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Subject: MoM review after 4 plays rss

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Holger Wies
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This is my first board game review, so please be lenient with me, also because english isn't my first language.

Now let's start with my little review of "Mansions of Madness"

As an enthusiastic player of "Arkham Horror" and "Descent", it sounds very interesting for me, that the designer of MoM combined elements from both of them into a new horror themed, story telling boardgame and so my expectations were really high!

The Components:
At first glance all of the components are awesome. The artwork of cards, markers and especially the map tiles is just great. Also I have no problem with the reuse of pictures from "Arkham Horror" or the "Call of C'thulu" LCG on many equipment and weapon cards. It gives me a nice feeling of "being at home". The drawings on the map tiles are very detailed and atmospheric. Poorly my map tiles are warped. Not too bad to play, but enough to be a little disappointed about them. I wonder, if this is a general problem. The figures are very detailed and pretty. They all were delivered in perfect condition. Also the box itself has a beautiful artwork but the inlay is as useless as the inlay of every FFG box I ever had.

The Setup
In our first four games the setup takes 20 to 30 minutes. While the investigator players build the map, choose their investigators and set them up, the keeper has to decide in which way the scenario will twist during play, create many card decks with exploration cards, obstacles and locks for every story relevant room on the map, build and shuffle his mythos deck, find and place the keeper action cards, setup the time cards…. . In other words: If a long setup time is an issue for you or your gaming group, I can't recommend MoM. For me it is no problem. I celebrate each setup step, because I really love boardgame components - especially if they are as well made as the components in MoM.

The Rulebook / Keepers guide / Investigators guide
The rulebook is well written and easy to understand. The "Keepers Guide" and the "Investigators Guide" are both very nice, as well. The story parts are great. I love the way how the introductions to a scenario are describing the scene and for me it is highly recommended to read them aloud to create a deep atmosphere. The setup instructions are written precise and clear and for now I never had any problems with them.

Game play
At the beginning of this review I'd wrote that I thought MoM would be a mix of "Arkham Horror" and "Descent" and that's exactly what it is - but also it is much more. Like in "Arkham Horror" the story is everywhere, the investigator have to react and mostly they are not able to follow their master plan. Like in "Descent" the Overlord -sorry, Keeper- is able to create a threatening journey for the investigators like a game master in a rpg and, in addition, he has the challenge to win the game in a one vs. all situation. Indeed I have never played a game with more theme and I never felt more entertained by a board game. But what are the reasons for my enthusiasm? Well, let me try to figure that out:

A) The story based scenarios
Before you start to setup the game you have to choose a scenario. At first glance the number of available scenarios seems to be a little low because there are only five of them described in the Investigators Guide. After the scenario is chosen, the keeper has to answer three to six questions. The answer to the first question defines the winning conditions for each side and the main course of the story. The answers to the other questions defines how the story will goes on when the investigators find a clue. If you ask me, MoM comes with 15 scenarios, each with a number of variants, on five different maps . This scenario design has a fundamental advantage over scenarios in other games: It is possible to tell a detailed and extensive story without using any kind of book (except at the beginning of the game, when first the investigators read an instructional story from the Investigators Guide and then the Keeper reads a prologue from his guide, depending on the decisions for the story he made before). In addition to clues and the stories in the guides there is also an event card deck. After a number of game rounds an event occurs. The events dependents (from time to time) on the keepers story decisions during setup and mostly anything environmental happens. All in one a very elegant and clever way to tell a story in a board game, I think.

B) Easy to learn and to teach:
The rules are very easy for both, the investigator players and the keeper. An investigators turn has only 2 movement steps and one action step. The most common actions in the action step are "Move a third step(run)", "explore" and "attack". Sound boring, right? But it isn't: If you try to move through a 'locked door' it is possible that you have to solve a puzzle before you're able to move in, the exploration is very exciting because you never really know what will happen when you reveal an exploration, obstacle or lock card. Whatever you do, you are relatively free to decide what to do next and in which order you want to do it. But be warned: If you are a hardcore strategy gamer you won't have much fun with MoM. The luck-factor is everywhere. I'm happy with that, because of the plus of pressure that such luck based game mechanics comes with. Also it is very easy to teach MoM to new players. We only needed 20 minutes to explain the basic rules. All additional rules we explained "just in time". For us this approach worked very well.

C)The combat
The combat is one of my favorite elements in the game. Whenever a fight occurs a combat card is drawn. The card text describes what happens and with only one or two die roles the fight is resolved. Sound boring again, huh? But again it isn't: The card text is very immersive. If there is only a little piece of fantasy in you ,you will be able to see the whole fight before your inner eye. Only the limited number of different cards per combat deck cards could be a problem. I hope that future expansion will increase the combat decks sizes to avoid boredom.

D)The Keeper
Even if I love pure cooperative games I think that such a game can never create as much thrill as a human player which represents the ultimate evil. And compared to "Descent" MoM seems to be much more balanced between keeper and investigators. After four plays we have a 2:2. That's not representative, I know, and the future will show if our statistic will stay that much balanced.

E) Play time
Our four first games takes 120-180 minutes. For me that is the perfect play time. It is long enough to wallow in the game but is short enough to play it again (on weekend) .


Ok I'm guilty. I am a "Mansions of Madness" cultist goo and my review isn't really objective. For me this game is the best game I've ever played, but I'm relatively new to this hobby.

My Rating: 9.5/10


Bye
Code21


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Paul S
United Kingdom
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DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT?
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Nice review, thanks. Not sure if I can resist this one much longer!
 
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mateo jurasic
United States
Florida
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i too love this game
one tip for new Keepers, read all the plot, clue, and objective cards fopr the mission you are doing. We have played the 1st scenario about 5 times, still super fun, but its easy to scew up a little in terms of remembering the objective and the events that occur over the course of the game.
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This Guy
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I'm loving the scenario concept the more I read about it. Some people might complain that it sounds limited, but there's something awsesome about it... it's playtestable.

I'll take the occasional effort/cost of downloading/buying new scenarios if FFG ensures through play testing that each scenario is winnable for both sides.
 
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Warren Smith
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And what become of her new straw hat that should have come to me?
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Set Up
Code21 wrote:
In our first four games the setup takes 20 to 30 minutes. While the investigator players build the map, choose their investigators and set them up, the keeper has to decide in which way the scenario will twist during play, create many card decks with exploration cards, obstacles and locks for every story relevant room on the map, build and shuffle his mythos deck, find and place the keeper action cards, setup the time cards…. . In other words: If a long setup time is an issue for you or your gaming group, I can't recommend MoM. For me it is no problem. I celebrate each setup step, because I really love boardgame components - especially if they are as well made as the components in MoM.
emphasis mine

Me too! I can't wait to put my setup skills and component appreciation skills to work. Hoping to have MoM by Friday.
 
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Holger Wies
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Thank you for all the nice thumbs
And I've earned some Geek Gold! I never had GG before! Yes, I'm a rich man and now I'm feeling a real BoardGameGeek!

Code21
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Simon Harris
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Four of us played this for the first time this week at LondonOnBoard and had a really great time! I'm not sure I can wait until my birthday for this, I might actually have to buy it myself!
goo

Simon
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