A few years ago the family went to a group board game day, and we played the Mysterium board game. I should say, Jeff and I played it, at the time my kids were all off playing with the kids. I’d heard great things about Mysterium, and was really curious to play it, but we were underwhelmed by the game. I talked with friends who loved the game and they said, “Oh no, the best way to play Mysterium is when you all know each other, because it’s like Apples to Apples and relies on reference.” With that, when we visited Tara, I asked to play Mysterium with the whole family for a fun bit of gameschooling.
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The Premise of Mysterium
Mysterium was introduced to me as “It’s before Clue, but after the man has been killed. You’re a bunch of psychics communicating with the ghost to solve the murder.” That’s more or less true. Each player receives a series of visions from the ghost to reveal the murderer, the location, and the weapon (sounds like Clue right?).
- There are a couple of expansions, and Tara, because she loves Mysterium has both of the expansions:
- Hidden Signs– adds in more suspects, locations, and murder weapons
- Secrets and Lies– instead of looking for the murder weapon, you are looking for the motive
- Broken Token Mysterium Organizer– If you are going all in and getting all of the expansions, you’ll want the organizer so you can fit it all into the first box, rather than having three boxes to mess with. Also, I just happen to like the Broken Token stuff, we’ve got their organizers for a couple of games. They’re super helpful.
How to Play Mysterium
This is a cooperative game, which makes Princess very happy. Each person is getting a vision of the murder, and at the end the ghost gives everyone a final vision of the events that shows which one actually is correct.
Board set up, there are a number of suspects/locations/weapons put out equal to the number of players plus two. Each player receives a character, this doesn’t affect game play, it’s rather like Mrs. White or Colonel Mustard in Clue, just adds flavor. Apparently while playing I did not take a picture of the character folders.
The game is played over seven rounds, and each round a player is given anywhere from 1 to 7 vision cards for the information they are trying to figure out. These are all the clues I collected to figure out the murder weapon.
As the cards are being passed out, you work together to figure out which card the visions are pointing towards. This is all subjective, and is part of why knowing the people you are playing with helps, because you know how they think.
Once everyone has their cards, a timer is started, and before the timer goes off, you need to make your guess based off of the vision cards you have. The other players then can put markers out if they think you are correct or incorrect (I’ll talk more on this when I talk strategy).
After everyone has placed their markers, or when the timer runs out, the ghosts informs everyone if they are correct or incorrect. If you are correct, you move on to the next category, if you are incorrect, you stay there, but you’ve eliminated one possible answer.
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Once you have gone through the seven rounds, IF everyone has gotten a suspect, location, and weapon you move on to the next round. Everyone explains their vision, this is where the storytelling part comes in. Above this paragraph, I’ve included Jeff’s version of events. Sadly, I didn’t get anyone else filmed, because Princess’ rendition was amazing, and Superman’s was rather funny for how bad it was. The chef murdered the former owner of the house because he received a “not good compliment.”
Not even an insult, a not good compliment.
Once everyone has given their version of events, the ghost chooses the correct version based off the vision cards (s)he has (our ghost was Tara, so she).
Based off of how good a psychic you are, is how many cards of the final vision you can see, there are three cards in the vision (suspect, location, murder weapon).
Based off of those cards, everyone votes for which version they believe is correct, and the ghost tells you at the end if you are right.
Strategy for playing the game
Everyone is given these little pointers with a green check mark or a red X. These are to indicate if you think the person is right or wrong. If you are correct about their guess you receive psychic points. These allow you to see more of the final vision cards. You get all of them back at the beginning of the fourth round. Make sure you use all of these, they are a big help to you.
At the start of the game, agree on how you refer to the characters and locations. This helps the ghost have insight into what you are thinking. So our ghost was able to point out the gamekeeper to Jeff on the first round because we’d all discussed how similar he looked to Sherlock Holmes.
It also helps if you talk through what you’re thinking because it can give everyone else insights into your cards, and help narrow down what your vision is.
Finally, the ghost has three crows. She can use these to discard all of the vision cards she has if she doesn’t like them. This can be an indication she is struggling to give you a good vision.
The ghost also might dump extra cards on a person if they think their vision is super obvious.
Final call on Mysterium?
I think it’s a lot of fun. Jeff enjoyed it more this time because it was better. I also think the person explaining it to us the first time missed some things because I really do not remember the multiple visions or trying to get psychic points.
I’m not sure if we’ll buy our own copy because I don’t see it being something Princess will ask to play, and my boys all prefer competitive games, not cooperative.
More Board Games to Try
- Kings of Israel– cooperative race to save Israel
- Touch of Evil– semi-cooperative game to defeat the monsters
- Axis of Villains– cooperative game to defeat all the supervillains
- Castle Panic– the original coop game to defeat all the monsters
- Once Upon a Time– storytelling game, not cooperative, but also uses cards to tell stories