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Monday, October 31, 2016

Boards & Brews at Home: Mansions of Madness

  Happy Halloween Everyone!  

We hope you all have had a wonderful Halloween this year!  On this night we look once again to another game of Cthulhu themed horror to review Mansions of Madness.  To assist through the adventure and mystery, we are drinking Cthulhu-ritas which we prepped ourselves complete with tentacles!  The tentacles are the shavings that we cut and shaped from our limes.  We knew since this year has seen a massive influx of Cthulhu games, it would be fun to make these type of drinks to follow the theme.  In this game of mystery and terror there are horrific monsters that lurk in the shadows of manors, crypts, and monasteries near Arkham Massachusetts. Some dispense dark conspiracies while others wait to devour their victims or drive them insane! The fate lies in the hands of brave investigators to explore these cursed places and reveal the truth of the evil within.

In this 2 - 5 player horror game of exploration, adventure and macabre, each game takes place within the choice of one of five stories that the players will all agree on. Each story also includes a unique map detailing how objects will be placed in rooms, certain doors locked, clues left behind for the investigators to find. The board is modular and it does change from game to game. While some players will take on the role of the investigators, there is also the keeper. The keeper also works from their own separate booklet following their own set of rules and trying to misdirect the investigators from carrying out their tasks while the keeper is trying to carry out their own tasks. With this knowledge understood, the keeper can carry out tasks such as attacking investigators with monsters, plague them with traumatic injuries and insanities, and use Mythos cards to maximize the terrifying aspects of the story. Each story provides the keeper with specific abilities to accomplish his goal. Before you can setup the game, you have to choose the story that all players will follow and then answer a series of questions based on the title of your choosing. Once this is done, you are then provided with information on how to setup and proceed into the game. Players make their way throughout the mansion finding clues and solving puzzles, performing various actions and abilities and trying to survive. The game is won when either the investigators find all clue Exploration cards, which are hidden on the game board. The keeper wins when he or she carries out the required objectives on their objective card that they receive at the beginning of the game.

The puzzles, objectives, game mechanics, and instructional documentation is executed quite well. The initial game takes a long time to set up even when you’ve played it before. There’s a lot of preparation, sorting, and decision making that goes into the setup of this game. Since we own the first edition, the game is a little more time consuming in terms of setup and gameplay. As many of you know, the second edition of Mansions of Madness released this year and it was quite a big deal to tabletop gamers, specifically through the use of the app. There’s now considerably less work involved and you no longer have to follow a GM as the app provides the details of how the process will unfold. I will say it is quite nice to consider this change, however since we had already purchased the first edition, there was no way we would have considered the second edition as that would have been another 100.00 and we had only owned the first edition for a couple years. Even with the improvements of the second edition, it would have been foolish to purchase the game again, after barely having a chance to really delve deeper into it for ourselves.

The artwork is absolutely astounding in this game, the depth, the use of vibrant color, and thorough attention to detail in the textures and miniatures as well. As mentioned in the beginning, this year has seen a massive influx of Cthulhu games. In 2015 it was zombies, but this year the gates have opened up and Cthulhu has crawled through to become the craze of 2016. The game is intended to take two hours to play, but normally it takes about 3 for most that I've spoken to. Once you have a good grasp on it, it's generally closer to two. Claire and I really enjoy this game and while we would recommend you play Arkham Horror first, if you enjoy miniature games with modular boards, this would be a great addition to your collection.

Mansions of Madness (1st Edition)
Overall Pumpkin Rating: 7.5/10

Game Mechanics:
1) Area Movement
2) Dice Rolling
3) Hand Management
4) Modular Board
5) Role Playing
6) Variable Player Powers

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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