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Mansions of Madness
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- An all-new board game designed by Corey Konieczka (Battlestar Galactica and Runewars)
- Based on the beloved horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft
- Every game tells an engrossing new story and presents a deep mystery to solve
- Contains 32 detailed plastic figures, over 300 cards, over 200 tokens, nearly 70 puzzle tiles and much more
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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Mansions of Madness is a macabre board game of horror, insanity and mystery for 2-5 players. Gather your fellow investigators and unravel the dark mysteries within before it's too late. Based on the horror fiction of master writer H.P. Lovecraft, Mansions of Madness creates an engrossing new narrative every time you play. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact. Both the engaging plot and the stunning components will draw you in to a world of cosmic horror. The beautifully rendered modular map tiles show every intricate feature of the rooms you'll search and the monster figures represent the otherworldly forces of evil in horrific detail. The bases for each monster figure even have slots into which you can insert that monster's token, displaying only the pertinent statistics. All together, the thirty-two included figures, over 300 cards, over 200 tokens and markers and nearly 70 puzzle tiles,will help immerse you in a sanity-bending story of terrifying mystery. Do you dare enter the Mansions of Madness?.
From the Manufacturer
Mansions of Madness is a macabre board game of horror, insanity and mystery for 2-5 players. Gather your fellow investigators and unravel the dark mysteries within before it’s too late. Based on the horror fiction of master writer H.P. Lovecraft, Mansions of Madness creates an engrossing new narrative every time you play. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact. Both the engaging plot and the stunning components will draw you in to a world of cosmic horror. The beautifully rendered modular map tiles show every intricate feature of the rooms you’ll search and the monster figures represent the otherworldly forces of evil in horrific detail. The bases for each monster figure even have slots into which you can insert that monster’s token, displaying only the pertinent statistics. All together, the thirty-two included figures, over 300 cards, over 200 tokens and markers and nearly 70 puzzle tiles,will help immerse you in a sanity-bending story of terrifying mystery. Do you dare enter the Mansions of Madness?
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|Sold By||You Name the Game||Amazon.com||FELDHERR Figure Cases||Amazon.com||Lost Harbor||Amazon.com|
|Are Batteries Required||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Item Dimensions||11.75 x 11.75 x 4 in||3.2 x 10.5 x 10.5 in||11.22 x 11.22 x 5.71 in||11.75 x 3 x 11.75 in||5.87 x 8.75 x 1.25 in||2 x 10.5 x 10.5 in|
|Item Weight||5.95 lbs||2.87 lbs||4.94 ounces||5.2 lbs||1.56 ounces||1.8 lbs|
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One player plays ‘The Keeper’ (a term from CoC for the Game Master) while the rest are the ‘Investigators’ (essentially the CoC term for ‘players.’) The big difference is that the Keeper in Mansions of Madness is literally out to get you. He / She will play full force trying to make sure you can’t win the scenario and causing as much trouble as possible, including sending hoards of cultists, zombies, Shoggoths, and other monsters after you.
The pieces are all top notch. Each investigator and each monster has its own ‘miniature’ to represent it -- even the huge Shoggoths. Monsters also have a stand that has an Arkaham Horror-like “monster chip” under it that has the stats for that monster. On the top of that stand (i.e. the top of the miniature’s base) there are the ‘horror’ and ‘evade’ ratings that, like Arkham Horror, determine an investigator’s ability to avoid losing sanity when you see the monster or try to evade it without taking damage. Each monster also has a special attack all of its own that actually differs for each monster. For example, each cultist or each zombie has its own special attack.
The players will setup the ‘mansion’ (which in various scenarios or expansions packs might actually be mostly an outside scene) and the Keeper will make a series of plot choices for the chosen scenario. The original game comes with 5 scenarios and there are many expansion packs available. Of the various plot choices made, one of the plot choices drastically changes the scenario. This means that each scenario can at least be played 3 times with enough difference in the scenario that having played it before doesn’t matter. So the original game has 15 different scenarios, really.
Once the plot choices are made, the Keeper will look up where to place the various exploration, lock, clue, or puzzle cards throughout the mansion. This initial setup is somewhat complicated and time consuming, though our usual Keeper (who is a 15 year old boy) has become pretty efficient at it.
The Investigators essentially get two moves and an action, in any order they desire. An action can be a third move or it can be something else like exploring the room (which is how you reveal the various cards that the Keeper placed on the board), hiding, blockading a door, or attacking a monster. As you obtain equipment, these offer other types of actions you can take. (Like, say, reading a dreaded Lovecraftian tome.) In short, play rules for Investigators is pretty simple and easy to learn.
The Keeper has a lot more to learn, so they need to be intimately familiar with the game rules. On their turn they obtain a number of ‘Threat Tokens’ that increases depending on the number of Investigators. This is how the game ‘scales’ to the number of players. Then the Threat Tokens can be spent on various actions listed on a set of cards specific to that scenario. In other words, what actions a Keeper can take changes with each scenario and is specific to that scenario. Once the action phase is done, the keeper can also have any monsters he/she controls attack players. Then a ‘Time Token’ is placed on a stack of ‘Event cards’. Each event card has listed on it a number of time tokens it must receive before it is revealed. What this means in practice is that there is a set of events (described on the event cards) that get revealed on a specific turn and are revealed in a specific order. This is how the story unfolds over time and gives the game a very RPG-like feel. In addition, as the players explore the mansion they will uncover ‘clues.’ These clues also reveal the plot for the story, but only at the pace the players can manage to reveal them. Also, each clue gives a hint to where to find the next clue. So a great deal of the game is spent deciphering each clue and then madly dashing to the next one before the next horrible event gets revealed.
The last game mechanic worth describing is the “Objective Card” which is essentially the conditions required for the Investigator or the Keeper to win the scenario. It is possible for neither to win, forcing a draw. As with all good Lovecraft games, the odds are stacked against the Investigators somewhat, so sometimes playing the Keeper to a draw is the best you can hope for as you lose your sanity and die horrible deaths. That being said, our group of Investigators has gotten pretty good (as has the Keeper) and we actually win about half of the scenarios – though almost always by the skin of our teeth. Trash talk abounds on both sides.
Now the Keeper gets to look at the objective card right from the start. But the Investigators only get to look at it once they have found every clue. This means that the Keeper is actively moving towards victory from the outset while the Investigators literally have no idea how to win at first. This is particularly challenging for the Investigators because the ‘plot choice’ I mentioned above is really a pick of which objective card will be used. And the victory conditions on each objective card can literally be opposites of each other. So in one version of the scenario maybe the Investigators must do certain things before events run out, so they really need to be hurrying. But the next time the Investigators may obtain victory only be letting time run out. So they need to be slowing down the Keeper’s progress as much as possible. Since the Investigators don’t know what victory conditions are, their best bet is to solve the clues as quick as possible while minimizing both damage and sanity loss. That way they are well positioned once the objective card is revealed to them.
One complaint we’ve had is that in the original game all the scenarios end the moment the last event card is revealed. But later expansions changed this and there are now scenarios where the final reveal doesn’t end the game, just sets up something nasty for the Investigators to deal with.
Because the Investigators are in the dark most of the game, we have sometimes had situations where by the time the reveal happens, there is basically no hope of winning. I remember one scenario involving time travel (it was an expansion) that had us trying to kill of a very powerful Shoggoth when we were all already on the verge of death and mostly all insane. I’m not even sure we could have killed it if we had all be fresh and fully armed still. But when we replayed the scenario with a different objective, the invincible Shoggoth was stuck in the past and we managed to avoid it.
If you are playing this game hoping for a fair fight, you’re in the wrong genre. Lovecraft-based games are as much about going down in flames as trying to win. Winning is a real possibility if you play well and get lucky, but you have to have the mindset that losing your mind and dying dramatically as the world blows up are fun as well. In fact, the reason our Keeper is now the 15-year old boy in the group is precisely because allowing the adults to play against a kid gave the Investigators more of a fighting chance. As I said, we’re up to about half victories now. And the kid Keeper has gotten pretty good as wiping the floor with us in devious and clever ways. But we’ve also figured out which investigators are the best to pick (Jenny Barnes, Joe Diamond, Michael McGlenn – pick the magnifying glass for Joe, not the gun) and this has improved our win percentage. Perhaps there are other sets of investigators you can pick together that are just as effective but with a different play style and strategy. But frankly, Michael McGlenn and Jenny Barnes are A+ monster killers and Joe Diamond, using the magnifying glass, can explore the house a lot faster than other investigators. So we have Joe grab all the clues as fast as possible while Jenny and Michael blast away at monsters to clear the way. Generally the Keeper either wins handily or we pull of a desperate last minute upset. I think the creators meant for this to be this way. The investigators do not cake walk through any scenario. So there really is a strong Lovecraftian feel to the game.
One other interesting mechanic is trauma cards. When an investigator takes damage or loses sanity The Keeper has an option to play a trauma card on them. These are physical or mental limitations that the player must then play. For example, after losing sanity at the sight of a Shoggoth the Keeper may – beyond just reducing your sanity – may add insult to injury by also playing a trauma card on you that says that you are now hallucinating that all your fellow investigators are monsters and you may no longer enter a room that has another investigator.
And also, there are a number of puzzles that come with the game. Essentially a puzzle is a short logic puzzles that is setup randomly and you have to solve them with using various legal moves. (How this unfolds differs by puzzle type.) The number of moves you get is determined by that Investigator’s intellect rating, so some investigators are better than others at solving puzzles. Puzzles are thematic too. So maybe you have to solve an electrical wiring puzzle to get the lights back on or solve a lock puzzle to get a lockbox opened to get to the next clue. Since the puzzles are randomized, they are completely re-playable. But they are simple enough that you never get stumped. It’s really just a matter of trying to do it as fast as possible before the next event is revealed.
Combat is handled through pulling a card that describes what you are attempting and then gives you a chance of success or failure. This makes the combat dramatic. For example, one time you shoot at the monster you might just take aim and fire, and roll against your marksmanship. But another time you might attempt to remember what the monster’s weakness is, which requires a lore check for success instead. So you never know what sort of skill check you’ll need to make to hit. When the monsters attack back, this is essentially reversed. The Keeper picks a card for the monster which describes what horrible thing the monster is trying to do with you. It then gives *the players* a skill check to succeed or fail. The Keeper does not make skill checks, only the Investigators make them.
The net result of the above game mechanics is that you end up with a pretty tight little storyline full of intrigue, horrifying failures, and desperate sacrifices to try to pull off a victory (or at least a draw) against the all-powerful Keeper. And all this with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, of course.
All-in-all, the game plays like a board game but feels more like an RPG-lite. I highly recommend this game for anyone with the patience to read through the rules and go through the somewhat complicated setup. It’s actually simpler than Arkaham Horror, so if you are a fan of that game, you’ll have no problems here.
As a huge fan of HP Lovecraft and the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, I'm enjoying this game immensely. I would somewhat hesitantly describe it as "Call of Cthulhu" in a board game. I've played several games of Mansions of Madness with my friends and family, as both investigator and keeper, and it's been great fun every time.
Can't wait to play again =)
Highly recommended for any gamers who enjoy the genre. The game is a little pricey, but what you get in the box is worth every penny.
All of the game pieces, cards, punch-outs and miniatures are very high quality and durable. Once you've played once or twice setting up the game will take a little less time. I would recommend watching some tutorials online before playing. It will help you understand how the game flows and you'll have to spend less time consulting the rulebook during your first couple of games. The rules are not very complicated at all.
Overall I think this game has great potential....a must for HP Lovecraft fans everywhere!
- It is very unlikely that this game will be the same game twice. Actually, it's pretty impossible.
-When playing the game, it's one person against everyone else. However, as the odd man out, with everyone else playing against you, you really don't feel bad or left out because you get to do as much damage and cause as much trouble as possible! You can really make the game difficult for those that are playing against you.
Now the negatives, which really aren't so negative:
-This game takes a LONG time to set up, especially the first time you play it. There are many many pieces, and both sides will constantly be referring to the very long instruction manuals. The first time we played this game, it took us 7 hours from the time we opened the box to the time we put the lid back on. Yeah, it took that long!
-Some of the directions are confusing, and there were a few times that we weren't sure if we were doing everything right. There is so much going on in this game, that it is a little difficult.
If you don't mind taking a while to play a game, this is actually a really fun game! The story line is very in depth, and the monsters are intriguing. I can't wait to play with my family again!