Mystery Express Review

Mystery Express board game getting setup to play

The next Days of Wonder game that I will review is Mystery Express.

Mystery Express is a Clue-like whodunit. On any given turn, a player will use different options to be able to reveal cards so that they can attempt to determine what the hidden cards are.  There are some interesting twists to this game, however. First, there are two copies of each card, so a player needs to be able to see both copies of the card in the same turn in order to eliminate it from being a possibility. Secondly, not all of the cards are in play at the beginning of the game - some of them come into play later. Third, you do not get to play until someone knows all of the answers to the mystery - you play until the train reaches the final station (a set number of turns), and then whoever has discovered the most answers is the winner.

One of the neat features about Mystery Express is the way that you see cards on your turn. You have several different actions - one is to have everyone pass a card, one is to make the other players reveal a card (letting all the players see them), another is to make players show their cards just to you. This mechanic works incredibly well, and each player must carefully determine which actions to take and in what order to maximize the cards that they see each turn (and to work with the cards that previous players allowed them to see).

The next thing that works well in Mystery Express is how well the components work. The notepad that is included in the game is setup for each player to be able to easily remember which cards they have seen each turn, and the sheer design of this shows that the game has been thoroughly play-tested.

Another nice thing about Mystery Express is that the game allows for more complicated strategies as it is played more often, thus adding to replayability. Specifically, during each round the players put all of their used cards in a discard pile, so it is easy to remember which ones you have seen in that round and which ones have not. The first few times you play, you will probably leave the cards there until the end of the round. However, one of the actions allows you to put someone's discard pile back into their hand - and now all the players have to remember if they've seen that player's cards in that round or not so that they don't accidentally mark the card twice and thus eliminate it prematurely.

There are a few minimal negative aspects of Mystery Express. The main one that comes to mind is how the "what time" aspect of the game works. You only see the time cards 3 times in the game, and when you get to see them, without writing anything down until the end, you must remember what you have seen. This mechanic works pretty well, but I think it detracts from the strategy of the game - it is just a memory test. However, this time feature does work well, and some people will like it, so I don't really count off on the rating for it.

Overall, Mystery Express gets a 9.0/10. This game is definitely worth playing, and I think is the best whodunit game that I have played.  I think that Days of Wonder has made a very engaging game here.

If Mystery Express sounds interesting, you might also want to check out Cargo Noir, Mystery of the Abbey, and Mice and Mystics.

1 comment:

  1. Tried this one out over Christmas. I loved it, everyone else didn't. Not a good game if there will be a lot of interruptions during the play, as it drags the game out and makes it hard to remember what you've seen and done. Glad I borrowed it and didn't buy it.