Mansions of Madness was a slow starter for me throughout its life. I was first introduced to the previous edition and I was a bit disappointed. It was long, very clunky, you had to have a DM and you felt very time constrained. Then the 2nd Edition came out with the app implementation and I was instantly grabbed by the amazing blend of technology and tactile pieces that made up the game. It was still insanely long, which was a worry, but we did have a full complement of players so I held on to my copy for further plays.
Since then the fire has stoked and grown brighter and brighter to the point where it made the upper half of my Top 10 of 2016. It's a fantastic, thematic, immersive co-op experience which I have just as much fun playing solo as I do with friends, if only so that I can keep the time length down, which is still a bit of a pain. Might try to get a video review of that done when I get back to YouTube as I feel like that's slipped the net.
But there's already been a few extras you can pick up for the game. The content from the 1st Edition was re-printed for 2nd Edition and I'm throat punching myself for not buying them when I did, now I have to wait for them to get reprinted, at which point I'm grabbing them immediately. But Beyond the Threshold is the first official new expansion for Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, which promises more content and more scenarios. So more of the same then? Fine with me, that tends to make the best kind of expansions anyway. . . .All Hail Cthlulhu!!
Designer: Nikki Valens
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Time: 120-240 Minutes
From the publisher:
The frightening creatures of Mansions of Madness Second Edition have haunted your dreams for weeks now. Mysterious disappearances brought you to the Vanderbilt mansion, and your stay in Innsmouth was disturbed by darkness and despair. You've encountered devoted cultists and disgruntled spirits, bound to the mortal world by their evil task. Terror has overcome you and grievous injuries have put your mortality on display. Every choice you've made has led you somewhere, but even the strongest in mind or body will crack eventually.
Even more horror awaits you in Beyond the Threshold, the first expansion to Mansions of Madness Second Edition. Introducing two new investigators, one unfamiliar creature, and a variety of additional components, this expansion will extend the possibilities of your journey through each and every unsettling scenario of uncertainty and anxiety. The new spaces to discover, people to encounter, and cards to experience all come together to bring additional scenarios as well, throwing you into the dim unknown of two new mysteries, each with their own unique additions to the world of Mansions of Madness.
NOT JUST AN EMPTY BOX
You don't get a ton of extra pieces compared to those Figure and Tile Collections you may have seen, but then those were simply reprinting old content for 2nd Edition and only come with one scenario. This set has less of the tactile pieces, but gives us two scenarios which I'll touch on later.
I'll draw particular attention to a couple of my favourite parts. Firstly the new monster "Thrall". These can spawn in high numbers and aren't difficult to kill, but man do they pack a punch when they hit you. That might have something to do with the humongous giant claw arm that they have. It's a really cool model even if unpainted and reminds me of some old Resident Evil enemies I used to fight.
Next to note is the new condition "Mesmerized". At first you don't even know what it does, it just says to flip it at the end of your turn, upon which you'll have to do something generally unpleasant usually from a roleplaying perspective. These are really cool as they add fun story elements to your character resulting in actions that indirectly affect the group, such as running away with that all important item you needed. Thralls love to put you in this predicament, but even the Mythos Phase likes to inflict it from time to time.
Other than that it's the usual assortment of cards and tokens, enough to add a bit of extra variety without going mad. Some more items, a couple of spells, more injury/damage effects, a little bit of Column A and a little of Column B. This is the norm with any Arkham related expansion from Fantasy Flight and I can't complain about added variety. At least this time it's not an expansion every other month so I have room to breathe, enjoy the new content and actually get to that stage where I'm like "that was really fun, oooh I want more now I'm excited!"
A SCENARIO TO SUIT BOTH OLD AND NEW ALIKE
If you don't think you're getting your monies worth from the pieces, remember that this is a story driven game with an app implementation so you're paying for those scenarios as well, not to mention the potential amendments to existing content that the extra pieces will provide.
Here we have two new scenarios (and I'll try to keep this spoiler-lite), the first ("Vengeful Impulses") being a Who-Dunnit style murder mystery where you have to question the guests present to determine who is a potential killer amongst them. This scenario is very story focused and relies more on the personal interactions than it does combat encounters. It also can end in multiple ways depending on whether your detective skills need work (what can I say except. . whoops) and the guilty party will change every game so you can't simply go for the one you did before.
This was a nice calm scenario and I dare say, it's the perfect introduction for a new player, more so than the easier scenario in the base game. It's smooth, not clunky, and allows players to absorb the atmosphere and handle the interactions more, rather than get clogged up with a ton of combat encounters. It even felt much shorter as well. This is my go-to choice for an introduction to Mansions of Madness.
"Silverwood Manor" on the other hand is a much more challenging scenario, which has a bit of everything within it, though certainly you will need to get your fists out eventually. But it does add some new concepts into the mix, particularly with the map layout, which can chop and change throughout depending on your actions. I won't spoil why, but let's just say it's not just your cliche haunted house scenario, The concept is really cool and the scenario can get quite chaotic as search tokens and objectives move around the place. All of this while you're on a set timer to finish to keep up the tension.
This one will take longer to complete (between 2-3 hours with a fast team), but it's well worth the investment and because it has multiple endings, there's actually more reasons to revisit this scenario than with some others before. Don't try to tackle this as your first venture though.
VERDICT ON MANSIONS OF MADNESS: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD
The best expansions are typically those that add more of the good stuff. We loved what you gave us, now give us more of it. Beyond the Threshold does exactly that and I literally cannot think of anything bad but small nitpicks to say about it. We've been spoilt by what an Eldritch Horror expansion can give us, but there's plenty of new content here and even though some will argue it's expensive, we have to factor in the time and effort that goes into the design of the app, which is still I believe, the best app implementation within a game to date.
The two scenarios presented are great fun to play with the added bonus that the Murder Mystery is perfectly suitable for an introductory game for new players. In fact I'd say it's better than the easy scenario from the base set as it does feel shorter and keeps combat encounters to a minimum. That one can be challenging in itself if you struggle with Who-Dunnit stories, but of course you can play Silverwood Manor for a difficult venture that adds some great map concepts to the game.
I can't really call it "essential" for it is basically more of the good stuff, but it's REALLY good stuff, the scenarios alone are worth the price of admission. If you're in love with Mansions of Madness and can afford this, there's really no reason for you not to pick it up.
BROKEN RATING - 9 MESMERIZED THRALLS
YOU WILL LIKE MANSIONS OF MADNESS: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD IF:
You love the base game and want more of the same without further complexity.
You want scenarios which are more story driven rather than focused on combat.
You want an alternative scenario that you can show to new players as an introduction.
YOU WILL NOT LIKE MANSIONS OF MADNESS: BEYOND THE THRESHOLD IF:
You would rather pay the equivalent cost of a full board game on tactile pieces.
You would have liked a even wider variety of monsters/conditions/items.
Bryce K. Nielsen
I don't care if the physical content is "thin" so long as the gameplay is fun and keeps you coming back for more. Many people complain about the core set only having 4 scenarios, but they've been so replayable, I've played the core set missions more than almost any other game last year. Sounds like this expansion does a lot of that as well.