Slicker then Cthulhu’s nether beard

I had Mansions of Madness 1 for a long time. It rarely came out to play. Don’t get me wrong I like nothing more than an overlord versus hero game. It was just the setup.

Mansions of Madness first ed had a horrible long setup. It was like a cross between assembling an IKEA bed and a fighting fantasy novel. If you got any element wrong you ruined the narrative. It was worth the half hour or so but we’ve moved on since then. The app is slick. It tells you which counters to place and assists with combat and searching. More importantly it tells you which floor tiles to place as you explore. It’s quite possible to crack open this game without reading the rules and play with the assistance of the app. In fact that’s what we did. In fairness we had an Eoghan 1.0 installed (our rules master) who filled in the gaps.

The game is classic Cthulhu. A motley collection of 1920s investigators go poking into things best left alone. Each come with a varied set of numbered stats and special abilities. All life is here. The hard boiled detective, the fighty grave digger, the feeble but really good at reading and magic old scholar. Sprinkle a variety of common items and unique ones into their inventory and off to the selected adventure we go.

This is where the app really shines.( Top tip. Run it on a laptop or tablet. I found a phone had me squinting and the whole group needs to see it). The app presents which room tile should be visible and which items should be present on said tiles.

The game turns consist of a number of phases. In the investigator phase, Investigators can take two actions, move one space, search, open a door or attack (there’s a couple of other lesser used ones like swapping items with another player, activating an item and so on). The app handles describing what you’ve found if you search a clue on the map and which new floor tiles appear if you open a door. It handles combat by tracking wounds and creature effects. It’s still good old fashioned dice rolling for most challenges.

The second phase is the mythos phase where creatures get to move and attack inflicting damage and horror on investigators.

The final phase which I can’t rightly remember the name of picks a random investigator and visits the fears on them (or sometimes not). It’s a neat mechanic that hastens you to get the job done. Nothing worse than completing the scenario and something nasty befalling you as a parting shot.

Damage and Terror is nicely handled. It’s similar to x-wing insofar as you gain damage cards worth a point each or criticals which are the same cards face up and contain some nasty gottya to deal with. Terror is handled the same with a lovey sting. If you take max insanity points you wind up going insane but rather than exiting you continue on but this time with a hidden insane card. These cards might be like paranoia where you want the mission to fail for you to win or murderous thoughts where you want the mission to succeed but everyone to suffer wounds. It’s very neat and fits in nicely to the whole paranoid vibe. More importantly it means the game is not fully co-op and has a possible traitor mechanic so two thumbs up from me.

The app also provides in-app challenges like a sliding block puzzle for lock clicking. It’s neat and simple and was unexpectedly good. I haven’t progressed far enough with the other scenarios to see what else is in there but I’ll report back when I do

Scenarios can be replayed and the app ensures they won’t play out exactly the same each time (pretty similar though). The app comes with a small amount of scenarios but on closer inspection some of them are practically campaigns in themselves with several hours of play in each. There’s a number of extra paid dlcs for download but I’m confident that doesn’t matter to you.

Mansions has always been a posh birds dungeon bash. Version two is a lovely experience. The app is magnificent. The best I’ve seen to date. I know I gave out about xcom but that wasn’t the apps fault in hindsight. If this is the future of SOME games I’m right behind it. The ability to pull a complex game out and just setup and play is a massive achievement for gaming. Mansions has really crossed the rubicon ans I for one welcome our new AI masters.



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