Review – Mysterium
A cooperative, hand management and investigation game.
Title: Mysterium (aka Tajemnicze Domostwo)
Year Published: 2013
Designer: Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko
Publisher: Portal Games
Game Time: ~60 Mins
Set-up Time: >10 Mins
Theme: Early-Mid 1900’s Europe
Mechanic: Hand Management, Investigation
How to win: Expose the true culprit.
The ancient legend says the ghost is the soul of the manor’s previous resident, who was unjustly executed for a crime he didn’t commit, more than one hundred years ago. Now he tries to use the mysterious signs to tell people the truth about what really happened then, so that justice would be established and he might rest in peace for ever. The specialists in the supernatural were invited to try to understand what the ghost wants to tell and in case of success be honoured by one more victory and receive a generous reward. They have seven days and seven nights to reach their goal. If they succeed in time, everyone wins the game (including the ghost).
There are several rule-sets for this game from it’s various release languages. I will describe the one I use which came highly recommended at my time of purchase. I believe it’s the Polish version but could be Ukrainian! Who knows.
Put random Psychic cards face up on the table depending on the number of players and the difficulty level. The difficulty is the number of psychics plus 2 for Easy, 3 for Normal, 4 for Difficult and 5 for Very Difficult. Remove the rest from the game.
You do this for the 3 types of card.
Put the calendar on the table and the day marker on Monday.
Give each Psychic a Wooden Token and Hour Glass as well as a character of their colour.
The Ghost will get the psychics other Wooden Tokens and the deck of Dream cards. It will also take copies of the Psychics cards that are on the table from the Ghost deck. The rest of the Ghost cards are removed from the game.
The Ghost separately shuffles each type of card and puts one of each under each Psychics counter. The Ghost can look through each of these stacks but can’t change them.
The Ghost player draws 7 Dream cards.
The game lasts 7 turns, divided into 2 steps: Events Reconstruction and Exposing the True Culprit.
Events Reconstruction – Each psychic is trying to work out who was there, where they were and what they were holding. This will give them their 3 cards the Ghost has under that psychics token which they will use when moving onto the last phase.
The Events Reconstruction step is in 3 Phases.
Dream – In any order, and once per Psychic, the Ghost gives any number of dream cards to a Psychic to lead them towards their current card. Psychics are trying to guess the Character first, then when they are successful move on to Location, then Item. After each Psychic, the Ghost draws back up to 7 cards.
The Ghost can discard their hand to draw back up to 7 cards a number of times per game depending on the difficulty level you chose. Easy – Once per day, Normal – 3 times per game, Difficult – Once per game, Very Difficult – Never!
Oneiromancy – As soon as each Psychic get Dream cards they can start this phase and Psychics will try and understand the Dream to try and guess which card the Ghost is pointing at.
During the game the Ghost cannot help verbally or physically… All they can do is give cards. Each Psychic places their Token on the card they think the Ghost wanted them to pick. Psychics can place their Token on the same character if they wish but once everyone has placed their token this phase ends.
Mysterious Signs – The Ghost will reveal if they are right/wrong for each player without giving reasons why. The Ghost turns their copy of the card face up if a Psychic is correct and removes the card on the table from the game. If a Psychic guessed their Character they move their token to Location on their player board. If they guessed location, move it to Item. If a player completes Character, Location and Item, they now help other players. until the start of the next Step.
Ghosts cards used by that player are returned to the box if they are correct and all Psychics take back their Tokens. If not all Psychics have interpreted their dreams, advance the calendar board and restart this Step. If all players have interpreted their dreams, move on to the next Step.
Exposing the True Culprit – The Psychics will now be given a Common Dream to point out the true culprit. The Ghost selects 3 cards from their hand for the common dream with one card pointing to a Character, one to Location and one to the Item from one of the Psychics set of 3 cards. The Ghost secretly takes that players token and keeps it separate from the other players tokens.
Oneiromancy – Players discuss which character set the Ghost picked and each player places a Token on the set they think the Ghost is referring to. When one set has the majority, the phase ends.
Exposing the True Culprit – If the guess is incorrect, discard the chosen combination from the table and advance the turn marker and try again.
If time is up, the mansion owner invites a new team of psychics to help and you lose.
If you win, the mansion owner gives you a financial reward!
This is often called a cross between Dixit and Cluedo and yeah, that’s right it is.
The oversized cards with bizarre artwork could be used in Dixit really and people who have tried it say it works quite well. Although the Mysterium cards are more detailed and ‘fuller’ whereas the Dixit cards are fairly minimalistic in comparison.
This game plays well up to it’s maximum 7. You need to make a choice as the Ghost per psychic and sometimes you look at your hand and it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard and can take a while. So the downtime between rounds depends on the Ghost and how quick they are.
But once the Ghost gives cards to on player everyone can join in. Talking, discussing, pointing… but remember the ‘too many cooks’ rule!
As the Ghost you can’t say anything.When you give a card and someone says “Ah, it has a bird in it and that location has a bird in it so I think it’s that” and you think to yourself… “Yes! they get me…”. Then someone comes in and says “It’s blue, and that location is blue…”… You can’t do anything about it as a Ghost, you can’t even grimace without sound in case someone sees you and it influences them…
There is nothing worse in this game when you’re the Ghost and you listen to the Psychcics talk themselves out of the right line of thinking!
The change in difficulty level for player count is massive too. If you play 3 players on hard mode or 4 players on easy there is the same about of cards to choose from. Playing 7 players is difficult even on Easy due to the massive amount of choice the Psychics have.
Choice pollutes the options and makes it harder for the Ghost to pinpoint a specific card without leading psychics to the wrong card accidentally.
One you can play with different player numbers and abilities that everyone can enjoy.
I give it 8/10