Friday, June 23, 2017

Mansions of Madness 1st edition. Ugh!

We were invited by the library game guy to try out the 1st edition of mansions of Madness from the Fantasy Flight people.  I knew going in that there would be a lot of rules, wonky dice and tiny cards to be handed out to players. You know all the Fantasy Flight staples. My lady has been looking at this game for some time and I have always sort of dodged the issue. 


  • Well first it is an expensive game.
  • Second, it is in its 2nd Edition now, so why bother buying the 1st Edition?
  • Third, there look to be a lot of moving pieces and tokens. We have that already in spades with Shadows of Brimstone.
  • Fourth, we have so many games already. Do we need to add another big game to the mix?
  • Fifth, we have Betrayal at house on the Hill. This should scratch the itch for playing a sweeping house exploration game that has a lot of cards and tokens.
  • Sixth, I don’t want to invest the money of time into this game without a play first. Well this was the only point she heard and we were about to get a chance to play Mansions of Madness.

General point of the game….
This is set in a Lovecraftian universe and based off the Arkham Horror game, or maybe it is the other way around? It looks like every game players are tasked with dealing with unnamed horrors from beyond and a creepy house that they dwell within.
Players choose one of multiple characters. These all have various stats, abilities and seem to fill various archetypes (ranged fighter, melee fighter, mage, jack o’ all, and intellect / skill guy). The characters are tasked with exploring a creepy mansion to discover its secrets. These characters can do multiple “actions” per turn but it mostly seems to be walking, searching and jumping at shadows. Well until there is someone/thing to fight.
The point of the mansion search is pulled from a book of missions. We played the first mission and that was to figure out what happened to the owner and his dying wife.
The mansion is built using tiles (much like a few games we play, so in our wheel house). We choose a character that has various random stats in various attributes, a set of special abilities, some random gear, an amount of health and sanity. I chose the old man who is the smarty pants and “wizard” of our group. The other players nab the “fighters” one being punchy and one being shooty. My lady grabs some woman who is the “scientist” of our group. We then head into the creepy old house……
…..and promptly split the party and then proceed to shit the bed!

Damn fuzzy pic, but you get the idea of what the mansion tiles setup looks like.
You see this game requires a person to run the game. He is charge of making creepy stuff happen and runs the monsters. He also makes the game im-fraking-possible. Every turn we were facing some insane guy who was trying to kill us. Eventually we put him down, only for him to come back a turn later to terrorize us. There was a zombie whom was on fire who kept setting the house aflame. So we had to try and deal with the fire and the fiery zombie as well. That was ridiculous! Plus add in the hauntings and grisly events every turn that whittled away our making each turn more difficult than the last. Then there were puzzles to solve to unlock rooms, turn on the power or to open containers.

I loathe puzzles!
                                                                                                                                                      Basically this game went from turn one exploration to every turn horrible stuff happening and there was nothing we could do about it. I had one spell to use and of course I failed the roll and then lost the spell. So...I ‘m an old man in a house facing off against an unkillable, but( sometimes )killable, lunatic with nothing to fight it with and trying to solve a mystery too. The mansion is on fire. I have a broken arm, so fighting is even harder for my character. The power goes off, making it even harder. This guy won’t stay dead. A fiery zombie and the loony guy finish off my old man. The rest of the party wanders around trying to solve puzzles and find clues. I died in the cellar trying to stop a ritual from occurring.  A Shoggoth arises and decides to just wander through the house and ignore anyone and everyone in its path. A turn later the game ends as the house collapses in on itself much like the end of Poltergeist.
I'm fighting some crazy axe wielding goon.

I was dead. The wife had gone insane. The melee guy never got to melee the monsters. The shooty guy was at least trying to shoot the big squid monster, but couldn’t kill it. All this is happening while in the dark and dodging a burning mansion.

The sad part is that we won the game. What? How?

I guess the game stipulation was that if the Shoggoth was kept from getting outside. The game was a set number of turns before the house disappeared into the warp. We were supposed to discover the how and why of what was going on and stop the ritual to summon the Shoggoth. Somehow this was to be achieved in like four turns before the fire zombie made it to the cellar to hug something and summon a squid monster? I really have no idea what that was all about, but we didn’t find (recover from puzzle locked objects) the information we needed to decipher all this.

Look! I'm fighting this guy a second time!
Why? How?
I killed him before, barley....

Did we know this? Nope.
Did we know how man turns we had? Nope.
Did I have fun? Nope!

Mansion of Madness…..I hate this game!

We never had a chance since every single turn something terrible happens to some or all of us. It was beyond challenging it was impossible. I have played and spoke of uphill style games before. I am fine with those. Mansions of Madness is beyond uphill. It is up a muddy hill, during a torrential rain storm, while boulders are rolling down at you, at night while solving a puzzle with one arm tied behind your back; type of game. It was unrelentingly difficult as every turn more crap was piled on us and we never had a real chance to deal with it or catch our breath. If that is how this game is run every time, then I will happily never play it again.
Shoot the fire zombie.... it doesn't die?
Run away!

What else……
Man I had so much not fun playing this game. The constant feel of,  “You did what? Well no you didn’t! This horrid event happened instead. “ is awful.
There is a need to both stay as a team to face beasties with any hope of killing them, but you need to explore solo to cover more ground faster. How do you do that?
Did I mention my hate for puzzles?
I know the game is called Mansions of Madness, but getting mad and frustrated at the game play is probably not what the title is supposed to be describing.
Having an unknown amount of time to win the game is a pretty cool gimmick. 
It is also from Fantasy Flight which means a ludicrous amount of tiny cards and tokens. Ugh! Too many moving pieces to deal with.
The models are better than average for a board game.
At least we used normal dice and not D12’s with wonky symbols or some nonsense like that.
Way too much set-up to play and tear down when compared to actual time playing the game.

Mansions of Madness…..
Maybe it would be fun if you are a sadist and are running the scenario? That or you are a masochist and the idea of a good in game beating sounds delightful?
It really felt like D&D on hardcore mode. The type of game where the DM is just trying to get a complete party kill and everyone is fine with that type of game. Well everyone but me. I guess I am from a different world of gaming. Games like this  (and RPG’s) it is stupid easy to kill a party. It is difficult to keep them alive and challenged.
It is also 1st edition and a 2nd is out which might be better? Right?
Yeah I doubt it too.


  1. 2nd Edition is superior to 1st in that the DM function is run with an app. So it's a co-op for everyone and a lot of the fiddly stuff is handled by the app. I really have no idea why you would play 1st. The game hasn't really changed though. Either you like a challenging mystery/puzzle game or you don't. This game has been a big hit with my gaming group. To each his own.

  2. We played 1st edition because we were invited too, and the lady was interested in the game. We know 2nd is out, but she wanted to get a feel for the game before even if it was a previous edition.

    Not sure if we will go near 2nd edition......