Back to the Gaming Table - Lexi's pick
Personally, once lockdown eases I'm most excited to get together with five friends and set up Obscurio, Mysterium or Mysterium Park.
Together they make up a loose series of co-operative asymmetric games in which one player delivers clues in the form of abstract art cards which the rest of the players must try to interpret in order to solve a mystery or escape an unfriendly library.
Even though each game uses a very similar mechanic, each game adds a unique twist to the formula that keeps them fresh.
The first game of the three, Mysterium has the majority of the players take on the role of psychics trying to solve a Cluedo-esque murder with the help of mysterious visions sent to them by the final player: The ghost of the victim.
Each player builds their own prediction of the murderer, location and weapon. While making predictions, the psychics also vote if their fellows have made a correct guess in order to to earn points, the more points they earn, the more of the final clues they can see.
Once they all successfully build a prediction, the ghost will reveal some final clues, using these the psychics come together to work out who was the real murderer. Mysterium is also the only game so far to have any expansions, which between them add 12 new suspects, locations and weapons, also with 84 new visions the ghost might choose from.
Next up is Obscurio which adds extra mechanics and a new setting to mix things up. Players now take on the roles of sorcerers trying to escape an enchanted library with the help of a friendly grimoire.
Unlike Mysterium, the players are working together on every clue rather than trying to build an individual prediction.
The grimoire now has two tokens they can use to highlight sections of the clue, in order to draw sorcerers attention to relevant aspects of the image.
This kindness is small compensation in the face of the trap mechanic, which each round adds a complication to the grimoire's clues, from a fog hiding parts of the image, to less time to examine clues.
Worst of all for our escaping sorcerers, it also includes a traitor mechanic, meaning one player is secretly working against everyone's interests.
As the latest release in the series, Mysterium Park seeks to distill Mysterium into a quicker, simpler experience.
Again players are psychics receiving assistance from a ghost but this time, they seek to rule out innocent suspects and safe locations, before working together to determine the guilty party and murder location.
The ghosts role in this version is simplified, with 3 secretly drawn cards determining the correct choices for all players in each round and fewer vision cards being available for the final guess.
Talking about the mechanics of these games doesn't quite get across the true joy of all of them: the glimpse it gives you into the thought processes and logic paths of your friends and family.
As anyone who's played Dixit (Another fantastic abstract art game from the same publisher) will tell you, no two people will take the exact same story from the same image. Was the ghost wanting me to pick the garden because both it and my vision depict the outside? Should I pick the bath because both it and the fountain in my vision card contain water? These decisions are what drives the game and makes it both the best way to get closer to your friends and the best way to start debates about what constitutes a sensible train of thought.
Ghost, Grimoire, Psychic or Sorceror, No matter which role I'm playing I always get the most exciting brain workout, and lots of laughs.
Which is why one of these will be the first game to grace my 6-seat table come the 17th, I hope that you'll be inspired to pick one of these up and give it a go.
Obscurio, Mysterium and Mysterium Park can be found in store, or on our website: https://athenagames.com/