Mystery of the Abbey – trying out a classic?

Mystery of the Abbey is often touted as the better Clue/Cluedo (depending on if you’re from the US or UK). In it, players are investigating a murder.  One monk from a potential 24 is the murderer and you have to figure out who it is and make an accusation, or figure out a number of distinguishing features (hooded or not, bearded or not, fat or thin, from which order and what level of monk) and make revelations of those in order to win. I have played it just the once with the full count of six players, these are my thoughts after one game.

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It’s very much a typical Days of Wonder game (though not originally from them, it has been since 2003) in that game play is very simple, production very nice and the insert is amazing (I’m not going to review the insert though). Players move their figure one or two spaces (up to three with six players) and perform the action of the room, which should hopefully reveal more about who the murderer isn’t or if they share a space with another investigator ask them a question The questions have only one restriction, they can’t have an answer that is a direct name on the suspect sheet, anything else goes. While this is a strong idea and perhaps could be used well it proves a little confusing too. As rounds pass players pass cards and events happen, all of which speed up the game to a conclusion. The game is simple, works well, it’s hard to tell if it’s fun and certainly first time, we all came to the same culprit and so the boldness of first guess won because no one else had used any revelations at distinguishing features, and it seems these have to be quite a guess and not a certainty. As I mentioned we had a player count of six and perhaps that was too many, it was too many cards in too many hands and too many questions to keep track effectively.

Mystery at the Abbey is over 20 years old so has to be made a certain allowance for, board games have changed massively in that time and it doesn’t greatly show its age, and certainly not in production value.  The game played slow at first then got confusing before an ending that somehow seemed abrupt. It is better than Cluedo but that isn’t much of a bench mark. I feel the need to play it with fewer players, boardgamegeek.com says it’s best with 5 so perhaps I’ll make a further revelation (boom boom) on this in the future.

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