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How To Play Mansion of Madness 2nd Edition


How to play

Mansion of Madness has a novel way to ensure players don't have to spend too much time reading instructions and can spend more time playing. Utilizing an app that can be downloaded to a tablet or phone that will guide you through the different game scenarios, you can jump into the game with minimal effort. There are some things that players do need to know before starting, however.

Each character has different statistics and special effects that give them a unique style of play. The character's card will tell you the numerical value of each statistic, which tells you how many dice you will be rolling for the skill checks that will take place. They will also have a physical and mental health statistic that will be used to determine the amount of physical and mental damage you can take before becoming wounded/insane, or eventually dead. Damage comes in two different types, face down and face up. Face down damage can be removed in various ways, such as items or abilities, however, face up cannot and can also come with additional effects that may make the game more challenging. Players that accumulate too much Physical damage become wounded and have their ability to move hampered. Mental damage is very interesting though, as someone who takes too much mental damage will be required to draw a card that will add objectives that the player needs to complete for them to obtain victory. In a game that is already challenging, this mechanic can easily lead to your demise.

Once you have an understanding of your chosen character, take the miniature and boot up the app. You can choose the scenario that you wish to play and begin the game. The app will read an opening that will give you some information about the scenario and potentially some close as to what has been happening, before listing some starting items you and your fellow investigators can share amongst yourselves. The app will then show you how to set up the board and which tiles and tokens you will need as well as where to place them. Once this is all complete you are ready to start!

The game is set up into different phases. Firstly, will be the investigator phase, in which each investigator (player) will be able to complete 2 actions including moving, attacking,

looking at token or even talking to npcs. Investigators can go in any other they choose and complete their actions before moving to the next. The great thing about this game is that most of the actions have an interaction with the app. Are you checking a stack of paper? Click on them on the app and it will tell you what you find and items you receive. Talking to an NPC? The app will tell you what they said and even give you the opportunity to ask questions and have conversations with them. The app does all the heavy lifting and acts almost like a GM in a dungeons and dragons' game, making attacks against monsters, communicating with NPCs and even interactions seem unique and giving a variety in the game play. After the investigators have taken their turn, it is now the turn of the monsters. The app will tell you how the monsters behave so that they are not always attaching the closest person or having an easily predictable pattern that the investigators can exploit. When the monster phase has concluded the final phase will require those who are within range of a monster to make a mental check to see if the monster has caused them to take mental damage. This phase sounds quick and easy and essentially is but later I will get into why I think this is the most interesting part of the game.

How does it play

The aesthetic of Mansion of Madness is excellent and obviously straight from the pages of Lovecraftian horror. The monsters and their miniatures look excellent and very imposing when compared to the miniatures of the investigators. This adds to the atmosphere of despair and plays very well with the horror mechanic, which i must say is my favorite aspect of the game. When a player goes insane, they draw a card with an additional objective and must complete this to win. They cannot inform other players what this is adding to the confusion of everyone else, but the greatest strength of this occurrence is the variety of objectives that could be drawn. Whereas a lot of games like this would pitch the unfortunate investigator against everyone else, Mansions of Madness takes a different approach, adding weird and wonderful objectives such as investigating all remaining clues on the board. This unique form of the mechanic allows other investigators to even help... if you can figure out what needs to be done.

The app is excellent, and i have not played any other game that utilizes anything like this, this well. It's practically acts as the antagonist for the game, deciding what the monsters do and the different events that take place in the scenario. It will walk you through the set up and read out to you the background of the mission before you start, adding to the eerie atmosphere of the game itself. The music it plays can be turned off if you wish, but we found it added so much to the game that this would be a travesty. Clues you find and people you talk to are all done through the app which will store important information and even provide you with puzzles. Yes, the app has puzzles on it. Puzzles you will have to complete if you want to unravel the mysteries of the Mansion.

It all sounds very simple, find a clue, solve a puzzle and use the information gathered to win, right? Well, you only have 2 actions per investigator and when these are completed it's now the app's turn. This almost turns the app into the antagonist of the game, like some greater daemon working against you to bring about the resurrection of some eldritch horror. I cannot overstate how good the app makes this game and the unique aspects it brings, but it isn't perfect. As you do not set up the entire board you will have to discover rooms as you move through the house, and the app will take you on a leisurely stroll to tell you which tile you need and where all the tokens need to be placed. This is not a problem with smaller rooms but can take a minute on larger areas and will break the tension as it slowly moves from place to place showing the different tokens required and where to put them.

As an investigator you will find every action you take matters, because as the game progresses, it becomes more and more difficult. This action economy means that teamwork is essential to accomplish as much as possible during the investigators turn and leans very well into the different abilities of each character. Some are smarter, others are physically strong and then some have good physical and mental fortitude. Making the characters work in such a way means that everyone who plays feels like they are making a sizable contribution to the objective. One investigator may be cracking a safe, while their companion is stopping an army of cultists at the door, both taking vital roles within the team to aid in the discovery of what has happened in the Mansion.

My thoughts

Mansions of Madness is an incredible game for anyone who likes horror-based tabletop, but a must have for anyone who enjoys HP Lovecraft. It is reasonably quick to understand as most of the heavy lifting is completed by the app, and the way the game plays itself is solid. You could read the instructions and have a game set up and ready to go within 15/20 minutes the first time you play, which is considerably quicker than other larger games. The miniatures do not appear cheap and are incredibly well made, the plastic does not seem to be your typical tabletop war gaming type and is very sturdy. All the tokens and tiles are made of card, but again are made to a high standard, not one piece has ripped, broken or started to fray in the roughly 4 years I have owned this game. The game can be played solo and is still enjoyable however, you will find like with most games like this it is a lot more fun with friends.

Some negatives that I feel I must point out though start with the price. It can cost in excess of £100 and although I do not regret this at all, it can be a problem for those on a budget. That being said if you are on the fence about this one and it is on offer, take the plunge, you will not regret it either. Also the app. I have praised the app a lot and it is incredible, giving you something to play against and often feeling like it is the evil force you are fighting against. You cannot play the game without the app and we did try in on a sizeable mobile phone to see how it was but found this almost unplayable. A tablet is needed to use the app and without it you may find the game very frustrating. There are also a finite number of scenarios. Honestly this is not a huge problem as some of them are lengthy so can be played across multiple session with the game progress saved in the app, but eventually you will find yourself having to replay old scenarios unless you purchase one of the other Mansion of Madness games or expansions