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Mysterium - Better Off Dead?

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12 Oct 2017 19:31 #255662 by Egg Shen

Do you and your friends have what it takes to solve the ghostly riddles of…MYSTERIUM?

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13 Oct 2017 11:59 #255663 by Shellhead
I like the art in Mysterium, but the overall concept sounded like Clue for anarchists. I am going to a Halloween party next weekend, and the host is going to stage a live-action game of Mysterium, using household items and photos in place of the pretty cards. I will watch from the sidelines.

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13 Oct 2017 13:05 #255668 by Matt Thrower
Good review but the game didn't do much for me. It doesn't pass muster as a co-operative game because there's no actual co-operation. You're just guessing or even working at cross purposes.

The theme seems interesting but is thinly pasted and adds little to the game. Mechanically it's just a co-op version of Dixit with little innovation on display. The art is good and well designed for play, though.

Only played it once though and not a co-op fan generally so maybe don't listen to me.

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13 Oct 2017 14:03 #255676 by JEM
Replied by JEM on topic Mysterium - Better Off Dead?
I really like Mysterium. As an insufferable hipster of course I play Tajemnicze Domostwo but with the original Ukrainian rules. The comparison to Dixit is as obvious as it is facile, because the two games play completely differently. Mysterium is very much a game that encourages group effort to solve clues, whereas Dixit calls for obfuscation vs all but one player (in a winning strategy). In that sense it's a shame that clues are assigned per player, as it conveys an unhelpful sense of ownership that detracts from the collaborative approach required to succeed.

My main gripe (I don't know if the Libellud edition fixed this) is that you can get into a situation where you clearly (as a group) can't win the game, even while on the first clue for a player. Structuring the game around some kind of score system (X+ score is good, Y+ score is better, Z+ score is best) might help with that, because it's deflating to experience failure in early/mid-game due to one sticky clue. I mean that by the strict mechanisms of the game you have not "failed" by that point, but the rounds remaining vs clues required absolutely confirm that success is no longer possible.

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13 Oct 2017 21:21 #255699 by cdennett
Mysterium is a family favorite, and I like it well enough in that category. When my rigid-thinking slightly-Asperger son after playing the ghost tells me "Dad, you were being too literal!" I consider that a big win. I find that even the co-op haters can find some enjoyment in that game in the social interaction department.

Regarding knowing you're going to lose because you don't have enough turns, that is certainly possible, though it has never happened to us in probably a dozen games. We have had quite a few come down to a guess on the final round. But it's obvious in the Libellud version that it's that case and you might as well just stop there (not familiar with the Ukrainian rules).

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15 Oct 2017 16:13 #255742 by Egg Shen

MattDP wrote: Good review but the game didn't do much for me. It doesn't pass muster as a co-operative game because there's no actual co-operation. You're just guessing or even working at cross purposes.

The theme seems interesting but is thinly pasted and adds little to the game. Mechanically it's just a co-op version of Dixit with little innovation on display. The art is good and well designed for play, though.

Only played it once though and not a co-op fan generally so maybe don't listen to me.


Curious, when you played...did you try it as the Ghost? I've found that some people don't care for the investigators side, but really love trying to guide everyone as the undead player.

Interesting that you feel it has no theme. I find it to be one of the more cleverly themed games that doesn't resort to things like flavor text, event cards etc...

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16 Oct 2017 09:18 #255774 by Matt Thrower

Egg Shen wrote: Curious, when you played...did you try it as the Ghost? I've found that some people don't care for the investigators side, but really love trying to guide everyone as the undead player.


No, only played as an investigator. Perhaps I'll try it again sometime from the other side, as a medium might say.

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16 Oct 2017 09:39 - 16 Oct 2017 09:41 #255776 by Josh Look
I absolutely love Mysterium. I’m not a co-op fan and as the years go on, I think largely is because I don’t like AI mechanics. Outside of games that feature app integration, there’s nothing an AI system can do that wouldn’t be better if controlled by a human. This might also be why I’m more forgiving of the often dreaded 1 vs All genre. That Mysterium takes the 1vA formula and made it co-operative really impressed me. And it’s a blast to boot. I can’t believe how many people are saying it isn’t really co-operative or that it isn’t unthematic. If your players are not helping each other puzzle out the cards they’ve been given or trying to read the ghost player or asking the occasional yes or no question with an answer given in one or two knocks, you’re going about the game all wrong.

It does live or die by your group, more so than most games.
Last edit: 16 Oct 2017 09:41 by Josh Look.

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22 Oct 2017 22:14 #256184 by Shellhead
The Mysterium game at the party was just okay. The clues were 50/50 cards from the game and real world objects obtained from thrift shops and estate sales. In theory, that sounds cool, but in actual practice, the real world objects offered less flexibility in terms of offering clues, at least compared to the evocative cards that come with the game.
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24 Oct 2017 11:03 #256248 by Egg Shen

Shellhead wrote: The Mysterium game at the party was just okay. The clues were 50/50 cards from the game and real world objects obtained from thrift shops and estate sales. In theory, that sounds cool, but in actual practice, the real world objects offered less flexibility in terms of offering clues, at least compared to the evocative cards that come with the game.


Yeah after reading about the real life version I thought it sounded pretty damn cool. However, I think one of the things that people really don't understand about Mysterium is just how tightly interwoven the abstracted vision cards are with the locations/weapons/suspects. It's almost the work of a mad genius as each vision is capable of offering clues. I can imagine handing out real world objects would wreck havoc on the balance of the game.

Did you play or just kind of observe?
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24 Oct 2017 11:39 #256252 by Shellhead
I did play at the party. An old friend was The Ghost, so I picked up on his people and location clues fast, though I struggled with the weapon clues. The real world objects were represented behind the screen as a stack on index cards. He did a mixture of normal clue and object clues, because he said it was really difficult matching up an object to a concept for a clue. Apparently this difficulty also slowed down the game a lot.

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