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Mansions of Madness: Second Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: An honest review – What's behind the Hype? rss

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Contains minor spoilers

So folks, this is it. The long awaited successor to a game which is rated 7.4 on BGG but is loved by many with a passion and remembered for it's brave attempt to create a narrative RPGish experience in the world of cosmic horror mastermind H. P. Lovecraft. But the game had it's flaws. Many flaws. From the long and complicated set-up to unbalanced scenarios and clunky combat: MoM 1st edition was riddled with mechanics that couldn't live up to the glowing promises the game made. It was due to the high quality components, the beautiful artwork and the innovative attempt at storytelling that MoM left a mark in the gaming community. Of course there were these rare sessions when everything just played out very nicely. I remember those sessions to be one of the best gaming experiences in my life. So, with all this in mind, a 2nd edition of MoM should be destined to be one of the greatest lovecraftian boardgames of all time ...

Does it succeed?

I'm not a playtester, so my experience with this game is a mere 2 days old. I played with the app alone and then some of the scenarios with the boardgame. And it's a good game. I see the greatness of it all, the potential and the effort that went into the development of this game. But there are some issues. And most of those issues come from the heady advertising by FFG and the heavy pricing. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem paying 100 bucks for a boardgame I really want to play. And as most FFG products are known for their high production value, the purchase of this game was a no-brainer.

Wha's up with the Miniatures?

But unfortunately the produciton value lacks this time and is not on par with other games from FFG like Descent or Battlelore. This is mostly due to the quality of the miniatures. Tiles, tokens, artwork and cards are as beautiful as expected, but the miniatures surely don't hold up with what a company like FGG is capable of in 2016, both in quality and design. The investigators lack detail, the Hunting Horror is a joke and by no means menacing and the Star Spawn, while enourmous in size, is undynamic and boring in posture. Look at how even standard monsters are designed in Descent and you'll see the difference. It boggles the mind how such a decrease in design and execution was possible.

The tiles and cards remain to be a beauty of art. It's a pleasure just looking at them – and playing on them really improves the atmossphere of exploring an old and time-honored mansion. Or a dark alley in Innsmouth. Or a shady pier. Or a damp cellar. There are so many details depicted.

To app or not to app

The same goes for the app. The moment I started the first game I was fully immersed into the scenario. It's all there. The eery but never annoying music, sparse but effective ambient sounds, lot's of very evocative flavour text and a strong and cohesive narrative both true to Lovecraft and the initial promise of the game. MoM 2n Edition is miles above the "Wtf is going on"-stories that MoM 1st Edition delivered. Many times I had to explain to the players what just happened during the game, as the sparse clues and introduction text didn't really manage to get the plot across. This is now a thing of the past. There's so much to discover at inital play. Every token represents something intresting to investigate, there are many things an investigator can interact with. There are even NPCs you can now talk to with different dialogue trees. To this day and age you won't find a boardgame that will come closer to a game of Cthulhu-RPG than MoM 2nd Edition. Mission accomplished.

Now to the "negative". As I said, there is much to discover at the initial playthrough, as every mansion is a mystery and you don't know what's behind the next door. It's a great great experience. But the emphasis is on the word "initial". Sure, there is some sort of variety in distributed items, monsters and to some degree even in maptiles. But the pompous claim made by FFG ...

Quote:
From then on, the rooms you search, the beasts you face, the objects you stumble across, and the events that befall you are unpredictable, randomized from the game components in your collection.


... is not true. Rooms are not random, but follow a certain pattern of 2 to 4 variables (slightly more if you're in possession of 1st edition tiles, but the changes are only cosmetic)

Different, but more of the same

Sometimes the kitchen is to the right, sometimes it's to left. But it's always next to the foyer and the clues and scripted happenings in the kitchen stay always the same. As goes for the study, the attic, the cellar and floors. Items and obstacles to investigate are mostly fixed, so you know after one playthrough that a certain room contains certain clues. This makes a second playthrough somewhat of a quick run, as you already know where to look at and what obstacle gives what clue. The flavour text is very nice to have the first time around, but at a second playthrough you'll find yourself clicking the continue button more often to skip fluff you already read. Some scenarios have no tile-variation at all, but offer replayabilty through ever-changing culprits out of six suspects. This was very much to my liking.

Take my money?

So, should you buy this game for that price tag? It heavily depends on what your expecations are towards this game. If you want it for the miniatures, this game won't make you happy. Buy Cthulhu Wars.

If you want to play a true Locecraft-Story with strong narrative, sense of danger and impending doom, exploration and mystery, but lighter and quicker than a pure P&P RPG, this is the game you're looking for.

If your searching for an endless amount of replayable mansionlike mazes that always evoke the same mystery as in the first playthrough while telling simultaneously a cohesive and reasonable story, this game will dissapoint you. I don't get why FFG told things about the capacity of the app that are not there. Disappointment will be inevitable for some folks.

If you're still not sure if you should buy the game, I have some suggestions. Wait and observe how this game evolves. There a certain obscurities how this game will look with one or two expansions.

Will those expansions increase the replayability of the existing scenarios?

How expensive will new scenarios distributed via app become?

Will there be free scenarios?

How often wiill new scenarios be released?

Will there ever be a scenario-editor?

Will the qualitiy of the miniatures increase?

Will FFG update exisiting scenarios from time to time to respawn interest in them?

If you're not sure yet, I'd wait till those questions are answered and the game becomes more developed and evolved. As we all know, FFGs base games do often feel a little bit uncomplete to begin with. But there is so much potential for the future. And I hope FFG will use this potential.

Rating

As for now, regarding the price, the overall quality and the content, this is a 7.5/10, while MoM 1st Edition ranks at 5.5/10 and Descent 2nd Edition Road to Legend is a solid 9/10.

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Benjamin Maggi
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Thanks for your honest opinions. Nice write up.
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Exilfranke wrote:
If you want to play a true Locecraft-Story with strong narrative, sense of danger and impending doom, exploration and mystery, but lighter and quicker than a pure P&P RPG, this is the game you're looking for.

Thank you. My purchase has been validated (until I actually bring it out this weekend and see for myself)
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James
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I fear that with a hefty price tag, expansions will only result if enough of the base game is sold. The market is saturated with great games and a lot of them a priced much cheaper and contain excellent components.
I have MOM 1st edition and Forbidden Alchemy, but the price of MOM 2 is out of space and time for me and perhaps for many others.
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grahamj wrote:
I fear that with a hefty price tag, expansions will only result if enough of the base game is sold. The market is saturated with great games and a lot of them a priced much cheaper and contain excellent components.
I have MOM 1st edition and Forbidden Alchemy, but the price of MOM 2 is out of space and time for me and perhaps for many others.

Pool together with a group and get a shared copy. Play all the scenarios together for the first time and you will all get your money's worth. I played first scenario last night - it is worth 100 divided by five even if you only play each scenario one time. But I am sure some loses will up that number anyway. Look for my session report pending approval...

This will sell. And this will get expansions.

OSG
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Pauly Paul
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Very nice write up.

Thank you
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Exilfranke wrote:

Different, but more of the same

Sometimes the kitchen is to the right, sometimes it's to left. But it's always next to the foyer and the clues and scripted happenings in the kitchen stay always the same. As goes for the study, the attic, the cellar and floors. Items and obstacles to investigate are mostly fixed, so you know after one playthrough that a certain room contains certain clues. This makes a second playthrough somewhat of a quick run, as you already know where to look at and what obstacle gives what clue. The flavour text is very nice to have the first time around, but at a second playthrough you'll find yourself clicking the continue button more often to skip fluff you already read. Some scenarios have no tile-variation at all, but offer replayabilty through ever-changing culprits out of six suspects. This was very much to my liking.

Take my money?

If your searching for an endless amount of replayable mansionlike mazes that always evoke the same mystery as in the first playthrough while telling simultaneously a cohesive and reasonable story, this game will dissapoint you. I don't get why FFG told things about the capacity of the app that are not there. Disappointment will be inevitable for some folks.

If you're still not sure if you should buy the game, I have some suggestions. Wait and observe how this game evolves. There a certain obscurities how this game will look with one or two expansions.


Aaaaaaaaand there goes my immediate interest in this iteration of the game!! After announcement of the new edition, I was first annoyed that it would be coop-only (and fall right in with ALL the other Arkham Horror World games). Not to mention the app-thing.
Then I read the threads and became excited due to the possibilities, but some doubts remained.
Then I read the reviews by bleached_lizard and Scarlet Witch, and I was nearly convinced, already looking for a way to purchase this perceived "gem" for less than 100 bucks.

Thank you for directly addressing what I feared would be the situation with this new implementation - and validating them. This, in conjunction with the few threads that tackle my being suspicious of apps (due to the possibility of them being buggy), now means that I will definitely lean back, and wait for the next few expansions (scenarios as well as boxes), until I decide whether sinking money into this is worth it for me!

Of course, that is a highly subjective opinion (well, opinions usually are), but you have helped me tremendously! Thanks for a fantastic review, and for being so honest as to tell it like yu saw it - without all the makeup, magic and hype...
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Chris Lawson
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grahamj wrote:
I fear that with a hefty price tag, expansions will only result if enough of the base game is sold.

Well, clearly the first 24 hours of sales for 2nd Ed was enough to announce the first two expansions!
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Jay Eye
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Thx for your feedback, glad I could help. I trust FFG enough to be really certain that this game will get enough support and expansions to make it truly outstanding. Everything is there from the get-go, now FFG has to deliver to push this game from "good and ambitous" to "f****** epic". If not, MoM 2nd Edition could suffer the same fate as it's predecessor ... just under other circumstances.
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oldschoolgamr
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It is epic. Even just the base box. Yeah, first time through is the best. But all they have to do is write software for another first time through.

The app is not buggy at all. I opened the box at 10:30PM last night and finished the first scenario at 4AM. It was amazing. No magic, no hype, just great game design. In fact, the immersive emerging narrative came partly from the app, but mostly from the amazing design.

I plan on playing the scenarios numerous times - the system is challenging enough and creative enough to provide a second experience worth playing - especially if you have new players along for the ride!

Love it.

Session report pending approval if you want more details and juicy spoilers...

OSG
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M. Graham Clark
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Thanks for the review. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds. Looking forward to cracking my copy this weekend and adding my two cents. Never played the first one, the warnings from the community made me keep my distance so I will be going in fresh.
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Sean Geraghty
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"Expansions" have already been announced.
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1616664/new-material-arrivi...

I put it in quotes since it is just 1E stuff.
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Mariano Rico
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Interesting review, well written and with some valid points and concerns.

But I cant help to wonder if you really had time in two days to play all four scenarios several times to form a reasoned opinion about how they really replay, which seems to be one of your major concerns (together with the quality of miniatures which I sincerely couldn´t careless, since I consider them just one more tool to play the game, not to be put in any display. Personal taste, of course)

And don´t get me wrong, I could share some of your concerns to a extent, but somehow it seems to me that you might have been driven by the anti-hype a little bit and this review should have waited for a bit more plays to settle a more reasoned and experienced base.
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Jay Eye
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Acererak wrote:
Interesting review, well written and with some valid points and concerns.

But I cant help to wonder if you really had time in two days to play all four scenarios several times to form a reasoned opinion about how they really replay, which seems to be one of your major concerns (together with the quality of miniatures which I sincerely couldn´t careless, since I consider them just one more tool to play the game, not to be put in any display. Personal taste, of course)

And don´t get me wrong, I could share some of your concerns to a extent, but somehow it seems to me that you might have been driven by the anti-hype a little bit and this review should have waited for a bit more plays to settle a more reasoned and experienced base.


Fair enough, I'll update the review as I dive more into replays, both solo and with other players. Apart from that, I didn't feel very driven by anti-hype, as this review is by no means a roasting of the game, but an attempt at giving the game the most fair shot I could give at this very moment. It's a good game. It's yet a better game than MoM 1st Edition, which sits on my shelf, got played a lot in it's day and which I hold very dear. But it could be so much better. That's what I tried to bring across.
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Exilfranke wrote:
Acererak wrote:
Interesting review, well written and with some valid points and concerns.

But I cant help to wonder if you really had time in two days to play all four scenarios several times to form a reasoned opinion about how they really replay, which seems to be one of your major concerns (together with the quality of miniatures which I sincerely couldn´t careless, since I consider them just one more tool to play the game, not to be put in any display. Personal taste, of course)

And don´t get me wrong, I could share some of your concerns to a extent, but somehow it seems to me that you might have been driven by the anti-hype a little bit and this review should have waited for a bit more plays to settle a more reasoned and experienced base.


Fair enough, I'll update the review as I dive more into replays, both solo and with other players. Apart from that, I didn't feel very driven by anti-hype, as this review is by no means a roasting of the game, but an attempt at giving the game the most fair shot I could give at this very moment. It's a good game. It's yet a better game than MoM 1st Edition, which sits on my shelf, got played a lot in it's day and which I hold very dear. But it could be so much better. That's what I tried to bring across.

Yeah, it could be better. Completely dynamic procedural generation of adventure scenarious based on indicated assets... But then once we had that program, why get anything else? FFG does want this to be a business and if that first scenario could be any scenario if you hit randomize enough then where is the purchase incentive?

Besides, completely random generated stories will never hold a candle to the authored plot driven points and reveals you experience with the first play though. Time stories made a game about doing that over and over till its done. Pandemic Legacy sold you a box to do it 12-24 times and then nothing.

I am OK with FFG saying, do it once and be mind blown, then do it again and again with some stuff changing... yeah they may have said it won't be the same, but they were clear on what wouldn't be the same... they weren't lying.

Besides, when I replay that first scenario again the "how" will be different as the characters I choose, items I get, and dice results I roll will be different. Just like repeating plays against the same Great Old One over and over in Eldritch Horror. You know the Awakening effects, but everything that happens as you approach them changes...

It works as advertised IMO and I am so happy I decided to play it.

OSG
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Dumon wrote:
Exilfranke wrote:

Different, but more of the same

Sometimes the kitchen is to the right, sometimes it's to left. But it's always next to the foyer and the clues and scripted happenings in the kitchen stay always the same. As goes for the study, the attic, the cellar and floors. Items and obstacles to investigate are mostly fixed, so you know after one playthrough that a certain room contains certain clues. This makes a second playthrough somewhat of a quick run, as you already know where to look at and what obstacle gives what clue. The flavour text is very nice to have the first time around, but at a second playthrough you'll find yourself clicking the continue button more often to skip fluff you already read. Some scenarios have no tile-variation at all, but offer replayabilty through ever-changing culprits out of six suspects. This was very much to my liking.

Take my money?

If your searching for an endless amount of replayable mansionlike mazes that always evoke the same mystery as in the first playthrough while telling simultaneously a cohesive and reasonable story, this game will dissapoint you. I don't get why FFG told things about the capacity of the app that are not there. Disappointment will be inevitable for some folks.

If you're still not sure if you should buy the game, I have some suggestions. Wait and observe how this game evolves. There a certain obscurities how this game will look with one or two expansions.


Aaaaaaaaand there goes my immediate interest in this iteration of the game!! After announcement of the new edition, I was first annoyed that it would be coop-only (and fall right in with ALL the other Arkham Horror World games). Not to mention the app-thing.
Then I read the threads and became excited due to the possibilities, but some doubts remained.
Then I read the reviews by bleached_lizard and Scarlet Witch, and I was nearly convinced, already looking for a way to purchase this perceived "gem" for less than 100 bucks.

Thank you for directly addressing what I feared would be the situation with this new implementation - and validating them. This, in conjunction with the few threads that tackle my being suspicious of apps (due to the possibility of them being buggy), now means that I will definitely lean back, and wait for the next few expansions (scenarios as well as boxes), until I decide whether sinking money into this is worth it for me!

Of course, that is a highly subjective opinion (well, opinions usually are), but you have helped me tremendously! Thanks for a fantastic review, and for being so honest as to tell it like yu saw it - without all the makeup, magic and hype...


Just pointing out that the same info you quote was already available prior to this review during the days after the app was released. The reviewer doesn't appear to be giving his opinion on this aspect of the game based on *actual* multiple plays.
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Jay Eye
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How many actual multiple plays do I need to make my statement valid?

Quote:
It works as advertised IMO and I am so happy I decided to play it.


I'm happy to play it, too. And I actually will play it again tomorrow with some friends.

To be honest, I didn't thought my review would provoke such justification. It was not my intent to talk this game down by any means.sauron
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That's weird.

I guess no one had any problems with this mixed bag of boardgame meet app.

Everything is so confusing. Honestly, the first edition of MoM was a master lesson in confusion. The second edition is no better. The game is just too dependent on the app, so much that it feels that I am spending more time with the app itself (which is free) than with the boardgame (for which I have paid 100 Euro).

The rules are also confusing, since every two phrases in the rulebook you are asked to consult the app.

I've bought the game yesterday and now, 24 hours later, I am thinking to sell it.

I wanted to love this game, I hoped it would not have not been so cumbersome and all over the place. I guess I am sticking to Eldritch Horror, which remains my number 1 Lovecraft game (Cthulhu Wars coming on the second position).
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Exilfranke wrote:
How many actual multiple plays do I need to make my statement valid?


Even one replay would be good.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying your review or opinion isn't valid. But you entitle it "an honest review - what's behind the hype?", and then make a point that you're not coming from the point of view of being a playtester (implying that playtester reviews are not honest and are hype-filled), but then seem to comment on the lack of replayability without actually stating how many times you've replayed it (whereas the playtesters you seem to be providing a counter-opinion to have played it dozens of times). It just came across as a little disingenuous to me. The title especially is a little inflamatory, as it implies all other reviews so far are dishonest.
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That was not my intent, too. The first reviews made it a statement that they're written by playtesters, so I thought it's okay to state that I didn't playtest the game in the process of it's making. And that this game is a hype right now is obvious. There's no bad in something being hyped, it just makes clear that many people really love the idea of this type of game. I am hyped.

"Honest review", I see this phrase a lot on these boards, mostly suggesting that the review is wether gushing nor crushing, but ... well ...fair.

Actually I changed my first statement of "It's a mixed bag" to "It's a good game", because this is more true to my rating and overall feeling. Fair enough, my starting of this review was a little sensational.

Thx for the feedback.

Jay
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Exilfranke wrote:
"Honest review", I see this phrase a lot on this boards, mostly suggesting that the review is wether gushing nor crushing, but ... well ...fair.


So by definition an effusive or highly critical review can't be fair? That's a bad definition.
 
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Oh come on now. If I learned something from FFG then it's this: It's all about the advertising.
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I WANT to wait a little while to see how this game evolves before considering making the purchase. The problem is I worry this edition will go out of print like the first edition before all those questions are answered. I don't want to pay scalper prices.
 
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bleached_lizard wrote:

Just pointing out that the same info you quote was already available prior to this review during the days after the app was released. The reviewer doesn't appear to be giving his opinion on this aspect of the game based on *actual* multiple plays.


Yes, probably.
Maybe I simply have overlooked it, or wanted to overlook it, or wanted to be swayed. And thank you for pointing the finger at something I was not really aware of (that the OP did not, in fact, base his opinion on multiple plays or "check-ups") - again, I might have overlooked the evidence.

However, that does not change my stance on the game, at this point. Information coming in is mostly all hyped up. Not saying it isn't true, just saying that truth is a fickle thing, and highly subjective. Also, the reports of negative things (buggy app with one or two people, this one here, etc.), whether true or not, make me doubt again.

I cannot judge the game until I myself test it out. But I was always unwilling to shell out the 100 bucks or more that you have to pay (for the English version, no translation for me, thanks) here in Germany. So I simply lean back now, and wait for the hype to calm down. Wait to see how it all develops during the next few months, maybe over the next year or so. To see if the additional stuff makes it worth the money for me. Still interested, just not hyped anymore.

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perry johnson
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completely agree with everything you said although I feel the minatures are complete garbage. My Star spawn is so bad, I can't even move the legs to get it to stand up. The cultists don't fit in the holes well enough to stand up or even be picked up.

And the app.. in some ways it's immense and really adds to the atmosphere and narrative that is until it crashes on the final encounter. That moment killed the game.

For the amount of cash you have to fork out for it, these issues are inexcusable.
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