John Farrell
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It was with some trepidation that I bought Mystery Rummy: Murders in the Rue Morgue. My son and I had just started board gaming as a hobby, and I asked my wife what sort of games she liked. "I like card games." she said. I remembered card games not too fondly from my childhood - games of Konquian that went on for eternity because nobody could find a card to go out with; games of Canasta that required complicated rules and hands much bigger than children had; and games of 500 at university where everybody understood it a whole lot better than me who couldn't tell his bird from his bower. So I didn't much like the idea of playing card games with my wife, and I was afraid that board gaming would not become a family hobby. However I bought Mystery Rummy anyway, to see if it would work for us.

I read the rules, and the word "meld" intimidated me. That's one of those words that Card Game People use... and Card Game People smoke, and play cards for days on end and don't wash. But I am always willing to give a game a fair go if it involves an orang-utan, so we tried it out.

Well, the first good thing is that there are no hearts, diamonds, clubs or spades. I mean, what are those things anyway? Traditional playing cards are weird and scary in the same way as the Masons, nuns, coelacanths and university robes. Instead of that arcane stuff, we have nice friendly colours, and instead of sorry-looking kings and queens we have nice friendly corpses and stuff. Maybe that didn't come out right... well, at least the corpses have names. And instead of the kitty (another one of those words), we have the orang-utan.

So the basic flow of the game is that if you get 3 cards the same colour (that's a meld), you can play them in front of you. Each card is worth a number of points. There are also lots of special cards (but not so special so as to be intimidating). For example, there's one special card that's worth 7 points if you play it and you have a light blue meld and a dark blue meld. Hard to achieve, but something to aim for. The special cards are actually called gavel cards, and the others are called evidence cards. Other gavel cards allow you to search the orang-utan for a card, or the discard pile (called the Rue Morgue), or draw 2 from the deck. On your turn, you may play as many evidence cards as you like, and at most one gavel card.

Does it work, you ask? Well, yeah, it does. I was thinking before I played it that there might be some sort of deduction aspect, but there's not. You can read Edgar Allan Poe's story and there will be no mystery at all. In fact, reading it will help you understand what all the cards are about. (There are links to the story from articles about the game on BGG). Rather than having anything to do with deduction, this is simply a game of the Rummy/Konquian type with pretty cards and some modified rules. There is one rule that we don't use, though - the rule about cards in your hand costing you points when someone goes out. The person who goes out already gets the cards in the orang-utan (sometimes good, sometimes worthless), and probably has played more cards than anyone else. To further punish those who didn't go out seems like rubbing salt into the wound, and it would make the game longer.

So, as a result of Mystery Rummy, I have changed my opinion on rummy-based games. I still refuse to play with normal cards, but why would I when I have a room full of boxes of pretty cards? Mystery Rummy: Rue Morgue is an interesting game, and an attractive one, and my experience with it has reversed some of the psychological damage done to me in my childhood. In fact, it inspired me to buy Wyatt Earp as well.

As for my wife, she likes Mystery Rummy and Wyatt Earp and she is generally positive about trying new games now. She refuses to play war games (e.g. Memoir '44, Risk), but she'll try other things. As a family, we have enjoyed Mystery of the Abbey, Alhambra, Citadels, Bohnanza, and Caribbean. Mystery Rummy has definitely been a success for us!
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Robin
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Great writing style, if gave me memories of the nasty old crotchety smokers playing poker with my grandfather. I just finished the rules and wondered if I was missing something. Nope, just rummy but with a theme. At least I like the theme. Glad you are having better luck getting your wife to share in your hobby! Maybe she'll play a wargame yet
 
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John Farrell
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Quote:
Maybe she'll play a wargame yet


Hmm, I will be waiting a while, but when we played Flying Carpet last night it seemed like a war game. I'm sure the only rule my wife and son heard was "if you land on someone you can make them miss a turn". We had barely filled up the carpet at the hookah and I'd missed two turns. I'm still trying to get her to play Lost Cities, but she's not interested in playing games if our kid is not involved. She's not converted yet!
 
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John Farrell
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Here's an update two and a half years later - yes, I did get my wife to play Lost Cities - she liked it! Then she left me! surprise But my new girlfriend likes abstracts and word games, and seems to like ME a whole lot better to boot :-). kiss Everybody wins! laugh
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