A to Z Gaming: Mysterium

We experienced a ghost’s visions to solve their untimely death in Mysterium, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Mysterium
Players: 2-7
Time: 42 Minutes
Designers: Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko
Artists: Igor Burlakov, Xavier Collette, Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko
Publisher: Libellud


Mysterium is a limited-communication deduction game where all players are working together to solve the mysterious death of a ghost. One player takes on the role of the ghost who is inhabiting a 1920’s Scotland house. The other players are mediums getting visions from the ghost to determine who, where, and how (or what) killed the ghost. Each player is trying to determine one possible story. If all players suss out their scenario by the end of seventh hour (round), they will have one chance to determine the correct scenario. All players win if the correct scenario is determined. If not, all players lose.

The game is set up by first choosing who the ghost player will be. That player sits at the head of the table with a shield and pulls a number of cards (based on player count and chosen game difficulty) for each of the suspects, locations, and weapons. They have the other players pull corresponding cards from the full-sized deck for the players. Then the ghost choses one card of each type at random for each player, placing them in the ghost’s shield, so only they can see which cards are correct for each player.

All of the possible cards are set up on the table grouped by suspect, location, and weapon, with the appropriate dividers for each on the board. The non-ghost players each choose a player color and get the pawn, clairvoyance token, envelope, and voting tokens of the appropriate color. They each place their pawn on the “suspect” divider.

The clock (round counter) and timer should be placed nearby. In addition, the clairvoyance track is placed nearby, with all player tokens placed at zero.

Finally, the ghost takes the appropriate number of raven tokens for the chosen game-difficulty, shuffles their dream cards and takes a hand of seven cards.

During the round, the ghost gives each player one or more vision cards aimed at helping that player determine their specific suspect. The ghost refills their hand after each set of cards they give out. At any time, the ghost can choose to use a raven to discard all or part of their hand to get some new cards. Once all non-ghost players have received visions, the ghost turns over the timer.

Players will use the vision cards to try and determine which suspect the ghost is trying to point them to — using colors, shapes, or even specific details of the card to make their determination. Players can start discussing their visions as soon as they receive them from the ghost. However, once the last set is given out, they only have until the timer runs out to place their pawns on the suspect they are guessing.

Players can also place their voting tokens next to other players’ pawns if they think that player has made the right (checkmark) or wrong (x) decision. The voting tokens are limited, though, and those that are used only go back to players at the beginning of the 4th round.

When the timer is up and everyone has placed their pawns and voting markers, players will point one-by-one at their pawns, and the ghost will indicate (nonverbally) if they have gotten their guess correct. If a player guesses correctly, they collect the suspect card, and their pawn will advance to the “location” divider. If not, the pawn will return to the “suspect” divider, and they’ll have to try again in the next round. The voting tokens are also resolved at this point, with those who voted correctly moving up on the clairvoyance track.

Each subsequent round is similar, though the ghost will need to pay attention to which part of the story they are providing clues for, because as the game progresses, some players may still be guessing suspects while others are on the location or even weapon. Once a player has succeeded in divining their full story, they no longer receive visions, but can still vote, if they have voting tokens left.

If everyone has determined their story by the end of the 7th round, then players enter the final round. Here, all stories are laid out from each player. The ghost secretly determines the correct story, placing a marker corresponding to it face-down on the table. Then the ghost chooses three cards, one to represent each the suspect, location and weapon. These three cards are mixed up, so the non-ghost players do not know which cards represent which aspect of the story. A player’s position on the clairvoyance track determines how many of the ghost’s cards they get to see before voting on which story they think is correct. Some players may only see one card, while others may see all three.

Each player votes in secret after seeing their allotted number of cards. Once all votes are cast, they are tallied, and if the scenario that has the most votes matches the ghost’s story, all players win.

We picked up this game after watching it played on TableTop. Well, it wasn’t *right* after watching the play through, but that’s what got us thinking about the game. We also tried it out at our local game cafe with some friends before diving in.

This one often hits the table during our October game-nights as a fun “spooky” game to play. Though, I’ll say that our game group is decidedly split on this one. There are a couple of folks who are not terribly fond of it, but they’ll usually go along if the rest of the group wants to play. Often, once we have it out, we’ll play it a couple of times, so this has become one of my more-played games.

I’m not usually a huge fan of deduction games, but I really like this one, especially when we have a bigger group playing. The discussions are fun, the art is gorgeous, and its just plain silly. I often play the ghost, which can also be exceedingly frustrating, but fun to listen in on how all the players are interpreting what you gave them. Well, and then there’s the sinking feeling when you realize that one of the extra suspects has something on their card that is perfect for the vision you just gave someone. Oops!

How is it as a 2-player game? Mysterium isn’t great as a 2-player game. There *is* a variant for 2 players where one player takes on the role of two investigators, but it’s just not as fun as having it with a crowd. I’m guessing this won’t come out again until we can resume our game-nights (for those reading later, this was written in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when game nights seemed like a thing of the distant past and distant future).

How about the art and component quality? I love the art of this game. The different mediums are cool, but the vision cards are where this game really sings. The components are good quality. The one thing we often do, though, is give the ghost a book light, because it can be dark behind the shield, and since their cards are smaller than the player’s cards, it can be hard to see all the details.

Will this stay in my collection? Absolutely. This is a fun game for a small crowd of people, and is especially fun to take out on our Halloween game-nights.

One Reply to “A to Z Gaming: Mysterium”

  1. The cards are petty in this game. It’s fun and frustrating to try to guess what the ghost is trying to tell you – especially if you disagree on basic things like whether or not rats are vermin. I wouldn’t usually pick this game to play, but I’ve gotten some good laughs out of it.

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