Growing up I really liked clue. I liked the deduction component and trying to be smarter about your reveals than your neighbor.
I don’t like Dixit. It’s essentially artistic Apples to Apples. It requires subjective art interpretation and creativity that my left-brained self doesn’t really have.
Today’s review is a combination of the two games I’ve listed above, except it removes the things I liked most about clue, making it cooperative, and keeps most of the aspects that I don’t like about Dixit. The strange thing about this formula is that I really like the result. It’s an asymmetric, cooperative, art interpretation game, that frankly kind of shocked me.
Designers: Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko
Player count: 2-7 Players
Play time: 42 minutes
In Mysterium, one player is playing a ghost that is trying to communicate to a group of psychics (the rest of the players) about different crimes that have been committed, and ultimately which crime was her murder. On the table there are an assortment of people, locations, and weapons that change based on player count and difficulty level.
The set-up of the game.
The ghost player sits behind a player shield where each psychic has been assigned one of the people, one of the locations and one of the weapons. These are the different crimes that have been committed. The ghost player has a hand of cards(visions) with abstract and random art that she hands out to the other players. The ghost is trying to use these cards to communicate with the psychics about the different crimes. This is the only way the ghost player can communicate. She isn’t allowed to speak, signal, or communicate in any other way, other than to confirm if psychic’s guesses are correct or not. Over the seven rounds of play, each psychic will try to determine which person, location, and weapon the ghost is trying to link them to, as well as assisting the other psychics with their visions. The psychics are even able to essentially “bet” on whether the other psychics are right or not to increase their clairvoyance score. If, after 7 rounds, any of the psychics haven’t determined their 3 components, the players immediately lose.
If they all correctly identify the 3 components, the game immediately shifts to the second portion of the game. Each psychic lays their 3 components out in a tableau for everyone to see. The ghost then randomly selects one of the tableaus and has to select 3 vision cards, one each that relates to the 3 different components of the crime she is trying to identify. Players will then get to reveal the visions based on their clairvoyance scores and vote independently as to which tableau they think the ghost is trying to identify. During this part of the game, there is no discussion or assistance as each psychic may look at different numbers of cards. If the majority are correct, everyone wins.
Things I like:
- Artwork. Alright, I’ve established that I’m a broken record, but this is yet another game where it’s just fun to look at the cards. They’re all abstract, but every time we play, I end up seeing new details that I’ve not seen before. It’s a visually stunning game.
From top to bottom: Examples of the people, the places, and the vision cards
- Clairvoyance. This helps to reduce the possibility of an alpha gamer. Even if someone tries to tell everyone else what to do, you can always bet against them. And it’s even sweeter if he or she is wrong and you soak up those points.
The Clairvoyance tracker
- Asymmetry. I love that you can play this game as either a psychic or the ghost and get a completely different game experience. It brings a freshness to the game if it’s gotten stale. You can always play the other role.
The front and back of the Ghost’s player shield. The bottom picture shows the pockets for the cards.
- Phases. I also love that you play what feels like a complete game, and then you get to play the second phase, which feels like a separate little mini-game that, when combined, make a complete experience.
Things I don’t like:
- Repeat Ghosts. One problem that has arisen with this game is that because me and my wife teach it a lot, one of us always ends up playing the ghost, and it’s typically my wife. I’ve gotten so used to her style that it’s gotten easier for me. Additionally, there are certain vision cards which she always tries to play for certain components, which is fine if you haven’t played with her as the ghost several times in a row.
- A-P. Good old-fashioned analysis paralysis. If you have a ghost that is slow, it can realllllllly drag the game on, while everyone sits around waiting for their vision cards. If this happens in your group, I’d suggest using a timer to speed things up a bit.
Complaints other people have had:
- The final phase. Probably the biggest complaint I’ve had from this game is that the entire first part of the game is cooperative with full discussion and helping the other players. Then you get to the final phase and now there is no talking or helping each other and players have to vote by themselves. Additionally, people have stated that they feel like the game punished them for having a low clairvoyance score. The lower the clairvoyance level, the less cards you see at the end of the game. I don’t think either of these things is a problem, but I just wanted to give you a heads up as far as the things I’ve seen.
Like I said, when I first heard about this game, I wasn’t too excited. It seemed like an amalgamation of ideas that I didn’t like individually had been thrown together into a game. Then I played it. Immediately I knew that I needed it in my collection, and we have gotten to play it more than most games we own. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Dave’s GLG Rating: 8/10
Mysterium is a game that frequents my table. There are just so many things that a person can love about the game – the artwork, the theme, its co-op, etc. It’s interesting because I myself don’t love the game like some do, but every time we introduce this game to someone new, they seem to really love it. I think it’s because it hits on so many of those traditional themes that people are used to playing, but in a completely new way. Also, I often think of games in terms of what you get for what you pay. The artwork in this game is absolutely incredible and I can only imagine the hours that were spent creating such great pieces. All of the little problems of the game with the timing, the ghost role, and much of what Dave said is easily fixed by making house rules – not something I love doing since it normally dilutes the game, but here it doesn’t. Mysterium is really fantastic.
Cade’s GLG Rating – 7.5/10
As a quick post script, Mysterium has one expansion on shelves currently that adds new suspects, locations, weapons, and vision cards, and another expansion on the way. The new expansion adds story cards which replace the weapons. I don’t know much about it, but you can check out Mysterium and it’s expansions on Asmodee’s website Here.
You can also check it out on BGG Here.