Given a certain amount of mystery about where Across the Board #7 was going to take place, it seemed appropriate to choose a theme to match. The night ended up being heavily focused around Shut Up and Sit Down favourites (never, ever a bad thing in our book), so I'll keep the descriptions light(ish) and include lots of links to videos of them doing a better job than I ever could of explaining why these games are amazing.

I spent much of my evening in the afterlife, playing the role of the ghost in the fantastic game Mysterium. In this game, apart from the aforementioned spirit, players are mystics who have been summoned to a spooky mansion to solve a murder, which they must do by interpreting messages sent to them from the afterlife in the form of dreams (or, in reality, cards showing beautiful but highly surreal illustrations chosen for them by the ghost). Each player initially has their own personal scenario to interpret, but it makes sense for players to work together to interpret the clues they receive, because everyone must solve their mystery in certain number of turns in order for play to progress to stage two of the game where the assembled mystics combine their powers to solve the ghost's own murder based on extremely patchy and peculiar evidence. I shall end my description there and direct you to SU&SD's highly entertaining play-through which will tell you all you need to know :-)

We also played the brand new escape room-themed tabletop game Unlock!, which does a very impressive job of recreating the excitement, challenge and frustration of a real-life escape room game, using only a very cleverly designed pack of cards. The box contains three scenarios (one card deck per puzzle), of which we've only tried the first so far with excellent feedback, so you can expect this one to make a reappearance at another night in the future... 

Watson and Holmes also made its AtB debut in April (there's a lack of photographic evidence of this one unfortunately... I was dead, OK?!). As the title suggests, this a Sherlock Holmes-themed game, where players are... surprise, surprise... trying to solve a mystery. They do this by travelling to locations around London represented by cards laid out on the table which have (partially) pertinent information on the back. Where things get interesting from a strategy point of view is that only one player can visit each location on a given turn, and when they leave can choose to block other players from visiting by leaving a police cordon. In the initial phase of each turn when players select where they want to go, there's an opportunity to spend 'carriage tokens' to get there first, effectively evicting the person who picked the location first, but these as you might expect, are a limited resource. This is a really strong design with excellent writing and really engaging game play... thanks SU&SD for another great recommendation :-) 

Last but decidedly not least, we ended with one massive game of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, and my word it was dark! This game combines elements of Mysterium with the hidden role aspects of the likes of Werewolf and the Resistance. In this game, everyone is a member of the Hong Kong police force trying to solve a murder. Except, one of you committed it, and another one of you knows who the killer is. Everyone starts off with a grid of eight cards in front of them, four depicting possible murder weapons, and four showing clues which were found at the scene. At this point, the hidden roles are dealt, and whoever gets the forensic scientist card reveals themselves and their card grid is cleared away. Next, everyone but the forensic scientist closes their eyes, then the murderer opens theirs and points at a weapon and clue from the cards in front of them so that the forensic scientist can see. After that, everyone opens their eyes and the game begins. The forensic scientist cannot speak, but issues hints by placing bullet tokens on options from a list of six items, covering things like 'location' and 'condition of the corpse' (there's that darkness I promised). This requires them to basically come up with a story for what happened based on the limited information proffered by the murderer, a great exercise for taking one's imagination to weird and sinister places! Everyone else then tries to piece together what happened and convince everyone else round to their way of thinking... except of course, one person is guilty and so is trying to misdirect the rest. Just one more thing before I pass the case over to SU&SD: at AtB#7, the murder weapon was a knife and fork. Can you spot the murderer who committed this grotesque and macabre crime from the pictures below? I suspect you can...