Mysterium is a game that I have been playing constantly since it debuted as a digital version for Steam, Android, and iOS. I had heard great things about it, so I figured buying the digital version was a good way to test the gameplay before purchasing the physical copy. However, once I played for the first time, I was hooked and knew I had to buy a copy of the actual tabletop game.
In Mysterium, one player acts as a ghost of a murder victim who must give clues to the other players to help them solve the case. The other players play as psychics who gather mysterious clues from the ghost to try to determine a suspect, location, and weapon assigned to them. Ultimately, the psychics must work together at the end to determine the actual murderer, location, and weapon used based on the ones each psychic was assigned.
The clues that the psychics receive come in the form of beautifully illustrated cards with a random assortment of themes and objects on them. It’s up to the psychics to determine how the cards they receive can be related to one of the suspects, locations, and murder weapons. For example, a ghost may give a card that shows an apple on it as a clue that the suspect was a chef, or a card with buttons on it as a clue that the suspect is a seamstress.
If a ghost doesn’t have any clue cards that they deem as a good fit for any of the psychics, they can use 1 of 3 crow tokens as a symbol that they’re going to trade in up to 7 of their clues for new cards. Each psychic has 7 rounds to determine their particular suspect, location, and murder weapon. The rounds are tracked by a cardboard clock with 7 hours labeled on it that stands on the table where all players can see it. You can choose to change the difficulty of the game by changing how many possible cards there are from which to choose as well as how often the ghost is able to utilize the crow tokens.
In a game with 4 or more players, you can opt to use clairvoyance tokens. These allow you to place a “correct” or an “incorrect” marker on the other psychics guesses if you agree or disagree with their choice. If you’re correct in their guess, you’ll get a point on the clairvoyance tracker.
If you get 5 points by the final round, you’ll get to see 2 clue cards to guess the suspect, location, and weapon combination. If you get 7 or more points, you’ll get to see 3 clue cards, one of which will pertain to a suspect, one that is related to the location, and one that corresponds with the weapon. Anything less than 5 points will only allow you to see one clue card.
Assuming each psychic correctly guesses the suspect, location, and weapon assigned to them before the 7th round, the final round begins. If any of the players fails to guess their assigned cards in time, everyone loses the game.
Each player will look at the number of final round clue cards based on clairvoyance points and secretly make their guess by placing a token in their player card packet and then handing it to the ghost. Once all players have submitted their secret guess, the one with the most votes is deemed the group’s choice and all of the psychics will either lose together or win together based on that choice. Should there be a tie in votes, the vote of player who reached the final round first is used to determine the group’s guess.
In a 2 player game, the person acting as the psychic plays as 2 different psychics and has to get both of them to the final round by the 7th hour on the clock or both players lose. Then during the final round, the psychic only has one guess to see if both players win or lose.
The components are well-made and the artwork is beautiful. My only qualm with the quality is that the cards stick together when you first receive it. You’ll want to shuffle the cards quite a bit to get some air between them in order to easily draw them. It’s also a bit much to set up if you only have 2 people playing. At that point, you may just want to start a 2 player game on the digital version if you both have the devices necessary. For a group game, it’s well-worth the setup and it’s easy to teach to new players.
Overall, I love playing Mysterium, both the digital version and the tabletop copy. However, if just my wife and I want to play, it’s more efficient to just play on our iPads. When we have people over, it’s a beautiful game to have on the table, and it’s so easy to teach new players that it instantly becomes a hit. The vague clues, cooperative gameplay, and the inability of the ghost being able to speak is a lot of fun and generates a lot of conversation at the table (at least by the psychics). Definitely give this game a try if you’re into games like Codenames, Hanabi, Dixit, or Clue.