Mansions of Madness has been one of my favorite games since we got it, sometime around 2013. It’s one we break out again and again, and though we rarely win, it’s replayability makes it worth it. In this post, I’ll be talking about version 1 (without app), and V2, with app.
Much like Arkham Horror, the blogging team has played multiple versions, though the differences between the versions are mostly the app.
So, as I said, we’ve been playing since 2013, and this was one of the biggest maps we set up (the image above was taken late 2013). This is the Ithiqua scenario, which is the one I ended the world (oops) was the culmination of many months of playing easier scenarios and just going for it. We did get the warning, and I still triggered the end of the game. But as you can see, this is actually quite a bit of the way through – Version 1’s main drawback, for me, was the amount of setup. You had to lay out the whole map, then set up all the cards, which meant players with a bit of experience *could* metagame.
One person played the GM, and was ostensably either neutral or against the players. Everyone else completed puzzles (you can see them as circles and the other piles next to it in the picture), unlocking things, finding items that allowed them to pass barriers and generally running around fighting stuff.
What I loved about it – immersive doesn’t cover it! Not only are you up against a clock, but the GM is well aware of everything that you could do to lose, or win. It can make for an interesting dynamic at the table, but it also gives you a lot of fun if you’re the GM, because we used to let whomever was running ‘mess with the players’. We do that with a lot of our games actually.
Another thing I loved about it was that we can play with just two players – one GM, one player. Made for much harder scenarios, but it could be done.
The biggest difference in version 2 is of course, the app. Which instantly improved on the gameplay for us, as both of us can play against the app, making Mansions of Madness more enjoyable. It also brings out the unpredictability element of the game, which can be good…and bad. It’s good because the map isn’t set up all at once, and you don’t need to use nearly as many cards, but it’s bad because you don’t know how big the map will be (though, it does give you a list of tiles so you can sort of guess). All puzzles are generated in app too, so it’s possible they’re randomised slightly better, though to be honest I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.
Version 2 lets you add all games you already have, unlocking the scenarios, and letting you see the games you can play (much like X-Com and Descent, which we also have), and choose scenarios based on basic sorting needs.
And while we’ve played, I’ve found that most of the things that made it annoying to play have been removed by the app – no setting up huge maps and people charging in and destroying the whole setup, and the need for the huge amount of space for the extras around the game, such as the puzzles. And playing against the AI, honestly, has been some of the most fun we’ve had in a long time.
We did die both times though. Back to trying to get an Old One…