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Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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About Mansions of Madness: Second Edition:

1) What is it?
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition is the follow-up to Mansions of Madness, and it remains a game of horror, mystery and investigation in a very personal and small frame: usually a mansion or a manor. But it has two major changes: it is fully cooperative (well, at least for the majority of the time) and is app-driven.

The full cooperative and app-driven changes made possible for Mansions of Madness: Second Edition be a good option for solo play, while in the first edition, this would only work in a few scenarios - none in the base game.

And it also made possible for the game to retain the mystery aspect of uncovering clues and unfold an investigation without the need of getting everything ready and in the proper place ahead of the time, and took out the drama of one mistake making the whole play impossible to finish, which is a major bummer when we are talking about a 2-5 hours game. This all means the game comes with a lot less cards (no more Keeper cards nor combat), and the set up is basically sorting some decks and tokens, picking investigators and scenario and went for it: a 10-15 minutes affair instead of the brutal time the first edition had.

Replay value seems higher, as the app can generate different configurations for the same mystery.

The 2ed kept, however, the quality in art and miniatures, and the box is even bigger than before - most in the count of the Star Spawn miniatures.

2) How do you play?
Much like in the 1st edition. Players will try to solve a mystery by going to a dreadful place. Every person has two actions, and the main actions possible by the investigators are:
- move up to 2 spots;
- search;
- fight;
- take items;
- trade.

Depending on the action done the app will call for some test. Dice are rolled and they are all d8, with some sides being success (elder sign), possible success (clues) and failure (blank). Player can turn the possible success into full success by spending clues, on a 1 to 1 ratio.

As before, the spells are double-sided, and once used, they can have some unexpected effects. Damage is handled different now: there are, still, Stamina and Sanity, but when either is damaged, players take cards: some will go facedown (just marking damage as if counters) and others face up, having constant ill effects. Is possible that, during the play, sometimes the app will call for the player to turn over one of her damage cards - the effect on the other side will be applied then. This is highly thematic, as old wounds open and come back to hinder again, and passsed traumas surface to make the person relive traumatic experiences.

If an investigators gets insane, the player takes one insanity card, which might add or change the way that investigator will win the scenario, usually giving the investigator something to do, even to the point of becoming a traitor.

Once everyone has had their turn, the Mythos phase come in. Monster will move and attack, if they can, some random or scenario-based events will take place, sanity will be rolled for those facing creatures, and so on.

Then is back to the investigators. Play will continue until the mystery is solved inside the time available, or until things end up in failure.

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
Which action to do. Normally the state of the game will show what is more pressing. Some guesswork might be necessary in order to find the evidences, or spots to be, or what the investigators truly need to do in order to win. But the scenario will provide clues in order to lead the investigators to the objective.

Normally the decisions will be group-based: "I do this, you do that, she goes there" and so on. Positioning and proper teamwork will be keys to win, regardless of the scenario.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Great production value, from art, to components and graphics;
- Strong thematic experience;
- Due to the unknown results of many actions, an alpha player won't have an easy time here;
- Set up and tear down aren't big issues, specially considering the "size" of the game;
- Downtime is less of an issue as it was in 1st edition (specially when considering combat and the Keeper phases);
- No more "I will always be the Keeper" thing.

5) Which are the bad news?
- Is app-driven (hey, is my opinion and I don't like app in my analogic games);
- Replay value, while much less of an issue than before, is, still, an issue;
- Less fearful for the investigators than its predecessor.

6) How do you feel while playing?
Begrudgingly. I'm not a fan of apps in games. The less they do the more I like. Still, after going with my cane towards the ipad to say for it get out of my lawn, I must admit that the game was enjoyable and I wasn't as bothered as I thought I would. For a game that part A must happen before B and this one before C, otherwise things won't work, a computer program will take care of it better than humans in a hurry of playing already. An app was a good decision - it could be handled some other way? Probably, but the digital do allow for a type of freedom to add and change that the analog simply doesn't.

Now, does the second edition has a weaker parts when compared with the 1st? Yes, a few. The presence of a Keeper means the actions done to the investigators tend to be more focused, as in the 2ed, since the app doesn't take into the consideration the place the investigators are nor which actions was done by who, it means that the occasional event targeting someone happens by chance.

Also, a Keeper brings more tension to the game: the actions of the investigators tend to be done with one eye on the board and the other on the Keeper. "Will let me move freely? Will he use one of her cards now? What devilry is she planning?", and so on. As the AI is only activated when "touched", several actions are "safe" - in most, almost all cooperatives, this isn't an issue, but when you get in a terrible place, in a personal level, one would expect a constant feeling of tension and fear, and in MoM 2ed, this simpy isn't there.

Still, in the end, the 2ed improved the gameplay and easiness to get into the meat of the play. It isn't without flaws nor weak points when compared to the 1st ed, but when considered which one people will be playing more often and won't be scared of actually playing (mainly the Keeper), the 2ed is the clear winner.

Regards,

Image credit: W Eric Martin



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Fabio Binder
Brazil
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Nice review, you identified everything different between editions very well. Nothing to add here.
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Trevor Wilson
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Very nice review, and unlike many others, completely spoiler free.
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Bob Thurman

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Thanks for a very good review. I will most likely buy this. As per your review a "good" app can make a huge difference. It streamlines the slow tedious parts and does not add much bad. Well played FFG.
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