Thursday, July 15, 2010

Books into Board Games: Mysteries

I can't possibly discuss books adapted to games without touching on the most popular fiction genre, which would have to be mystery.  Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose (also adapted to a Sean Connery film), concerns a 14th century investigation into blasphemy and the deaths of a few monks.  The blasphemy involves a secret library of books that are considered dangerous to Catholicism in the abbey.  I haven't read the book yet, but after learning about it through researching this post, I'm kinda interested.

This book has spawned two games, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Mystery of the Abbey.  Both are deduction games, and I haven't had the fortune to play either one. 

"Detectives at work" photo of Mystery at the Abbey by BGG user Icefyst

Mystery of the Abbey involves players as monks who ask each other questions trying to determine whodunit, and can be a bit of silly fun on account of things like requiring players to sing Frere Jacques.

Photo from BGG user UnknownParkerBrother

The Name of the Rose game assigns each player a color that corresponds to a monk on the game board.  All players can move each monk, and doing so will remove "suspicion points" from each.  These are basically negative points, so players want to get them removed from the monk of their color.  They have to be sneaky, however, because each round players get to guess their opponents' colors, and if their color is guessed, they get slapped with some penalizing suspicion points.

The Name of the Rose is less related to the theme of the book than Mystery of the Abbey, but if you don't want to sing, this could be the better choice for you.  On the other hand, if you'd prefer to get into the role of a sleuthing monk, The Name of the Rose might be too abstract.

"I have a few suspects...but I need more time" Mystery Express photo by BGG user Chuckila

Aside from monks and abbeys, there's one other game I'd like to mention.  Mystery Express isn't so much based on Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (also adapted to film, also suspiciously starring Sean Connery) as it is inspired by it.  There's a murder on the Orient Express in this game that has to be solved before the train reaches Istanbul. Crime cards with info about the suspect, location, motive, modus operandi and time, are placed under the game board, and at the end of the game players will make their accusations, earning points for each of these cards guessed correctly. During the game, players move about the train cars, each of which allow them to take different actions, including things like forcing other players to show their crime cards.  The game ends when the train arrives in Istanbul, when players make their accusations.

I hope you've enjoyed this mysterious post.  If you're curious about other great mystery and deduction games, the best place to find information about them is on BoardGameGeek

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