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Michael Carpenter
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West Virginia
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BOX ART




I am mixing things up a bit for Mansions of Madness for two reasons:

1. I have only played the first scenario (twice) and I don't believe that is an adequate amount of interaction with the game to give a rating and/or strong opinions about such an expansive game.

2. I never played the first edition and I think an adequate review after two plays would give you a comparison of the two editions.



So instead of a review I would like to offer you a PSA of sorts. We all know when a game is as expensive as MoM:2 someone has to bite the bullet and purchase it at a high price and I think it is a more organic and personal opinion when you have spent your own money and are not using a review copy to say whether or not it will be worth the money. That is NOT to say that I don't appreciate reviews and people getting review copies! So to be clear I have no connection to MoM:2 or FFG.


Things to know:
The App: I have had zero issues with the app, other than my own mistake of letting my tablet die in the middle of a play-through. When this happened the app had apparently auto-saved to a moment in the game that was very close to where we were when the tablet shut off. We were easily able to get the tablet plugged in and the app up and going again and get back to where we were.

The app does a great job of getting you through the game. What I have noticed about the entire situation with the app though is that without a stand for the tablet/iPad to stand against and stay within reach and visibility of everyone the game goes back and forth from a solitaire feel to group interaction. This is because from I can tell, the app does not read the flavor text from every message it puts on screen. It will narrate the beginning of the scenario to give a background of the event that is happening but once the scenario begins the players are on their own to read the text out loud. If one person takes that role and the other players can't get a real feel for the situation on the app it can feel a little like one of those big convoluted games that requires a start and stop feel as one player reads the rule book periodically to get back on track. I am not saying this is how the game was intended to be played. I just think it is important to make people aware that you will want the tablet to be fully visible to all players at all times if possible, you'll want a player to read everything out loud to make the atmosphere better, or you should have all players interact with the app to keep all players engaged.

One thing I do wish the app had is a back button for when you accidentally proceed forward and need to know the details of a skills test. It is inevitably going to happen to you and is frustrating that you can't figure out what you missed.

Rules Reference Book: There is a Learn to Play book and a Rules Reference book. The Rules Reference book is laid out like a glossary and does an excellent job of allowing a second person to be ready to look up a particular rule throughout the game. It makes learning the game efficient and I am very glad they included it. Not because the game is too convoluted, but because it helps with that "Let me see it" situation you get when someone is frustrated about not being able to find a rule.

Miniatures: This is by far the most disappointing part of the game. I am not a huge minis guy. I don't buy a game based on minis at all, but when I saw the miniatures in this game and considered the price of the game. I felt like they could have been better. They don't look all that bad but the game features a system where you place a square tile into a base that reveals the stats of the monster and has some holes in the base that will allow you place the miniature on top of the base. Now, this seemed like a cool idea when I saw it but then I started putting the tiles in the bases and it was tough but tolerable, then I tried to put the minis on the bases and it was even tougher. Some of the minis go on reasonably well and some of the minis won't go in at all in my version. The size of the monster/miniature determines which size base it goes on and there are multiple bases of each size so there is a chance each mini will go into one of the bases but that there are basically identical so it will be or is going to be a tedious task to try to get the correct tile into the perfect base that a mini will actually fit into. I am completely underwhelmed by this aspect of the game.

The Gameplay: Setup is easy. Very easy. The app is easy to navigate. There are a few things that you will likely have to double check just to make sure you're doing them correctly on the app, but for the most part the game is easy to learn, easy to teach and easy to play. The thing I would mention is that if you are a person that has always wondered why the hobby categories games as thematic and euro... this game will clear that up for you. There are almost NO mechanisms that contribute to a strategy game feel. You are constantly stat-checking and rolling dice to see if you are skilled enough to succeed in a task. Yes, the mechanisms work together to create a puzzle like any other cooperative game, but for the most part you don't have to put a ton of thought into the same types of things a game like Agricola or Puerto Rico will require. If you like thematic games there isn't a whole lot to dislike in this game. If you don't like thematic games I would stay far away from this one. If you are on the fence about thematic games and are wondering if the app will take care of the things you didn't like about Eldritch Horror or some other thematic game you have played... I think it might. MoM:2 just lets you play the game. There is very little upkeep and you can spend time getting immersed in the theme which was something I found contradictory in other thematic games at times because there were so many things I was constantly trying to keep track of that I would lose touch with the theme and work hard to make sure the game went off without a hitch.

Exploration: If you are wondering about the exploration feel MoM:2 can offer I would say it is good. I enjoy it a lot actually. There is plenty of exploration available in the first scenario and if I understand correctly the longer scenarios offer more. The room tiles are beautiful and offer flexibility from play to play because of some of the tokens that will allow tiles to function differently.

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition vs Betrayal at House on the Hill: I know there was a comparison of the two games before the first edition. I don't know if there is a comparison between BaHotH and the second edition of MoM but if anyone is wondering... I will likely never play Betrayal again because of MoM. The components are nice, the gameplay is cleaner, the app is awesome (if you like or don't mind app driven games), and the entire game tells a story much better.

*I can't speak to the recent expansion of Betrayal.

Price Tag: So, is the game worth the price tag? I am debating this quite a bit internally but I think I have to lean toward yes for myself because I own some other thematic games (Eldritch Horror and Betray at House on the Hill) and I almost NEVER want to play them. Even right after I bought them and played them for the first time I never felt the urge to play them again. I never talked about them after the game was over. I never wondered what may happen the next time I play it. I have done ALL of those things with MoM:2. In fact, I don't usually play long games (2.5+ hours) and I am actually excited about playing the longer scenarios in this game. I am also excited to replay the shorter cases because we haven't won and from what I can tell, the case will be different enough from play to play to keep you working to win on repeat plays.

If you are trying to decide if you would rather buy this game instead of multiple other games I would say ask yourself a couple major questions.

Do you like thematic games a lot?

Do you mind apps in games?

If the answer to both questions is yes then I think you will like the game enough to warrant paying for it. If the answer to either is no I would steer clear and maybe play someone else's copy of the game to get a clearer impression of the game.

The thematic feel of the game is enhanced because (at least in the first case) the players have to be engaged in the theme because the app withholds information about how to complete the scenario until you have explored and completed enough of the scenario to obtain enough information to get an idea of how to win.

The app is not flawless but the issues with the app are minor and don't make me regret the purchase at all. I have zero issue with an app being involved with a board game though. I don't prefer it over a typical board game but I am okay with having one or two games with apps and MoM:2 does a heck of a job incorporating the app, with the caveats I mentioned above about getting everyone involved with the app.

If there is anything that makes me feel the game isn't worth the price tag it is the miniatures because they really are disappointing and I am not a minis connoisseur so I can only imagine what people that really judge minis will think.


Final Thoughts on My Initial Impressions:

I am glad I have played the game because it has definitely entertained me both times I have played. I definitely think I need to get more plays in to warrant the price tag and definitely get my money's worth but I full intend to play the game more because it is a good thematic game. My verdict on the overall design, strategy, replayability is currently still out because it doesn't feel like I have tackled enough of the game but when I feel like I have a more credible opinions of such things I will give the game a thorough review.

I hope the things I have addressed in this thread will help answer some of the questions you may have about the game and if you have other questions please feel free to leave a comment.




If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple









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Joshua Delahunty
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MariettaTennis wrote:

One thing I do wish the app had is a back button for when you accidentally proceed forward and need to know the details of a skills test. It is inevitably going to happen to you and is frustrating that you can't figure out what you missed.


See the Message Log feature.

It's not the easiest thing to get to while in mid-game, but that just helps discourage "bad tapping". :-)

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Barry Miller
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Saint Charles
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About your decision to likely never play Betrayal at the House on the Hill again since you now have MoM2... Does MoM2 have an unknown player turning traitor during the game? For me, that's the best reason to keep playing BatHotH, also!

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Michael Carpenter
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dulcaoin wrote:
MariettaTennis wrote:

One thing I do wish the app had is a back button for when you accidentally proceed forward and need to know the details of a skills test. It is inevitably going to happen to you and is frustrating that you can't figure out what you missed.


See the Message Log feature.

It's not the easiest thing to get to while in mid-game, but that just helps discourage "bad tapping". :-)



Thank you. I will remember that.

 
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Michael Carpenter
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bgm1961 wrote:

About your decision to likely never play Betrayal at the House on the Hill again since you now have MoM2... Does MoM2 have an unknown player turning traitor during the game? For me, that's the best reason to keep playing BatHotH, also!




Well, as I said, I haven't played enough to know every detail but I know there is a mechanism that may do something similar but I haven't had it happen yet. I don't want to get into too much detail because it is a pretty neat little thing.

I do agree that Betrayal's traitor situation is the cool part of that game but it's potential to be clunky keeps me from wanting to play it.

I certainly won't judge anyone does play it though and the expansion may address the issue. I'm not familiar with what,the expansion does for the design.

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Jonas Berg
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bgm1961 wrote:

About your decision to likely never play Betrayal at the House on the Hill again since you now have MoM2... Does MoM2 have an unknown player turning traitor during the game? For me, that's the best reason to keep playing BatHotH, also!



It does! When you inevitably go crazy you get a hidden agenda, sometimes it changes nothing and sometimes you become a traitor. it add a lot of tension to the story.
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Michael Carpenter
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This is what I was referencing before when I was trying not to give too much info. I think it could potentially be the straw that breaks Betrayal's back but I have not seen the cards turn anyone against the group yet in our plays.
 
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