Recommend
171 
 Thumb up
 Hide
77 Posts
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Alone in the Mansions – A MoM 2nd edition review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Julia
msg tools
We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
badge
Amor, sola lex
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I’ve always loved haunted mansions and stories about detective investigating the supernatural sphere, so that when the first edition of Mansions was made available back in 2011, it was an immediate purchase for me. This was the beginning of an incredibly troubled relationship: for how much I was in love with the idea behind the game, I couldn’t really love the game due to its extremely flawed nature: setup was incredibly long and difficult (a wrong seeding of the initial cards could have meant a scenario unplayable after a certain point); the stories often had sinchronicity issues among different elements (event deck and clues discovered, for example) in case investigators were too slow or too quick at advancing in the mansion; and balance was terrible, with a Keeper playing to win being able to bring home victory in a really high number of cases. And finally (possibly the real deal breker for me) there was a point in the game where the Keeper’s objective was revealed and victory conditions for both sides were made evident, even if investigators didn’t have gathered enough intel to actually know the solution of the case, creating loopholes that no good game should have left open. During the years, FFG put a lot of efforts into fixing some of these issues, and a couple of products they released at a later time (mostly Call of the Wild and the PoD exp The Laboratory) were able to grant an interesting game experience; still, it was not enough to save the game from the incoming extinction.
In some sort of way, it was logic that they would have returned to the game, creating something new that could deliver a different, flawless experience. Now such a product is finally available, a 2nd edition of the game that implements something completely unexpected: it’s not any longer a game pitting a Keeper against a group of Investigators, but it’s a fully coop game run by an app.


Why an app?

When I first met 2nd edition and discovered that the game would have been run by an app, I was extremely disappointed. An app in a boardgame simply didn’t sound right to me. At that moment I had played only 1 boardgame running with an app, and that game was XCOM: The Board Game. I kinda liked it, but it was a real time sci-fi game so that having an app seemed thematically consistent. But an app for an atmospheric game in a bewitched manor? The two games were just on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Still, it was not something I could change, and while playing the game I realised what they actually had achieved with bringing an app to Mansions. First of all, the setup time drops to (almost) zero: 5 minutes to setup a couple of decks, select the investigators, and you are ready to go. No more hours spent seeding items on the whole mansion, no more risks of errors making the game unplayable, and no more “I’ll show you the whole map of the house right now”. The house is now built around you as you play the game.

Then, the app allows the adventure to be different every time you play it. First of all because the seeding of the objects every time is different: going to the Lounge to search that library for information means you can find a spell; and on your next attempt at the adventure you can find soemthing different. A Silver Key, for example, or an Ancient Medical Text that could come in handy at a later moment of the adventure. But it’s not only the seeding of items: some of the core set adventures come with entirely different maps. And other elements in the game can be different from time to time (some pattern in monster movement, for example; but I won’t spoil the secrets of the game in this review so that everyone can enjoy all the nuances of the game). Furthermore, the app allows investigators to have guided conversations with NPCs (and most of the time you won’t be able to explore all the options dialogues with NPCs offer in one single playthrough, being a lot of questions mutually exclusive), and there are sidequests entwined in the main plot, and a lot of Easter eggs hidden here and there, with references to HPL’s lore but also “hiding” some surprises for the keenest investigators. As for the stories…

Spoiler (click to reveal)
the different objectives that were present in 1st edition are now gone, but stories in 2nd edition have different endings according to investigators obtaining some key information and achieving specific tasks: in this way, the finale may differ a lot according to your actions, and they are not always “good” for the investigators, meaning that you can clearly lose the game, but meaning also every story has a “neutral” ending, where in some way you survive, but the case, for many reasons, can’t be considered a full success.


The app allows then to customize the scenarios in a very simple yet effective way: the collection manager screen allows you to enter which MoM 2nd edition (and 1st edition) products are present in your collection. By switching on and off the different products, you’ll vary the composition of the investigator pool, of the monster cup and of the tiles available to generate the maps. In this way, threats you’ll be asked to face in every scenario will be different and the layout of the mansion could be modified as well.

At this point some may wonder what the impact of the app on the atmosphere of the game is. Well, a lot of attention was given to set up the right mood for the game, and the app gives a huge contribution in this sense. Starting with the introductions for the different cases read by a professional narrator and moving forward with a lot of flavor added to the descriptions of rooms and items and monsters found inside the manors and ending with Mythos cards effects, playing through these scenarios is by no means a flavorless experience. On the contrary, the app creates brilliantly a more and more claustrophobic mood that builds up a lot of pressure on investigators as they struggle to reach the adventure’s finale.

In the end, the app results being the living core of the game and an absolute and needed innovation; a tool able to grant clockwork precision to the game and at the same time able to grant an experience incredibly rich in flavor and depth.


Is the conversion kit usable only if you own 1st edition products?

Nope. You can use the conversion kit even if you don’t have any 1st edition product. The conversion kit basically allows to use investigators, monsters and tiles from 1st edition into 2nd edition games. In the case you don’t have the 1st edition, you may enable 1st edition products and play, using a proxy for the investigator minis (tokens from other games like Eldritch Horror or Arkham Horror work perfectly fine), and using the chits provided in the kit instead of the monster minis. Tiles could be more of a problem, but they are rarer to appear than 1st edition monsters (or at least so it appeared to me in my first games) and in any case they can be easily proxied with a piece of paper and a pencil. Alternatively, if you want to experience just 1st edition investigtors in 2nd edition, it’s enough that you input in the app the names of investigators from 2nd edition and then you create a small conversion table saying, for example, that Agatha is actually Darrell. In this way you know that whenever the app calls for an effect hitting Agatha, Darrell is the real target, and so on. So, even if you don’t own 1st edition, you can still enjoy fully the covnersion kit. And I have no reason to believe that tiles and minis of 1st edition will be made available for 2nd edition in the future.


How are the scenarios?

The core game comes with 4 different scenarios:

Cycle of Eternity: this is the easiest scenario (difficulty rating: ) coming with the core set, and plays very quickly (60 to 90 minutes). This makes Cycle the perfect learning scenario, but despite it being on the easy side, it’s still crazy fun to play: a series of disappearances lead the investigator to the Vanderbilt mansion where they will be asked to unravel a cosmic mystery before it’s too late for our world. A classic Lovecraftian story, that should appeal both the hardcore and the casual player

Escape from Innsmouth: Innsmouth is possibly the second most iconic city HPL ever created, so, having a chance at solving a case there is something every Mansions of Madness fan has always wanted. The game begins with the investigators already in Innsmouth, investigating the shadow that lies over the city, and making powerful enemies at the same time. The difficulty of the scenario rises ( ) and so the playtime (90-150 minutes) but at the same time, as you unravel the mystery, you also unravel the huge potential this game has. Run through the streets trying to avoid being lynched and talk to locals until finally all the pieces of evidence collected reveals an ancient, terrible truth. At that point you only need to escape from the city, and reveal the world what you’ve learned. Will they believe you?

Shattered Bonds: Investigators are asked to investigate a malevolent presence, a shade, or maybe something more terrible and evil, that stalks the family of Grace Bechman. A difficult scenario ( ) playable over a larger timespan (120-180 minutes) that sees investigators occupied on a twofold front: both investigating the mansion searching for clues able to solve the mystery and protecting members of the Bechman family still living in the house from the attacks of the mysterious creature, in a sort of cat and mouse game that should represent a real strategical challenge even for the most experienced players.

Rising Tide: this is by no doubt the longest (240-360 minutes) scenario present in the game; it’s so long and thick (but not too difficult: ) that possibly playing it over two different game nights may be the way to go (fortunately the app has a save feature, so that you can reload from where you left the previous time without any problem). Investigators are summoned back to Innsmouth to stop a ritual. They don’t have many clues at their disposal: only a list of 6 possible suspects, but nothing more. Patience, wit and logic are here the most valuable assets in a claustrophobic run against the clock.

So, keyword here is variety: the whole spectrum of length and difficulty is represented in these scenarios, that offer also very different adventures: protecting people and investigating the dead; delving deep into mansions and exploring entire sectors of a city; facing dangerous foes and running for your lives; all of this happens in a common frame, the brutal force of the Mythos tearing apart the fabric of our reality.


Is the game worth getting?

Yes. First of all, it’s a game designed for Mythos fans; anyone, even non gamers, loving HPL stories and creations will have a blast playing through these adventures because the spirit of the Mythos is perfectly captured in each and every scenario here offered. Then, Mansions 2nd edition is a game that innovates the boardgame canon, bringing the adventure to a whole new level: setup, synchronicity, replayability are no longer an issue. You can easily play each scenario 10 times without growing tired of the game, and the save function of the app allows you to play the game even if you don’t have the 4+ hours in front of you that 1st edition required. Finally, it’s a game for dreamers: there’s actually no limit to what can be achieved with the app, both in terms of scenario complexity (see Rising Tide, for example) and in terms of long term play, where longer cases could be resolved in terms of campaign play. Not that campaign play is included in the app at the moment, but who knows what could happen in the future? If you ever dreamed of sailing the Dreamlands on a White Ship, of adventuring in the foundations of a certain city lost in Antarctica, of witnessing the power of the Mythos back in the Victorian London or sacrifices done on the megalitic altars of islands lost to mankind, well, now, the door has been opened. Whatever you’re searching for within the Mythos, now you’re given a chance at having it; and even if you’re a solitary gamer, now you’re allowed to enter the mansions, alone.

EDIT: the game is out now, so I'm allowed to tell: been playtester for the game, so, my view of the game is due to 20+ games played
  • [+] Dice rolls
Three Headed Monkey
Australia
flag msg tools
Thanks for the review! Really in depth and I think you've really done a lot of work in understanding the game.

It's very helpful to have reviews like this so early to give potential buyers good, solid information on the game and how it plays.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John
United States
Ridley Park
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel James
United Kingdom
Norwich
Norfolk
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review, so fast too!

I'm still waiting for my copy to be delivered...soblue

Thank you.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mariano Rico
Spain
Madrid
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review Julia

I was like you, in a hate and love affair with 1st Edition. It has been for a long time in my top 5 games of all time but I could only give it a 7.5 rating when really thinking about what kind of game it really is.

The Top 5 position was because of what game I deeply desired it to be. This Second Edition is so much more.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
thiago k
msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Great review Julia.

You catch the same thing I see when the Descent app come to reality, FFG created a awesome tool (yes, its a tool, not a videogame as some people insist) to make great stories and incredible fun scenarios, the potential is endless. I played almost 10 full campagns in RTL and and I am far from getting bored with the game and loving teaching new people to play. Descent back to the most hated game for my playgroups to the most played.

Just make a point for people concerned about MoM become the Arkham dungeon crawler - never a see a game with so strong thematic coerence. The adventure/ story teller / RPG feel its awesome. You make choices, like attacking a monster and need choice the type of the weapon, or making a attribute check without even know the consequences - the feeling of facing the unknown is paupable.

They just released a fantastic game here, and now, I really need more monsters to my collection
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Olsén
Sweden
Stockholm
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow great review. You were very quick with it to. Everything sounds great, I will get home on Sunday so I hope I can pick it up at that time.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
BFL's going down (under)
Australia
ACT
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review, that was very quick. It's confirmed my high hopes for this game after the disappointments with the 1st edition (that are the same as yours).

Added to my wishlist. If only it weren't for the price tag ($150 Aussie is the cheapest I can find it soblue )
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
soak man
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Love the review Julia, and it's so glad to hear you think so highly of it! We've all been waiting for the day that Mansions could reach its full potential, and wheras it seems that day is yet to come, it looks like FFG is on the right track now! Can't WAIT to play! meeple
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan A
United States
flag msg tools
what are your thoughts on puzzles in 2E?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim P.
United States
Champaign
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Terrific write-up, S-W. Amazing how bits of cardboard and plastic can grow into such an immersive and enjoyable couple of hours.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I knew I should have waited until I had the game delivered before I read your review!! Now I cant wait arrgghh.
Seriously, excellent review and very excited!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R.P. Kraul
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mb
Great review, Julia. I got interested in the 1st edition sometime in the last three or four months but never pulled the trigger. Despite the flaws, I was intrigued by the story telling aspect. I had no doubt that the second edition would deliver, as it removes the major flaws. But what you've written here makes me more excited than ever, especially when you talk about the Rising Tide scenario. It's awesome that they programmed the app to handle scenarios with this type of complexity. I can't wait until my copy arrives.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Magnus Michaelsen
Norway
flag msg tools
mb
This review got me super excited about tonight.

The game is scheduled for delivery this afternoon, the weather report predicts rain and possibly thunder and lightning, and I live in a rebuilt masonic lodge with another masonic lodge right around the corner.

It all just seems to fit so well together.

Thanks for a great review!
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
T H
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review, I can't wait to play it. I agree with all your points around 1st edition which makes my anticipation for this all the greater.

The rising tide campaign in particular looks so very interesting to me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julia
msg tools
We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
badge
Amor, sola lex
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ninja_Bob wrote:
what are your thoughts on puzzles in 2E?


Really positive. Once more, the app takes care of setting the puzzle up, so, zero time lost, and they are more varied than in first edition - for example 1st edition had a puzzle with a family picture. Every mansion that had that puzzle had the same family picture. Here the image varies according to the scenario

Spoiler (click to reveal)
play Shattered Bonds and then tell me that puzzle didn't give you goose bumps...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
magnumic wrote:
This review got me super excited about tonight.

The game is scheduled for delivery this afternoon, the weather report predicts rain and possibly thunder and lightning, and I live in a rebuilt masonic lodge with another masonic lodge right around the corner.

It all just seems to fit so well together.

Thanks for a great review!


I dont want to detract from Julias awesome review or derail the thread, but please do create a separate playthrough session report for this and please do play with electricity off (except app) and subdued lighting (candles?)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dennis Deschildre
Belgium
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Question: the storytelling happens only via the app? No stories on cards or?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Eye
Germany
flag msg tools
mbmb
Tyrael_ wrote:
Question: the storytelling happens only via the app? No stories on cards or?


No stories on cards. Nada. Zero. Nu-uh.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vaughan Edge
United Kingdom
Cheshire
Cheshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I have never had a problem with 1st ed and don't mind the set up. It's been really well received with most people I have introduced it too. One thing that goes down well is the combat system which had quite a narrative to it and made it very exciting/amusing all at once. How has the combat been re-implemented?
I must say I have downloaded the app and it looks excellent. I passed on the Xcom boardgame as I thought I was quite puritanical about my boardgames being just that, a cardboard experience. Even though I'm a big fan of the video game.
Really excited about what FFG are doing now after feeling so jaded with them in the last couple of years. I love what they are now doing with Descent and MoM and the beauty of it is it doesn't make any of my previous purchases redundant.
They could be heading a little revolution in boardgaming here that appeals to a wider audience. Long live these apps. Really innovative FFG. Hats off to them .
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julia
msg tools
We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
badge
Amor, sola lex
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tyrael_ wrote:
Question: the storytelling happens only via the app? No stories on cards or?


Storytelling happens only via app. Prologue and epilogue are read by a professional narrator, so, the result is really impressive. There are in-game sound effects to enhance the atmosphere. And everything has its own flavor - read: there are detailed descriptions of every element and every effect - so that the app works perfectly as proxy for flavor on cards and so on. It's actually more than that: each scenwrio has specific narrative elements so thst you never think "hey this is exactly like in the scenario we played yesterday"

I played a few storytelling games in my life, but this one is the one closest to an RPG experience I've ever tried
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julia
msg tools
We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
badge
Amor, sola lex
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tiddleydwarf wrote:
I have never had a problem with 1st ed and don't mind the set up. It's been really well received with most people I have introduced it too. One thing that goes down well is the combat system which had quite a narrative to it and made it very exciting/amusing all at once. How has the combat been re-implemented?


It was implemented via app. When you attack, the app asks you how you're attacking (unarmed, spell, firearm, heavy weapon, bladed weapon, and so on). After selecting the attack, the app enters a piece of flavor text describing how the attack is performed, calls for a specific test and specifies what happens if you pass or if you fail. If you play enough games, you'll notice that tests against ghosts or star spawns are rather different and that some attacks are more effective vs specific types of monsters (for example, spells may not be so devastating vs magical creatures and so on). So, variety is even bigger than in 1st edition, and you mantain a great flavour
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dennis Deschildre
Belgium
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Scarlet Witch wrote:
Tyrael_ wrote:
Question: the storytelling happens only via the app? No stories on cards or?


Storytelling happens only via app. Prologue and epilogue are read by a professional narrator, so, the result is really impressive. There are in-game sound effects to enhance the atmosphere. And everything has its own flavor - read: there are detailed descriptions of every element and every effect - so that the app works perfectly as proxy for flavor on cards and so on. It's actually more than that: each scenwrio has specific narrative elements so thst you never think "hey this is exactly like in the scenario we played yesterday"

I played a few storytelling games in my life, but this one is the one closest to an RPG experience I've ever tried


So the narrator is telling the story, but do you also have it on text in the app? I wouldn't miss anything because I'm deaf
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Julia
msg tools
We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
badge
Amor, sola lex
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tyrael_ wrote:
So the narrator is telling the story, but do you also have it on text in the app? I wouldn't miss anything because I'm deaf


Correct, text on the screen + narrator reading it. Additionally, the text remains on the screen until you click on "continue": in this way you can recheck the story as long as you wish, if you need so.

Another important point: the app has a message log, covering all the text appeared on screen after you click "continue" on the prologue, so that if you accidentaly tap the screen before reading a message, you can find it in the archives.

And some items (like Journals, and so on) grant investigators an option to interact with them so that you can find additional info there
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Hornburg
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review!

A question: is there any reason to keep 1st base set + Forbidden Alchemy if I plan to jump to 2nd ed? Is any of that of any use in 2nd?
1 
 Thumb up
50.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.