Mysterium - Jinkies gang!
It's the 1920's and a gifted astrologist named Mr. MacDowell entered his new house when he was greeted by a supernatural presence.
You, the ghost and 6 paranormal investigators have 7 hours to communicate with each other and unlock the mystery of your murder! The catch? As the ghost you are unable to verbally communicate with the investigators, so you will need to communicate through a set of illustrations and point them in the right direction. It's like Cluedo and Dixit had a baby and its name is Mysterium.
The game has a moderate amount of luck in it, the Ghost player is restricted to only 7 cards at any one time which might sound like a lot, but it really isn't. Then there is the reliance on how you think and hoping the investigators either think the same, or can at least empathize with how you do.
The strategic side of this game is really only present in how the Ghost player sets up his choices and how he chooses to use his cards, however this really goes out the window if now picked up by the other players. I have had games where the Ghost has set a theme (eg. the Chef in the Kitchen) but without this foreknowledge its easy to miss.
The game at its core is very simple, each investigator has a suspect, a location and a weapon, the ghost gives out cards as clues. The only real complexity in the game is explaining the voting mechanism. I found it really went over peoples heads the first time, they would either throw out all there votes at once, not understanding they wont get them back each turn, or they would just not vote and only end up with one clue by the end point of the game.
Probably the strongest part of Mysterium is the replay value. With the random set of card combinations, a different ghost player and of course the increase in difficulty (my group really cant do any better than easy), this game really has legs. Its not really a 'set it up again' kind of game, but more of a lets wind up our night with it.
The components of Mysterium are gorgeous, from the fantastic abstract art on the vision cards to the very handy ghost screen. I have had slight issues with the clock staying together but it is a wonderful touch, even the blue sand in the hour glass really adds to the theming of the game. It can be a little difficult to see fine details on the cards in the ghost screen due to there smaller size, but it really is much better than having the whole group see exactly where you're looking.
The game is very easy to understand once the game is underway, there isn't much complexity in what happens and the game really excels when players understand they are all on one team (yes, even the ghost). The only confusion I have experienced in my play group has been explaining why you need to vote and how the final phase works, but after the first game everyone seems to grasp it fully.
Mysterium has got to be one of my favourite games of 2015 (probably only beaten by Codenames). The pressure of the clock, the cooperative nature, the amazing artwork and the unique restrictions placed upon the ghost really add to why this is such a great game.