Mansions of Madness is a Lovecraft themed horror board game where players control investigators just arriving on the scene of a mystery with the goal of stopping ghosts, witches and cultists trying to raise an ominous god to our realm.
The gameplay is asymmetric where one player controls all the bad guys (called the Keeper) and the rest of the players are tasked with stopping him. Players must solve different puzzles throughout the game wile avoiding hazards and evil cards as well as monsters, all of which will be thrown at them by the keeper, all while trying to find more evidence until the players come to the last clue which reveals the wind conditions for the game.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Deep RPG immersion
The win condition for the game is basically to get out of the house alive. Any other scenario where one does not get out they either die or go insane, which is what plays into the immersion of this game, it is more about story and experiencing what it has to offer than "winning".
Pro RPG experience with the ease of a single session board game
Like all of the Arkham Horror games this pulls in all of the familiar characters and antagonists from Lovecraft's mythos. Unlike the others however it's less about running around closing portals as fast as you can and more about investigating a single scenario in a series of pre-configured locations. It does require a sort of "DM" that the other players play against but it helps that person with the convoluted stuff and lets them enjoy the game as much as the other players.
Pro Excellent story mechanic
One of the few games that can get one involved as a character dealing with a continually challenging and unveiling storyline. A competent keeper (DM) is a must, though.
Pro Lots of replayability
The base game comes with 5 scenarios that include 3 different endings each. Add to the fact that the scenario is built based on a series of multiple choice questions before setup, means no 2 games will be the same.
Also there are many expansions available which with many more scenarios.
Pro Amazing board tiles
The house (or cave or wilderness) tiles are made of thick card stock with some beautiful artwork.
Con Player elimination leaves people out of the fun
This may upset some people.
Con Long set up and play time
Be prepared to spend long hours on this bad boy. Each scenario must be laid out exactly how the book states or you could potentially break the game.
Con Does not always result in a great experience
Depending on how many players there are, the scenario chosen and the full understanding of the game held by the players the game can often result in a non functioning experience. There are many moving parts here and they do not always congeal into a working game.