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Tag: Mansions of Madness

Mice and Munchkin

Pseudo Role-playing Games are in fashion this November with restocks of old favourites and the gleam of the new.

 

What’s New ?
Mice and Mystics is a hotly anticipated title. This one mixes the goodness of fun role play with rodents and dungeon crawl experience. We all know Plaid Hat’s penchant for quality so this title is sure to make waves.Straight from HBO we have Spartacus – Blood in the Sand. Strangely this is an indepth strategy game despite the frontage of a cheap tie in. It seems people are realizing that television IP’s mixed with a good game really delivers to the audience; GameofThrones *cough*.
Tsuro of the Seas and new Mansions of Madness Expansions are in stock as well.

What’s Restocked?

Munchkin Deluxe is back in stock. Be sure to pick them up because they run out of stock fast.

Magic the Gathering Archenemy is back in stock in VERY limited quantity. Be sure to bring your best bond villain voice with your copy of Archenemy. Never have said the word DOOM so many times as in an Archenemy game.

Finally Sentinels of the Multiverse, Virgin Queen and Space Empires 4x is back instock for all the people who missed out.

A Very Gamey Halloween!

Halloween

If there’s one night of the year that’s perfect for getting friends and family together to play boardgames, it’s Halloween night! Boardgames are perfect for horror and supernatural themes, and there’s monsters and zombies galore out there if you like a few chills with your gaming. Prepare yourself, and together we’ll investigate a few …

Elder SignWhen it comes to horror on Halloween, Fantasy Flight Games has it covered. Of course there are the old classics Fury of Dracula and Arkham Horror, but the latest addition to the horror boardgaming pantheon is Elder Sign, and it’s perfect for fun, fast halloween dice-rolling fun! Elder Sign is a cooperative dice game of supernatural intrigue for 1-8 players by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson, the designers of Arkham Horror. Players take the roles of investigators racing against time to stave off the imminent return of the Ancient One. Armed with tools, allies, and occult knowledge, investigators must put their sanity and stamina to the test as they adventure to locate Elder Signs, the eldritch symbols used to seal away the Ancient Ones and win the game.

If you like Arkham Horror you’ll love Mansions of Madness, a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for 2-5 players. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find, and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact. If you feel like re-enacting an H. P. Lovecraft story on Halloween with some friends, this is the game for you. Comes with 32 detailed plastic miniatures of the investigators and the horrors that await them (check out our painting guide).

The stars are right, and terrors from beyond space and time or breaking through… when Cthulhu rises, we’re all doomed… but whose downfall will be the most entertaining? In Atlas Games’s Cthulhu Gloom you control the fate of your Lovecraftian protagonists, guiding them down a path of horror and madness to an untimely death. Meanwhile, you’ll play positive cards on your opponents to keep them happy, healthy and annoying alive. The transparent cards reveal or obscure the effects of cards below, and the totals showing through determine your score. When one group finally falls prey to the interdimensional doom that awaits us all, whoever has suffered the most terrifying tale wins! The Cthulhu mythos is a perfect fit for the hilariously dark card game of Gloom, a game that brings new meaning to the description ‘dark humour’. This new standalone version of Gloom features Transformation cards that mutate a character for the remainder of the game, no matter which modifiers might come its way later; and what’s more, the character’s image is replaced with ‘something hideous and slimy’. Perfect for Halloween!

Betrayal at House on the HillAnother Halloween classic is Betrayal at House on the Hill, and the second edition is here from Wizards of the Coast. The creak of footsteps on the stairs, the smell of something foul and dead, the feel of something crawling down your back – this and more can be found in the exciting refresh of this Avalon Hill favorite. This fun and suspenseful game is a new experience almost every time you play—you and your friends explore ‘that creepy old place on the hill’ until enough mystic misadventures happen that one of the players turns on all of the others! Multiple scenarios and a different layout for every game cover just about every B-movie horror situation you can imagine—and then some! Hours of fun and chills for all your friends and family, and the ideal laugh-out-loud game for Halloween.

In Eaten By Zombies!, the brand new deck-building game direct from Essen, players strive to survive as the horde of the living dead make it their goal to force you to join the crowd. You must work with or against the other survivors to be the last one standing. No… not standing, cowering in the corner crying for their mommy.

This well-reviewed game is a combination of card drafting, hand management and survival horror with a few dirty tricks and a healthy dollop of dark humour thrown in. With a set of over thirty different cards to start with, no two games will ever be alike. Every turn you must venture out from your safe house and scavenge for Swag. But not so fast, because the undead have other plans for your brains. Every day a horde of fresh zombies will be waiting for you, and over time the threat gets greater. With the help of your swag (the cards in your hand) you must survive any way you can, and if you can escape or kill the horde, you may scavenge the remains of the desolate suburbs for more swag. With the right stuff and a few good friends to outrun, you may just make it through this alive… well, no probably not. But being the last one to die a slow, painful death means you can claim sole victory!

There’s just a few of the many, many boardgames available that are perfect for a scare and a laugh on Halloween night. Plan your scary boardgaming evening now!

Upcoming Fantasy Flight Goodies!

There are some great new games in the pipeline from Fantasy Flight Games, well-known publisher of high quality, thematic, exciting games. For those of you who haven’t been keeping an eye peeled on their website, let’s check out some of the goodies!

Rune AgeRune Age
This is FFG’s entry into the most popular game genre of recent times—deck-building games. Set in their fantasy world of Terrinoth (also the setting for games such as Runewars, Descent, Dungeonquest and Runebound), Rune Age is for 2-4 players and, uniquely, driven by scenarios that set the parameters of each game. So a game can be competitive or cooperative. Players develop their decks of cards as the game progresses, playing one of the four factions first introduced in Runewars: the Daqan Lords, the Latari Elves, the savage Uthuk Y’llan, and Waiqar the Undying and his undead hordes. Each of these factions has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each offers a wealth of different deck-building options. Definitely one to look out for if you enjoy deck-building games like Dominion or 7 Wonders!

Elder SignElder Sign
Arkham Horror, the game of investigation, combat and terror set in the horrific worlds of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, is a Fantasy Flight success story and has spawned many expansions. Recently we saw a new spin on Arkham Horror which concentrated more on storytelling with the very atmospheric Mansions of Madness game. But fans of Lovecraftian mystery and horror can never get enough! FFG’s latest announcement is a dice game called Elder Sign, in which investigators desperately search a museum for Elder Signs to stave off the coming of an Old One and the destruction of the universe as we know it! This is looking like a clever mix of card game and dice game. As in Arkham Horror, there’s a selection of Ancient Ones to defeat, a Doom track that ticks inexorably down to their arrival, and the imminent threat of sanity-blasting horrors around every corner. The museum the adventurers explore is built up using Adventure cards, and different investigators have unique talents, strengths and weaknesses which you must strategically manage in order to defeat the game’s challenges. Best of all, you can enjoy all the fun and atmosphere of a Lovecraftian game in just one to two hours!

Blood Bowl Team ManagerBlood Bowl Team Manager
A lot of people thought this one was vapourware, since it was first announced way back early last year. It seems it’s undergone some heavy development and changed from a deck-building game into something completely different! 2-4 players guide their teams through a series of head-to-head highlights, adding Star Players, equipment upgrades, new staff and gathering new fans, all in a lead up to the decisive Blood Bowl trophy match! There are 6 teams to choose from: the Reikland Reavers (humans), the Grudgebearers (dwarves), the Athelorn Avengers (wood elves), the Skavenblight Scramblers (skaven), the Gouged Eye (orcs), and the Chaos All-Stars (chaos); and they all have their own style of play to explore. This is looking like a must-buy for Blood Bowl fans!

Gears of WarGears of War
Another game that’s been on the backburner at FFG for some time is Gears of War: The Board Game, based on the very successful video game that is now up to its second sequel. I’m a big fan of the old Doom boardgame and this looks like a step up from that—excellent miniatures, beautifully illustrated floorplans—however this one is fully cooperative (and, as a bonus, can be played solo), with players working together to face off against the horrific Locust alien hordes. Apparently the aliens are controlled by an innovative and adaptable ‘AI system’ that keeps the monsters reacting in distinctive ways that are appropriate to the situation. And you have limited ammo … There’s nothing like a good tactical combat game, and this one should raise the bar!

Pyramid of HorusThe Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus
Fans of The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac will be excited to see another game in what possibly be a series exploring all the classic Indiana Jones-like locations. After exploring (and hopefully surviving) the ancient Mayan ruins of the Temple of Chac, we now move to Egypt to enter The Pyramid of Horus. It’s a new stand-alone boardgame that shares the basic mechanics of load level versus speed that defined the first game; but now a new set of adventurers will be encountering falling blocks, crocodiles—and of course, mummies! Great art, miniatures and fast-paced gameplay whould make this one a winner.

There are some other bits and pieces coming our way too: the new Talisman expansion Talisman: The Dragon; a revised edition of the card game based in Cadwallon, Arcana, an expansion for the excellent fantasy empire-building game Runewars called Banners of War, and of course the first new adventure packs for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: The Hunt for Gollum, A Journey to Rhosgobel, and Conflict at the Carrock.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of great gaming! As always, keep an eye on this blog for news and reviews, and we’ll let you know when all of these fantastic new titles hit our shores and the shelves of Games Paradise, your favourite online game store.

Anatomy of a Gaming Weekend

Gaming Weekend

As my friends and I get older, it gets more and more difficult to organise one of our favourite leisure activities—the playing of games. Jobs and children take up a lot of time, people move further and further apart, and a date for a game session often has to be set far in advance. Getting five of us together for a session of, say, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay becomes as difficult as the judgement of Paris!

So it was a rare opportunity recently when an old friend and I found ourselves with an entire weekend just to play games. I travelled to his house with a boot-load of games, his wife and kids were away, and we set up a large table, a fridge full of beers, and settled down to enjoy some of our favourite games. Here’s a personal look through those favourites and how the baton of victory passed back and forth over the weekend.

About lunchtime on the Saturday, the first game to hit the table—and I can tell you, this one really takes over a big table—is my personal favourite game of all time, War of the Ring (by the way, there’s a new and improved reprint coming soon from FFG). We were playing with the mammoth, fully-painted Collector’s Edition—not the easiest thing to transport, in its huge and heavy wooden box—but of course you can still get your hands on the standard edition. Personally, I think War of the Ring is one of those games that just has it all. There is the sweeping conquest and mighty battles between great armies, the personal stories and travels of single heroes, the punishing blows of unexpected bad luck and the joy of seeing strategies play out successfully. The way WotR balances the ‘big picture’ of military conquest and the ‘little picture’ of the Ring making its way to Mordor—building up a story all the while—is remarkable, and somehow the games always seem to come down to the proverbial wire.

In this case, after the fastest game we’ve yet played, some four and a half hours, victory slipped from my grasp as the Free Peoples player. Throughout much of the game Frodo and Sam suffered very little Corruption, but on the Mount Doom track in Mordor all the Corruption I’d avoided began coming back to haunt me, and just as Frodo was one step—one step!—from the Crack of Doom, and Sauron was threatening the Dwarven stronghold of Erebor to win, I drew a 3 Corruption counter and Frodo succumbed to the power of the Ring. Curses! A dark shadow was drawn over the lands of Middle-Earth …

After the packup—and the usual long-running jokes about the imaginary games SetUp! and PackUp!—we decided to bring out something a bit ‘lighter’ (in rules complexity, if not in theme). I’d spent quite a bit of time painting the figures for the new Fantasy Flight Game Mansions of Madness, so I was eager to try it out (and give my brain a rest from the more complex games!) It didn’t take long to get used to the style of the game, and I greatly enjoyed playing the Keeper and subjecting my opponent to the horrors of the first scenario. Although he was victorious in the end—just—there were some hilarious moments, notably when a zombie rose from the bed in the main bedroom, and he turned to find all the doors in the room had disappeared. The horror!

Another perennial favourite is the scifi conquest Starcraft: The Board Game, combined with the essential expansion Brood War. However, after setting the game up, re-acquainting ourselves with the rules (here’s where my rules summaries really come in handy), and playing a couple of turns, we realised ‘Gamer Fatigue’ was setting in, and retired to laugh at some old Not the Nine O’Clock News episodes on DVD. Yes, even the most avid gamers can reach their limit!

The next day, after a refreshing dip in the ocean only ten minutes away to clear the cobwebs, we sat down to tackle Starcraft again, clearing away the aborted game and starting again with one of the special 2-player scenarios from Brood War. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the game’s complexities defeated us again. Let me stress that this is one of my favourite games, but it does require a clear head and a bit of concentration, qualities that, for the moment, were in short supply!

ClaustrophobiaObviously it was time for something much lighter, and what better than a good old dungeoncrawl—Claustrophobia perfectly fit the bill. This game brings a bit more to the genre by making players assign dice rolls to their choice of statistics (for the heroes) or action options (the Demon player). We played the second scenario, ‘Holding Back the Invasion’, where the heroes (such as they are, being a rabid cleric—the Redeemer–leading a band of condemned criminals) must reach a pit that leads to the bowels of Hell and destroy it with explosives!

Playing the Redeemer and his men, I immediately began having a hard time of it. The second dungeon tile drawn was the horrible Hungry Tunnels; a room full of blood-sucking tentacles that doubled the damage from any hit. I kept getting forced back into this room, until eventually my strongest character—the condemned Brute—was trapped and killed, and my remaining warriors became doomed to fight off the ever-increasing horde of troglodytes, desperately struggling through flooded corridors and narrow passages, dying by inches, until only one was left, blindly racing forward, only to find himself stumbling into a troglodyte spawning lair, with the objective still three tiles away! Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgh!

RunewarsRunewars is a big, deep game very much in the spirit of War of the Ring, as it combines the grand sweep of large armies with the adventures of individual heroes. The trick is balancing the two, as evidenced by our game. My opponent, controlling the skeletal hordes of Waiqar the Undying, swarmed out through the mountain pass protecting his kingdom, built a stronghold across the valley from where my Latari Elves had done the same, then, after a turn in which I’d failed to account for the fact that I had only four food and had to reduce all my armies, feinted with an attack on the city in the centre of the map (which failed), then in the next phase unleashed the real attack on my stronghold, an assault with the aid of a Tactics card that reduced my stronghold defense to three, which overwhelmed the five defenders and carried the day!

Next turn I played a card which gave me the last of six Dragon Runes—and I won the game.

It may seem that in this case strategy was overturned by luck, but on the contrary, it was a perfect example of the game: I won by stealth and cunning, using my heroes to sneak about the board collecting Runes, while my opponent was trying to win by brute force. The puny Elves trounced the nasty Undead … even as zombies devoured the Elven dead among the ruins of their stronghold …

Runewars is definitely one of those games that you want to play over and over, trying different strategies as you get to know the game better. It seems very complex at first, but it quickly begins to ‘flow’ and the mechanics fade into the background. A definite favourite.

Another game my opponent and I would like to see on the table more often is Tide of Iron, as it’s quite complex and to really enjoy the game you need to be familiar with the rules. Perhaps not the best choice for the last game after a long weekend of gaming and a bit of a hangover then. We decided to start the campaign in the expansion Tide of Iron: Normandy, which of course begins with the Allied invasion of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. It’s an extremely difficult scenario for the Allies of course, who have push onshore and through a single choke point whilst being battered on all sides by machine gun emplacements and bunkers firing heavy machine guns. It can also be a little bit uninteresting for the Axis player, who pretty much has to stay dug in and just fire at anything that moves—or doesn’t!

My opponent did manage to get off the beach and win however—despite terrible luck with his supporting artillery—but only by taking out a few machine gun nests with sustained suppressive fire, assaulting a bunker with a flamethrower, and eventually losing about half of his force. He did make a few fundamental rules errors though; this is a game where there is a lot to keep track of, and again I highly recommend my reference sheet and rules summary to get things playing smoothly.

He has since told me if he played the scenario again he would concentrate all his forces in the centre of the beach and send a third of them to scale the cliffs while the others suppress all the machine gun nests—since if only the bunkers can fire, the worst than can happen is you can lose two squads every turn until you silence them.

It was late on Sunday when victory was declared and we were well and truly ‘gamed out’; but what an excellent weekend of gaming it had been! Everything from epic battles on Middle-Earth to dungeoncrawling to the D-Day assault—what else but boardgaming can provide this amount of variety and enjoyment? If there was one lesson we learned however, it’s not to play too many complex games in a row; it can get a bit much for the old brain cells!

Feel free to tell me about some of your more enjoyable gaming sessions below in the Comments section—it’s always fun to hear about the experiences of other gamers. Until next time, get your friends together for some good gaming this weekend!

Mansions of Madness Painting Guide

MoM Painting Guide

You’ve bought the game and braved the dark corridors of the Mansions of Madness; you’ve solved challenging puzzles and tracked down hidden clues—you’ve even confronted the most horrific eldritch creatures and survived with body and mind intact! But have you faced the ultimate challenge…?

Have you—painted the miniatures?

Painting the miniatures in your brand new shiny (or slimy, in this case) copy of Mansions of Madness may seem a daunting task from which only the most experienced and skilled will survive with sanity intact, but I am here as testament to the fact that it is actually not that difficult! In fact, I managed to paint the entire set of 32 investigator and monster figures in the space of one weekend and two short evening sessions. So ready your workspace, clutch for your brushes, and let me pass on the wisdom of one who has been to the Other World … and returned to tell the tale…

I won’t be covering the basics of painting miniatures here; for that information see my earlier article A Beginners Guide To Figure Painting, which covers everything about miniature painting you need to get started: preparing your workspace and figures, shading, highlighting and detailing, basing and varnishing, and various painting styles. Here we’ll be looking at my painted set of MoM figures and pointing out some colour choices and techniques. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my choices and are in no way official—if you want a bright red shoggoth, you go right ahead! This is just the way I painted mine, and there are as many ways to paint miniatures as there are painters. Games Workshop paint colours are referred to here, but there are many other excellent brands of paints available, including Vallejo GameColor, Reaper Master Series Paints and Privateer Press Formula P3. Experiment and have fun!

Remember, prepare your figures by washing them in detergent and water to get rid of any oily residue from the moulding process; cut or file off any obvious mould lines or bits of extra plastic (watch those fingers!), and affix the miniatures to some suitable surface for ease of painting. I use long strips of foamcore to which I stick the figures with white glue. Undercoat as you see fit—I use Citadel Skull White spray. I use a white ceramic bath tile as a palette and it’s served me well for years. Completely optional but essential in my case were a couple of rainy days and some excellent BBC History podcasts to occupy the part of the brain you don’t use when you paint!

CharactersThe investigator figures were the most time-consuming step of the project, mainly due to the number of colours involved. The investigator character cards give you a guide for the basic colours used for each figure. In general, I quickly paint on the base colours, let them dry, wash (quite often Devlan Mud, though Gryphonne Sepia for flesh and the appropriate colour for greens and blues), and then highlight; first with the base colour then in progressively lighter shades—perhaps two, with a final edge highlight.

CharactersYou could use all manner of different shades for the various complexions of these characters, but I tend to stick with a blend of Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh for the basic skin tone, washed with Gryphonne Sepia and highlighted with Elf Flesh. The sharpest highlights—the tip of the nose and the knuckles usually—get a tiny spot of white. There are many ways to do eyes, but I don’t worry too much about perfection with such small figures. Two small dabs of black, and then two tiny dots of white on either side of the iris—usually with a tiny bit of black to clean up. The hair on these figures is the only place I’ve used the drybrushing technique; I prefer to highlight manually, but remember to mix water with your colour so it flows nicely from the brush.

For the bases, I made them a bit more interesting than basic black by stippling on a few shades of brown, from dark to light; it just adds a bit of visual texture to the base. However I didn’t worry about the monster bases, and in fact only stuck the monsters on their bases with a small dab of white glue, in case for some reason I want to interchange bases later on—for example if I choose to replace some of these figures with sculpts from other companies.

Now, on to the bad guys!

CultistsWhat would a Lovecraftian game be without some twisted degenerate Old One-worshipping cultists? I kept the basic cultists suitably drab with a dark brown cloak—Graveyard Earth mised with a bit of Chaos Black, basically—with a trim of Dheneb Stone (a steady hand and a small brush are required here, though you can touch up later). A few tiny dabs of Mithril Silver were used for their medallions, and a dab of Warlock Purple for the centre gem on their staff thingies.

ZombiesNot the most threatening bunch of zombie figures I’ve ever seen—they actually looking like they’re rather sheepishly saying “hi there”—but they’re easy to paint. Slap on some Rotting Flesh, wash with Devlan Mud, and highlight with Rotting Flesh and Skull White. In an attempt to make them a bit more scary I added a bit of Red Gore for blood splatters, plus some appropriately-named Graveyard Earth drybrushed over their feet. Dabs of Skull White for the eyes give them that dead-eye look. This shot also illustrates the importance of good figure preparation—there’s a rather obvious mould line on arm of the zombie on the left there which I should have removed before undercoating. Oh well, they’re just gaming pieces after all!

WitchesThese surprisingly modest evil witches were very easy to paint. A mixture of Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh for the basic skin tone, washed with Gryphonne Sepia and highlighted, and Dheneb Stone for the robes, washed with Devlan Mud and highlighted with white. A subtle drybrush of blue on the black hair makes the hair colour seem even darker. Viola! Evil 1920s temptresses!

ManiacsThese maniacs are in great poses, though I defy you to get that damn she’s a maniac, maniac I know… song from Flashdance out of your head while painting them. Simple white shirts, washed with Devlan Mud (use a brush to soak up any wash that builds up too much on the raised areas or in the crevices—always control your wash!), contrast nicely with an excessive blotch of Red Gore—and don’t forget the axes! The stain was made by dabbing on the model with the end of a Games Workshop drybrushing brush, which gives a nice stippling effect.

Cult LeadersSomeone always has to lead your cultists and who better than a cultist leader (or two). This colour scheme was nicked from the BoardgameGeek game listing photographs—always a good place to go for inspiration—and contrasts nicely with your cultist rank-and-file. Again, a simple way to get your whites whiter than white is a Skull White basecoat washed with Devlan Mud, then highlighted back up with white. Easy! The red is Blood Red, highlighted by mixing in a bit of Golden Yellow. The skulls on their belts are Bleached Bone, washed with Devlan Mud and highlighted with Bleached Bone and Skull White. The necklace medallion is Shining Gold—they are richer than your average cultist, after all.

Mi GoThese weird extra-terrestrial critters are Mi-Go, the ‘fungi from Yuggoth’, one of Lovecraft’s weirder creations (and that’s saying something). They appear to removing brains—charming—an Elf Flesh washed with Baal Red with sharp highlights of white (though perhaps brains should be grey … oh well!) The Mi-Go themselves are mostly the usual flesh mix with highlights; and I did use a bit of drybrushing on the wings, I remember. The strange masks they wear (not the most effective human disguise really) are painted with Bleached Bone.

Hounds of TindalosThe Hounds of Tindalos are immortal horrors from another angle in space, created by Frank Belknap Long, though Lovecraft mentions them in his story The Whisperer in Darkness. The base colour used is Graveyard Earth, with a wash of Devlan Mud, highlighted up to Bleached Bone. The long tongue and eye are a wonderfully contrasting Enchanted Blue, highlighted with Ice Blue and white.

ChthoniansAgain, these truly repulsive burrowing giant worm-like beasties were not actually invented by H.P. Lovecraft, but in this case Brian Lumley. The body is a mix of black and Hormagaunt Purple, the tentacles a suitably fleshy Dwarf Flesh. Reliable old Devlan Mud was used as a wash for the body, a bit of Baal Red wash for the tentacles, then highlights layered on— white added to the purple for the body, and Elf Flesh, then white, for the tentacles, right up to some big white highlights. Tiny white dots highlight the suckers. Urgh! The stone base was a simple grey up to white. Lots and lots of Gloss Varnish was used to make the nice and slimy; in fact the model on the left has a little clear blob hanging from the bottom tentacle. It’s details like that that make it all worthwhile!

ShoggothsAnd finally, the big bad shoggoths; shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us… Lovecraft would have been horrified to see his shoggoths given legs, and some gamers have chosen to pop them off and use ‘green stuff’ to putty over the gaps, but Lovecraftian accuracy doesn’t bother me so much. I used a mix of various greens and Chaos Black to get a very dark green basecoat, then highlighted up using smooth, thin strokes of various lighter shades of green. Mix in plenty of water with your paint to get a good flow from the brush, and loosen up a little; you can even use progressively smaller brushes. I kept the overall colour quite dark to contrast with the luminous eyes, which are Goblin Green with a highlight of Scorpion Green (I painted both on wet so the colours swirled together a bit) with a final dot or two of white. A generous coat of Gloss Varnish is de rigeur for your Lovecraftian protoplasmic horrors.

So there you have it! I hope this little journey through the miniatures of Mansions of Madness has not sent you gibbering and screaming into the black night. Hold on tight to that brush, it may be your last link with reality as we know it …

… and happy painting!

Universal Head

(As a last treat, check out my Headless Hollow site for a Mansions of Madness rules summary and reference sheet. Enjoy!)

What’s Hot: Mansions of Madness

Mansions of MadnessShipping Tuesday/Wednesday!

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.

Designed by Corey Konieczka, Mansions of Madness is a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for two to five players. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find, and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience. One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact.

Do you dare enter the Mansions of Madness?

For more information, check out our recent detailed article on the game.

Mansions of Madness!

Mansions of Madness

Mansions of MadnessHorrific 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 …

Stuff From Essen 2010

The Internationale Spieltage SPIEL 2010 games trade fair in Essen, Germany, has just come to a close. Let’s have a look at just a few of the hot new games on the way.

Mansions of MadnessFor all you Cthulhu fans out there—and I definitely count myself one of them—Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight Games will be on your ‘must-buy’ list. Designed by Corey Konieczka, who was responsible for Runewars, Battlestar Galactica, and Starcraft among others, this Arkham Horror-esque adventure game puts the emphasis on plot threads and story while players, as brave investigators, explore the manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. It comes with investigator and monster miniatures, and a shed-load of cards, tokens and tiles. Great stuff!

We’ve already introduced you to Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game in a recent article, and we’ll be talking more about this impressive looking civilization boardgame very soon. In the meantime, check out the video.

Earth Reborn is the new game from Christophe Boelinger, maker of the very popular range of Dungeon Twister games. It’s a detailed game of tactical combat in a post-apocalyptic world, with a system driven by Command points and scenarios. The game comes with some very impressive miniatures. Earth Reborn is coming soon from Z-Man Games.

Merchants & MaraudersAlso from Z-Man Games, who has been churning the games out at a great rate of late, is the much anticipated pirate game Merchants & Marauders. Gamers have been looking for the definitive pirate game for a while now after the disappointingly complicated Blackbeard remake. Players seek glory on the high seas of the Caribbean, plundering merchants, completing missions, buying better ships, selling cargo, and of course stashing gold at their home port. The plastic ships look great, too. Cutlasses crossed for this one!

Cadwallon: City of Thieves should be available very soon now. This game was one going to be released by Dust Games until they and Fantasy Flight Games did a deal to release this and the new miniatures system Dust Tactics under the FFG banner. It looks like a relatively easy, fun game of thievery and burgulary in a district of Cadwallon, a fantasy city originally invented by Rackham for their Confrontation games. Fantastic art and wonderfully detailed miniatures are a feature.

Survive: Escape From Atlantis is a re-release by a new company called Stronghold Games. There have been many versions of this game over the years by some major manufacturers; in fact it has sold almost 1.5 million copies worldwide! For those of you who have yet to enjoy it, you try to evacuate your pieces from an island in the centre of the board that is sinking and breaking up. Your evacuees can swim or use boats, but beware the whales, sharks and sea serpents!

Alien FrontiersAlien Frontiers is a game of resource management and planetary development for two to four players. Those of you who enjoy Kingsburg will feel comfortable with the dice placement system used in this Euro/Ameritrash hybrid. Cleverly, the game was funded by players through Kickstarter.com, a site that allows creators to scare up funding for their projects. The game has had some great feedback and reviews.

Of course there are a lot more goodies: The Resistance, a Werewolf-like social game for 5-10 players; King of Tokyo, a giant monster smackdown game by Richard Garfield (of Magic: The Gathering fame); 7 Wonders, another highly-anticipated Civ-light game; and just too many others to mention!