I played Mystery of the Abbey last night, where I was forced to take a vow of silence for the first time. It was a 3 player game with Ness, who's a very good Settlers of Catan player, and Justin, who's a board game geek and hence to be held in high regard. It was their first game of MotA.
I found this game to be unusual, in that people would ask "how many fat Franciscans do you have", and they would give some answer and I would be able to tell from what I knew which ones they had and so cross some off. I know that's how it's supposed to work, but it always seems to me that the answers don't give me very much information. I was able to cross off all the Templar brothers and all the thin novices and many more by listening to questions that I wasn't even a part of. Nevertheless, coming into Terce (I think), it was obvious the game was about to end, and we were all in it.
I checked my cards, and discovered that I had two secrets (Galbraith and Cuthbert), i.e. nobody had seen those cards at all. Justin asked me "how many fat Franciscans have you eliminated?" and the truth was I had eliminated all of the Franciscans, but if I admitted it he would know I had seen Galbraith and Cuthbert. Rather than give away my secrets, I had to take the vow of silence. That's the first time I've seen anyone do that. A couple of turns later, I was standing outside the Capitulum, and Justin strolled in. He asked me if I'd seen Brother Cyrille (I hadn't) and I asked him if he'd seen Father William (he had). That narrowed it down to Sergio or Cyrille for me, so I decided to take a chance. I went and accused Cyrille, and was correct.
That's the second time I've stolen a game at the door of the Capitulum, and although I have some sympathy for the people I steal them from, that's how the game works. It occurred to me a couple of times that I really wished I could remember what questions people asked previously, which suggests that my note taking is inadequate. After all, if someone asks "how many Franciscan Fathers do you have?", chances are that they have one and they're hoping the answer will be one so that they know who it is you have. Later on, if you haven't spotted all of the FFs, you at least have a note that someone was asking about them and there's a slight chance they're both around somewhere.
I also realised that I should be asking about fat/hooded/bearded with a view to making revelations. I don't often use those characteristics, but if I can eliminate the last fat guy with a good question, I can at least make a revelation. It seems to be rare that revelations win the game (simply because it's a long way to walk to make a lot of them), but it's a strategy worth trying. Anyway, the game last night was a good one, with a lot of hard thinking. I've got myself 200 extra suspect sheets, so we should be able to play this for a while yet.