Muse is a party game for two to 12 players that is quick to learn, teach and play. Teams will contend to be the first to obtain five masterpieces using only cryptic clues given to them by their muse. It is designed by Jordan Sorenson, featuring art from Andre Garcia, Apolline Etienne and Kristen Plescow.
Muse is such a wonderfully simple game to play and will look something like this:
Once your group is divided into two or three teams, a muse will be selected and the team to their left will draw six masterpiece cards and two inspiration cards. The team secretly chooses one masterpiece and one inspiration card before handing them to the muse.
At this point, the muse will be looking at the masterpiece card and an inspiration card which will say something like; “make a stationary shape using both of your hands,” or “name a fictional character from any published work,” or “hum a melody.” It is then their task to follow the inspiration card’s instruction to give their team a clue that will lead them to the masterpiece. Once the muse has given their clue, they pass the masterpiece back to the other team, who then shuffle and lay out all six masterpieces in front of everyone.
The muse’s job is done. They can sit back, put their feet up and endure the agonising wait, hearing every thought process of their teammates as they deliberate over which of the masterpieces the shape related to.
If their team chooses the correct masterpiece, then they get to keep it. If they get it wrong, then the masterpiece goes to the other team. First team to collect five masterpieces wins the game.
Two to Three Player Game
Muse also accommodates two and three players with a co-operative variant in which players take it in turns to be the muse, picking up one masterpiece card and two inspiration cards. They’ll choose one inspiration and give their clue. Then take five more masterpiece cards and shuffle all six together before laying them out. If the one or two other players are able to guess the correct masterpiece, they add it to their collection. If they’re wrong, they set it aside. Collect five masterpieces to win. Get three wrong and they lose.
Thoughts on Muse
It can’t be ignored that this is a truly beautiful game, with 84 wonderfully illustrated cards to admire, but it is more than just a pretty face. In this small box is a game that more than matches the brilliance of its art.
At first glance, Muse seems simple - maybe too simple - with little meat on its bones to sink your teeth into. But, after just one round, any player will have quickly realised that there is so much more to this game than first meets the eye.
As you play, the game puts so much power in the opposing team’s hands, as they choose the masterpiece and the inspiration cards, safe in the knowledge that the muse has no idea what other cards it will be lined up alongside. Surely they don’t stand a chance, right?!
But little do they know, the muse is about to drop the perfect clue that will lead their teammates to the masterpiece and one step closer to victory. Not every round plays out as excitingly as that but in all of my plays so far, there are no certainties and predicting a winner has never been simple.
While players will be heavily engaged working together as a team to choose the most difficult masterpiece and inspiration combo, or when trying to decipher which of the pictures relates to the strange sound your Muse is making, that engagement dips off when you are on the team watching and waiting.
Sure, there are some funny moments as you listen to the opposition discuss what the masterpiece might be, but for the most part you start daydreaming or having a private discussion. Some might like those moments, but it’s not ideal.
Overall, this is a filler party game that you can play at any time during the day or night, whether it’s before a meaty Euro or after a tense social deduction. It can whet the appetite for more gaming or calm your overworked nerves after a marathon session.
There is plenty in the box to keep most gamers happy for a very long time, though I am sure there will be a few expansions in the future, which will hopefully just add more masterpieces and inspirations cards because the mechanics work perfect well as it is.