Posted by: Zach Smith | August 31, 2011

Mansions of Madness: Thoughts After First Play

I thought Mansion of Madness had the feel of a role-playing game.  All
the cards have great flavor text that we enjoyed reading and joking
about.  Even the combat is thematic – along with rolling the die, the
player draws a card which describes the “action” being taken.   For
example, at one point my character ran into a room with a huge slime
monster with her pistols blazing, hitting the monster multiple times
and sending goo flying all over the room a la Ghostbusters.  The
combat is simple, just a single dice roll: not nearly as complex as
Arkham Horror.  This is both the strength and weakness to the game.  I
like Arkham because it is a longer, deeper, more complex game, but MoM
is certainly a good game in its own right.

The setup time for the evil player is significant, though.  He has to
make sure he gets everything just right or the game will be ruined.
The evil player is very similar to a Dungeon Master in D&D.

The odd thing about Mansions is that none of the players (good guys or
bad guy) find out the ultimate objective until the very end of the
game.  It is difficult for the players to plan ahead for the
eventualities.  You sort of work you way to the back of the mansion
and hope you are prepared for what you find.  This sounds good
thematically, but it is odd within the mechanics of the game.  In our
game, we read the final objective card and realized no one could win
because of the current positions of all the players.  We went ahead
and played out the game, but it was VERY anticlimactic.  It seems like
the players need more advanced notice on what their ultimate objective
is!

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Responses

  1. I had a very similar experience as the Keeper playing scenario 1B. I was trying to avoid “reading ahead” in that role as I didn’t want to end up playing the same scenario with a different variant as a player, but I don’t believe this game “works” unless the Keeper has *very* good information about the scenario up front. That means reading *all* of the cards at his disposal, not just the playbook (as I did). To make things worse, the final objective card has text that doesn’t tell you what to do if it is turned over by the fourth event card, but only looks like what you do to turn the card over in *response* to investigator actions. I also apparently had to piece together what my *exact* job was through inference – there is no explicit explanation. The result was, as you experienced, extremely anti-climactic although in this case because the Keeper could not win. I’ve decided that MoM is a game that *only* works if the players are unfamiliar with the scenario but the Keeper is intimately familiar with *all* elements. Given that I’d Overlorded in Descent many times, this is very understandable but unfortunate that the players have to “waste” a scenario in order to learn this. Frankly, I don’t know that the game will come out again given what a dull experience the first scenario was and the lack of the game giving you this critical information.


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