As many of you will have seen, Mansions of Madness was recently my Game of the Month. The theme, the mechanics, the inclusion of a companion app and the multiple scenarios that can be played really make this game stand out and makes it one of my favourite games to play to date!
Naturally then, I started to explore the various expansions available for the game. So far, there are five expansions on offer, all adding new elements to the game and unlocking new scenarios, characters, monsters and play areas.
The biggest expansion to date is Streets of Arkham, an add-on that provides the player with three new scenarios, four new investigators, a stack of new map tiles, various damage, horror item and spell cards and, of course, four new monsters, three of which have two new models and one single copy of the large monster. The expansion also adds new elements to the game, those being enhancements, allowing the players to “upgrade” their skills either through items or elixirs, an interesting concept to add to an ever growing game.
Playing Streets of Arkham
One of the first things I noticed about Streets of Arkham was the quality of the miniatures in this expansion. One of my biggest disappointments with Mansions is the noticeably low quality of the miniatures in the base game. There was not much detail on them, most had to be touched up with seal lines and burrs having to be removed and perhaps most frustrating of all, the miniatures would not stay in the bases!! In this expansion however, it would appear Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) have listened to their community! The quality is miles better, with the miniatures much more detailed and they will stay in the bases, a welcome change!
As mentioned, the expansion allows the player to access three new scenarios from the app (this is really simple to do! You just go into the settings and activate the expansions and it unlocks the stories). FFG have definitely tried to add a variety with the new scenarios, each story using a different theme and game type to keep its players happy.
Astral Alchemy finds investigators heading to Miskatonic University where some strange events have led to you being summoned to investigate further. You are tasked with finding out whom or what has been causing problems at the university, while also assisting a professor to create “a cure” for the recent “invasion”. The scenario leans heavily towards being a treasure hunt, but a time limit and various obstacles which attempt to halt your progress mean you are always kept on your toes.
Having played this scenario twice, I would say this is my least favourite one out of the three but still a great scenario. Both play-throughs saw different map layouts and a few decisions were made differently leading to alternate outcomes, adding to its replay-ability. Overall, this is a great scenario and one that should definitely provide players with hours of game time.
The second scenario unlocked is Gangs of Arkham, a scenario that has investigators exploring the streets of Arkham looking for clues and evidence that would link a person or “thing” to recent gruesome deaths. Investigators must speak to various suspects and witnesses while also trying to deal with a turf war raging between two gangs within Arkham. While this scenario is something slightly different to the standard ones from the base game (Rising Tide did spring to mind while playing this), it really wasn’t my cup of tea. Although it plays well, I just couldn’t get into the scenario as I have done with others. It definitely wasn’t boring, but I think it dragged slightly with nothing major happening until the very end and I think our concentration was lost by that point.
Finally, Ill-Fated Exhibit is the third scenario included with the expansion. This puzzle-heavy scenario tasks investigators with exploring and identifying which exhibit in the museum has been cursed and caused the deaths of various patrons. The scenario is unique to all the others we had come across and relies heavily on players solving puzzles and piecing together bits of information gathered throughout the museum.
This scenario is so reliant on information-gathering that it even suggests players make notes throughout, advice that we soon found out was very helpful! The reliance on the puzzle elements really had our group working together and although it was fairly trying, piecing everything together, it was rewarding getting to the bottom of the mystery. This is definitely a unique scenario and one that will please those who love a good puzzle mystery.
The four new investigators also add a fair amount to this already great game. Each offer unique abilities, from reducing horror inflicted upon them to being able to cast spells for free. A noticeably powerful ability is that of Tommy Muldoon and his starting item “Becky,” a firearm with an attack rating of four but also has the added benefit of allowing the player to re-roll a dice on ANY test. This is a great ability as not only do you start with a powerful firearm (which is sure to help deal with any early monsters quickly) but you also have the added benefit of creating a stronger roll. Pair this with his strong stats and you have a very powerful asset! I may have relied on Tommy Muldoon heavily throughout my play-throughs but he is definitely a go-to for any group!
Finally, improvements; a new element added by Streets of Arkham is the ability for investigators to “upgrade” their stats through the use of elixirs, items or certain effects throughout the game. This gives players more scope to complete tougher puzzles and to allow them to take on enemies they may sometimes try to evade. This is a nice little feature that will add even more to player’s ability.
Final Thoughts on Streets of Arkham
Overall, Streets of Arkham is an expansion that not only adds to the great base game already available but also tries to incorporate new ideas and themes. The quality of the miniatures is greatly improved and the scenarios add a great deal of replay-ability to the game. The new tiles have some fantastic artwork, as do the character cards and the addition of the improvements makes the game that little bit more interesting.
Perhaps my only gripe of the expansion is the loss of the original “voice” from the introduction and finale scenes! The deep, spine-tingling, often unnerving voice has been replaced with another and it just doesn’t have the same feel as before. A minor element I know, but one I feel should not have been changed and it may not have been changed by choice! Either way, let’s hope that original “voice” returns!
All in all, the Streets of Arkham Expansion is a great addition to the game and one that will definitely get Mansions of Madness back on the game table!