Horrific monsters and spectral presences lurk in manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. Some spin dark conspiracies while others wait for hapless victims to devour or drive insane. It’s up to a handful of brave investigators to explore these cursed places and uncover the truth about the living nightmares within.
Mansions of Madness, the long-awaited new Fantasy Flight Games boardgame of horror, insanity and mystery based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, is now available for pre-ordering! It shouldn’t be long now before this much-anticipated adventure game hits our shores. So what’s it all about, and why should you get a copy in your tentacles as soon as possible?
If you love creating a story as you play a boardgame, if you enjoy the Arkham Horror boardgame, if you’re a fan of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft—Mansions of Madness is the game for you. It would seemFantasy Flight Games created it with the express purpose of making a game as closely based on the unique atmosphere on Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos as possible. Arkham Horror is a great favourite of gamers worldwide, but it’s generally accepted that it doesn’t quite capture the feel of Lovecraft’s work—there’s a big emphasis on combat, for example, and not as much on stories of investigation and creeping horror.
So exceptional FFG game designer Corey Konieczka, creator of such modern boardgame classics as Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, Starcraft and Tide of Iron, has risen to the challenge. Mansions of Madness is unabashedly a game that is all about an immersive story and atmosphere.
One of the players is the Keeper, a sort of roleplaying Gamemaster who controls the story; the other players are investigators (you’ll recognise come of the characters from Arkham Horror) trying to solve the scenario. Different Objective cards, different scenarios, and unique board tile setups, mean there is a huge amount of replayability.
Players choose from eight investigators in their attempt to oppose the Keeper player and stop him from completing his story objective. The gameplay is modified depending on the number of investigators, so the game scales well from 2-5 players. Investigators have three stats on their card: Health (how much damage he or she can take before being killed), Sanity (how much horror he or she can witness before going insane), and a starting number of Skill Points. Seven other attributes—Strength, Marksmanship, Dexterity, Intellect, Willpower, Lore and Luck are chosen by choosing from the investigator’s Trait cards, which also detail various special abilities. These attributes will be used during the game when you are asked to perform an attribute test, and you can spend Skill Point tokens to improve your chances of succeeding.
During each turn, an investigator may take two Movement steps and one Action step. You may have to unlock doors that the Keeper has placed in your way, and explore room locations in an attempt to discover items, spells, and most importantly, clues. When you explore, all the cards in the room are flipped over and resolved one at a time.
Clues are placed around the game board by the Keeper at the start of the game, and guide the players towards their ultimate objective; each clue leading them to the next, following the narrative thread and slowly building up to the game’s climax—which may or may not be combat-focused, depending on the scenario.
On the Keeper’s turn, the Keeper player stocks up on Threat tokens, which he can later spend to activate Keeper Action cards to play all kinds of nasty tricks on the investigator players. Some cards allow him to draw Mythos and Trauma cards, and some allow him to add Minions and environmental effects to the game. The Keeper receives a set number of scenario-appropriate Action cards, and he can spend Threat to activate them over and over during the game. Similarly, the story dictates the Mythos cards that are available; these are played during the investigator’s turn but must be discarded once played.
The Keeper also has an Event deck which acts as a ‘timer’ for the scenario; as cards are flipped from this deck the plot thickens and things may get more and more difficult for the investigators.
If an investigator is occupying a space with a monster in it during the Keeper’s turn, it may attack! Combat is dangerous and sometimes unavoidable, but luckily investigators can use the surrounding environment to barricade doors against opponents, or possibly hide and avoid conflict altogether. Of course, monsters can also drain your Sanity, and if you fail a Horror check you lose 1 Sanity and may become a target for the Keeper’s Trauma cards!
If you fail to evade a monster, there’s always the deadly option of engaging it in combat! Monsters are divided into the Beast, Eldritch and Humanoid categories, each of which has a specific Combat card deck. Combined with dice rolls, these cards give an exciting narritive feel to combat, describing in detail what happens when a monster is attacking or being attacked.
But wait, there’s even more to the Mansion of Madness experience. There’s also an ingenious and original system of representing ‘intellectual challenges’, in the form of puzzle tiles. The investigator receives a number of actions equal to his Intellect attribute to swap, rotate or discard pieces in order to solve an actual puzzle—rewiring a circuit, or picking a lock, for example.
Of course, this is a Fantasy Flight game, so the components are top-notch. There are 24 highly detailed monster figures and 8 investigator figures, over 300 cards, over 200 tokens, and nearly 70 puzzle tiles, not to mention 15 beautifully illustrated map tiles that make up the playing area.
I don’t know about you, but this awesome mixture of rich narrative, exciting combat, investiagtion and immersive theme is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for in a boardgame. Since I’m a long-time fan of H. P. Lovecraft as well, Mansions of Madness is a definite purchase for me. And i’m guessing that it’s the kind of the game that, like Arkham Horror, is just perfect for lots of exciting expansion material in future as well.
Visit the pre-order link and reserve your copy of this fantastic new game from Fantasy Flight right now! See you in the mansion—sanity intact, I hope …