First Impressions: Mansions of Madness

We finally got in our first game of Mansions of Madness this weekend after it’s been taunting us for a few weeks.

We figured that we liked Betrayal at House on the Hill and we liked Arkham Horror so we would like this.  I was a little apprehensive about the predefined stories for replay value but I figured we’d at the very least get a handful of good games out of it.

After reading the rules, the game did remind me of a combination of Betrayal and Arkham but with a little bit of Descent thrown in.  Because the Keeper(Overlord) is controlling the story but in a competitive way against the players, you get that same feeling as Descent, but with a better story.  All these impressions were confirmed during the game.

We had a blast playing the game.

After playing through once, I can see how the choices made by the Keeper can make a story different when played multiple times.  Since there are 3 different winning conditions, the orientation of the house and some of the rooms isn’t really that big of a deal.  This made me think that we really can get 15 unique plays out of the game.

The game did seem like it was a little more linear that we had anticipated, I’m just not sure why we thought it would be different.  The group entered the house which thematically, told them to go to a very specific room.  When they went to that room, it thematically told them to go to another room and so on.  If they didn’t get there fast enough, the story cards which were counting down, forced the story on them, which was cool.  Even though it was basically room A->room B-> room C, the story itself was fun and made up for it in my opinion.

One problem we had was the fact that there was no epilogue.  The game ended, and nothing in the game had me tell the back story to the players.  I won’t spoil anything, but in my choice for the back story as the keeper, there was a really cool reason for the goings on in the house, which the players never would have heard if I hadn’t read it to them.  Just seemed kind of odd.

As to whether or not the game is balanced, I can’t really say and don’t really care.  Even though there is a competition and a winner, I think that it is all about the story.  In this game, I was way behind as the keeper and didn’t come close to achieving my goal.  I think that playing against 4 players made it more difficult than it would have been against 1 or 2 but I can’t really say for certain at this point.

Initial Review:

Check this game out if:

  • You like Betrayal at House on the Hill(can be played with 2 people, is a longer game)
  • You like the theme of Arkham Horror
  • You like the overlord component of Descent
  • You like Battlestar Galactica(even though it isn’t a traitor game, it had a similar feel to it which I can’t pinpoint – it was by the same designer)
  • You like thematic games

Skip this game if:

  • You want a quick(under 2 hours) game
  • You don’t like the Arkham theme(that’s most of the draw)
  • You want something balanced and competitive
  • You don’t like railroaded theme

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