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Board games

Psychism and whaling

Have played a couple of great boardgames recently!

Mysterium

In the great entry hall (Image from BGG user msixtynine)
In the great entry hall (Image from BGG user msixtynine)

So this is a coop game, for 2–7 players, in which one person is a ghost and the others are psychics trying to work out who killed them (by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko). The original Polish version came out a few years ago, and then this one by Libellud et al. is from last year.

It’s a deduction game: the ghost player provides clues to the psychics, and they have to puzzle out which of various suspects, locations and murder weapons is being indicated. The clues are necessarily elliptical, because they’re in the form of visions – surreal scenes, represented by cards, in which the ghost has to hope that a psychic will see that such-and-such an element is clearly intended to indicate the candlestick, etc.

The mention of cards with surreal scenes, in the context of Libellud, will call to mind Dixit – and I think that this game is kind of an improved version of Dixit, with a better gamelike structure around the central mechanism. That gamelike structure is largely borrowed from Mastermind and Cluedo, but this is no bad thing: it works pretty well.

Nantucket

The Nantucket box lid (from the publisher Dice Hate Me Games, on BGG)
The Nantucket box lid (from the publisher Dice Hate Me Games, on BGG)

A small, short, 2-player, worker-placement game about catching whales (designed by Nat Levan, from Dice Hate Me Games). Coins serve as money, as ownership markers, and as ships — you send a stack of coins off to sea, toss them when it’s whaling time, and use some of them to catch types of whales of varying value. There’s also a bunch of buildings that you can build and own, with different abilities (a bit like in Puerto Rico) – and working out which is the best building to build and/or use, in a given situation, is most of the skill of the game. There are a bunch of variant sets of buildings available to swap in, if after a few plays you feel like you’ve got the strategy for the basic ones.

There’s a larger game from the same designer/publisher, New Bedford, with similar theme and structure. I haven’t played that, so don’t know if Nantucket is a cut-down version or completely different. Anyway, it’s a neat, quick game, and plenty of fun. You’ll have a whale of a time!

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