Mystery of the Abbey
includes The Pilgrims' Chronicles expansion
List Price: $60.00
Your Price: $53.99
(Worth 5,399 Funagain Points!)
from 13 customer reviews
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The Abbot is frightened. The normally peaceful Abbey of Sainte-Pierre has been in turmoil for days over the mysterious disappearance of a young novice. All clues point to foul play and suspicions run high among the congregation's monks. The Abbot has called on several renowned detectives to solve this mystery. Who will be the first to identify and confront the culprit? Only those who carefully examine the clues in the Abbeys darkest corners can solve this vexing riddle.
Mystery of the Abbey is 'the thinking person's Clue' -- a new kind of whodunit boardgame, set in a medieval French Abbey. Players must solve the crime by moving through the beautifully illustrated Abbey board, searching for clues, questioning the other monks and using their intuition to uncover the truth.
The reprint of this game includes a new 12-card expansion pack called The Pilgrims' Chronicles.
Mystery of The Abbey
As typical of Days of Wonder Products everything in top notch. A stunning game board showing a birdseye view of an abbey or monastery is the first thing you notice. Illustrated cards, colorful resin monks, wooden monk dice, a metal bell to ring for mass and colorful note sheets and info folder with much information at everyone's fingertips. The rulebook is one of the best for explaining the game and getting people started.
There are three religious order living in this Abbey (Which actually took place in France when King Phillip confiscated property of religious orders, but that's another story.) Each suspect has different characteristics such as being a brother, a novice, or a father.They may be hooded or unhooded, bearded or clean shaven, fat or skinny. They may be a Benedictine, a Fransican, or a Templar. You gather information by going to cells of other monks and looking at their card. Going to parlour to look at cards put aside. Event cards often place cards on a bride or in various places in the Abbey to be stumbled on.
When you end your turn in the same room as another monk you may ask them a question. The type of questions is explained in the rulebook, but this is where the game really shines. The monks may declare grand silence or answer the question, in which case you are open to answer a question. You must be truthful in these answers. In that all will hear the answers you must be careful. It's one of the greatest parts of this game.
You can go to the library once to get a card that gives you a good advantage, but only if you hold the least cards in hand. Having a card taken early can therefore be a mixed "blessing". You may go to the abbot and make a revelation of one characteristic of the murderer. You score two victory points at the end of the game if you are right. You only lose one if you are wrong. This gives an incentive to mislead others by giving a false revelation. You may also make an accusation which if right ends the game and scores victory points. If wrong sends you to the chapel for penance. The game continues you lose victory points and a turn.
My Outlook on the Game:
I know Days of Wonder listed the rooms in Latin so they could use the same board for all languages, but in that these were the way we referred to each room when I went through the seminary it brought a cold chill down my spine. (I decided against life in the religious order and I am presently married and working in the community, but my memories of this lifestyle persist,) Played with the right people this is an excellent game that can really be a blast. I recently acquired this game in a trade on BGG and it has been played several times since it's arrival.Each game so far has been a lot of fun.
I can see how one individual who doesn't understand the rules or isn't into it can bring this game down. On the other hand, few games are fun with such people so they should probably be given a beer and directed to the HDTV set while you play anyway.
The strategic elements adds more intrigue to the game play. Here are some of the features that make this work:
* You have to carefully plan your moves since you can only move to one or two rooms per turn and you will all be called to mass every four turns giving everyone an equal advantage. This can be used to your advantage if you plan ahead.
* The element of being able to make revelations as you get them (and as soon as you are able to get to the proper room) adds an additional skill to the game since the number of correct revelations you give in a game gives you two points each at the end of the game while making a correct accusation gives you four. In other words, you could win by deductive reasoning throughout the game.
* The event cards and book cards give advantages that are surprisingly worthwhile. Adding even more elements to play so that the savvy deductor can sometimes be beaten by the connivingly strategic player.
* The fact that cards rarely suspect cards are passed around at different points in the game is also strategic if you are careful what you pass to your neighbor and what you manage to hold on to.
* The option of taking a "vow of silence" and refusing to answer questions people ask is a clever element (that can also be frustrating).
* The Latin monastery setting and the humorous monkish-shines of the game play make it murderous fun. I especially like sending people to penance (loss of a turn while they pray over their sins in chapel) for misplays or wrong statements.
This is great fun and extremely replayable but much more intriguing than Clue!
Mystery of the Abbey is absolutely the pre-eminent game to lead the charge against the often times stale offerings that grace most discount retail store shelves these days.
If you are considering buying a game that will truly make for an interesting 'family game night' then this game is it.
Repeat: This game is it.
Besides having the best theme of any game that I have seen to date, bar none.... this game just mechanically plays very well. It is very well balanced and it takes a good level of skill and experience to be able to question your fellow players effectively. Finally, it requires that you put advance thought into your strategy and then execute it.
I, personally, have yet to learn how to question people well... but I have seen others question extremely effectively... and have great success because of it.
In other words, while it is a blast to play, Mystery of the Abbey definitely requires you to think well... in order to play the game well. And since it is very, very, very easy to be immersed in the theme, you soon find yourself transported into playing a murder solving monk. Yet the game is light-hearted and will provide you with some laughs.
Buy a duster. This game will make you forget about your other 'tired' and true party games and will leave them collecting dust on the shelves.
Mystery of the Abbey is that good.
Fate selects the murderer: Shuffle one of the Suspect Cards facedown, out of play. Deal everyone a hand. Each named suspect is identified by five characteristics: Size, Rank, Monastic Order, Bearded/Clean-shaven, and Hooded/Bare-headed. You may question a competitor about his hand when your pawn lands on the space beside his. Answering gives him the right to seek information about your hand.
Entering certain rooms allows you to draw another Suspect, swipe a competitor's Suspect, draw an Action Card (allowing you to peek at others' hands or interfere with their movements), guess and declare one characteristic of the culprit, or end the game by correctly identifying him (when nobody will have his card). Earn and lose points for correct and incorrect guesses. Highest score wins. We deduce that you'll relish resolving this unholy mess.
Brother Adelmo is dead and foul play is suspected. You are charged with the task of discovering which of the resident monks in this formerly quiet and peaceful abbey is responsible for this evil deed.
Welcome to Mystery of the Abbey, the entertaining 'who-dunnit?' game from Bruno Faidutti. The game was originally released back in 1996, but has undergone a new face-lift by Days of Wonder. And what a face-lift! This new edition is beautiful, with fantastic artwork and wonderful components, down to the highly detailed monk tokens and the tiny little bell that is rung when mass is called.
The attractive appearance of this new edition was enough to entice me to finally give the game a try. You see, I'm not normally a fan of deduction-style games. Oh, I used to enjoy Clue, but games such as Code 777, Black Vienna, Sleuth and other deduction oriented games are just not my style. Thus, when opportunities arose to play Mystery of the Abbey in the past, I always shied away. However, who could pass up the opportunity to play this beautiful new version - especially when it was being taught by the designer himself!
The board depicts the Templars' Abbey, which is comprised of numerous buildings and rooms. Players represent visiting monks who are charged with the task of solving the recent murder of poor Brother Adelmo. Only one of the 24 monks has committed the deed, and players spend time visiting various rooms and questioning each other in attempts to discover his identity.
Players each receive a colorful suspect sheet, which contains illustrations of all 24 monks - in full color! Monks are divided into several different classifications: Fathers, Brothers or Novices and Templars, Franciscans or Benedictines. Further, each can be further identified by other characteristics, including beard versus clean-shaven; hooded versus no hood; or fat versus skinny. It is these characteristics that are often inquired about when questioning other players.
The deck of monk cards is shuffled and one is placed face-down by the board. This is the villain. Players then each receive a certain number of monk cards dependent upon the number of players (with four players, each player receives 5 cards). The remaining monk cards can be obtained when players visit the Parlatorium. Oh, yes, since this an old Catholic monastery, the names of the room are all in Latin!
When players receive their monk cards and obtain information concerning other monks during the course of the game, they should mark this information on their suspect sheets. There are small little icons to assist with this record keeping, but each player is free to devise whatever recording method they feel serves them best. The idea is to obtain information about the monk cards that are in play and eliminate as many monks from suspicion as possible. Keeping concise and accurate record of the information obtained is essential to playing this game well - but there's the rub. You see, cards change hands so often that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of which players have which cards. There are so many random factors and hidden card switching involved here that lovers of pure deduction games will find themselves quite frustrated. However, if you can handle this healthy dose of randomness, the process is quite enjoyable and entertaining.
Players begin the game in the chapel, a place they will return to often during the course of the game. On a turn, a player may move his token up to two spaces. If he lands in a room with another monk present, he may ask that player a question. The question can be phrased in just about any manner, with the notable caveat that it must be able to be answered in a fashion that does not give the suspect's name. Some examples of valid questions:
'How many bearded monks do you have in your hand?'
'Have you eliminated any hooded Benedictine fathers from your list?'
'Do you have the Father Sergio card?'
The player may either decline to answer the question - pleading a vow of silence - or answer it truthfully. If he does answer the question, then he may then ask a question of the phasing player in return, which must be answered truthfully. It is this questioning process that is at the heart of the game and usually reveals the most information about the various suspects.
Most of the rooms in the abbey allow the player to execute special actions upon entering them. Several of them involve the drawing of cards, which can be used to somehow affect game play. Yes, this does inject quite a bit of randomness into the game, but, hey - it's a Bruno Faidutti game, so what did you expect? A few have expressed concern that one or two of the cards may be a bit too unbalancing. If you feel that way, it is an easy matter to remove the cards that you feel are too powerful.
Here are a few examples of the room effects:
Cells: No wonder monks are so somber: they have to live in cells! If a player enters the cell of an opponent (a 'no-no', according to monk code of honor), the player gets to take one suspect card from that player's hand. If, however, the owner of a cell moves into the cell and catches you invading his private domain, you must return the stolen card and are then sent immediately to the chapel for penance.
Scriptorium: These cards have a wide variety of effects. Some of them must be played immediately, while others can be saved and used at an opportune moment. Extra turns, taking of cards, rearranging the turn order, etc. - all are possible effects of the Scriptorium cards.
Crypt: Entering the crypt not only gives you the creeps, but rewards you with a card allowing you to take an extra turn when you desire. Players may only possess one Crypt card, however.
Bibliotecha: A player may only enter this sacred domain if he possesses the fewest suspect cards. Further, a player may only enter this room once during the course of the game - it is that sacred! The player is rewarded with a powerful card that often grants riches of Biblical proportions. Since cards change hands so quickly in this game, it is wise to enter the Bibliotecha as soon as you meet the conditions. Otherwise, the window of opportunity may close quickly and you will never be able to enter.
Confessorium: There are two confessionals, each containing a color-coded die. When a player visits the confessorium, he randomly draws a card from the hand of the player whose color is face-up on the die. The die is then turned to reveal the color of the player who is currently occupying that confessional. I tend to spend a lot of time in the confessional, which takes me back to my youth as a Catholic!
Capitulum: This is the great meeting hall and the only place (without a special card) where players can make revelations and accusations. It is also located at the far-end of the abbey, so a player usually has to make a bee-line for it at the beginning of a turn.
The game is played in cycles of four rounds per turn. One player is given the deck of mass cards and a tiny bell is moved to the appropriate number on the card with each passing round. A player's turn consists of moving his token, asking questions (when appropriate) and exercising the powers granted by entering a room. After each player has taken a turn, the bell is moved to the next number on the card and the process is repeated. After each player has completed four turns, the bell is rung and all players return immediately to the chapel for mass.
At this point, the effects listed on the mass card take effect. This involves the passing of suspect cards to the player on your left. The number of cards passed increases by one with each passing turn. It is wise to attempt to keep track of which cards you possess that the player on your left has already seen. This way, you can pass those cards to him at this time and thereby not help him in his sleuthing. After the cards are passed, an event card is drawn and its effects occur. Finally, the bell and deck of mass cards is passed to the left and a new turn begins.
A word of caution for the 'keeper' of the mass cards. If he fails to remember to move the bell following a round of play, he is forced to return to the chapel and do penance, thereby forfeiting his turn for that round. Silly, but still fun.
During the course of the game, players may make revelations. To do so, they must travel to the Chapter Hall (Capitulum) and state aloud one characteristic that they feel the murderer possesses. For instance, they might claim that the murderer has a beard, or that the murderer is a Brother, etc. These revelations are recorded and points will be awarded or subtracted at the end of the game, depending upon the accuracy of the revelation. 2 points are awarded for each correct revelation, while 1 point is subtracted for each incorrect revelation. No two players may make the same revelation, but one player may make contradictory revelations.
When a player feels confident that he knows the identity of the murderer, he may travel to the Chapter Hall and make an accusation, stating flatly the identity of the monk that he feels is the murderer. If another player possesses the card for that monk, he reveals it and the accusation is proven false. The accuser loses 2 points and is moved to the chapel for penance. If, however, no one possesses the card, the accuser looks at the hidden murderer card to verify his accusation and reveals it to everyone. He is rewarded with 4 points for his brilliant detective work.
At this point, scores are tallied for each player, verifying the accuracy or inaccuracy of previous revelations. The player with the most points is the master detective and is rewarded with a Gregorian chant CD by the Abbey prelate.
Much to my surprise and delight, I've thoroughly enjoyed my visits to the Abbey. The game is fun to play and not too taxing on the brain cells. Yes, there is deduction work to be done and players must exercise their brains a bit, but there is also enough randomness involved to keep everyone involved and competitive. The brilliant detective in your group will not always win. The randomness may shake things up a bit too much for the purist, but will make the game more accessible and enjoyable for most folks. It has gone over well with folks both in my gaming group and with my wife and casual gaming friends. Although I have no desire to enter a monastery permanently, I'm certainly looking forward to further visits to this one!