Couldn't agree more. We've made it "over the hump" on these rules, enjoying the trick-taking game underneath. Hell, I even enjoy the theme (I always do), but only AFTER we got a clue as to how the game worked. That first outing was a bear, all the more frustrating because it was so needless.
Thank goodness. I thought it was just me. I really want to learn to play this game since Ty is a good friend of mine. But I've tried learning the game from the rule book several times -- and gotten fed up each time.
I agree that a good set of rules is crucial to the design process. Fortunately for me, writing rules is something I LOVE to do, and it's usually one of the first things I do in the process of game creation. It may have to do with the fact that I'm a (former) teacher -- and a former WRITING teacher at that. The process of explaining something in words is something I've gotten very good at doing.
This "Mystery Rummy" games do the game thing, renaming the draw pile "The case File' and the discard pile "The Underworld" and so on, and then using these terms on the special cards (e.g., "Look through the Underworld and draw a card"). Too clever by half, as they say.