March’s theme is horror houses and I finally get to talk about my all time favorite board game. The one, the only Mansions of Madness.
The set-up is you play as one of the investigators from the Arkham Horror universe or as the Keeper, who controls the eldritch forces trying to stop you. You’ll explore mysterious locations from mad scientist labs to mysterious, foreboding… um, mansions as you rush to solve mysteries of cosmic proportions.
As the player, you move from room to room, exploring, finding items, falling into traps, and uncovering clues. The more clues you find, the closer the player gets to uncovering The Keeper’s plan—and finding a way to stop him.
The person playing The Keeper must use all the eldritch magic, monsters, and mind shattering attacks at his disposal to drive the investigators insane before they uncover the truth.
Mansions of Madness is everything I want in a game. It’s thematic, oozing with atmosphere, and one of the easiest games for the player to pick up (if they’re an Investigator). If you want a more complex Clue, then this is your jam.
But its all dependent on your Keeper.
Each story in the game comes with a chart that tells the Keeper what cards go in what room. While this allows for a tight game… it also means the set up can take up to 2 hours. For me, it takes a week, because I want to figure out how the Keeper’s ability interact with the story for an even smoother experience.
Now the game has a ton of problems. Unless you have The Call of The Wild expansion, the Keeper is completely overpowered. The Investigators have a 85% chance of loosing even if the Keeper doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. Some of the stories are mechanically broken. The expansion Forbidden Alchemy is confusingly written and wouldn’t know balance if balance was a 2×4 hitting it in the head.
There is nothing in all of gaming as breath taking as Mansions Of Madness. It’s as close as you can to being in a Lovecraft story.
And that makes the game worth it—in spite of all it’s faults.