Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mansions of Madness - Intro

It’s no secret that I, along with a multitude of colleagues within our specialized nerd-field, take great joy in the writings of H.P.Lovecraft. I mean, say what you will about his tendencies as an author and the not-quite-so-subtle-elements of racism in his stories; but I respect an author that can instill me with such amounts of dread and fear in this modern day. Without really telling that much at all.

Tomes have been written about his legacy and the influence Lovecraft has had on so many games we know today, ranging from the obvious PnP game to the computer and the delightfully messed up ‘Amnesia: The Dark Descent’ - Work along with the thought, and you’ll often find that several stories and narratives today can be traced back to his ideas; sort of like the people that insist on linking all fantasy elements back to Tolkien.
While I’m not going too deep into that debate, I’ll still admit that I’m highly addicted to these eldritch tales and still have his black book of stories lying around. Which is why I decided to, at long last, give in and purchase “Mansions of Madness” - the board game of horror and a gruesome amount of tiny bits and cardboard stuff.

I’ve been playing Arkham Horror for some time; not that I’m a pro in any way or I’d be able to sit down and relate to you the rules, but I remember it fondly and as a great experience. It was one of those games in which we were actually all working together towards completion, which is kind of rare in my rather competitive environment. I suppose it says a lot about my friends, somehow…

As of this date, we haven’t yet been playing any games. I’ve read the rules so far, and with my relatively little base for comparison, I kind of like a lot of them compared to other board games. They do indeed have their strange odds and ends, yet if you’ve ever played Descent, you’re kind of familiar with such elements as a Keeper (in this case, yours truly) versus four players (in this case, likely to be Roque, SilverglassVonDottie and Hawk).  In its basic setup, the games is about a group of Lovecraftian inspired investigators poking around some kind of old mansion, Scooby-Doo style, trying to figure out what the hell happened and how they can stop it. The keeper, on the other hand, has his goal cut out for him from the start, and wishes to hinder the investigators before they dig up too much about the grand plan. This can happen through various means, such as hurling monsters at them, inflicting them with physical and mental trauma or hope they will succumb to devious traps. Sounds kind of familiar to Descent, right? 
In addition, this is one of those games that will challenge your mental skill on a very real life basis. There are cardboard puzzles whenever a player wants to short circuit a relay or pick a lock, which all have to be flipped and turned till they finally make sense. The thing is, you’re only able to flip as many tiles per turn as your investigator’s intelligence makes up for, and meanwhile time is ticking. Or that monster is busy battering down the door to your room.
The interesting thing is how the players choose not only the scenario, but also how the Keeper gets to decide what is really going on here. Every game involves three options for what the hell is going on, often meaning different objectives and places to go on the board. With the heroes needing to figure these places out, there is undoubtedly a whole lot of fun and games to be had with plenty of replay. At least I’d imagine so.

We count on going crazy with this game in the upcoming weeks or something, and I’ll make sure to return with an update once we get there. Till then, I’ll be brushing off my Keeper robe, and hope you will enjoy some of the minis that me and VonDottie made.

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