A few months back Nicole did a full review of Tajemnicze Domostwo, but it’s worth taking a look at the new Libellud version, Mysterium. It is in essence the same game, but there are a few tweaks in theme, game play and components that are worth mentioning. It is a cooperative game by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Siderenko. There was a lot of buzz about the game last year, but it could be very hard to get your hands on a copy. Coming into GenCon the English version was high up on a lot of people’s lists. It was definitely one of the hits of the convention, selling out its daily ration in about 10 minutes each day.
Rather than go through a whole rehashing of the rules, I’ll mention where these games differ slightly.
Like the original Polish version, one player will take on the sheets and chains of a ghost haunting an old manor. This time, the rest of the players will become a team of psychics trying to solve the ghost’s murder. The details of the case are slightly different in Mysterium. The victim was a man-servant, killed during a costume party in Count Warwick’s mansion. They will have seven hours to solve the crime before Samhain (Halloween) ends, then they will have to wait another year.
The ghost’s job is to lead the investigators to the right people, locations, and weapons in order to narrow down the list of suspects and ultimately identify the real killer. For this task, each round (or hour) of the game they will give one or more vision cards to the psychics in order to indicate a person, place or thing, depending on the piece of the crime the psychic is working on. If they are all able to interpret their visions and form a theory of what happened that night 30 years ago, they will get one more collective vision to figure out whose theory is correct.
Added to the Libellud version is the ability to bet on the vision interpretations your fellow psychics make. Each player has a number of clairvoyancy tokens they can play when a teammate has made their guess at identifying a card. Some indicate that you think the guess is correct and some that you think a mistake has been made. Depending how sure you are you can bet higher amounts. Once you’ve spent a clairvoyancy token it’s gone, until the fourth hour when all tokens are retrieved. These bets will move you up and down on the clairvoyancy track. This keeps players involved in their own interpretations as well as their teammates.
In this version the psychics start by identifying a person, then move on to a place and finally the third level is the object. Once all the psychics have solved their puzzles, the ghost will give them only one final three-card vision (regardless of how many rounds are left) to correctly solve the murder.
Here’s where the clairvoyancy track comes into play. The least clairvoyant psychics (the lowest on the track) will only get to see one card of the final vision and not know whether if refers to the person, place or thing. The next players will get to see two vision cards, but only the most clairvoyant psychic will get to see all three. Players secretly vote and if the majority of them are correct they win and the ghost’s soul is released.
There is no question, Libellud knocked it out of the park with the production value on Mysterium. The components are top notch, highlighted by the colourful crystal balls players will use to indicate their suspicions throughout the game and the ghost’s screen, which gives them a staging area when planning to hand out visions, and also has sleeves that hold each player’s combination of suspect, location and weapon. The screen makes it super easy to see at a glance what the different combinations are. No more sifting through piles of cards for each individual player.
The art is amazing. Much of it is taken directly from the original, some simply inspired by the art in the original. The suspects have a more sinister, but more cartoonish look to them, that I think works well and the locations are beautiful and rich. You can imagine any number of stories taking place in these abandoned rooms and halls.
It’s possible that some people will prefer the more classic approach of the art in the original Polish version, but ultimately both are quite breathtaking.
Mysterium is an amazing and unique game. It follows an interesting trend of co-operative communication games. Because of the very specific style of gameplay, it might not be for everyone, but those who like (which should be most people) will like it a lot. If you have the original Tajemnicze Domostwo, there may not be enough of a difference to justify grabbing Mysterium, but if you don’t have either I’d highly recommend going with the newer English version. You get so much bang for your buck and some minor added elements make this a game well worth purchasing. Happy haunting!