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Mansions of Madness
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- 2 à 5 joueurs
- A partir de 12 ans
- Durée : 120
- Année : 2011
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Descriptions du produit
Des monstres horribles et des spectres rôdent dans les manoirs, les cryptes, les écoles, les monastères et les bâtiments en ruines aux alentours d'Arkham dans le Massachusetts. Certains trament de sombres conspirations tandis que d'autres attendent de malheureuses victimes pour les dévorer ou les faire plonger dans la folie. C'est une poignée de courageux investigateurs qui va explorer ces lieux maudits et découvrir la vérité sur ces cauchemars vivants. Les Demeures de l'Épouvante est un jeu macabre d'horreur, de folie, et de mystère. Chaque partie se déroule dans le cadre d'une histoire fournissant aux joueurs un plateau unique et plusieurs combinaisons d'intrigue. Ces intrigues affectent les monstres que les investigateurs peuvent rencontrer, les indices à découvrir, jusqu'au dénouement final. Un joueur prend le rôle du gardien, qui contrôle les monstres et les autres puissances néfastes. Les autres joueurs sont des investigateurs, cherchant à résoudre le mystère tout en luttant pour survivre et à ne pas devenir fou.
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Il a été reçu dans les temps même s'il a été envoyé 4 jours après la date dite d'envoi ce qui empêchait un suivi de colis.
Le jeu est en bon état, la boîte n'était pas sous blister et légèrement abîmée sur les coin, en revanche l'intégralité des pièces étaient sous blister, ce qui me laisse penser que le jeu était quand même neuf.
L'espagnol est une belle langue mais je n'y comprends rien...
J'éspére a l'avenir obtenir un produit égal a la déscription...
Règles en anglais mais possbilité de trouver des aides sur internet.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Here's what you should know:
This game has quite a few mechanics and rules associated with it, and mostly at least the Keeper will need to familiarize himself with them before the game (so it runs more smoothly), but it is fairly simple to play once you get the hang of it. THe learning curve isn't very high and the instructions are fairly easy to use.
The puzzles seem fairly easy, but designed to take more than one person/turn to complete and add a neat element to the game. There's also many different levels of each puzzle (progressively more difficult) but nothing that people probably couldn't figure out.
There were five of us that showed up to the game, so one of us was the keeper (myself) and two of my friends joined with a couple that also came and made up the four investigators. This is a 1 vs. 4 kind of game, as one person will always be playing the side of the monsters. Plan on several hours to play this game.
The Keeper gets cards to play all game, and then two small decks of cards to draw from during his turn. He also gets "Threat" tokens that he uses to purchase a one-time use of an ability. You get a number of threat tokens equal to the number of players to use, with several ways to score more in the game. (You can also hold over threat tokens for later). The Keeper is also in charge of an event pile that you add time tokens to, and when the number of tokens equal the number on the back of the card the event happens. The investigators need to win before the last Event card happens. In this fashion the Keeper knows everything (how many rounds the investigators have to figure things out, what the game end goals are, where all the items on the board are). THe investigators need to figure it all out without dying in the process.
Combat is done through cards, basically flipping over cards until you find the right kind of combat for both monsters and investigators. That part was kind of a downside because you'd flip a lot of cards sometimes for the right kind of combat. It kind of made me want separate decks for different kinds of combat, but that would lead to a lot of decks (when there already ARE a lot of decks). The miniatures were cool, and the inserts were a neat idea, kind of a bump up from the Arkham Horror tiles, though similar. Everything on the Investigators side is done with skill checks, much like Arkham Horror as well, but rather than rolling a d6 per skill point, you roll a d10. On a 1 you auto succeed, on a 10 you auto fail, but you want to roll under whatever your skill rating (plus or minus modifier) is. It's much more streamlined than arkham horror, and a lot less math. For Horror checks you actually gain horror tokens rather than losing sanity, and if your horror tokens equal or exceed your sanity then you go insane and bring in a new investigator.
All the old familiar investigators are back, and the game was just a lot of fun in general. We sadly didn't get to finish our full game as the couple we were playing with had to go, but we were itching to play it again as soon as we left (and actually cancelled our plans for the night so we could have a game night instead) and we plan on getting it very soon (though probably not through Amazon at this point...).
Anyway, if you love the horror theme and Call of Cthulu, don't mind spending 3-4 hours on a strategy game, and like the Gamemaster vs players kind of set up, this game is definitely for you! Heck, even if you've never played a game like this, it may be slightly confusing at first, but it really is easier than it sounds, you just have to be okay with a 3-4 hour game play. :)
Get it going, find four friends and play it! You'll understand why I enjoyed it so much.
There are five scenarios you can play, so far, but each one has three or more decisions within it that can make the scenario play very differently. Corey Konieczka (who designed my favorite board game, Battlestar Galactica) may have struck gold again. Mansions of Madness is comparably complicated to its sibling game, Arkham Horror, without being as dense and arcane for newcomers.
The plot of Mansions of Madness is this: you and your team of Investigators have to find clues by searching rooms in a spooky old house (said house created from a collection of different room/area tiles) in order to learn and then stop the "Keeper's" objective and save your own skins in the process.
The "Keeper" is one player who is responsible for all the evils on the board. The Keeper is supposed to be the most experienced player and they act as the de facto Game Master for the game. The Keeper is the one gets punished if they accidentally set the various cards up incorrectly on the board, as that can make the game unwinnable for the Investigators. But the Keeper also keeps track of the passage of time in the game and bedevils the Investigators whenever possible with Mythos cards and Trauma cards, as well as powers from the set of Keeper Action Cards available for each scenario (including summoning monsters, moving monsters, and making them attack). The Keeper gains Threat tokens each turn based on how many Investigators are in the game. The Keeper then spends Threat on most of the cards played to harm the Investigators.
There is an event based time limit to the game...each turn adds a Clock token to the event deck. When a certain number of Clock tokens are placed on the back of an event card, the event is revealed. Usually, the event deck does something nasty to the Investigators to get them to hurry up. There are tokens aplenty in Mansions of Madness. Tokens for all occasions...Clock tokens, Stun tokens, Fire tokens, Darkness tokens, Threat tokens, Damage tokens, Skill tokens, Horror tokens, and so on.
The Investigators are hindered by different puzzles and locks that they have to solve, environmental hazards, various evil cards thrown at them each turn by the Keeper, and, of course, all the monsters that the Keeper can summon. In the scenario I have just put together (#1, the easiest one), I don't think the monsters are too terrible (Zombies and Maniacs and a possible Shoggoth...okay, the Shoggoth is terrible). The scope of the game is much smaller than Arkham Horror and the combat more difficult (you get only one ten sided die as opposed to a possible plethora of six sided dice in Arkham Horror), but the stakes are just as high.
The basics are similar to Arkham Horror...Horror checks (damage to sanity from beholding monsters or eldritch secrets)...Evade checks (escaping monsters)...Fight checks (killing monsters, or vice versa)...the same Investigators (but not as many of them)...the same Monsters (but not as many of them)...you get the idea.
There are a LOT of cards in this game, just fair warning. I chose to sleeve them all, which makes stacking them a lot more difficult. But if you play Arkham Horror (or many other Euro style board games), you should be used to all that by now.
The game pieces for the Investigators are unpainted versions of those same (excellent!) Investigators that are available for Arkham Horror. The monster pieces for Mansions of Madness are unpainted as well, yet very detailed. The fact that if you want all the monsters to fit back into the box, then you have to detach them from their bases, makes for a long set-up and take-down procedure. In fact, some of the monsters don't like to be separated from their bases once they're fitted into them. And a few of the monsters won't stay attached to their bases (in my set, it's the Maniacs who are always coming loose...there's a joke in there somewhere). But with all the cards and tiles needing to be meticulously arranged before play can begin, there was never going to be a "quick" set-up procedure.
The randomized puzzles are what the game boasts as a unique feature. You have to rotate or swap or exchange randomized puzzle pieces to open locks (both magic and regular) or complete wiring puzzles or unscramble pictures. But sometimes if you have the axe, the proper key or the magic password, you can just smash (or abracadabra) your way through.
Two new wrinkles I found to be entertaining were the ability for Investigators to hide inside trunk tokens placed on the board at the beginning of the game and for the Investigators to be able to block doors with barrier tokens placed on the board at the beginning of the game. Being able to use the environment to your advantage is something I don't see very often in this type of game. Both situations--hiding and barrier--are addressed fully in the combat cards available, which is also nice.
Combat is handled by overturning cards from one of three combat decks, based on the type of monster (Human, Beast or Eldritch) the Investigator is facing. Once you get to the proper card...which can mean a lot of flipping over...the top half of the card speaks to the Investigator, depending on what weapon they have (or no weapon at all). The bottom half of the card speaks to the monster and their situation--is it a normal attack or are they smashing a barrier or trying to find a hiding Investigator? Almost all combat ends in a die roll for the Investigators. What's nice is that various abilities are tested in this regard, sometimes Marksmanship, sometimes Strength or Dexterity, and so on.
You always want to roll LOW in Mansions of Madness. It's a bit counterintuitive, I admit. Unlike most games, 1 is an automatic success and 10 is an auto-fail.
Fast forward a few days...I've now played Mansions of Madness with my friends twice. It is, indeed, a fun game. I felt that the Keeper's position was much weaker when playing against only one Investigator. But one Investigator is not likely to win the game unless they can do so by stalling until the end. Playing against three Investigators provided much more Threat for me to spend as Keeper, yet made it a lot easier for the Investigators to collaborate and succeed.
Fast forward a few more weeks...I changed my rating of the game from five stars to four based on how lame some of the more complicated scenarios are. "Classroom Curses" is kind of dull overall and has very few monsters to throw at the Investigators. And "Green Eyed Boy" is so full of errata and errors that I've had to write to FFG more than once about misprints and wrong cards. Plus, the Investigators can lose the entire scenario by blundering into the wrong room early in the game. When that happened in my game, the Investigators were quite upset. Alienating one's board gaming group is not always the best idea.
There is indeed quite a bit of errata for Mansions of Madness, even more than what is addressed in the game box itself. Accessing the Mansions of Madness web site at Fantasy Flight Games should clear up any lingering questions. I know when I played my first game that I did things wrong that the first FAQ/errata has now cleared up. And if you have questions the errata or FAQ can't solve, FFG is VERY good about answering rules questions.
I would also say that the game is MUCH better with at least two Investigators. The Keeper gets more Threat to spend and the Investiagators can team up against the inevitable monsters.
I still think Arkham Horror has the edge as being a better game than Mansions of Madness...despite Arkham Horror being one of the most complex (and sometimes frustrating and depressing) board games out there. That being said, there is a LOT of potential to Mansions of Madness. Because Arkham Horror has only grown to be what it is because of so many good expansions. I assume that Mansions of Madness will also become very much expanded (and possibly "fixed") in the future. Having played the new crop of Dungeons and Dragons board games, I will give both Mansions of Madness and Arkham Horror a clear and definitive edge over the D&D games (unless you're playing with kids...the Cthulhu Mythos universe is not for the young ones). If you enjoy being driven slowly (or not so slowly) insane and the possibility of being snacked on by a Shoggoth, you will definitely enjoy Mansions of Madness!
I've played a LOT of board games over the years and the moment I saw this game release, I've been wanting it. Badly. Little did I know that once I got my hands on it, not only would I learn to hate it (I say this with a heavy heart), but so would my entire gaming group.
The Rules: As far as FFG games go, the rules are set-up better than most, but never as clearly as they should be. There are a LOT of minute rules that get overlooked your first or second play-through, but are actually quite important to the overall playability of the game. My advice if you DO decide to buy the game is to read, re-read, and re-re-read the manual THOROUGHLY, as the rules are easy to learn, but also very easy to misinterpret. Add into this that FFG really doesn't care to bother answering any personal questions from the players through FAQ's (and people from the forums report that they do not respond to personal emails either), and you've got a lot of problems with what should be a simple game trying to tell a simple story.
Game Balance: The balance in this game is AWFUL. Out of six games, the Keeper won the game five times versus the Investigators and one game ended in a tie (to the disappointment of both sides, due to an anti-climatic and abrupt reveal of the Keeper's Objective card). But really, the Investigators didn't stand a chance in any of the games and the Keeper would typically win by a landslide. I was talking to someone else who also plays the game and he reported that he had won 44 games as the Keeper and only lost once and tied three times. This would indicate that there is something SERIOUSLY flawed with the game balance, but sadly, the producers of the game don't seem to care about "balance" at all! In the end, everyone I played the game with got incredibly frustrated about how easy it was for the Keeper to win and how easily he could decimate them and afterwards, didn't feel like playing the game ever again (this was after the repeated attempts to give it a try and even playing every scenario!). Since it has so many stellar reviews, we assumed we were doing something wrong, but we can only suppose that those people are either masochists or just didn't play enough of the scenarios to make a real decision about the game; or, we're just weird and can't take the heavy amount of non-stop abuse and obvious imbalances...
The Storyline: Some of the stories are written well and others not so much... it tries very hard to bring you into Lovecraft's mythos and sometimes it does a great job. But most of the time it just fails miserably. Additionally, sometimes the Objectives for the Keeper are so simple and anti-climatic, that they just ruin the entire game for everyone. Such as when the Keeper only has to have zombies move to an altar and sit on top of it, in a far away location, with no easy access for the Investigators, and then just wait for a couple turns before he wins. The Investigators are simply too far away to do anything about it, except throw their hands up in lament, toss their cards into the center of the table and wait for the Keeper to win. Just because he can camp a few zombies in a one-entrance room, far, far away removed from the action of the actual game...
I've purchased MANY board games and many of those are FFG games. I enjoyed Arkham Horror and Elder Signs, even so much that I bought the, "virtual board game - Elder Signs: Omens," on my cell phone. However, this game, although set in the same universe, is nothing like those games. It is very one-sided and repeatedly anti-climatic. Once the game finally does get your blood pumping and everyone begins to enjoy it, suddenly it's over because the Keeper has a trivial win condition that he has easily fulfilled. I have never, ever, EVER, sold a board game, nor have I ever wanted to. Sadly, I can no longer say this, as this game was so frustrating to everyone: Investigators who played (ranging from ages 12-50; nieces, nephews, brothers, fathers, friends, etc.), and also the Keeper, who desperately wanted everyone to enjoy this game, but really couldn't because the mechanics are so poorly designed and it kept handing him victory on a silver platter. Every. Stupid. Game. The only thing he really could have done, was to simply toss the game, but it would have been painfully obvious to everyone else that he would be doing so. Multiple people in our group who played The Keeper agree that there is definitely some innate design flaw in the game, that makes it near-impossible for the Investigators to win against an even remotely intelligent Keeper. You might get lucky your first few games (like our Investigators did), but once the Keeper gets the hang of his abilities and what he has at his disposal... well, you're about to get red bottom, S-P-A-N-K-E-D.
I'm not entirely sure why everyone seems to love this game, but having visited the FFG forums, I know I am not entirely alone in my opinion. Despite reading the rules meticulously, visiting the forums many, many times (looking for mistakes we may have been making and differing opinions), and our best, heartfelt efforts of many different players that played the game again, and again, and again... neither side could bring themselves to enjoy the game (at all!). Afterwards, it was unanimously voted that this board game be banished to the depths of the Southern Pacific Ocean and never, ever, be spoken of again (but whenever it is brought up, the simple utterance of, "Mansions of Madness," is met only with guttural groans and hands plastered over ones face, as we all attempt to hide our intensely frustrated expressions).
Sorry FFG. We're not sure what other people see in this "hot mess" of a game, but whatever it is, even the love of Lovecraftian Horror cannot redeem it... my advice? Go play Betrayal at House on the Hill if you're looking for an interesting "Haunted House" game. Or, if you're really itching for some Lovecraftian Horror, give Arkham Horror or Elder Signs a shot. But if you end up purchasing this game and your gaming group is anything like mine, you'll all regret the many hours you spend setting up this dreadful game, placing cards meticulously; only to end up hating every minute of it. But don't worry, you'll have the other hour of putting it away to bicker and gripe about it, too!
Someone made the comment that my review of each scenario (replied to someone in a comment) was more helpful than my actual review! If you're interested in seeing what I mean by "imbalances", then please read on, but beware of SPOILERS for the Scenarios!!!
Comment #1: "Interesting. You seem to have had easy "keeper" wins. I, as the game owner, have to play Keeper all the time and I've never won against four players. It's been close, but a keeper win seems harder for me than you've made it seem."
Me: Maybe you're doing something wrong?!?! Just kidding, sort of! By that I mean we had to play a lot of times and I read through the entire MoM FFG forums to make sure we were all doing everything correctly, as the rules can be very vague at times. I no longer have the board game, but if I can recall correctly, these were the major problems we encountered (this may vary slightly, depending on your storyline choices):
Scenario #5 - Green-Eyed Boy: This is the only scenario we didn't finish completely. But basically the Keeper can spawn a Witch *every Keeper* turn on *any* investigator. When it spawns, they are forced to make a sanity check. Then it gets to make an attack. Then during the Investigator's turn, the Investigator will take damage if they fail their Awareness check vs the Monster. The other option is to sit in the same space and do nothing for the entire turn, in order to prevent yourself from failing an Awareness check. However, who cares?!?! It reappears next turn 8D! No point in killing the Witch, because she disappears and reappears with full hp next turn... add in a "traitor" mechanic, and the Investigators will have a pretty tough time with this one. Not to mention, they give almost NO clarification on how the "traitor" card really works...
Scenario #4 - Classroom Curses: This is the ONLY scenario that we almost won, but we still ended it with a tie. Basically the Investigators get to almost the end of the board, only to realize that they need to run back to the entrance and escape with only a few turns to spare. If they knew what was coming, it'd be an easy win. But first time? It's tough, because you expect that your objective is "in that back room." Not to mention, the lack of monsters may make it unexciting along with only having "Darkness" to drive your players "insane". Some like this, but a lot of players don't. Not to mention the Keeper can keep using his cards and abilities to force players to move in the opposite direction that they want to (IE, Four spaces in one turn AWAY from the exit and into a handful of flying imps...). This scenario has THE highest vote on the FFG/BGG forums for being the worst scenario (public opinion), mostly due to "boring mechanics". To each their own!
Scenario #1 - Fall of House Lynch (I think?): You can spawn a Maniac on a person every turn and it only costs you 4 points. If he dies, so what? Spawn him again for four points (that is how much you get every turn, with four players!). If he is almost dead, regenerate him for 4 points! By the time you realize where you're supposed to go, you're at least a turn or two too short, because the main guy has so much dang hp and has his zombie wife and a maniac protecting him. The Keeper will run around the map waiting for the timer to go out! Not to mention, the boss has massive HP, so it's a pretty dang unlikely battle... but somewhat doable... once you know what you're doing.
Scenario #2 - I don't remember the name (but it is about cultists): You get to spawn a Cultist for one or two points (keep in mind, the Keeper gets 1 point for every Investigator every turn). By turn 2 or 3, you can have changed your cultists into TWO Shoggoths and have them rampaging around (these guys take up 4 squares and I have seen them one shot weaker characters). Keepers agree that this is fun, but really, what chance do your players have against 6+ cultists anyway, much less two Shoggoths AND 6+ cultists? You can bog them down easily. It is unanimously voted (from what I've read on forums and boardgamegeek) that this scenario is completely impossible or insanely unlikely without some work arounds.
Scenario #3 - I don't remember the name, but the one with the "half-finished house" and the dead uncle. This one is one of the more "slightly balanced" scenarios, but basically there is too much running involved. My investigators (even knowing where they needed to be) ran around burning corpses (so zombies couldn't spawn; smart on their part!), while others were using their actions for movement (running like hell, basically) and STILL could not get to the end-point in time. Add to the fact that the Keeper only needs to get 4 zombies to the 'altar' and have them sit around to win (for a mere two turns and in a very far room in a hard to get place)... makes for a pretty stupid and anti-climatic victory for the Keeper, not to mention an abundance of annoyance for the Investigators.
This is just what I experienced in my group, but I've also read that a lot of people have had similar problems. More importantly, the game gets easier for the Keeper with more Investigators. People say that "3 is the sweet spot", but really, if you play the scenarios as intended, you really don't stand a chance without knowing before-hand what the Keeper's objectives are. And honestly, if you take away the mystery and you already know what his objectives likely are, then you're taking away the mystery... so why play?
Sorry, but I may have gotten some of the scenario #'s wrong, but you should get the idea... (:
Oh and... if you're really into "modding games", then this might be a game to do it on. It MIGHT become playable, with a LOT of house-ruling. But you would need to do a lot... and a LOT of play-testing to make it fair.
***UPDATE:*** PLEASE realize that this game has been out since JUNE 2011! That makes the game and this review VERY OLD. Many people are commenting on "the rules says this," "x,y,z, card states this," etc. I HAPPILY, NO LONGER OWN THIS GAME. Please do not quibble to me about rules as there have been UPDATED EDITIONS released of this game, meaning that it is now more playable (or so people say) than it was back in 2011/2012 due to multiple errata releases. However, ultimately the game NEVER should have been released with as many game-breaking mechanics as it was. I'm glad to hear others are enjoying it, but as I said in the review, there were MANY people on FantasyFlightGame's Forums and Boardgamegeek's Forums complaining about the sheer stupidity of the written rules. I merely wanted to add my own voice to the already rampant amount of dissatisfied customers and to publish my review on Amazon. Please do not make general assumptions to the effect of, "it was just you," "you're just stupid," "you don't know how to play board games/read rules," as this was NOT the case. Upwards of FIFTY DIFFERENT subjects were posted regarding this game.
In the end, I'm glad FFG got their act together and "FIXED" this game from the literal nightmare of over-complicated rule-lawyering that it was swamped with. You're probably asking, "How much better is it now?" That's a good question and it is also one that I don't have an answer to as there is no way I would ever re-purchase this game. General consensus SEEMS to imply it is 'playable,' but given how riddled with issues it was, I doubt it will ever be perfect.
Please note, I will NO LONGER reply to any commentaries about this game. Please take this review for what it is: A review on the FIRST EDITION of the game. Who can say what it's like after multiple erratas and re-prints without dropping another $80 for a game that has infinitely superior sister-games? If you're willing to take the chance, purchase it and I ask you to post your own review of the new and revised game!
Mansions of Madness is a very thematic driven, one versus many game where one player takes the role of the Keeper and the remaining players make up the investigators. The investigator's main responsibility is to transverse and explore the mansion for clues leading to the hidden objective of the Keeper, all while the Keeper is attempting to thwart the progress of the investigators with whatever means are available. In addition to thwarting the investigators, the Keeper is working to achieve his/her hidden objective that is determined by the scenario in play. Mansions is meant for 2-5 players and takes about 2 hours to play with about 30-45 minutes of setup time, which should be done by the Keeper in advance of the investigators participation to mitigate exposing the clues and objectives.
Fantasy Flight Games is known for high quality production values in their titles and Mansions of Madness is no exception. As usual, the art is absolutely fantastic, from the modular mansion tiles to the details of the miniatures. The miniatures can be painted and there are some excellent examples and how-to's out there on Board Game Geek and on the Games Paradise Blog.
However, there are a few nagging problems with the game. First, the mansion tiles tend to warp after opening the package. This has happened to my copy and many others, but seems to decrease or disappear with time. The warping is most likely attributed to the pieces getting used to the humidity levels in the air, but it is annoying when setting up the mansion and the pieces are bowed and don't line up. Also, the warped tiles will be prone to spinning on the table during player interactions, which leads me to my next issue.
Because the game board is modular, the pieces tend to shift and rotate (especially on a smooth surface) during play. This can be distracting and take away from the overall game experience. There are ways around this, however, such as placing a rough textured textile on the table before playing. While it's not a deal breaker in any way, it can be a nuisance.
Another minor issue with the game pieces are the miniatures. They tend to fall off their bases as some of the pegs are not tight enough in the slot to hold it together. So half of the time I would grab a mini to place it on the board, the base would fall off. A solution would be to glue the figures to their bases, but that would increase the chances of the figures bending or snapping at a weak point if too much pressures occurs. Again, while a minor issue, it can be one of those little annoying things that constantly appear during play.
My final gripe with Mansions of Madness pieces is the box (well the divider more specifically). It seems like the only purpose of the divider is to get in the way when trying to pack the game up. One thing that I seem to notice in most of the games that I get is how do the pieces fit back into the box when the night of gaming is over? Mansions of Madness cannot be put back into the box without some effort required if you wish to keep the divider inside the box. I had managed to put the game back together twice with the divider, but had to detach all the figures to accomplish it. On the third attempt, I got frustrated with it and threw it away. Some gamers like to use Plano fishing tackle boxes to organize their game pieces, but for gamers like me who cannot afford that luxury, it would be nice if the publishers included dividers that were created for their game pieces in mind. Many publishers do this, but this is not the case with Mansions.
The Keeper chooses one of the five scenarios and sets up the board according to the sub-options that help drive the story and theme for that particular setup. This is what determines how the clues and items are placed throughout the board, thus giving many different options to the story and experience. Unfortunately for me, I have not been able to take the role of the investigators in my plays, so my review from this point on will be mostly focused on the game play aspects from the Keepers point of view, but I will do my best to cover both sides of the game.
From my experience thus far, the Keeper is the most important part of the game as they can make or break the experience for the other players. If you have a Keeper who enjoys toying with the investigators and does their best to immerse the players in the mysteries of the house, then most everyone will enjoy the game. However, if the Keeper wants only to prove their power and try to destroy the investigators, then it can ruin their experience. There are some checks and balances to help prevent the Keeper from having too much power, but it is possible to have a bad game from poor Keeper play. That said, if the investigators get into the suspense, horror and feel of the game, then the experience will also be heightened. It only takes one investigator to ruin the game for everyone too.
I think the Trauma and Mythos cards are a great way to mess with the investigators; I only wish there were more of them. Most of the Trauma cards I could only play on the investigators if they were at extremely low Sanity levels, which I found to be cumbersome to get them to. I would love to see some Trauma cards that the Keeper could play at higher Sanity levels that had a weaker detriment to the player, such as a -2 to the next attribute roll or something similar. I think this would help keep the investigators on their toes and add to the suspense of the game.
Another mechanic that Mansions does well are the Event cards. These really help drive the story along and occasionally require the investigators to change up their strategies. The flavor text also adds additional immersion into the theme and in conjunction with the clue cards, the story will be steadily revealed throughout the game. I find it important to make sure that the investigators read off the clue text to the other players to keep everyone involved.
Then there are the Obstacle Cards. While not a bad idea, they are just too easy and slow down the game. The puzzles don't seem to be challenging enough to provide the deterrence that they should have. I would like to see these either expanded to be a challenge to justify the time or simplified to be an attribute check to help keep a quick game flow.
Finally, there is the meat of the game: exploration. It is frequent and plentiful (too plentiful if you ask me). Having Exploration cards in every room of the house can be a bit much after playing a few times. I would like to see the purpose of some scenarios to hinder more on the different major mechanics and less on exploration. For example, make a scenario that isn't run by clues; the objective could be revealed from the start, like a group of cultists are gathered around an altar summoning a Shoggoth and the investigators need to interrupt them but have to fight through the mansion. Adding another mission type that doesn't require constant exploring would give Mansions of Madness another layer of depth which would really help make this game stand out.
Mansions of Madness is a great game with high quality production that is typical of Fantasy Flight Games. There are a few nagging issues with the game pieces which can be solved with a little bit of extra work and love. If the board warping eventually fixes itself, then this is just a temporary issue, but if they warping stays, then this is a big problem.
I have the same sentiment for the game mechanics. They are solid and make for a fun experience, but there are a few issues that could be cleared up to provide a deeper and more immersive experience. Adding more Trauma cards that can be on higher sanity levels and expanding the narrative text would be a few ways to do this. Also adding scenarios that require something more than just exploring for clue cards would help add depth to the title.
With Mansions of Madness, Fantasy Flight has produced yet another quality title and there is plenty of opportunity to expand and refine the mechanics through expansions. If you enjoy the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos or enjoy a highly thematic style game, then Mansions of Madness would be a worthwhile purchase. If you are still on the fence about purchasing it, then I would suggest that you find a way to try it out with some friends. I am enjoying playing it with new friends as the initial intrigue makes for a great play experience. I give Mansions of Madness a 4 out of 5 and with a little bit of expanding, this game could be a favorite for me.