mind. However, she decided to visit parlour first, and by accident told me to show Brother Jacques, instead of just naming two characteristics! This ensured me that we all were still suspecting him, and I decided to change my target of accusation. That turned out to be the correct move, as Jacques was indeed the quilty one!

K didn't feel bad about her accidental lapse, although she could have won the game by not going to parlour and heading for the Capitulum instead. She had one crypt card, so she could have gotten there before me. As it happened, she had narrowed the suspects down to exactly the same two monks (Thomas and Jacques) as me, although I did have 3 or 4 monks at that point I knew she hadn't seen. But, she claimed that she had pretty much ruled them out at this point, and I can only suppose that it was true. Regarding Novice Thomas, it appeared that M had been hiding him in her hand for the whole game.

So, score-wise, quite a handsome victory for me: 8 points, against the 0-0 score for the girls (no revelations or accusations). Despite this, the game nevertheless felt like a tight match, and we all agreed afterwards that it had been a very exciting and fun game. Mystery of the Abbey fails to disappoint again!
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David J
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Calumnious Denunciation?? I don't have that card in my library pack! Or my Scriptorium pack... just checked there as well. I bought the game three years ago... wonder if it has changed since?

 
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Re: Letting the cat out of the bag at the most inconvenient
Calumnious Denunciation is part of the expansion set Mystery of the Abbey: The Pilgrims' Chronicles. Nowadays this expansion comes with the basic game (it also says it clearly on the box cover). But you can get it from Days of Wonder online store for just the shipping and handling fees!

Calumnious Denunciation is a pretty neat card, and there are many more fun cards in the expansion set, such as the Tentative Escape:

 
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