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Mansions of Madness: Second Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Mansions of Madness 2e Review by Dog and Thimble rss

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It’s a mad, mad, mad world.

Mansions of Madness Second Edition is one of the most profoundly improved new editions of any game that I can remember. The engrossing, challenging narrative game was in serious need of a reworking that enabled players to focus on the good things instead of the minutiae. Mansions of Madness 2E delivers.

Gone is the need for a “keeper” who acts as dungeon master, laying out the mansion and acting as all the enemies. That role’s been replaced by a free app, allowing for a 100% cooperative experience for up to five players.

The interactive app is integral to the experience, telling you what room tiles to place as you explore the area, and delivering a variety of narratives for combat and events. You’ll even encounter puzzles that you must complete using the app.

Of course, none of that matters if the game itself sucks. Well, it doesn’t. You are investigators, trying to uncover a mystery based on one of the four scenarios chosen when you begin a game. During the Investigator Phase, players take turns performing two actions - a mix of moving, exploring, examining objects, talking to strangers, or attacking foes.

Thanks to the app, you don’t just attack a monster, but you get a cool narrative to go with it. Along with a skill test based on one of your investigator’s attributes. You roll dice equal to your skill rating and can turn magnifying glasses into success by spending clue tokens. Check your successes against the app and follow the outcome as instructed.

Then comes the Mythos phase, where creepy events happen. Monster move and attack and you generally get the sense that you’re screwed.

Speaking of being screwed. Investigators have health and sanity. When you take damage to either, you draw the appropriate card from the deck, which may lead to further complications. Lose all your health and you’re wounded, limiting your movement. Lose all your sanity and you go insane (sensible outcome). When you go bonkers, you draw an insanity card and secretly read the back for your new objective... which could be to find a bladed weapon and perform a ritual sacrifice of your closest ally. Yipes!

Explore the area, uncover a mystery, solve some puzzles using the app – which is SUPER cool – and try not to lose.

So here are the bad things. The minis stink. The sculpts aren’t bad, but the enemies attatch to large black bases that eat up a ton of map space for no good reason. And the minis often fall out of their slots, especially since you have to lift them up to see the details about each on the card on the bottom of the base. It’s an incredibly poor design and absolutely hinders the joy of this tense story-driven game.

But here’s the real bad news. There are only four scenarios in the base game. Yes, you can expand this with if you have the first edition (the game comes with a conversion kit), but it’s not a lot for newcomers. This is a long experience, with the shortest scenario taking two hours and the longest going upwards of six. But play it once and it’s just not that interesting to play again even though the app randomizes the map and locations of some items.

Without greater variety these scenarios become tedious instead of thrilling. Which is a shame, because the core game is phenomenal fun. Given the price tag, you should proceed with some caution. It’s an awesome experience the first time out – and hey, this is four game day’s worth of material – but you’ll need new scenarios quickly to avoid burning out on this one.

The three best things about Mansions of Madness Second Edition:

* An engrossing narrative experience.
* Short set-up and quick to learn.
* Going insane is kind of fun.


The three worst things about Mansions of Madness Second Edition:

* Bases for the minis are big for no reason and pretty crappy.
* Only four scenarios and one of them is a six-hour commitment.
* Choices you make rarely lead to using the investigator’s attribute you’d expect.


Get Mansions of Madness Second Edition If:

* You want an Eldricht Horror game with easy set-up.
* You love narrative games.
* You're committed to spending on new expansions.


Subscribe to the Dog and Thimble YouTube channel
Read the review on the official Dog and Thimble site
Stream on the web
Listen on iTunes
Podcast direct download
RSS feed
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Chick Lewis
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Thanks for the review. My copy is waiting patiently for me to get home from Holiday.
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Nice short and sweet review!

I definitely agree that the mini bases aren't fantastic. I've recently painted and rebased my mini's with clear acrylic and it was a worthy time investment; they look amazing on the table.

As for the lack of scenarios and variety, this has been a common debate on the forums. I'm in the camp that the four scenarios included and the randomization give plenty of replayability. I've replayed all the scenarios at least four times a piece, and while some map layouts are very similar, each mission feels varied enough with monster spawns and Search token randomization to give a fresh feeling. Additionally, at least 3 of the scenarios have multiple ending cinematics depending on how well you do or how fast you're able to complete the mission. That alone can be incentive for some people to replay the scenarios again.

But, I completely understand the opposition. I just think that 4 narrative rich scenarios is better than twice as many dull, completely random scenarios that lack any coherent story.

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Fair. But my experience with the replays is that they are not that interesting when you know what you need to do and what to expect.
 
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Hilaryg wrote:
It’s a mad, mad, mad world.

Mansions of Madness Second Edition is one of the most profoundly improved new editions of any game that I can remember. The engrossing, challenging narrative game was in serious need of a reworking that enabled players to focus on the good things instead of the minutiae. Mansions of Madness 2E delivers.

Gone is the need for a “keeper” who acts as dungeon master, laying out the mansion and acting as all the enemies. That role’s been replaced by a free app, allowing for a 100% cooperative experience for up to five players.

The interactive app is integral to the experience, telling you what room tiles to place as you explore the area, and delivering a variety of narratives for combat and events. You’ll even encounter puzzles that you must complete using the app.

Of course, none of that matters if the game itself sucks. Well, it doesn’t. You are investigators, trying to uncover a mystery based on one of the four scenarios chosen when you begin a game. During the Investigator Phase, players take turns performing two actions - a mix of moving, exploring, examining objects, talking to strangers, or attacking foes.

Thanks to the app, you don’t just attack a monster, but you get a cool narrative to go with it. Along with a skill test based on one of your investigator’s attributes. You roll dice equal to your skill rating and can turn magnifying glasses into success by spending clue tokens. Check your successes against the app and follow the outcome as instructed.

Then comes the Mythos phase, where creepy events happen. Monster move and attack and you generally get the sense that you’re screwed.

Speaking of being screwed. Investigators have health and sanity. When you take damage to either, you draw the appropriate card from the deck, which may lead to further complications. Lose all your health and you’re wounded, limiting your movement. Lose all your sanity and you go insane (sensible outcome). When you go bonkers, you draw an insanity card and secretly read the back for your new objective... which could be to find a bladed weapon and perform a ritual sacrifice of your closest ally. Yipes!

Explore the area, uncover a mystery, solve some puzzles using the app – which is SUPER cool – and try not to lose.

So here are the bad things. The minis stink. The sculpts aren’t bad, but the enemies attatch to large black bases that eat up a ton of map space for no good reason. And the minis often fall out of their slots, especially since you have to lift them up to see the details about each on the card on the bottom of the base. It’s an incredibly poor design and absolutely hinders the joy of this tense story-driven game.

But here’s the real bad news. There are only four scenarios in the base game. Yes, you can expand this with if you have the first edition (the game comes with a conversion kit), but it’s not a lot for newcomers. This is a long experience, with the shortest scenario taking two hours and the longest going upwards of six. But play it once and it’s just not that interesting to play again even though the app randomizes the map and locations of some items.

Without greater variety these scenarios become tedious instead of thrilling. Which is a shame, because the core game is phenomenal fun. Given the price tag, you should proceed with some caution. It’s an awesome experience the first time out – and hey, this is four game day’s worth of material – but you’ll need new scenarios quickly to avoid burning out on this one.

The three best things about Mansions of Madness Second Edition:

* An engrossing narrative experience.
* Short set-up and quick to learn.
* Going insane is kind of fun.


The three worst things about Mansions of Madness Second Edition:

* Bases for the minis are big for no reason and pretty crappy.
* Only four scenarios and one of them is a six-hour commitment.
* Choices you make rarely lead to using the investigator’s attribute you’d expect.


Get Mansions of Madness Second Edition If:

* You want an Eldricht Horror game with easy set-up.
* You love narrative games.
* You're committed to spending on new expansions.


Subscribe to the Dog and Thimble YouTube channel
Read the review on the official Dog and Thimble site
Stream on the web
Listen on iTunes
Podcast direct download
RSS feed


You forgot to mention the price.
 
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grahamj wrote:
You forgot to mention the price.

Didn't forget. Price varies by retailer and region. I trust if interested you can find a price and determine if, based on my review, it's worth that price. Not for me to tell someone what is a value or not as everyone's budget is different.
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BreadRising wrote:
But, I completely understand the opposition. I just think that 4 narrative rich scenarios is better than twice as many dull, completely random scenarios that lack any coherent story.


The scenarios are pretty good, though I'm not the biggest fan of Rising Tide, which offers little reward for the time spent (and it's too easy).

The cohesive stories are nice, but I wish they'd created a sandbox type of scenario with a simple premise and completely randomized tiles, monsters, and puzzles. This would have made the replayability much higher.
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Drpretorios wrote:
BreadRising wrote:
But, I completely understand the opposition. I just think that 4 narrative rich scenarios is better than twice as many dull, completely random scenarios that lack any coherent story.


The scenarios are pretty good, though I'm not the biggest fan of Rising Tide, which offers little reward for the time spent (and it's too easy).

The cohesive stories are nice, but I wish they'd created a sandbox type of scenario with a simple premise and completely randomized tiles, monsters, and puzzles. This would have made the replayability much higher.


I'm not saying this to be contrarian, as I'm honestly interested; how would you create such a scenario?

I mention this because I think saying "I want a scenario that's more randomized and sandboxy" is a lot easier than actually feasibly building that scenario and having it still be interesting.

Without a story at its core, I know I'd (personally) be a lot less motivated to play through that mission. No story also means NPC's that aren't coherently connected to the world/situation along with Search tokens and flavor text that doesn't pertain to any scenario but are just generic text blurbs.

While I see the draw of a scenario that is completely randomized and offers far more replayability, I don't think it's possible without sacrificing the narrative side of the game. And personally, I'd rather experience the story.

Now things like more endings and more branching paths IS something I hope they work into future scenarios, as well as something that is pretty feasible.

Sorry if it sounds like I'm disagreeing with you; I'm really not! I definitely agree that more randomization and more replayability for future scenarios would be amazing. I'm just at a loss for how they would do so without making the scenarios generic and void of story.
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BreadRising wrote:
Drpretorios wrote:
BreadRising wrote:
But, I completely understand the opposition. I just think that 4 narrative rich scenarios is better than twice as many dull, completely random scenarios that lack any coherent story.


The scenarios are pretty good, though I'm not the biggest fan of Rising Tide, which offers little reward for the time spent (and it's too easy).

The cohesive stories are nice, but I wish they'd created a sandbox type of scenario with a simple premise and completely randomized tiles, monsters, and puzzles. This would have made the replayability much higher.


I'm not saying this to be contrarian, as I'm honestly interested; how would you create such a scenario?

I mention this because I think saying "I want a scenario that's more randomized and sandboxy" is a lot easier than actually feasibly building that scenario and having it still be interesting.

Without a story at its core, I know I'd (personally) be a lot less motivated to play through that mission. No story also means NPC's that aren't coherently connected to the world/situation along with Search tokens and flavor text that doesn't pertain to any scenario but are just generic text blurbs.

While I see the draw of a scenario that is completely randomized and offers far more replayability, I don't think it's possible without sacrificing the narrative side of the game. And personally, I'd rather experience the story.

Now things like more endings and more branching paths IS something I hope they work into future scenarios, as well as something that is pretty feasible.

Sorry if it sounds like I'm disagreeing with you; I'm really not! I definitely agree that more randomization and more replayability for future scenarios would be amazing. I'm just at a loss for how they would do so without making the scenarios generic and void of story.


I agree that a randomized scenario would have a less cohesive story. The objective would have to be pretty simple--escaping from the house, for example, after having been kidnapped by cultists or something (just a generic example). The map, the monsters, and the puzzles would be completely randomized. I don't think you could have NPCs, as it would be tough to fit them into such a scenario.

The advantage, obviously, is that the scenario would have a high replay value, as you never know what you're going to get. I think adding a scenario like this satisfies the crowd who fears the game will become tiresome after one run through each scenario. I'm probably in the middle on this argument. Four in the core box is okay, I guess. But when you throw in the upcoming expansions, you're talking $200 retail for six scenarios. In my mind, that's ludicrous.
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