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Deep Madness» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Deep Madness: A XTF Critical Review rss

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Ralph Meleti
New Zealand
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This review is based on my experience of receiving my KS copy of the game (1st print) all-in with all expansions.

I like my reviews to be sharp, brief and to the point (instead of an elaborate descriptive literature review).

I will cover these 5 points:
Components
Gameplay
Artwork
Replay Value
Fun
robot Critique

Overview:
Deep Madness is a tactical scifi dungeon crawler similar to Zombicide. I would describe it as a more sophisticated and tactical compare to a Zombicide game but not as tactical or complex as FFG's dungeon crawler series (Imperial Assault, Descent).

1) Components
- Miniatures. What's a dungeon crawler most of these days without miniature crack? The miniatures are really detailed. 5/5 in terms of boardgame quality. 4/5 in terms of wargaming quality, the minis will require some prepainting work done if you want it turn out looking looking flawless without the mould/assembly crack lines
- Tokens. Sufficiently thick and numerous.
- Boards, solid thickness, comes in 2 shapes, nothing to complain here
- Packaging. Incredibly well packaged trays for the miniatures.
Overall 5/5

2) Gameplay
- Rules. Well written, and clear to follow.
- Setup. Took me 30 minutes to setup my first game...not sure if this was the expected for most dungeon crawler games for some people. Can be reduced with some custom organization
- Complexity. Just right given the theme and style of the game.
- Strategy vs Luck. So far based on my experience, seems well-balanced enough. No complaints here.
- Administration/Bookkeeping. Probably the biggest blemish I have with this game, can be time consuming. Refer to my critique section at the end.
Overall 3.5/5

3) Artwork
- Art Direction. This was probably the biggest draw that got my attention to back the game. Creative imaginative abstract horror art. Beautifully detailed
- Graphic Design. Quick or ease of finding/identifying icons and information. Can't say I have any problems apart from trying to find the right tokens from time to time...
Overall 4/5

4) Replay Value
Core game has 7 scenarios. The variable factors that change on replay are mainly the investigators you choose, and the monsters you spawn at setup. Both pool size are affected by how many expansions you own. There is an overall arcing storyline but it's not a campaign game, in that there doesn't seem to be factors from a previous game that carry over from one scenario to the next. The good is you don't have to worry about having the exact same group of people to continuing advancing in the storyline. The downside is of course the lack of customization/ personalization and impactful game choices that campaign dungeon crawlers offer. This is very subjective of course on how much a person will enjoy replaying same scenarios trying different investigator choices. I personally am a more clock, beaten the game and move on to try new things kind of person, especially when it's a story-drive/thematic game.
Overall 3/5

5) Fun
The game is oozing with theme, the miniatures, artwork and everything put together. The really only complaint I have is the down time involved with the bookkeeping and administrative aspects of the game.
Overall 5/5

Final Verdict
Deep Madness is an ambitious creation of a scifi horror dungeon crawler, a niche genre even outside the tabletop gaming platform. The execution is admirable though there could have been room for improvements, some taken from already existing games. A medium weight thematic game, one I recommend looking for dungeon crawler experience with more tactical depth than Zombicide but without requiring the ongoing commitment a fixed group of players of a campaign game.
Overall 4/5

Critique: Thoughts on things I think could have been done better.

- The rule book and story book should be kept separate, one purely to refer to for rules and setup, while one purely used for the playing of the game itself. Looking at both simultaneously would have been helpful, instead of flipping between the pages. This is something FFG have done well in their recent game releases, could have taken a cue from them.
Flipping game tiles, I personally thought it was a clunky game design mechanic, and it turned out to be true. Removing everything and trying to put everything back on exactly is a bit of clunky game mechanic. I would have opted if they provided red transparent sheet tiles you could have just put over the tile itself, or better some innovative design to insert over the existing game without actually removing everything on that tile.

- Overwhelming amount of different components (if you collect the expansions), yes there is a quick reference sheet but if you have all the expansions, it's a bit redundant and the sheer different amount of component tokens gets a bit out of hand. If only they have provided a summarized 1 page sheet of all the component tokens...

- Finding miniatures from the artwork displayed on the monster reference card alone is a bit of a mission, once again I find myself having to refer back to the rule book components page to see why each monster miniature looks like and is called, if only they would have provided a 1 page summarize sheet of all the monster miniatures too, perhaps even on the back of the same page of the component tokens

- Setup time reduction, the game's administrative system does take up some time as expected with dungeon crawler/heavy miniatures game. I felt the devour track, even though highly customizable between different scenarios and cool in idea, was unnecessarily time consuming to build and setup. A devour track labelled specifically for each scenario would have been sufficient and done the same job. Also similar to Gloomhaven, I felt creating the monsters spawn deck, activation turn order, and even the devour track could all have been easily replaceable with an app instead. Essentially the Devour and Spawn phase should be replaced with an app to reduce the use of table space, setup time and game management time.

- Another gripe I had with the setup time are the lack of tile listing. Each scenario should have as part of setup listed the tiles needed for the scenario (like Gloomhaven). Trying to find the tiles simply based of the setup map or room cards used is unnecessarily time consuming and inefficient. The game only uses to 2 tiles sizes similar to Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, a rectangular and a square (double the size of the rectangular). The could have just labelled the tiles S1, S2 etc for the rectangular tiles and L1, L2 etc denoting the large tiles. Give each one arrow for orientation, and have the orientation arrow shown on the map setup page for ease of setup. Once again, this a game mechanic they could have taken cues from other existing games.

- Last by not least, lack of expansion icons. I cannot believe they completely left this out. Most games released these days add and identifiable expansion symbol/icon to each set of expansion's cards. The inability to separate which cards come from expansions (and which expansions) and so they can be separated out of the game, so you can tailor to play the core game vanilla or with only certain expansions sets is probably going to drive one into deep madness...now that I've organized the core the game and all expansion together, it's going to be a big mission to sort out the components if I ever just want to play with core game box only...

- Oh and the deck boxes offered by the game. In design and concept they seem cool. In practice the deck boxes are fiddly and take some effort to open. If they opted for a more standard design like DragonShield boxes...a box with a lid, albeit with gaps along the edges for ease of using of drawing cards, it would have been more functional and practical.
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Pierre
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XTrueFinale wrote:
- Last by not least, lack of expansion icons. I cannot believe they completely left this out. Most games released these days add and identifiable expansion symbol/icon to each set of expansion's cards. The inability to separate which cards come from expansions (and which expansions) and so they can be separated out of the game, so you can tailor to play the core game vanilla or with only certain expansions sets is probably going to drive one into deep madness...now that I've organized the core the game and all expansion together, it's going to be a big mission to sort out the components if I ever just want to play with core game box only...

Should you ever wish to sort everything back where it belongs, you may want to check this Card Index.
 
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Russell Corbally
United States
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Nice overview

I differently agree the rules and the chapters should be in different booklets.... much easier than flipping back and forth.

set up time is longer than some games, but I didn't have trouble finding the tiles as they are listed clearly in each chapter (in the room/devour deck set up). I like the cleaner look of not have arrows and such (and really the set up guide shows the correct orientation.

I thought flipping tiles would be a pain, but in reality it rarely was for me.

The point about expansions cards not having a way to distinguish them is valid... not sure I'll remove what I've mixed into the mix at this point, but it would be more time consuming to do if I decide to in the future. (Fairly easy to pull out monster spawn cards and such, but near impossible to pull out items/madness cards from the mix at this point).

My core game had 8 scenarios, (KS version more than that of course).
 
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Andrew Vogel
United States
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Deep Madness screams for an app! I hope someone comes up with one...
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Nappen the Wargamer Dad

San Antonio
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@ Russell: "KS edition more than that"

Can you elaborate? I got the all in. Where are the extra scenarios? Were they in a pdf or do you mean the one in uncounted horrors and three in endless nightmares?
 
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Russell Corbally
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Nappen wrote:
@ Russell: "KS edition more than that"

Can you elaborate? I got the all in. Where are the extra scenarios? Were they in a pdf or do you mean the one in uncounted horrors and three in endless nightmares?


Yes the 1 in the Uncounted Horrors and 3 in the Endless Nightmares...(included in the base pledge for the KS version)... Of course the other 2 expansions also have 3 more each I believe.
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Nappen the Wargamer Dad

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Thanks, just wanted to make sure I didn't miss something
 
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Michel Cayer
Canada
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XTrueFinale wrote:

- Another gripe I had with the setup time are the lack of tile listing. Each scenario should have as part of setup listed the tiles needed for the scenario (like Gloomhaven). Trying to find the tiles simply based of the setup map or room cards used is unnecessarily time consuming and inefficient.


By the way, the tiles are numbered and those numbers appear on the setup image for the scenario.
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