5 Of Our Favorite “More Challenging” Board Games You Should Try

3. Mysterium

OVERVIEW

A murder was committed, and the task of identifying the culprit, the weapon, and the location of the crime scene rests upon you and your friends’ shoulders – with the help of the victim’s restless ghost.

In Mysterium, all the players are in a haunted mansion where one player takes the role of a ghost trying to communicate to a team of psychics (played by the rest of your group) his visions through whimsically-illustrated cards representing how he was murdered (who? where? which weapon?). To solve the crime, the team must break down the ghost’s clues to determine the right culprit within ‘seven hours’ (no, it doesn’t literally take 7 hours haha). If not, the crime will never be solved and the ghost will forever remain in the corporeal realm. This thrilling, thematic cooperative game for 2-7 players entails a lot of mind games, intuitive guesses, and “my gahd, ang labo nung binigay mong clue!“s.

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RECOMMENDED NO. OF PLAYERS: 2-7 players

AVERAGE PLAYTHROUGH TIME: 45 minutes -1 hour

SETUP

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Game Screen- The ghost takes the game screen (pictured above), and it comes along with three “crow markers”, the ghost token for each player, the culprit tokens, and the 84 vision cards. I’ve preferred not to show what the game screen looks like behind to keep it a mystery for now.

Tableau of culprit cards- This tableau shows the six possible culprits up for the players’ guessing.

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The tableau of culprit cards, the intuition pawns, and the players’ character sleeves

Tableau of location cardsintense_dd_mysterium_4Tableau of object cardsintense_dd_mysterium_5

Intuition pawns- As shown in the image with the tableau of culprit cards, the intuition pawns are crystal ball-looking tokens that you place on a card that you chose for a certain round of guessing.

Clairvoyance tokens- These tokens, as shown in the image at the middle of the ‘Gameplay’ section, are used to show a player’s disagreement/agreement with the guess of another player. If the token was placed on a correctly-guessed card, it will improve the clairvoyancy of the player, which is reflected through the clairvoyancy tracker.

Clock- The clock represents the seven hours available for the team to solve the crime.

HOW TO WIN

If a majority of the players have identified the proper suspect, with ties being broken by the vote of the most clairvoyant player, then the killer has been identified and the ghost can rest peacefully.

GAMEPLAY

To begin the quest, deciding who the ghost will be among the group is the first task. (Tip: Make sure to choose the best person in the group that knows exactly how each player thinks.) The ghost is not allowed to talk to anyone as he/she holds the key to the final solution. For the non-ghost players to get to the final solution, the ghost must guide the players every step of the way through the illustrated vision cards.  To achieve this, the ghost and the team of psychics will have to go through two major phases of the game: the first phase, which involves only having “7 hours” (represented by game rounds) to  determine their unique set of culprit- location- weapon; and the second phase, which is only activated after all players pass the first phase.intense_dd_mysterium_2

Pacholo, the one right behind the game screen, was our ‘ghost’

For the first phase, the first mission is to infer who is the suspect being communicated to them in the first hour. Each player has their different set of culprit-location-weapon, so there’s no need to really worry about ‘cheating’ in this game (unless the ghost has made a deal with a player prior to the game and they have already decided on some sort of physical communication #OverthinkerProblems). The ghost then hands out one or more vision cards to each player. When the last player has received his/her vision card/s from the ghost, a two-minute sand timer will be activated. The players are free to talk and help each other out.

After the guesses have been made by placing their intuition pawns, each player may spend their clairvoyancy tokens on the guesses made by the other players to show their agreement/disagreement with those guesses.intense_dd_mysterium_6

When the time is up, the ghost affirms which guesses were correct and incorrect. Players who guessed their culprit correctly collect the culprit card representing their correct guess, tuck it into their character’s sleeve, and move forward to the second mission: guessing the location of the crime. On the other hand, players who have not made the correct guess keep their vision cards and receive a new one in the next hour/round to help them further get the suspect right.

Also, remember the ‘clairvoyancy tokens’ that can be spent on other players’ guesses? If a player bets on another player’s guess that was proven correct, he gets to move his tracker above the clairvoyancy tracker to the right (just like in the image below).

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(Above) The clairvoyance tracker; (Below) clairvoyance tokens

Repeat this process until all players have guessed their culprit-location-object, or until the end of the seventh hour/ round.  If the seventh round ends leaving at least one player incomplete with his cards, then the ghost has failed and leaves the mystery unsolved.  However, if all players manage to finish on time, then the gameplay proceeds to the second phase.

The second phase begins with the players taking their culprit-location-object lineup of cards from their sleeves and arranging it in groups on the table. The ghost draws a fresh set of vision cards, and then secretly nominates a group of cards that correctly represent the true culprit. The ghost places a tile face down on the table that corresponds with that chosen lineup, and picks three vision cards — one for the suspect, one for the location, and one for the weapon — from his/ her hand that will lead the players, as a group, to the true culprit.

During this part of the second phase, clairvoyancy points come into play. Players who have achieved higher clairvoyance get to see more of those three cards before casting their final vote. Meanwhile, players who have a lower clairvoyancy just flip over one vision card at random. The non-ghost players have the freedom to gather each other’s opinions to interpret this final vision before casting their votes.  The group of cards that has the most votes is accused, and the ghost reveals the answer.  If the players got it right, they win the game!  Or else, everybody goes home sad as the ghost will never be able to know his tormentor….

EXPERIENCE

It’s safe to say everyone loves the challenge of solving a crime, right? That’s why out of the five, Mysterium is my personal favorite, and two in our group agree, as well!  It has a fun concept, its artwork is beauty at its finest, the gameplay elements are interesting, the mechanics are easy to grasp, and the overall gameplay is a ton of fun! It’s the kind of “level up” board game as well that you can possibly play with your younger siblings or cousins. In addition to that, artists will definitely appreciate the bizarre art on the vision cards. The images are designed well to correspond with the different culprits, items, and locations available for guessing.

I would suggest playing Mysterium with a set of people that you know to have high levels of creativity and fighting spirit, though, as the game can get frustrating at times, especially when the player and the ghost just can’t seem to make that mental connection hahaha. Dixit players may like Mysterium as it somehow presents a similar concept – but with more sense.

Mysterium is surely a board game that I would want to repeat with much enthusiasm!

Read on for more!

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