Let me start by saying this review will include "the Pilgrim's Chronicles". I got it with my box, and I really have no idea what the extra cards are anymore. That's it, actually: just some extra cards (not suspects). They're quite cool though!
What's the game about?
Mystery is a 3 - 6 player "whodunit", in the setting of an Abbey. Brother Adelmo was found last night, obviously murdered. The only people who couldn't possibly have done it are you, the players, and the Abbot. Um, since we had dinner together or something
So it's up to you to find out who did it!
It's a Days of Wonder game, that should say enough. The board is beautiful, the suspect cards have nice artwork, you even get a tiny bell for mass! Just take a look at the pics section here on BGG, and you'll see what I mean.
Everyone who knows my reviews, also knows I don't put much detail into the rules, since this is a review. Still, I need to explain some, of course:
everyone starts in the Ecclesia (Chapel) and gets to move two spaces every turn. Every room, except for the Aula and the Claustrum has "special abilities" of sorts.
For example: you can get a card giving you an extra turn in the Crypta, or cards with special powers in the Scriptorium. The best cards can be found in the Bibliotheca, but you can only visit that room once in the game, and only when you have the least suspect cards in your hand.
Solving the mystery means asking questions. When you end up in the same space as another character, you can ask that player a question. This can be just about anything, but certain rules must be followed.
All suspects fall into different categories:
- hooded / unhooded
- bearded / shaven
- thin / fat
You can ask about maximum two of these characteristics, or a specific name or something. You can even ask what the player's next move will be.
Here's a small plot twist: if the player answers your question, he gets to ask one back. (all answers must be the truth, of course) But the player can also just remain silent. In that case, you don't get your answer, but he/she doesn't get a question back.
Also, you can sneak into another player's room to "steal" a card. But don't get caught!
The "first player" also has the responsibility to ring the bell for mass. every turn, he/she moves the little bell on a card. When it gets to space 4, the bell must be rung, and everyone goes back to the Chapel for mass, and passing information. Which means giving cards to your left neighbour. The further into the game, the more cards you have to pass. Naturally, this will affect your strategy a lot.
The player with the most points wins the game.
Making an revelation is telling the Abbot one of the characteristics of the (possible) culprit. You get 2 points for each correct revelation, but you lose 1 point for each incorrect one. (at the end of the game)
Making an accusation is naming the murderer. Get that correct, and you receive 4 points. Get it wrong (then someone can show the suspect card in his/her hand), and you lose 2 points, AND have to go to penance.
Penance will make you lose a turn in the Chapel. You can get penance for:
- not moving the bell, or not ringing it when you need to
- accusing the wrong person
- spilling consecrated wine over the gameboard (really! It's in the rules!)
Well, that's about it for the basic rules. Sure, there are more, but you can visit the rules section for that, or read the manual.
Feel of the game
Oh boy, this game is great! That was what I thought after the first two games. And it stays good! I think it's a lot better than Clue, since there's no way you can be the bad guy, and the special rooms and mass really add to the game.
Also, you really have an atmosphere while playing this. In the beginning, questions don't do too much. But as soon as cards are swapped/stolen, the game really gets going.
Usually, two players have the same suspicions by the end, and that's when things really start to get exciting. You have 3 suspects left... Will you take a risk and accuse one? Or will you just make a revelation, and give the others a chance to win?
The cards also really add to the game. Here are some Bibliotheca examples:
- Mirror of the world: look at ALL the cards in a player's hand (determined by a die)
- Aristotle's Laugh: Immediately get another turn.
Or some Scriptorium cards:
- Summa Theologica: give one less card to your neighbour during mass
- Cryptographic Text: move to the Crypt or empty Confessional
And another really cool thing are the special events, which happen after every full turn (when a new mass is held).
You can have "A new corpse!", which is another murder. In that case, a card is randomly chosen from a player and placed face down on the board. Everyone ending there can take a look who it is.
Or something silly, like "morning bells", when all players must sing "are you sleeping".
So, end result!
This is a real fun game for people who enjoy a "whodunit" game with some extra's. The mood is instantly set, and only gets better the longer you play. I recommend scanning and printing the suspect sheets, since you only get 50 or so.
Since the game is so popular with my friends and myself, we've almost run out!
All in all, one of the most enjoyable games in my collection. Great fun, very beautiful, and quite easy to play. Highly recommended by yours truly.
Great review. Is the playing time close to that listed in forum (120 minutes) or is it quicker than that?
We usually finish in 90 minutes or so. Once you get to third mass, a lot of cards go around the table, so the game goes rather quickly after that.
We only had one 2-hour session so far, but that was mostly because we we were acting silly and speaking like monks