Mysterium is like the lovechild of Clue and Dixit. This co-operative board game will have you working with friends to solve a murder mystery.
To do so, you must rely on one player – acting as the murder victim’s ghost – to supply you with clues about the identity of the killer, where the crime happened, and the weapon used to do the deed.
Here’s the catch, though. The ghost can’t talk. They have to relay any information they have to the psychic players through vision cards, which feature images that may or may not be interpreted correctly by the psychic players.
Can you solve the mystery before time runs out, and the veil between worlds closes once more?
Lay out your tarot cards, grab your pendulum, and let’s gaze into the crystal ball while I walk you through everything you need to learn how to play Mysterium.
How to Play Mysterium: The Basics
- Players: 2-7
- Running Time: 45 minutes
- Ages 10 and up
What’s in the Box?
- 6 Intuition Tokens: One for each psychic player. Players use these to vote on what they think the ghost is trying to tell them.
- 6 Character Sleeves: One for each psychic player, representing each character
- 6 Clairvoyancy Level Markers: One for each psychic player. These track each psychic’s progress on the clairvoyancy track. They aren’t used in a 2-3 player game.
- 36 Clairvoyancy Tokens: 6 for each psychic player. You get a different number depending on how many players are in the game. (6 tokens in a 6-7 player game, 4 tokens in a 4-5 players game, and 0 tokens in a 2-3 player game)
- 1 Clock Board: This tracks the rounds of the game. It starts at 1, advancing once each round until the main phase of the game ends (either when all psychics solve their clues, or at the end of the 7th hour if the players fail to do that).
- 4 Progress Boards: These keep track of how far along each psychic is in solving their clues.
- 54 Psychic Cards: Split into 3 types (character, location, and object). These are the cards you’ll be choosing from when guessing as a psychic, or trying to steer psychics toward with visions as a ghost.
- 54 Ghost Cards: These match the cards the psychics see. They determine what the psychics are trying to guess.
- 84 Vision Cards: These are the cards the ghost will hand to the psychics to help them figure out what they need to guess.
- 3 Crow Markers: Can be used by the ghost to redraw vision cards. How many uses the ghost gets per game changes with the difficulty.
- 6 Culprit Tokens, 6 Ghost Tokens: One for each psychic in the game, as above.
- 1 Game Screen: Provides a physical barrier between the psychics and ghost, to keep information on the ghost player’s side of the table secret
- 1 Rulebook
Preparing for the Séance
Before you start setting up a game of Mysterium, you need to decide what difficulty you want to play the game on. For your first game, you should play on easy to get the hang of the rules. This changes a few things about the game, which I’ll explain as we go.
Next, you need to decide who will be the ghost. This player will be providing the clues for the psychics in the form of vision cards, but cannot speak to help them.
The other players are the psychics, here to solve the case. Have each of these players choose a psychic to play as. They should then take the appropriate character sleeve, intuition token, and a number of clairvoyancy tokens based on the number of players.
Place the clairvoyancy level marker for each psychic in play pointing to the 0 on the clairvoyancy track.
Set the time on the clock to the 1st hour.
There are 3 levels of cards you’ll be laying out, corresponding to the character, location, and murder implement. Shuffle each kind of psychic card in 3 separate decks (character, location, object).
You’ll then draw a number of cards and place them face-down on the table, determining the possible choices for each piece of the case. Each level has a progress board, to keep track of which part of the case each psychic is currently trying to solve.
The format for setting up your psychic cards and progress boards on the table can be found in the rulebook, on page 6.
The number of cards you draw depends on your difficulty setting and how many players you have in the game. More players or a higher difficulty means more choices on the table, making it harder to guess a specific card for each psychic.
Playing as the Ghost
The next part of the set-up is all for the ghost player.
When the psychic cards are all set up, pull out the ghost cards that match the psychic cards on the table. Both decks are numbered, so this is a simple matter of matching numbers.
Shuffle the cards you have pulled out for each category (character, location, object).
For each category, draw one for each psychic and place it in the space provided on your board. These are the cards you are trying to get each psychic to guess during the main phase of the game.
Make sure to keep this information hidden from the psychic players.
With that, you’re ready to begin playing. Flip over all the cards on the table, and let the séance commence.
Granting Visions and Reconstructing Events
Most of the action when learning how to play Mysterium takes place during this phase. You only have a limited time before losing touch with your ghostly informant (to the tune of 7 game rounds), so hopefully you can get your evidence together quickly.
Each psychic must complete their vision of a possible murder suspect, location, and murder weapon before the end of these 7 rounds.
Lending them a little bit of help is the friendly spirit of the deceased, who is probably very keen to see their killer brought to justice.
Every round, the ghost player will have the chance to give each psychic one or more vision cards. These cards attempt to give hints that will make psychic players choose the card you want them to.
The images on the vision cards are, by nature, pretty abstract. You have to get really creative with them as the ghost, and try to predict how each psychic’s player is likely to guess. The linking quality could be that your vision card has glass in it and the murder weapon was the bottle of poison, or it could have a similar color scheme to the card you want the player to guess.
Be careful when picking vision cards as the ghost. You can’t control how players will interpret your vague visions, and you may accidentally lead them astray with your vision card.
How you use your visions as the ghost is up to you. What you can’t do, though, is help the psychics during the rounds. You can watch as much as you like to help decide what visions to grant them in the future, but you cannot offer any comments or gestures that can be seen as clues.
Each round is timed by an hourglass, putting pressure on psychics to interpret their visions quickly. When you believe you know what card the ghost wants you to pick, place your intuition token on that card.
Other psychics are welcome to help each other interpret their visions. You’re all in this together, after all.
At the end of each round, the ghost will let each player know if their intuition was correct or not. If correct, move the intuition token up to deal with the next tier of psychic cards (in order, you go from character to location to object). That psychic also collects the card they guessed, placing it in their character’s sleeve.
If wrong, the token is placed back where it started that round and the player will have to guess again next time.
If any psychic has not completed all 3 parts of their vision (character, location, and object) at the end of the 7th round, everybody loses.
If you’re learning how to play Mysterium playing with 4 or more players, psychic players will have some of these tokens. They have the option to spend these tokens to vote whether or not they believe another player’s card choice that round is correct.
If you think another player is right on the money, or if you think they are way off the mark – you can let everybody know.
There is a green check if you agree with their choice and a red “x” if you don’t. To vote on a player’s card choice, place one of these token next to their intuition token. Make sure it’s clear which intuition token you’re voting on if there’s more than one on a card. You have to place these votes before the round ends, and you can change your mind at any time as long as the round isn’t over yet.
When the rounds ends, if you voted correctly on that intuition (either you voted yes and it was correct, or you voted no and it was wrong) you move up one space on the clairvoyancy track.
Being higher on this track gives you extra visions to solve the final mystery at the end of the game, so you should be trying to get as many as you can.
Spend carefully, as whenever you use a clairvoyancy token to vote you discard it. You’ll also be punished for holding on to tokens too long, though, as your supply replenishes halfway through the game when the clock hand reaches the 4.
Solve the Case
When any player completes all 3 pieces of their case, they can still help the other players figure out their clues as the game advances.
If all players manage to solve all their clues, the game will proceed to the final round.
The cards the psychics gathered in the first part of the game tell you the possible answers for the mystery – who did it, where, and how. Now you have to figure out which psychic’s vision is right.
Remove the cards from each psychic’s sleeves and place them on the table, grouped by psychic. Use the ghost tokens to assign a number to each group for voting later on. The ghost will decide which group is the correct vision, placing a culprit token on the table face-down with the number of their choice on it.
The psychics all then have a shared vision, telling them the identity of the true killer.
The ghost chooses 3 vision cards from their hand. Each one should correspond to one card in the group you want the players to guess – either the character, location, or object. Shuffle these up and put them face-down on the table.
The psychic players now have to vote on which group they think the ghost picked, based on the shared vision.
Psychics low on the clairvoyancy track only get to see one of these cards before they vote on a group. Then, turn over the second card of the shared vision. Psychics that passed the first marker on the track vote after the second vision card is revealed. If any players made it to a high clairvoyancy level, they get to see all 3 cards before they vote.
These votes are done in secret, without consulting with the other psychics.
If you get stuck with a low clairvoyance, you might not have much information for your final vote – be careful. This can easily lose you the game.
Once all the votes are in, it’s time to see if you’ve won or lost.
Win or Lose Together
The player highest on the clairvoyancy track gathers up all the player’s votes. This is the moment of truth.
Count up which group got the most votes. Flip over the culprit token the ghost put down earlier in the round. If the number is the same, you all win! If not, well, better luck next time.
Special Rules for Two and Three Players
There are some changes you have to make to the game to accommodate 2-3 players:
- There is no clairvoyancy track and the clairvoyancy tokens are not used
- The psychic players each play with 2 psychics, meaning that each player must solve 3 clues for each one.
- In the final phase of the game, the 3 vision cards for the shared vision are placed face up
- During the final vote for a 2 player game, only vote once
- For the final vote in a 3 player game, you vote openly rather than in secret. Both psychic players must discuss and agree upon a vote, both placing their intuition tokens on it.