Something evil is stirring. Will the intrepid investigators find out what sinister plot the Keeper has in mind, and if so, will they be able to stop it in time? Mansions of Madness is a semi-cooperative game, where all the players but one take on the roles of investigators in the H.P. Lovecraft Cthluhu universe. The other player is the Keeper, the force of evil that is behind a sinister plan. While it is not an expansion for the Arkham Horror series, it is set in the same universe, the investigators are taken directly from Arkham.
As with every Fantasy Flight game, there is a lot of high quality components packed into the box. The game board is made up of beautifully detailed tiles, allowing for many different options of game play. With a number of scenarios, each with different possible goals, there is plenty of replayability in this box. As with Arkham Horror, there is a fair amount of setup involved before you can play the game.
The figures are my favorite part of the game, well, aside from the setting that is. You have piles of nasty creatures to thwart the efforts of the investigators, and the sculpts are really quite well done. I would love to see a full set of this game painted. The mechanics used for the creatures is good too. Each creature has a card that fits neatly into a plastic base. The top reveals important info for the players, while the bottom lists special abilities. A nifty slot is ready to hold damage counters, always letting you easily see how hurt the creature is.
The game begins with the investigators not knowing what their goal is. They much search for clues to unlock the secret plot of the Keeper. Once revealed, it is a race to see if the Keeper succeeds or if the investigators are able to stop him. There is also the possibility of a draw, something not found very often in board games these days. Another interesting bit in the game has do to with trauma. Whenever an investigator suffers a wound from a fight, the Keeper may play physical trauma cards on them. These can be things like a broken arm or hearing loss, and each one causes negative effects for the investigator. The investigators are also slowly being driven insane by their views into a darker world, and if a player loses all of her sanity, they become a plaything for the Keeper who then plays different insanity based trauma on them. In many ways it is better to die than to be driven insane.
So, how does the game rate.
Components 5: The board pieces are wonderfully illustrated and the 40 figures look fabulous once painted.
Rules 3: This game can be a bit difficult to learn without having an experienced player on hand.
Replay 5: Though there are a limited number of scenarios, each has multiple choices to lend new experiences.
Cost 4: Hefty price tag, but there is a ton packed into the box.
We roll the d20 and get a very respectable 17. The rules are a bit bulky, and it will take more than one play to really get them down. Cost is another factor, the game has a rather hefty price tag, retail of $80 ($58 on Amazon). But, if you are a fan of the Arkham series I think it is easily justifiable.