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Subject: First Game, Session in review: The fall of House Lynch, rss

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Sérgio Iglésias
Portugal
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After several weeks of reading and pondering about whether I should buy Mansions of Madness, I got it and we finally had our first game.

We opened the box and started withdrawing it's contents, there was so much inside and we took our time looking at everything. The cardboard pieces were beautiful but glancing over the amount of cards scared me.

Before doing anything else I handed the investigator Guide to the players who began reading it and preparing the board for the first adventure, while I opened the forbidden alchemy box to search for the MoM replacement cards, when I finished I started reading the Keeper Guide it took awhile before I understood what I had to do but after reading the keeper setup guidelines twice I answered the questions and started picking the needed parts and sorting the decks for the fall of House Lynch scenario.

Reading it like this seems painless, but it wasn't... It was a painfully long setup process, before we actually started sorting the decks I think we took at least an hour to begin playing.

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The playtime ran much more smoothly thanks to
Rodney "Watch It Played" Smith
Canada
Montague
Prince Edward Island
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We watched his "Let's play Mansions of Madness" videos a week before I even received the game and when we started playing we already had a hang of the rules and there was little we had to resort to the rulebook for.


BEWARE, the rest of the session report may contain spoilers for the first scenario, The fall of House Lynch.

The players:

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Sérgio Iglésias
Portugal
Porto - V.N. Gaia
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The Keeper


Etian Leafwind
Portugal
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Harvey Walters, The Professor


Harima Leafwind
Portugal
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"Ashcan" Pete, The Drifter


Nani:
Kate Winthrop, The Scientist


Story Choices for "The fall of House Lynch"
Spoiler (click to reveal)
1A/2B/3B



I started reading the prologue and the players listened carefully and then discussed the play order, they entered the Mansion and the fun started, Harvey was the first and walked upstairs to Hallway 4 and explore the hallway, then Pete explored the foyer and found an Axe while Kate moved to the laboratory and explored it.

Finally the Keeper's turn, I started the game with 1 Mythos card and 1 threat, then I gathered my 3 threat and thought about what could I do. I decided to use all of my Threat to place a Maniac on the Laboratory.

I did had flavor to the game trying to make it more cinematic by describing what was happening. I intended to do that for the whole game but with some interruptions to check and discuss rules the roleplaying diminished over the course of the game.

Harvey kept exploring the bedrooms and the hallways while Pete rushed to fight the Maniac, Kate fled the scene rushing past through the Maniac and into the operation room, there she tried solve the wiring puzzle to fix the lights. Pete eventually killed the maniac and Kate solved the puzzle to find the dying man on the operation table. The Maniac was after all not dead and showed up again several times later, Kate was always the target but while Pete fought the maniac and the zombie that rose in the meantime, Kate handed the key over to Harvey who opened the locked bedroom and found further evidence on the missing person. The evidence led them to the garden where they found the dead wife, buried and find the last clue. Walter was revealed to be in fact the maniac who has been attacking them and they ganged up on him to kill him for good, Pete swung his Axe repeatedly, hacking Walter but he just didn't go down while Kate tried to escape the undead wife who rose to kill her, but she was almost dead when the wife rose and was injured again trying to escape her only to be corned by Walter and ultimately killed. Walter then faced Pete while Harvey arrived and with a blood pact spell healed Pete, unfortunately it wasn't enough and Pete died under Walter's Axe bloody Axe. Seeing has Walter had already taken alot of punishment, Harvey picked the axe and tried to get rid of Walter leaving Walter with 1HP(although the investigators didn't know it and could only guess) but Harvey guessed right and instead of running he tried to kill Walter again with the Axe but failed. With only 1HP and only two turns away from winning, Desperate, I used my threat to move walter 2 spaces away from Harvey and used Uncontrollable Urges to move Harvey 1 space further away from Walter. I won enough time to draw the final event card and won.

The player playing as Harvey felt so disappointed as he didn't notice the event card filling up with time tokens and was convinced that since I was running that they were wining, and I did think I was going to lose until the last moment where I uses my last threat with the Uncontrollable Urges to make Harvey 1 space and 1 roll away from victory.

I was led to believe that the game was too random, I don't think that's true, while I do agree that the card battle mechanics and the keeper unpredictability add allot of random factor to the game, every dice roll can be changed with skill points and strategy and calculation can set up the scene to your advantage and there's so much the keeper can do to mess things up.

In the end, it was a close call for the keeper and I understood that I could have done so much more as the keeper, the game was so much fun for everyone and even though I won, the players didn't feel completely helpless and felt that they actually had a chance, so everyone enjoyed it and I am glad I bought it! Winning and Losing may be the ultimate objective in the game but the experience is what makes the game fun, It's like playing an adventure and as long as it's balanced the win/lose situation adds more flavor to the game.

The keeper played out like a Game Master most of the time, describing what was happening and bringing threats to the players, but still, not an all powerful Game Master since he his limited and can actually win. Having Game Mastered D&D4E and Star Wars Saga I loved this aspect, being mean came naturally to me devil

Since I was an inexperienced keeper, I didn't notice that the clues were so vague and that by the end of the game the players still didn't understand how the man they were looking for was now their enemy, I understand now that when I gave them the last clue I should have described the situation in more detail, but I think that that's a situation that a good keeper, just like a good game master can and will avoid.

Not everything was good though, and I'll point out what I didn't like.
The card quality, I was really disappointed by the thickness of the cards, they were really thin and not what I was expecting from a FFG product, I don't know if this is because of the POD expansions since I never bought any and so the use of hard sleeves like the FFG branded ones is almost mandatory.
I also didn't like the fact that the board tiles are two sided, as that diminishes the potential to create custom content in larger scales. And Replayability can become an issue if played to often, while there's some randomness in the setup it is too fixed in key points, maybe it will be fixed in future expansions or the cheer amount of scenarios that could be released can make up for this, I don't know, only future can tell.

Storage is also a problem as I love to keep all my stuff inside the box but with MoM this will be hard, to speed up the setup time I intend to keep my minis assembled and so I will have to find a Storage solution for this game.

Loved:
- Beautiful and large Mansion Tiles
- Mechanics are not as random as I was led to believe.
- Win/Lose situation not as important as I expected for enjoyment.
- Keeper/Game Master similarities.
- Card Art and flavor text are top notch.
- Monster Minis.
- Monster Random Stats.
- Puzzles.
- -the experience.
- The potential to create custom adventures.
- Scenario Expansions.

Hated:
- The card quality.
- Custom content is limited by double-sided tiles and too many unique cards required for each scenario.
- Setup time(But I guess this can be improved with experience).
- Storage.
- Replayability can become an issue if played to often.

The good does overshadow the bad, but some things really annoyed me like the card quality.

If all scenarios are as fun as this one, then I think I won't change my mind about this impression.
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Kris Vanhoyland
Belgium
Genk
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“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” ― H.P. Lovecraft
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The card quality is actually better than I initially expected. Yes they're quite thin, but I once dropped one of the small investigator cards in a glass of lemonade, submerging it.

I expected I would have to appeal to FFG's customer service to request a replacement card, but once it dried it looked fine, and now I can't even tell which card it was that got wet.
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Daniel B
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Excellent first impression. It is nice to hear people enjoying the game, rather than call it.
I have ordered this from an online shop and await it's arrival.
I have only been an investigator before and fully intend to take on the keeper role, flowering up the story to enhance the player feel.
I hope we enjoy it as much as you did.
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Nick R
United Kingdom
Havant
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So long and thanks for all the fish
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Very nice session report, sounds like you all had fun.

Regards

Gnome
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Mac Blanco
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I have really enjoyed your session report and review points. But then, I have found this paragraph specially inspiring for all of us:

Irxson wrote:

...
Since I was an inexperienced keeper, I didn't notice that the clues were so vague and that by the end of the game the players still didn't understand how the man they were looking for was now their enemy, I understand now that when I gave them the last clue I should have described the situation in more detail, but I think that that's a situation that a good keeper, just like a good game master can and will avoid.

...


Instead of saying that the game is broken or poorly designed, you assumed as a real keeper should do that due to your inexperience you failed to correct (with an extra but not too much narrative effort) some minor flaws related to clues.

Kudos for you!!!

Hopefully you'll manage to solve issues like these in your next MoM experience.


Thank you.
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Sérgio Iglésias
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Bearpaw wrote:
The card quality is actually better than I initially expected. Yes they're quite thin, but I once dropped one of the small investigator cards in a glass of lemonade, submerging it.

I expected I would have to appeal to FFG's customer service to request a replacement card, but once it dried it looked fine, and now I can't even tell which card it was that got wet.


Still the card quality from games like Anima and A Game of Thrones(Second Edition) are top notch and besides being thick and hard they have this texture that reassures you of the cards longevity, something that I found lacking in Arkham Horror and even worse in Mansions of Madness, so when I have the money I WILL sleeve them with FFG sleeves but it's disappointing that I have to do so. Is this the case because of the POD expansions?

javidad wrote:
I have really enjoyed your session report and review points. But then, I have found this paragraph specially inspiring for all of us:

Irxson wrote:

...
Since I was an inexperienced keeper, I didn't notice that the clues were so vague and that by the end of the game the players still didn't understand how the man they were looking for was now their enemy, I understand now that when I gave them the last clue I should have described the situation in more detail, but I think that that's a situation that a good keeper, just like a good game master can and will avoid.

...


Instead of saying that the game is broken or poorly designed, you assumed as a real keeper should do that due to your inexperience you failed to correct (with an extra but not too much narrative effort) some minor flaws related to clues.

Kudos for you!!!

Hopefully you'll manage to solve issues like these in your next MoM experience.


Thank you.


Having experience as a game master helped me conclude that.
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guilherme gty
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Bearpaw wrote:
The card quality is actually better than I initially expected. Yes they're quite thin, but I once dropped one of the small investigator cards in a glass of lemonade, submerging it.

I expected I would have to appeal to FFG's customer service to request a replacement card, but once it dried it looked fine, and now I can't even tell which card it was that got wet.


Based on what happened to you too I must tell you that the quality is good enough indeed.

I played this game for the first time 2 days ago and a friend of mine, while we're setting up (i was getting my action cards so we could start) he was holding a big glass of water (500mL) and... dropped over the cards/maptiles/everything. It was a huge mess but everything was just right after drying each tile/card with a towel. I can't tell you which card/tile got wet too.
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