Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

Board Game: Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Beating MoM at "her" own game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
Style Over Substance
badge
"In loving memory of Mariel."
Avatar
Microbadge: 10 Year Geek Veteran
My collection has started to become filled with Fantasy Flight Games... games. Why? They throttle my intelligence like AD&D 2nd edition did when I first discovered it back in junior high. I have to pay attention to FFG games, and I like that. And that's a turn off for some people. It infuriates me no end when I miss rules--especially KEY rules, but I've continued to buy their games. Why? No one makes them like they do, and every year they seem to push their game and component designs. Very exciting, if bewildering at times.

Monsters of Madness brings so much together--in components, in rules and in theme... in a very coherent and elegant design. Is it their greatest work to date? It might just be!

I've started to beat this game as an investigator. And if you've played, then you should know that that is a hard thing to do. But I think I've finally "gotten" the game. And it's a good feeling. MoM is all about the story, and everything about the game supports that lofty goal. Does it accomplish it for me? Yes!

I'm not going to bore you with rules. The game's been out awhile (Even if I've just gotten it). I will say that of all the FFG rules books this one is very cleanly presented right off. I LOVE this style: Summarize, and then explain. The only thing missing is an index, because a few random things come up and things are in very-specific-places. But nothing is in excess or too finicky (YES!).

The components work well with the rules, and it's obvious to me how there are really many things going on in the game and the components to support those things are very precise. For example, set up for the house is very easy. Going through the keeper's turn, from drawing threat tokens to using threat tokens, drawing cards to playing monsters, and even running down that clock. It's all smooth, without a bit of clutter.

If you've played FFG games before, component-wise I would say that MoM most resembles Horus Heresy, especially when dealing with damage tokens. I like MoM minis. They are sturdy. And want to paint them? They come right off the bases. Tiles slip INTO the bases (I LOVE this), but it's too bad that the monsters are intended to be permanently affixed--wouldn't it be nice to simply swap out monsters from future expansions? Set up is a bit odd, with the investigators building the house (but then they have to leave so the keeper can seed it).

The newest thing would be the puzzles, basically "turn this tile" mini games. I like them, and they give the game the feel of those survival horror story telling video games--not really Resident Evil, but stuff like Alone in the Dark or Clock Tower. I'd like to see more puzzles in the future. I think they are a worthy addition because they break up the monotony for the investigators--even if they take away a precious turn (Again, would be ameliorated if I could just attempt the puzzle twice in one turn!).

From the player point of view, there are two games going on here: Investigators versus the keeper. Being the keeper is the "dungeon master", and is the more satisfying play because of the sheer amount of decisions to be made--each is important, and a badly played round can spell disaster.

The investigators must race around the house and find clues. People have said that it's easy to figure out the places for the clues if you've played the game enough. I DON'T find that true. Each of the three clues has several locations that it can be, and you must find them all. As an investigator, the satisfaction for me is when I manage to pass my checks and "stick it" to the overwhelming forces that have turned their virulent attentions to me. But those moments are overshadowed by the need to search.

The game styles are very different. In away, it reminds me of Claustrophobia, where one player is basically throwing obstacles in the way and the others are dealing with it. But the investigators feel TOO LIMITED in the game. It's like wearing a choke collar sometimes. Even as I begin to get the flow of the game, I cannot help but think, "Why don't they just have 3 actions per turn? Why can't I beat that zombie over the head with my Whiskey bottle, blow his brains out with my gun, and then move away and laugh at his undead butt as he shambles off?". Two moves and ONE action? This was a HUGE turn off when I first started. MoM is maddeningly imbalanced decision wise.

I'm sure that an expansion is coming, and I really think FFG should concentrate on making it a toolkit: Give me more room tiles so that I can build different locales. Give me more monsters. Certainly, give me more stories (kind of like AD&D modules...); from a components view, there really aren't that many specific to a story... a few clues, a special win condition...), but I see those more as a way to satisfy casual gamers (pure investigator types). Finally, I really would like some way to give investigators a chance to do more meaningful things. Each has a strengths, weakness, and thematic toys, but otherwise play the same--and in only one way: Seek, seek, seek! MoM is complete, but it is obviously a foundation that screams for a "next step".

Who can talk about MoM without Arkham Horror? Now, I also bought AH because I bought MoM. Why? In my mind, the thing that was always missing from AH was buildings, and MoM has them: By taking this step (with some amazing chances for crossover) FFG has cemented in my mind their vision of Lovecraft's horrific world. So I got it all together, and will finally play AH one of these dark nights...

I enjoy playing MoM, and feel confident enough with it to give it a rating. I'm working on a session report. In time I'm sure I'll start making my own scenarios. Will my criticisms of the game change? Perhaps, but I know that my praises for the game will not: MoM is excellently realized and completely involving. It's a great "read", and I'm looking forward to the next installments!
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Outlaw
United Kingdom
Devizes
Wiltshire
flag msg tools
badge
The Wing Warrior - learn more at www.facebook.com/thelegendriders
Avatar
Microbadge: Facebook userMicrobadge: I write for young peopleMicrobadge: BloggerMicrobadge: BloggerMicrobadge: Follow me on Instagram
Nice review.

You know - the rulebook DOES have an index.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
Style Over Substance
badge
"In loving memory of Mariel."
Avatar
Microbadge: 10 Year Geek Veteran
DOES it? (@_@) All that flipping upside down must have addled my brains! I certainly revise my opinion! (Well, I will once I confirm this!) Thank you!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Randall Monk
United States
Leesburg
Virginia
flag msg tools
Microbadge: Green Bay Packers fanMicrobadge: Milwaukee Brewers fan
So...what rating did you give it?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
Style Over Substance
badge
"In loving memory of Mariel."
Avatar
Microbadge: 10 Year Geek Veteran
For now it is an 8, on the BGG scale. The BGG 9 says "Always want to play it," and that's not quite true. I find myself thinking about the game quite a bit (mostly trying to think of my own scenarios with the parts in it), and according to BGG it should be a 10, then.

Once MoM appeared on my radar I did NOT subscribe to it specifically because what I saw of it made it an auto-buy and I did not want to get swept by hype and such. I don't have the disappointment and what-have-you that others report. The game delivered plenty of surprises and I'm pleased with it. While I don't think any preconceptions I had have gotten in the way, my own desire for freedom have caused me to butt heads with the investigator "2 move, 1 action" mechanic. While I'm getting over this, the game remains a solid BGG 8 after the time I've given it.

Will my rating go up? There IS plenty to fall in love with here. An excellent expansion would easily push me up to 9, but on its own a few more plays will probably be in order.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Outlaw
United Kingdom
Devizes
Wiltshire
flag msg tools
badge
The Wing Warrior - learn more at www.facebook.com/thelegendriders
Avatar
Microbadge: Facebook userMicrobadge: I write for young peopleMicrobadge: BloggerMicrobadge: BloggerMicrobadge: Follow me on Instagram
awakeneddragon wrote:
DOES it? (@_@) All that flipping upside down must have addled my brains! I certainly revise my opinion! (Well, I will once I confirm this!) Thank you!
It's the very first page of the investigator guide. It's pretty detailed and surprisingly useful.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
Style Over Substance
badge
"In loving memory of Mariel."
Avatar
Microbadge: 10 Year Geek Veteran
(^_-) I see how I missed it (Index in my mind means back of the book, and I skipped it because I assumed it was a table of contents--which are almost universally useless). Great to see it, even if I think I've got the rules down at this point! Thank you again!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Markus
Germany
Kaiserslautern
flag msg tools
badge
So this is my new overtext ? Hmmm...
Avatar
Microbadge: AtheistMicrobadge: Facebook avoiderMicrobadge: Video gamer since 1990Microbadge: Whisky drinkerMicrobadge: Python programmer
A crossover between AH and MoM would be the most time consuming game EVER. Nice review btw !
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
N S.
United States
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
Microbadge: Black KittyMicrobadge: LibrarianMicrobadge: 2013 Solitaire Print and Play Contest participantMicrobadge: Heavy Metal fan
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
awakeneddragon wrote:
DOES it? (@_@) All that flipping upside down must have addled my brains! I certainly revise my opinion! (Well, I will once I confirm this!) Thank you!
It's the very first page of the investigator guide. It's pretty detailed and surprisingly useful.
Wow, I overlooked this index too. I don't know what the FFG folks were thinking when they decided that placing the index so that it's actually upside down relative to the pages it references would be a good idea. But there it is. And it is useful, even its location makes no sense.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
Style Over Substance
badge
"In loving memory of Mariel."
Avatar
Microbadge: 10 Year Geek Veteran
Ploedminka wrote:
A crossover between AH and MoM would be the most time consuming game EVER. Nice review btw !
I set my other time-heavy games aside (HAD to play Earth Reborn and MoM), to take out my base copy of AH and play it last night--wow, you aren't kidding! Could you imagine playing AH, and then using the MoM tiles to adventure in the locations? Role playing possibilities, certainly, but would take a crazy amount of time.

And thank you!

Noahboa wrote:
And it is useful, even its location makes no sense.
I'm glad it's there--and, like the 2-move-1-action, I'm sure there's a good reason (^_-). The rules play very straightforward, but as we played I wanted to find the section on locked doors ("You DON'T go in and lose movement, wasn't it?"), and had to do a quick scan.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Liam Kelley
United States
Tacoma
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: Member of the BGG Community since 2002Microbadge: ArizonaMicrobadge: Copper Image UploaderMicrobadge: I rate and comment gamesMicrobadge: Kickstarter fan
For those who dont like the 2 move-1 action, why not try a 0 move-3 action. In order to move at all you have to take an action. would that unbalance things?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
Style Over Substance
badge
"In loving memory of Mariel."
Avatar
Microbadge: 10 Year Geek Veteran
2-move-1-action definitely seems less action-packed than a 3-action model. The 3-action style would speed the game up quite a bit, especially for certain characters (Joe Diamond would literally empty any room he searched in a single round!). It would certainly make the Keeper's job much more difficult, but I don't feel very sorry for the Keeper (he's the "bad guy" after all). As far as game balance goes, the Keeper might have to recieve more threat when certain characters are used--like bonus starting threat equal to each character's luck (perhaps doled out when the event deck starts ringing...)

I'm tempted to do it, but for now I'm sticking to the way it was designed--but only because I've actually started winning.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls