Sometimes I get the impression that the Cthulhu universe created by Howard Lovefraft is much more popular than his books in this universe. If you like Cthulhu Mythos stories, puzzles, mysteries, and good old-fashioned dungeons, then the Mansions of Madness board game is definitely worth a look. Second edition.” Moreover, since its release it has acquired a huge army of fans and regularly finds itself in various top board games.
Well, in 2019, the Hobby World company began publishing it in Russian.
What’s in the box?
The contents of the weighty box are pleasing in variety and quantity. Inside we find:
- 24 field fragments.
- 8 plastic figures and detective cards.
- 40 common item cards.
- 22 unique item cards.
- 30 spell cards.
- 37 state cards.
- 40 damage cards.
- 40 horror cards.
- 24 plastic monster figures and tokens.
- 16 search/interaction tokens.
- 16 research/survey tokens.
- 22 character tokens.
- 4 barricade tokens.
- 4 secret passage tokens.
- 18 fire/dark tokens.
- 8 wall tokens.
- 4 door tokens.
- 26 evidence tokens.
- 6 identification tokens.
- 5 cubes.
- Rules of the game.
Weight with packaging – 2.56 kg. In general, you are immediately imbued with respect.
What is this game?
“Mansions of Madness. Second Edition” (hereinafter I will simply write “Mansions of Madness”) is a board game with a mobile application, designed for both a group of up to five participants and one player. The average time for one session is two to three hours, so try to clear it in your schedule in advance.
This is a unique journey into the world of horror and mysterious dungeons, which focuses on finding clues, solving puzzles, and sometimes fighting monsters from mythology.
Mansions of Madness is based on the Arkham Files universe (not to be confused with the DC Comics) created by Fantasy Flight. The game offers a number of scenarios, but each of them is completely independent and there is no through-line storyline.
Most of the events take place in the mansion, which justifies the name of the board game. Players are given a brief introduction to the story and then are placed in a room. From there, you’ll explore and interact with the game’s various aspects and mechanics to determine your final goal and try to achieve it before everyone either dies or goes crazy. Lovecraft doesn’t have it any other way.
While the first edition used one player as the Guardian to manage puzzles, enemies, and the unfolding narrative, the second edition replaces that person with a digital app. It facilitates the player’s actions, provides descriptions of objects, events and points of interest, conducts conversations with non-player characters and helps in combat.
As the game progresses, you’ll explore the mansion, unlocking new tiles, developing the story, characters, and finding items by searching crates or interacting with non-player characters. In addition, you will have to solve puzzles, fight monsters and roll a lot of dice. Ultimately, players will have to get to the bottom of the mystery to figure out what the problem is, find a way to solve it, and then complete the necessary tasks. During the game, your heroes inevitably suffer both physical and mental injuries, which sadly ultimately leads to tragic consequences.
Victory is counted if the scenario is completed, and in the application you can read the epilogue of the story. The death of players or insanity, as well as certain events, lead to defeat.
How is it played?
Each investigator specializes in different characteristics and abilities, and begins the game with a certain amount of equipment, spells, and hint tokens.
A normal round begins with the investigator phase. Heroes will have two actions from the list; move, explore, search, interact, attack, or perform component actions. The majority of your time will be spent moving around, finding and interacting with points of interest, allowing you to continue the story and ultimately find your way to victory. All interactions and exploration are done through the app: whether you’re clicking on interaction tokens or exploring new rooms, the app will tell you what you’re exploring or tell you which tiles and tokens to place in the play area.
During the process, investigators will make checks using special octagonal dice included with the game. Each test you take during exploration will require you to score a certain number of successes, with some tests being cumulative for each action taken towards it.
Once all players have completed their chosen two actions, the game enters the Myths phase.
During the Myth stage, the game makes your life miserable. It all starts with an event, usually dedicated to a specific room or investigator. Once it is completed, monsters and cultists will probably appear and start moving and attacking. The end of the Myths phase ends with terror checks for those who are close enough to enemies that their sanity must be checked.
When your health reaches zero, you receive an injury card. If your Sanity reaches zero, you gain the Insanity condition. The difference is that madness cards have alternate win conditions for the specific player. Sometimes this could be setting fire to all the squares or removing all the tokens from the board. It might even help sabotage other players, ensuring the monsters win. On the second loss of Sanity or Health, the investigator is eliminated, giving the remaining players one turn to win or lose.
Over time, it will become clear what the players need to win. By the time this happens, the board is usually filled with enemies and grows exponentially, pushing the investigators’ resources to the limit.
If you love dungeon crawls filled with puzzles and rich storytelling, then Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is definitely for you. The scenarios are the strongest part of the game. In the basic version, you have four available, but if you wish, you can purchase add-ons and expand your collection of stories. And because the app randomizes scenario layouts, monsters, and tokens, this game has a ton of replayability.
The main thing is don’t go crazy!
And we express our gratitude to Hobby World for providing the game for review. You can purchase it at the Hobby Games store.