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Andy Hunsucker
United States
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Back in the day, my brother and I used to play Guess Who frequently. I loved playing it. When I got older, I realized that the deductive reasoning aspect of the game was what made me enjoy it so much.

So when I first read about Mystery of the Abbey, I thought it sounded an awful lot like Clue mixed with Guess who, which was just fine with me.

I was pleased to find after playing it for the first time last night, that it was everything I thought it would be, and more.

I received the package in the mail, along with a few other games, and after a couple of other quick games, I pulled the shrink wrap off of MotA. I was expecting a prolonged punching and setup phase, but when I opened the box, I found that all the punching had been done for me. The plastic monk pieces sat nicely in the tray, each separated from the others. The dice and the bells sat in a separate portion of the tray, and the cards were wrapped in plastic.

This is just a brilliant packaging scheme. I opened the cards and separated them into different piles. For some reason, the cards were all mixed together in the package. It seemed odd to me that the suspect cards were spread throughout the package, along with all the other cards. Even with the cards issue, we went from shrinkwrap to game playing in under 10 minutes, I was very impressed.

With frequent rules consultation, we began to play, marking our suspects off of our lists, and trying to get information from the others as much as possible. Asking questions is fairly straightforward, and I think as we get the hang of it, it will become more intuitive.

I wasn't a big fan of the suspect sheets. They looked nice and were colorful and useful, but I don't like the idea that I'm using up parts of my game every time I play. I plan on laminating 6 of the sheets and just using those over and over again with wet-erase markers.

The board was good and sturdy, and the cards were not quite as nice as some sets I've seen, and they could be a litle sturdier, especially with as much as they are handled throughout the game.

My other main problem with the game was the dice. We only had three people playing, so everytime we had to roll to select a character, we only had a 50% chance of actually hitting someone that was in the game. It was kind of frustrating rolling the dice 5 times to get a result. With more people, this wouldn't be a problem.

The gameplay was light, and allowed for a lot of interaction, but it also allowed for a lot of screwage, so to speak. One turn, the person to my right got a card that allowed them to look at every card in my hand. So may strategy of trying to keep certain cards out of sight from the other players was completely lost.

In the end, it didn't matter, because I ended up getting the last card to check off my list and I made the correct accusation to end the game.

However, since I had made two incorrect revelations, I came in second place with 0 points. I was kind of impressed with this mechanic. The person who won was not the person who was able to solve the mystery. There's definitely a good bit of strategy in this game, and there's not a ton of luck involved either. The person who is able to say the most about the culprit in the beginning is the one who will most likely prevail.

I also really enjoyed the "Mass" mechanic. It reminded me a bit of Puerto Rico, with the passing of the governor token. After doing all they can, everyone has to start over, and pass cards around. It definitely helps move the game along, and keeps people from hoarding information from the beginning of the game on.

I didn't really like the movement, however. The board is set up, so that with 4 turns and two moves per turn, you can really only get to 1 or 2 major rooms to do anything before the turn is over. I can see the good and the bad side of this, and maybe I'll warm up to it in the future, but it seemed like after the 3rd turn, no one could do anything at all with the rest of their turn. I suppose it encourages encountering and questioning other monks who are roaming the same halls you are, but I feel like there should be more events and card drawing.

Also, the Revelation statements were kind of confusing at first. We made a couple of illegal revelations before we got the hang of it. The rules explained it well enough for us to get it, but we needed a bit of discussion before we figured it out.

I'm definitely looking forward to playing this game again, but I am a bit concerned that after 4 or 5 games, this title won't have the same excitement. I think with 5 or 6 players, this would be a very intense game of bluffing and interaction.

With 3 players, it's more of a light deduction and card passing game, and whoever is able to get the last suspect card on the table and keep it away from the other two players will likely make the correct accusation. The best part about this game though, is that the player who gets lucky enough to get that card, isn't necessarily the winner by default.

It could work as a fun party game, or a more serious game. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes mystery games, and/or deductive reasoning games. It would also work for groups that like plenty of interaction along with the potential to screw someone else over.
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