Mysterium's Bad Design

SetentaeBolg

Registered User
Validated User
#1
Played Mysterium the other day, 4 of us in total. It has design issues.

There is a clairvoyance track, where you gain points for correct gameplay. In the endgame, your number of points determines how many clue cards (out of three) you can examine. You then vote as a group on the details of the murder, and collectively win if the vote is correct. To see all three clue cards in a four person game, yiu need 7 points.

BUT. Getting 7 points is impossible if all the psychics play a perfect game. They get 4 points for finishing as quickly as possible. But other points can only be earned for correctly betting another psychic got it right or wrong. And, if everyone gets it right every time, you can only get 2 points for that, as you are only allowed two positive wagers and two negative ones.

In fact the optimal strategy, counter intuitively, is to deliberately and collectively make bad choices in the first round. Then everyone gains 2 points for backing bad guesses and can gain 4 more in total for backing good guesses later (as your betting pool refreshes in turn 4). You only lose 1 point by delaying an hour, giving you a maximum of 9. You can also repeat the wrong choices in the final round, delaying victory again but picking up 2 points for negative bets, for a genuine maximum of 10.

So you get the best outcome by deliberately choosing wrongly. This counter-intuitive design sucks.
 

enoto

E, not O.
Validated User
#2
Have you considered posting about this on BGG's Mysterium forum? Not that people here aren't knowledgeable about board games, but there would probably be more people there who could help you with variants for the issue, etc.
 

SetentaeBolg

Registered User
Validated User
#3
I really was just venting, we have thought of simple variants ourselves (mostly just moving the bar for seeing two or three cards down one point). It just came as a bit of a surprise when we played a blinder of an early game to lose because that turns out to be not actually how best to play the game. I did have a look at bgg's forums but I couldn't remember my password so I thought I'd vent here. :)
 

Aaron Mouritsen

RadioFreeDeath
Validated User
#4
I think this is accurate, but honestly after probably a hundred games of mysterium no game ever gets to be "optimal" its always a mess of some people getting right and others getting it wrong. Rarely do I see people hit seven but it has happened once or twice. Its not a traditional game in the sense that you can "optimize" for it.
 

Crothian

Registered User
Validated User
#5
Having played it several times we've never gotten close to getting every guess right. Heck, we've had players purposefully try to guess wrong and that backfired. For us though this is more a game about the experience and not trying to optimize like that.
 

Neaden

Registered User
Validated User
#6
For the most part when I play we just ignore the clairvoyance track and let everyone see all three, it works fine and I don't think it makes it too easy.
 

Petter Wäss

I am agape with fnords
Validated User
#7
For the most part when I play we just ignore the clairvoyance track and let everyone see all three, it works fine and I don't think it makes it too easy.
For a game as heavily based on personal assossiations as Mysterium is, difficulty will Always be highly personal and relative
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
#8
Having played it several times we've never gotten close to getting every guess right. Heck, we've had players purposefully try to guess wrong and that backfired. For us though this is more a game about the experience and not trying to optimize like that.
Yeah, and, frankly, optimizing strategy in a game that's chiefly social deduction is a bit of a mug's game anyway as it's just too dependent on the person giving the clues ... knowing what they're doing. Throw the first round just to score points when that might be the only decent clue you get for the entire game? That is not optimal strategy.
 

SetentaeBolg

Registered User
Validated User
#9
Yeah, and, frankly, optimizing strategy in a game that's chiefly social deduction is a bit of a mug's game anyway as it's just too dependent on the person giving the clues ... knowing what they're doing. Throw the first round just to score points when that might be the only decent clue you get for the entire game? That is not optimal strategy.
I'm not talking about a way to be guaranteed to achieve the best outcome - there is too much randomness for that. But the one thing the game definitely *does* do, if you are lucky enough to get a perfect game in the first act, is prevent you from ever getting a perfect second act. It's counter-intuitive; it does lead to the absurdity of knowing that you have to drop some points deliberately if you want to get the best outcome (and if you're on a roll). Maybe not in round one, but in round three, I should have said "yep, it's fairly obviously the poison I should be picking, but I know if I do I won't be able to get the seven points, so I'm going to pick the razor, I'm wrong guys, bet against me for some of those sweet, sweet points, and then next round, bet *on* me when I pick the poison."

It was our first game, but we have known each other (and played games together) for over twenty years - it is certainly possible to skip through the first round without dropping any points. I can attest to the truth of this as we went through it.

It's 100% a design flaw.
 

thorya

Statistical out-liar
Validated User
#10
I think you get all your clairvoyance tokens back half way through and don't you get six? For 12 possible points?

Edit: just checked. It is 4 tokens for four players but you get them back at hour 4. So it's eight possible points.

If you all guess correctly everytime that is 4 for your tokens plus 4 for finishing quickly. So quite doable to get 7 points.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom