$15.00
$20.00
$5.00
oldschoolgamr
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Prelude
Seriously? Seriosuly. Seriously! I am sitting down to write up my session report for my first play of of the first scenario making up my first experience with any Mansions of Madness game (1st or 2nd). It is a chore to type - I was up late, I was enthralled, and I was MIND BLOWN.

So spoilers. I will censor all the spoiler parts and try to leave some of the reaction stuff viewable. So click at your own risk. This game is replayable but hear this if you hear anything when reading about this game:

Nothing is as awesome as YOUR FIRST TIME.

The first time you play a scenario WILL BE THE BEST. Yes, things change I am sure - I plan to replay it again with my wife (first play was solo with two characters), but again, NOTHING WILL COMPARE TO PLAYING AN MOM2 SCENARIO THE FIRST TIME. Which follows, if you READ about a scenario before playing it - it will ruin that "First Time" experience.

So again, click the blue boxes below at your own risk

I decided to treat myself for GenCant this year and found a copy of MOM2 at my local FLGS. Yes, I paid retail ($99.99) for the game on day one and can't imagine being happier with a gaming purchase decision EVER.

I stayed up all night and again, I don't think I could ever be happier with a gaming decision regarding playtime. A lot of this has to do with that whole FIRST TIME thing I talked about above. I will cherish the first play through on day one of GenCant 2016 with the memories of this game. The emerging narrative moments in the play though were AMAZING - and surprisingly, they didn't exactly come from the app. The app contributed, Yes, but what made this crazy and amazing and unique and unforgettable was good old fashioned game design - but I am getting ahead of myself. It has to start somewhere and that somewhere was punching cardboard and setting up figs.

I started unpacking the monster box at 10:30PM. I finished packing up the glorious mess at the end of the journey at 4:30AM. I had a bathroom break here and there and had to go to the rules a bunch in the beginning. Warming to app required some time, and just the learning curve of the rounds took some getting used to. I was running the app on my PC via steam download and used an HDMI cord to get it on my TV in the room (table was right in from of the TV). Using a wireless keyboard, I easily controlled the app and enjoyed the experience. I was going to use my wife's iPad, but decided against it as I didn't want to be concerned with battery life and realized having is displayed really big was totally awesome when I tried it out. In summary, I thing the playtime - minus all the learning curve and one time setup stuff - was about 100-120 minutes.

PRO TIP: When assembling the minis - be careful not to push the foot peg too far into the base. In fact you may want to put the token in the bases before doing this, as a elongated foot peg scratched the cardboard of a token I was slotting when I did it the reverse way. FWIW.

So, yeah. There is a learning curve. It felt strange at first to be taking direction from an app. looking at the screen then back at the board was awkward - especially when setting up the initial tiles and tokens. It seemed like busy work and redundant given that the app had already done it. Don't let this initial hesitation cloud your judgment. IT WILL PASS. STAY CONFIDENT. By the end of the game I was running things like I was born with an app assisted game in my hand and I loved it. Really. I can see people being turned off initially - it is strange. People who walk away mid-game may not have spent enough time to be converted. I implore you to hang in there and get converted. It is worth it.

The Game Begins
I was playing Rita Young and Carson Sinclair. Thier powers...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
are that Rita can move an extra space per move and Carson can allow an in Range (Three spaces away - not through doors or walls) to take an action. I thought right away that I wanted to random draw again. Surely the other powers I glanced at were better. But I stuck to my ethics and was SOOOO much better for it - as these abilities were VERY helpful. I love when that happens. The hero emerges from the least suspecting place. Happens all the time in this Arkham games and I love them for it.

Note that you can take action more than once per turn. As an Eldritch Horror player (recent, 38 plays - now playing in difficult level [2 gates; 1 monster Reference Card; 4 Investigators; SOLO]), that really took some getting used to as in that game you can't (usually) take the same action more than once per turn.

So, I started clicking on search symbols and exploring the mansion. What blew my mind first - and isn't really a spoiler if you know how the original Mansion of Madness works - is that things are going on in parts of the mansion that you can't see, but may EVENTUALLY affect you. Way too cool. In fact...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
When the pair walked into the lobby, there was a crash of pots and pans from the left. My team was totally unarmed, so I decided to ignore the noise. Eventually, what was causing it caught up with me - after the Butler kicked the bucket in the kitchen. I managed to take down the monster that chased me unarmed and eventually did go into the kitchen - kicking myself that I didn't go in there earlier to get a weapon... Of course...

Let's talk about combat. It is handled so well. The app narrates the experience attacking or defending so well. The outcome: Damage or Horror cards which are the other stars of this game. I don't even want to spoil how ingenious they are - just know that it is something really, really enjoyable, challenging, and unpredictable - but fair. And, as mentioned in the previews - potentially game changing. In fact...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
When my first character went insane (collected horror cards equal to her sanity value), she had to draw an Insanity condition. It changed the win condition for her (me), in that I had to remove all the search tokens from the board AND solve the investigation in order to win. This had profound effects on how I was required to play the endgame. Amazing impacts, and I can only imaging how exponentially more interesting these effects are with multiple players.

Seriously, the condition effects, mixed with the scenario goal discovery and resolution, mixed with app handled combat and puzzles, combines in such an elegant way - carried by an amazing design approach - the experience really was so cool. Even the objects you can interact with play a critical role in moving though the mansion. In fact...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The fact that you can use furniture to barricade doorways totally saved the pair NUMEROUS times. Before moving to the kitchen I opened the door to the library and came face to face with a Deep One. I immediately thought of the kitchen and retreated, suddenly realizing that a dresser in the adjoining room could be placed as a barricade. That single barricade held that Deep One back for nearly 2/3rd of the game - as it required two successes on two dice to break through it - THOSE WERE TENSE ROLLS. I repeated the same thing with a Cultist, when during an attack I was able to push it through a door and place a barricade on my next turn. TOTALLY AWESOME.

So yeah, parts of the mansion are interactive and end up being critical to your strategy. Way cool.

In fact, all the stuff you find and use comes in handy. Clue tokens, weapons, items, they all work the way you expect based on other similar games. The dice are great, going for successes is fun, and modifying the rolls with clue tokens is an important thing to manage (when to spend/when to save).

So - what happened next...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I eventually gathered all the clues and evidence from most of the mansion and uncovered the demonic ritual taking place. Thing is, there were still search tokens exposed and thanks to Rita's Insanity condition, I wasn't going to win while they were on the board. What enused was a tense as heck FIRE fight - literally, followed by a mental exursion I was not expecting...

So the battle: There were two cult members and three Deep Ones.


Without getting into too many details the fight was amazing. The narrative that emerged was so deep and jar-dropping. I am not talking about scripted events read over the app. I am talking about the game design that provided random checks and "happenings" that weaved a really memorable battle in the center of a mansion I had just spent a hour or so exploring... In fact, my choice of weapon even made it more dramatic...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I (Carson) shot a flare gun (which I happened to start the game with and had been avoiding as I was afraid the mansion would burn - and I was more or less right - if I had used it in the early game) into a space with two Deep Ones. It hurt them, but didn't take them out. I managed to strong arm the cultists with a knife eventually, but the Mythos effect just prior to this turn broke it! While initially unarmed, I traded the brass knuckles (another starting item) from Carson to Rita when Carson picked up the flare gun (a cultist had knocked it to the ground in its last attack). Using an unarmed attack, Rita "wrestled the monster to the air and flung it at another monster in the space - the result was FOUR damage on BOTH Deep Ones - both died. It was amazing. So colorfully imagined in my mind and all controlled with app guided checks but real world dice rolling - which I LOVE. That whole battle scene was just so overwhelming and tense and cheer worthy - if I didn't love the game before that moment, I certainly did after that. Then, the love just grew...

If that amazing experience wasn't enough, my mind was blown by what was required of me next...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I had to move Rita (thank god she had extra movement) through the spreading fire to get to the last search token on the board (had to clear them all due to her Insanity condition in order to win). I made it and held off on entering the gate the ritual opened with Carson in case that interaction ended the game. Rita searched.

It was a puzzle.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Really?! Really?! It was Lore based - in other words, your Lore value is the number of turns you can take on the puzzle with each action (+1 for a clue you spend). I had to get this quick so I could enter the portal and finish things with Carson.

I prayed for a lock puzzle, as I spent much of the early 2000's playing "Traffic" on my handspring electronic organizer - which is identical to the apps lock puzzles.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
It wasn't a lock puzzle. It was a slide puzzle. WHICH I AM HORRIBLE AT. Back and forth trying the puzzle and enduring Mythos effects. Poor Carson, waiting it out on the other side of the mansion, burning the ground in the space between the pair.

It was agonizing.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
But I solved it. And opened a passageway to a final room - with TWO MORE SEARCH TOKENS

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I pushed on and got lucky with some Mythos effects that affected people on spaces with Fire - which I was clear of. Yes, the app is told if fire is spreading and tailors effect to enrich the story - way cool. I managed to collect the remaining clues/evidence and hightailed it back to Carson - which was rough as I not only had to pass through the fire again - which was bigger - but I also had a broken leg, and had to take and additonal damage when I moved more than one space. Rita was nearly wounded and had had enough of this mansion.

Carson entered the portal and discovered another puzzle. The final barrier? Again, it was lore based, but this time his lore was 5 - so many more moves to get it. The puzzle - the code kind.


Again, my REAL LIFE puzzle experience was paying off. My childhood spent playing
Spoiler (click to reveal)
the desktop version of Mastermind
my Dad kept in his office was finally coming in useful. Thanks Dad.

It was not easy and I was scared the Mythos would take me out. Sweat was beading at my forhead. It was 4AM and while the house was alseep, my heart was pounding so loud I thought the others sleeping were starting to move around. I NEEDED TO FINISH THIS - COME ON!

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I got it. I literally cheers and smiled - ready to shout victory cheers and pack up the game.

But it wasn't over. The ritual needed to be reversed and the damage and horror on my investigator was adding up.

This might be close. Too close.

I tested and tested and tested. It was down to the wire. But finally - it was over. The portal was closed and the endgame message was being read over the app.

I looked down at the board - at the tokens, the figures, the wake of my actions, the destruction, the plot, the entrance that 5 or so hours ago looked so peaceful and full of promise. Well, this game delivered on that promise and went beyond - way beyond. In ways I will never forget.

So if you didn't click ANY of the spoilers, you should come back. Play the intro scenario, come back here and talk about how your experience differed from mine. I would love to hear about other run through's and compare experiences, likes, and dislikes. This game is ground breaking and I can't wait to play each scenario.

As a solo gamer, I look forward to the challenge of playing them again and again - as I can tell that for me the emerging narrative possible with the app and more importantly the amazingly designed mechanics will be enough to present a challenging experience again and again, despite knowing all (or some) of the scenario details.

But remember: Nothing is as awesome as YOUR FIRST TIME.

Unless of course you go insane before seeing it all. Or die. Then your second might be as good too. Or third if that one goes badly.

You get the idea.

August 5th, 2016
OSG
@oldschoolgamr


Update - Second Play Through
I just finished my second play of the intro scenario and can't believe how much was different. I was actually surprised on more than one occasion when something spawned, tied into the story, and added stress/tension in ways COMPLETELY different than my first play...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Seriously. The ritual I had to stop wasn't even in the same location. In fact, it happened way early - Vanderbilt even came after me... Before that, when his dead wife's ashes spawned a ghost I nearly fell over... Wasn't even part of the actions in the first play through. It really trounced my sanity! Then, the Star Spawn! Again, nearly fell over when I had to hoist that monster of a figure onto the board. Luckily I was well into reversing the ritual and it never made it to the tower. Wow - I wonder how many base plot/maps they set up...?


Very cool FFG, very cool.

Update - Third Play Through
Ok, so wary of the Innsmouth bug in the software, I opted to play the intro scenario AGAIN. And dang if it wasn't a completely different endgame. At first the layout looked simply mirrored and I resigned myself to attacking a familiar objective set with new investigators - then things turned upside down and I was floored. It was a completely different play style - I was on the run and had only one shot for an escape. Wow FFG, Wow. Details below:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Seriously. This game surprises me again. In what seemed like a mirror layout from the tower version in my second play, this one completely surprised me when the butler transformed into the Child of Dagon! What!?! I had been relying heavily on evade, trying to get to the ritual quickly - as my fighting skills seemed lacking and I wanted to test if a quick run win was possible.

IT WAS SO FREAKING CLOSE! Agatha managed to snag the ritual components and make it out of the attic - dodging Vanderbilt and his Cultist crony - but that left Father Mateo in the attic to delay them from the pursuit - which he did - but didn't make it. Vanderbilt managed to attack Agatha and stunned her - allowing her to take only one action, so instead of moving and exploring to win the game in the final round she had remaining, she was devoured by the Dagon priest and the horrors of the mansion were left unchecked.


Update - Fourth Play Through
Ok, just can't seem to put this game down... Played Cycle of Eternity for a fourth time solo.

Ok, finally - some content repeated. The overarching plot was repeated, however, the tile layout was new... Details:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
It was my first time seeing the Dining Room, and the switch for the out door was through the library and secret attached office. Once the portal was closed, during the ritual reversal, a Star Spawn did appear. Preston actually tried to barricade it in the Library, but it busted through instantly. Preston was dropped on his following turn, but Wendy managed to finish the ritual and win the game during the next round.


Even with that much the same, the investigator combo and items available made for an enjoyable play. I rocked monster attacks with a Shriveling spell picked up early in the game. I can really see the strategy deepening when I play the longer scenarios - which WILL happen when the app is updated this week. I really do dig this game, but can see it getting old without expansions (quicker than say the more strategic Eldritch Horror). Have to say that 4 plays of the intro scenario is still WAY more than I thought I would enjoy... And, I am likely going to do it many more times - especially when I get some other interested players.

Update - Fifth Play Through
Well, the wife wanted to play - so I couldn't refuse. Interestingly, she went through the same "learning/comfort" curve I did with the app. She immediately said "Why can't we just play on the TV?" But once we got moving and she saw how the cards worked mechanically, it made sense to her why the app content was limited to the interaction it handled. She dug the story and the plot of this run through had a REALLY exciting finale. This game really delivers on that with respect to tense endgame enjoyment (This goes for the third scenario "Shattered Bonds" as well - the only other scenario I have tried so far).

Again, content was repeated - not exactly, but in general it was an outline of events I had experienced before. But doing so with someone new made it really fun and the exciting conclusion is one I won't forget for some time. Details:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
In this case it was Rita (my wife) and Agatha (myself) that had to deal with Mr. Vanderbilt. She seemed down with investigating the noise in the kitchen and I backed her up. We immediately got trounced by the Hunting Horror and I thought it would be my shortest game ever. Then we snagged the sedatives and used the bandages. With the Butler info we hightailed it to the bedroom, retrieved the puzzle box, opened it, and sprinted the key to the garden - all in a matter of a few turns due to our respective abilities. Then a mass of Deep Ones spawned and the monsters converged on a fleeing Rita with the ritual components. She got stunned and was a risk of losing it all, when Agatha stepped in with the Flare Gun and burned the fish monsters to a crisp. Vanderbilt attempted to stop us, but only managed to drop Agatha, whose sacrifice allowed Rita to escape and win the game. Really, really cool.




23 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J. Chris Miller
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great write-up! My copy is coming early next week and I'm eager to play it. I may throw down a solo sesh as well! I didn't read any of the spoiler parts but I'll come back and read them after my first game. I'm really stoked for what this game has to offer.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
I've already played the first scenario through 3 times (would like to move onto the other harder/longer scenarios, but each time I've played I've had brand new players at the table).

This is some truly impressive stuff. Even though I knew exactly what I needed to do to solve the scenario, I had no idea where I actually had to go. The items, enemy encounters, and puzzles had all shuffled about for each playthrough, making the game a blast to re-explore and retaining that "I don't know what's around this corner" feeling. I can't wait to mix in my first edition stuff to give the game even more variety.

And it's crazy that one of the scenarios recommends around 360 minutes to play through O_O that is a seriously long story.

I know some people are saying there isn't a lot of content in the box for the price, but you have to consider that much of what is not in the box is IN the app. That app is truly impressive and not only runs the game smoothly, but gives everything a thematic coating through the sound effects, voice acting, and music. The production value is top notch.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
oldschoolgamr
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Updated to include snippets following TWO THREE FOUR additional play through sessions. I am impressed. Seriously impressed. ALL SPOILERS TAGGED FOR YOUR PROTECTION.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
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.