Seeking a well-deserved break from your latest misadventures, you decide to treat yourself to the extravagant luxury of the legendary Orient-Express. But your holiday turns out to be short-lived... the train has barely left Paris when tragedy strikes - a passenger is found murdered!
The aptly renamed "Mystery Express" hurtles toward its final destination. Locked onboard, anxious passengers spin a web of intrigue and deception. Your mind races as you consider all possible suspects and their motives. Will you uncover the culprit before reaching the end of your journey?
- 1 Board map
- 72 Crime cards
- 5 Player character figures
- 5 large round character tokens
- 5 Ticket wallets
- 100 Deduction sheets
- 1 Telegram notepad
- 1 Mystery Express miniature train
- 1 (gray) Conductor figure
- 6 small Conductor tokens
- 2 Small Passenger tokens
- 1 Miniature travel bag.
- 1 Miniature whistle
- 1 Rules booklet
Place the Mystery Express board map in the center of the table.
Each player chooses a character and takes its corresponding figure, Ticket wallet
1and character token of matching color.
Each player then takes a deduction sheet from the notepad and places it inside his Ticket wallet, enabling him to keep his deductions hidden from the other players.
The players place their character figure in the train car of their choice
2and the character token in front of them 3. This token will be used to identify the players and their discard pile during the game.
Each player also receives 1 blank Telegram from the Telegram notepad, which he will use to wire his suspicions from Budapest later in the game
Now, separately shuffle each set of Crime cards to form a deck of Modus Operandi cards, a deck of Suspect cards, a deck of Motive cards, a deck of Location cards and a deck of Time cards.
Without looking at them, take 1 card from each deck and place it face down under the Mystery Express board map
5. These 5 cards (1 of each category) define the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of the murder just committed.
Place the deck of Time cards face down next to the board map
Thoroughly shuffle all four remaining decks (Modus Operandi, Suspect, Motive, and Location) together into a single deck. Deal 7 of these cards face down, one at a time to each of the players, without paying attention to the cards' back colors (which type of cards each players receive will thus likely differ)
The players may now take a peek at their cards, without revealing them to others. Players lucky enough to receive 2 identical Crime cards can already safely (but discreetly!) rule out the corresponding Crime element from their deduction sheet.
The remaining Crime cards are placed face down on their three designated spots (1st passengers, 2nd passengers and Conductor) on the Mystery Express board map
The number of cards placed on each spot will vary according to the number of players in the game and is indicated on each spot on the board. The Conductor always receives 3 cards (one card per spot), the two passengers 2 or 3 each depending on the number of players.
The Mystery Express begins in Paris. Place the miniature train there
9. Shuffle all 6 Conductor tokens, and place them with their destinations face down, one on each of the 6 Stations that the Mystery Express will stop in during its journey.
Reveal the 1st token (in Paris) and place the Conductor in the train Car indicated by this token
10. Place the 2 Passenger tokens in their respective cities of Strasbourg and Wien.
The player who has most recently boarded a real train starts the game and takes , the miniature whistle to identify himself as the first player for this turn.
The game will now proceed in successive turns, going clockwise around the table. At the end of each turn, the player who played last this turn will receive the 1st Player miniature whistle and begin the new turn.
Object of the Game
The players' characters attempt to win the game by correctly deducing all 5 elements of the crime just committed. There is always a risk that no one manages to accomplish this by the time the Mystery Express rolls into Istanbul, however.
In this case, the player with the highest number of Crime elements correctly identified on his deduction sheet is declared the winner of the game.
Should several players be tied for the highest number of Crime elements correctly identified, the telegrams each player sent from Budapest will be used to break the tie.
The Mystery Express is about to leave Budapest... some players have already wired in their first suspicions.
By visiting different cars during the train's travel from Paris to Istanbul, the players have a chance to accomplish a number of actions each turn that may help them deduce the various elements of the Crime: the Modus Operandi, Suspect, Motive and Location.
The Time of the Crime is deduced differently from the other Crime elements.
There are exactly 2 identical copies of each Crime card (except the Time cards) present in the game. Therefore, the moment a player sees the same Crime element twice (in the hand of 2 different players or the same one) during the same turn, he or she can safely rule out that Crime element from his deduction sheet.
Beware though - if you see a Crime element twice but in 2 different turns, there is a risk you might have seen the exact same card as it may have changed hands between 2 turns. Be careful not to draw too hasty a conclusion in this case.
The Players' Discard Piles
Since there are identical copies of each Crime card in the game, it is critical that the players be able to keep track of the cards' whereabouts during any given game turn.
As such, all players must remember this basic rule: Any card that you show or receive during the course of a turn must immediately be placed face down in front of you, atop your discard pile.
Make sure to then place your Character token back on top, so that it always sits on the top card of your discard pile.
This will help you identify your discard pile to the other players and will ensure that you don't mix it up with the cards in your hand (which some players sometimes set aside, when taking notes).
The different categories of Crime cards each have their own distinctive back color.
Throughout the course of the game, you may ask any of your fellow players to show you the back of the cards in their hand and discard pile, to see how many cards of a given Crime category they have in each.
Starting the Game
As is visible on the itinerary laid out on the board map, the Mystery Express will pass through 4 stations (Strasbourg, Munchen, Wien, Budapest) as it makes its journey to Istanbul. A
t the start of the game, the train - represented by its miniature on the board map - is in Paris. At the end of its journey, it will have reached Istanbul.
Each leg of this journey represents one game turn, during which all the players will, in clockwise order, starting with the player who holds the miniature whistle, get a chance to take some actions and pursue their investigation.
As the duration of each leg varies, so will the actions each player may attempt to undertake: A short leg might prohibit some lengthy investigations, while a longer one might offer a trove of possible actions to pursue, each tempting and tantalizing...
As a result, different characters are likely to use their time onboard differently, to pursue their own deductions.
During each leg of the journey, the players' characters will attempt to gather as many clues as they possibly can - taking various actions to peek at their fellow player's cards in the hope of discovering pairs of identical cards that will let them rule out certain Crime elements.
The Paris - Strasbourg leg takes 4 hours. Colonel MacDouglas may choose to try to clear the smoke in the Smoking Car (3 hours), and then retire to the Passenger Car (1 hour).
Going in the Smoking Car (3 hours) prevents him from visiting the Lounge Car (2 hours) this same turn however, as this leg of the journey only lasts 4 hours.
To ensure a smooth game, each time a Crime card is shown to, or exchanged with, a player, this card is then immediately placed face down in a stack in front of its current owner: The player's discard pile. Doing so will also greatly facilitate the players' deductions.
The owner's Character token is placed atop the discard pile, to identify this stack as belonging to that player's character. This helps ensure that whenever you see the same Crime element for the second time during a single game turn, it is indeed the second copy of that Crime card you seeing, not the first one - thus allowing you to safely rule out that element of the Crime.
Once all players have taken their actions at the end of each leg of the trip, but before the train miniature is moved onto its next destination, all players simultaneously take back in hand any cards in their discard pile.
1. Characters and their actions
Enter one of the Mystery Express Cars
Move your character figure to the train Car of your choice. You do not have to move your Character, and may stay in the same Car you finished your previous turn in, as well as move to the same Car multiple times during a turn.
However, you may only perform each action associated with a train Car a maximum of once per turn, no matter how many hours you may have left at your disposal. Moving from one Car to the next, and moving through Cars, does not cost any time.
You may move back and forth as much as you wish, regardless of the positions of the other players' characters or the Conductor aboard the train.
Only the Actions (see Take an Action) you choose to undertake when you stop in a Car are deducted from the total amount of hours you are allotted for any given leg of the journey (i.e. for any game turn).
Take an Action
Once stopped in a Car of your choice, you may attempt the corresponding Action to try and gather some clues.
Doing so takes time however, which must immediately be deducted from the time you have at your disposal for this leg of the trip (the amount of time varies from one leg to the next, as indicated on the Mystery Express itinerary).
If there is still time left after taking this action, you may move to another train Car during this same turn (or stay in that same Car, in the case of the Club Car) to take another differentaction.
If you do not use all of the time available to you during this leg of the journey, it is permanently lost - You may not carry it over onto another leg of the trip.
And Chat with the Conductor
If you choose to stop in - not just pass through - the Car where the Conductor currently is to take the corresponding Action, you MUST discuss with the Conductor and do the corresponding bonus Conductor action AFTER completing your regular Action in this Car.
2. Local Events
Once all players have completed their action(s) for this leg of the journey, the Mystery Express arrives at its local destination.
The players all take the cards from their discard pile back in hand and the miniature train moves to the next City station on the board map's itinerary.
If the City is one in which the Hour of the Crime is investigated (as indicated by the Time card symbols that appear on that section of the board), this event must be handled first (see The Hour of the Crimenext).
All other event(s) associated with this city, if any, are then performed in the order they appear on the board, going from left to right. Also remember to reveal the Conductor's token placed in that city and move the Conductor accordingly to the new Car indicated on its token, in preparation for the next leg of the trip.
The Hour of the Crime
Strasbourg, Wien, Budapest
There are 3 events that may help you figure out the Hour of the crime. You may have noticed that the Time cards, unlike all other Crime cards, were not distributed to the players at the start of the game.
This is because these cards will be shown briefly to all of you, each time in a slightly different manner, in the 3 cities the Mystery Express travels through that are marked with a Time cards symbol on the itinerary.
There are 3 identical copies of each Time card, for a total of 24 Time cards featuring 8 different possible Hours of the Crime. You will have to observe the clock carefully and apply your deductive powers as the Time cards are only revealed briefly.
You must figure out which Hour of the Crime card has gone missing and is thus 1 card short (i.e. which precise position of the hour and minute hands on the clock appear only twice, and not thrice as it normally would if the third card wasn't hidden below the board).
In each City marked with a Time cards symbol, the player who currently holds the Whistle (i.e. the first player in the turn) is the one charged with the passing of time.
Remember that the Hour of the Crime event must always be done first, before all other Local event(s) in the City, if any. The method he uses to - briefly, at his own judgment - display the Time cards in the deck varies depending on the City the train is in:
Take the deck of Time cards in hand, and flip them, one at a time, face up, visible to all players, into a single stack in front of you so that each card revealed is covered by the next one as you go through the deck. Once done, place that deck back, face down next to the board map.
Deal the deck of Time cards face down, clockwise to all of the players, you included. Upon your signal, each player must pick the Time cards in front of her, take a look at them, and upon your next signal (say the word "Pass") pass them to the player on his left.
Repeat your signal as many times as there are players in the game, so that each player gets a chance to look at each deck of Time cards thus formed. Then gather all the cards back into a single deck and place it back, face down next to the board map.
Take the deck of Time cards in hand and flip them face up, one at a time, into three separate stacks, so that the 4th card revealed covers the 1st one, the 5th one covers the card on the 2nd deck, etc...
Once all cards have been flipped into 3 face-up decks, gather all the cards back into a single deck and place it back, face down next to the board map.
Out of fairness to the player who reveals the Time cards, none of the players should take notes as the cards are revealed. You may of course still write down your conclusion(s) on your deduction sheet once the player is done revealing all cards.
New Passengers climb aboard
In those two cities, after the Hour of the Crime has passed, some new passengers climb aboard, each time enabling one of the following corresponding actions.
In Strasbourg, and any Station thereafter, any players' character that chooses to visit the Club Car (see Madam, please let me help you!) may draw 1 card of his choice from the 1st passengers deck (i.e. the player can look at the cards' back color before deciding which one to pick).
In Wien, the same becomes true for the cards in the 2nd passengers deck.
A Long Tunnel
The players' characters take advantage of the prolonged darkness of the tunnel to take a peek into their fellow passengers' affairs.
Each player lays all his cards face down, next to each other, then takes a peek at 1 card in each of his neighboring players' decks without revealing their content to the other players.
Each player thus sees 2 cards in Munchen, 1 from the player on his left, and another from the player to his right. The players then take alltheir cards back in hand (the train hasn't left the station yet!).
An Important Wire
When they arrive in Budapest, the Players' characters all rush out to wire their suspicions via telegram. Using a sheet from the Telegram notepad, each player is invited to secretly write down the Crime elements he has already identified for certain, as well as those for which he may have a strong suspicion.
These suspicions will be used as a tiebreaker at game's end. Each Crime element wired in from Budapest that turns out to be correct will be worth 1 point, and each wrong one will subtract 1 point.
This is the only instance in which you may lose some points. Some (or all) fields of the telegram can be voluntarily left blank. In this case they do not add or subtract any points to the tiebreak (and may actually help win the tiebreak).
Once all players have completed their telegrams, they are collected and placed face down under the board, next to the hidden Crime cards. Make sure to write in your name on your telegram and be careful not to look at your fellow players' telegrams when gathering them to place them under the board.
A Sudden Revelation
After the players have wired their telegram, each player chooses one card from his hand. All the players then reveal this card to all. Those cards are set aside, face up, next to the board for the rest of the game. Don't forget to take these newly revealed clues into account to advance your investigation!
End of the Game
When the Mystery Express pulls into Istanbul, this concludes the characters' journey. The players must now write down the conclusions of their investigation in their deduction sheet. Once all players are finished, the 5 Crime cards hidden below the board at the start of the game are revealed!
To make the end game fun and exciting, we suggest revealing the cards that were under the board one at a time, with each player announcing his or her own suspicion for that card type just before the card is revealed. The tension around the table will be palpable and reach a climax as each new card type is revealed!
The player with the most Crime elements correctly identified on his deduction sheet is declared the winner.
Elements of the crime incorrectly guessed on your deduction sheet (but not your telegram!) cost you no points, so do not hesitate to take a guess or two, if you're not sure of certain crime elements. If two or more players are tied for first, look at the telegrams sent from Budapest to break the tie using the methodology described above.
If the points earned from the telegrams are equal, break the tie in favor of the player with the least number of incorrect suspicions (i.e. 1 correct suspicion and no false one trumps 2 correct suspicions and 1 false one, despite both scores being equal to 1). If players are still tied, then both are declared co-winners.