In Mysterium board game review; Justice Is Dead

Mr. MacDowell was a renowned astrologer who had always believed that the universe held unknowable secrets. His suspicions were proven right, to his surprise, right after he received an ominous invitation to inhabit a grandiose mansion in the misty Scottish countryside. Mr. MacDowell saw this as a great opportunity to expand his research and secure his finances. So, he moved as soon as he could.

Though the spacious estate boasted sprawling gardens and picturesque hills, a sense of unease permeated the grounds from the moment MacDowell arrived. An otherworldly energy hung thick in the air and an unexplainable presence lurked in every corner. It was as if this land was protecting a dark mystery. At first, MacDowell tried to brush it off, blaming his overactive imagination. But soon, unsettling signs emerged that he could no longer ignore.

Objects moved on their own. Doors creaked open in the dead of night. Unnerving whispers arose from nowhere. MacDowell was both terrified and fascinated and he knew the supernatural activities in his house needed investigating, but he could not do it alone. Calling in some favors, he assembled an elite council of mediums to attempt contacting the mysterious entity.

group of mediums trying to summon a ghost

The séance was a tense affair. The room was chillingly dark and the air was uncomfortably dry. The mediums joined hands around a table as candle flames danced in harmony. MacDowell guided them through the ritual. Initially, silence prevailed. But then, a chill descended upon the room and an impenetrable fog materialized from nowhere.

Suddenly, an ethereal voice spoke from within the darkness – a faint but distinctively human voice. The spirit, who soon turned out to be of a former resident, had manifested and bore a message for MacDowell and his team. The ghost revealed it had been murdered under the same roof and could not rest in peace until its killer was found.

The mediums were astonished as they listened to the ghost’s story. He revealed that once had been a wealthy businessman with countless enemies. The police had never solved his murder. With the aid of astral visions channeled by the mediums and clues sent by the ghost’s foggy memory from the beyond, MacDowell and his circle of trusted mediums now needed to solve the spirit’s murder if they hoped to uncover his mystery and lay his soul to rest.

Welcome to Mysterium

Mysterium board game box

Mysterium is a cooperative mystery-solving board game designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, and produced by Libellud in 2015. The game is intended for 2-7 players aged 10 and up and can be played in 40-80 minutes, depending on the number of players.

read more: 7 Best Coop Board Games

The game falls under the genre of deduction and mystery and is set in the 1920s Scotland. One player takes on the role of a ghost who was unjustly murdered in his own mansion, while the others are psychic investigators who have come together to solve the mystery of the murder. The ghost cannot speak and can only communicate with the investigators through dreamlike visions represented by beautifully illustrated cards.

The gameplay mainly revolves around the ghost giving out clues to the investigators through vision cards, which the investigators must interpret to solve the murder. The ghost also assigns each investigator a unique suspect, location, and weapon card, which they must guess correctly to move on to the next phase of the game. The game is won if the investigators can correctly guess the three cards assigned to them before the timer of 7 hours runs out. If the mystery remains unsolved by the time the seventh bell is rung, the spirit vanishes and is stuck in the never-ending void of unease.

Mysterium is a great game for fans of cooperative deduction games such as Avalon board game, Clue, Dixit and Codenames board game, but what sets it apart is the use of visions as a means of communication among players. The game is also unique due to the fact that it can be played with a large group of players, which is rare and often appreciated in the deduction genre.

The distinguishing feature of Mysterium however, without a doubt, is its beautiful artwork. The game features stunningly illustrated (By Xavier Collette & Igor Burlakov) cards that are both eerie and whimsical, very artistically adding to the immersive experience of the game. This title also comes with a soundtrack that sets the mood for the game and greatly favors the overall ambiance of your sessions.

How It Plays

Mysterium board game overview

Mysterium provides players a unique and engaging gameplay experience through several innovative mechanisms that combine to form a fun and challenging cooperative mystery experience.

The asymmetric setup sees one player assume the role of a ghost tasked with communicating clues to help unravel its own murder mystery, while the remaining players roleplay various investigators attempting to solve the case. Due to its inability to speak, the ghost must rely exclusively on surreal dream visions to convey hints and guide the mediums toward uncovering the truth, adding an imaginative twist to the traditional deduction mechanic and classic whodunit formula.

At the beginning of the game, the ghost assigns each investigator a unique suspect, location, and weapon card, which they must guess correctly to move on to the next phase of the game. The ghost then gives out clues to the investigators through illustrated cards, which the investigators must interpret to solve the murder.

The investigators have seven rounds to solve the mystery. In each round, the ghost gives out a set of vision cards to each investigator, which they must use to guess which suspect, location, or weapon the ghost is trying to communicate. The investigators place their guesses on a game board, and if they’re correct, they move on to the next phase of the game.

The ghost can also give out progress cards to the investigators, which allow them to move forward in the game. However, the ghost must be careful not to give too much away, as the investigators only have a limited number of guesses.

The gameplay of Mysterium is engaging and challenging, with each player having a role to play in solving the mystery. The ghost must carefully choose which vision cards to give out, while the investigators must use their deductive skills to interpret the clues.

When 7 hours have passed, there are three possible endings. If all the investigators correctly guess their assigned suspect, location, and weapon, the game is won. If they fail to do so, but still manage to correctly guess the identity of the murderer, the game is considered a partial win. If they fail to do either, the game is lost.

More Cases

The secrets of Mysterium were simply too compelling to leave behind so the publisher revisited this eerie title for not one, but two content-packed expansions that will provide new gripping adventures in the Mysterium Universe. If the psychic private investigator in you is looking for new scary mysteries to solve, you’re in luck and just the right place.

2. Hidden Signs

Mysterium board game hidden signs expansion box

This expansion pack adds a whole new layer of mystery to the base game, with new suspects, locations, and weapons to guess. It also introduces new gameplay mechanics and challenges to keep players engaged and entertained.

The expansion pack includes 84 new vision cards, 6 suspect cards, 6 location cards, and 6 weapon cards. The new cards are beautifully illustrated and add to the overall ambiance of the game. The expansion also includes new character cards that add new abilities and challenges to the game.

One of the new mechanics introduced in Hidden Signs is the addition of character-specific visions. Each investigator has a unique set of vision cards that only they can see. These visions give clues about the suspect, location, or weapon assigned to that investigator, making it easier for them to guess correctly.

Another new mechanic has taken the form of motivation cards. These cards represent the motives of the suspects and can be used to gain extra points if the investigators correctly guess the motive of the murderer.

Mysterium: Hidden Signs also includes a new game board that features a clock. The clock adds an extra layer of tension to the game, as the investigators must solve the mystery before time runs out. If the investigators fail to solve the mystery before the clock strikes midnight, the game is lost. Fans of the original game will definitely enjoy this expansion and the new mysteries it brings to the table.

1. Secrets & Lies

Mysterium board game Secrets & lies expansion box

Secrets & Lies amps up your Mysterium experience with its expansion of the original board game. Players are tasked once again with deciphering a disturbing mystery years after the first, armed with 84 bone-chilling vision cards, 12 suspects, weapons and locations for clues, and new character cards granting fresh abilities.

Beautifully illustrated cards fill the air with unease, providing backstories and motives for suspects through story cards while object cards associated with them offer extra points for those who identify the murderer’s possessions.

Two new tension-building mechanics strap sleuths to the edge of their seats: a countdown clock that races against detectives solving the crime in time, and a progress bar reflecting the cold realization of truth with each clue pieced together.

Secrets & Lies digs deeper into Mysterium’s thrilling mystery, adding complexity that keeps goosebumps rising as players are drawn into its haunting narrative, cryptic clues and dark design elements that promise to leave even the toughest detectives haunted.

What It’s Like

People playing Mysterium board game

Mysterium is best known for its innovations in gameplay mechanics, requiring investigators to interpret dreamlike visions conveyed by beautifully illustrated cards to communicate clues from a ghostly informant. This unconventional deduction method, along with being suitable for large groups, sets it apart from other titles that focus on deduction.

Many praise Mysterium’s cooperative nature, a refreshing change of pace where players must collaborate to solve the mystery.

Some however, criticize the game for being too difficult and lengthy, especially with larger groups, due to the deduction and interpretation required and the long duration. Both of these notes are subjective and may differ for every group.

Fortunately, these weaknesses haven’t overshadowed Mysterium’s positive acclaim within the board game community, winning famous awards like the Golden Geek for Best Artwork & Presentation and the prestigious As d’Or – Jeu de l’Année Expert. It has been subjected to multiple other nominations as well, including the prestigious Spiel des Jahres.

Overall, Mysterium offers a fresh take on deduction through its thematic mechanics and stunning visuals, ensuring players keep coming back for more mystery-solving adventures despite some challenging aspects of difficulty and length. Its creative uniqueness and replayability truly distinguish it within the genre.

Final Thoughts

The gameplay of Mysterium is engaging and challenging, with each player having an important role to play in solving the mystery and while the game may be challenging for some, its cooperative gameplay and immersive experience make it a must-try for board game enthusiasts. The impressive work on expansions adds enticing new challenges and mechanics to the already enjoyable gameplay of the original game.

In conclusion, if metaphysical detective work has the potential to bring your friends working together within a captivating thrill of an experience, then you should make sure to check this game and its expansion packs out and leave your comments on them down below!

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