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Mansions of Madness» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First MoM Session. 1B. Underwhelming (spoilers) rss

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Craig Hogan
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So, I read a review a while back that said "Mansions runs either red hot or ice cold". I hoped for the former, but got the latter.

I was Keeper and I've been a GM before. What I was hoping for was a bit of a cross between an RPG and a board game with a slightly creepy mood. I think my expectations were a bit high, since about two turns in it was pretty clear that nobody was really up for entering into the spirit of things. In other players' experience, is there a good way to set the mood for MoM or is it just not that spooky?

The investigators split up and I managed to get a maniac to the altar with one sample fairly quickly. I could have got a second on the altar almost one turn later, but decided to let them investigate some more (I didn't spend all that time setting up to have the game over in half an hour!). Rookie mistake?

The players seemed to take a long time to find clues and weren't really working together, but still managed to pull out the win. The shoggoth spawned and then they killed it with a combination of shotgun fire and holy water. Because of a lucky card with the shotgun and the holy water, the shoggoth spent most of its time in play stunned.

At the moment, underwhelmed best sums up how I feel about the game. I'm hoping with a different group, the feel might be better.

Any comments on getting the most out of the game play in general or scenario 1B specifics would be welcome.
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Sebastian Grawan
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Doomjester wrote:
is there a good way to set the mood for MoM or is it just not that spooky?
Ban cellphones from the gaming table, dim the lights (a little), play eerie music, let everyone roleplay their characters actions a little bit.
But don't force things, sometimes the spark's just not there...
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Kevin Outlaw
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First of all, I think it is important to remember this is a board game - I have never played a board game that's "scary" and I don't think it is possible for such a game to exist. Any "fear" (or something close to it) is going to be derived from the player's imagination rather than from drawing cards and pushing bits of plastic around. I used to have the game Ghose Castle when I was a kid. I loved that game, and the artwork and theme really sparked my imagination - but I never thought it was spooky. I just don't believe a game can give you the wibbles in the same way a book or film can.

As keeper, I always read the intro and prologue to the players in my best "fireside" voice, as I feel this is more immersive than having them huddled around the book reading quietly while I set up the game. I also make sure the game is set up in advance so when they arrive to the table they can see the house fully created without having to see the "behind the scenes" bit where I make it and lay out cards.

I request no mobile phones. I think they ruin any game anyway. And I always read all the flavour text in game, and make up my own too (I stress I am not an RPGer).

As it was your first game, I think you can expect a sub-par experience to a certain degree because no-one knows what to do for the best. You should constantly remind people about clues, and that each clue will point to the next. Also stress it is a race game, and remind them they are in a horror story - splitting up never goes well.

At the end of the day, it is a tactical game with a horror theme, and it will only be as "spooky" as your players allow it to be. I think it is a game that doesn't work for all people. I love it, but I can understand why many people wouldn't.

All the best.
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Craig Hogan
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I guess it's hard for me to play without comparing mentally to "Call of Cthulhu" and "Dread". Both games can create a feeling of tension, if not exactly fear. Heck, even "Last Night on Earth" created more in the way of "Ohnoes" tension than MoM.

Given that it's a tactical game, would people recommend just going for the win as the keeper? It feels like you could really just squish them if you wanted to.

Thanks for the responses.
 
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Kevin Outlaw
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Doomjester wrote:
I guess it's hard for me to play without comparing mentally to "Call of Cthulhu" and "Dread". Both games can create a feeling of tension, if not exactly fear. Heck, even "Last Night on Earth" created more in the way of "Ohnoes" tension than MoM.

Given that it's a tactical game, would people recommend just going for the win as the keeper? It feels like you could really just squish them if you wanted to.

Thanks for the responses.


In my first two games I went easy, and kept reminding my wife of rules or tactics that were being overloooked. I kept pointing her back to clues to remind her where she should go next.

After those first few games the gloves came off. I play full-on trying to squish the investigators. It's not that easy when there are only two investigators as there is a lot less threat to play with. I think it's a bit easier with more people for the keeper to win.

I think you have to judge the game against your own game group. I only play against my wife and sometimes a few mates, and none of them expect me to go easy. Other groups might prefer a more RPG-style way of playing where it is more about the story. Some people will get infuriated if you keep hitting them with Mythos cards, but again, you will be able to catch on to that vibe in your group pretty quickly.
 
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Rodney "Watch It Played" Smith
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To up the fun, remind players they are against the clock the whole game, and most always be persuing clues. Emphasize this for new players.

Then put on spooky music, cackle menacingly at them, and lower the lights.

Here's a picture from my last game. Mind you, these are younger players, but we dressed up and had a BLAST. They talked about the game for days afterwards. And the game ended in a draw, which was a bit overwhelming.



I'm running a play by forum version of the game right now, using video which I imagine will suck most of the atmosphere out of the game, but I'm also using the series to teach the game. Feel free to drop by and check it out.

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/7093284
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Andrew Bowman
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I made a comment in a separate thread on creating the kind of atmosphere and ambience you're looking for. Basically, I used custom playlists of ambient music (mostly Silent Hill) and extra flavor text for all the rooms. Should be a good start!
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Craig Hogan
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Cool post. Thanks for linking it.
 
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Rory Mannix
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In terms of setting the mood, I think setting the game up before the players arrive is a great idea and some ambient music like "The Stargate" or "Crypt of the Wizard" by Mortis is a great shout as it is instrumental.

Although I have only played this once as the keeper, I kept myself quiet and only spoke if the game required it or checking rules for the players. This helped with the atmosphere because it was like I wasn't there until I started making bad stuff happen for the investigators.

On the whole I think it is dependent on the group you play with. I think MoM is very much about imagination and throwing off the shackles of reality to immerse yourself in something that is quite different to what people are used to. I really loved the game and so did my friends (even my girlfriend who is not an Arkham Horror fan or anything of that ilk).

I would suggest going for another playt through and get the investigators to read the "Tips for investigators" at the start of the guide, it might help them focus on how to win the game (not splitting up, sticking to clues etc).

I would be interested to know how your second game goes, and how different you find the gaming playing as an investigator as opposed to a keeper.
 
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