Posted by : David Guyll February 06, 2014

The first time I played Mansions of Madness it was a lot of fun: the lack of monsters, and the pace, events, keeper actions, and mythos cards did an excellent job of conveying the feel of a couple of people exploring a creepy mansion, unsure what exactly they were looking for or what could happen next.

The problem started once we tried giving the other scenarios a shot. During my review I mentioned that out of five games the investigators had only won twice, and since then their success ratio has only gotten worse. As in they have never won a game since.

I get that in Lovecraft's stories pretty much everyone dies or goes insane, but in the context of a board game it can get pretty frustrating (for the investigators, at any rate). I did some online research and discovered that not all of the scenarios are...exactly well received, with issues ranging from boring mechanics, Keeper "auto-win" objective choices, and/or requiring a minimum number of investigators if you want a reasonable chance.

With this in mind Melissa and I decided to get back to basics and try the only scenario that she has actually won--Fall of House Lynch--to see if her prior success was just a fluke/could be attributed to my lack of knowing all the rules at the time.

Warning: This play through will spoil one of the possible story combinations for the Fall of House Lynch scenario. In the grand scheme of things this is not much, especially since you will not know right away every story decision that the keeper has made, and there are both expansions and print-on-demand scenarios.

Investigators

Jenny Barnes (Mansions of Madness)
Carolyn Fern (Forbidden Alchemy)

Having played through this scenario before, Melissa made a beeline for the kitchen. Since gathering samples required a maniac and Maniac Attack costed a whopping 4 threat, I limited my keeper actions to Evil Presence; you not only get a mythos and trauma card, but you get the point of threat you spent back if it is the only thing you do.


I had intended to rack up an excess of threat so that I could use Uncontrollable Urges to separate her investigators and then spawn a maniac, but as she was leaving Jenny ended up in the foyer by herself; I was able to spawn a maniac and still have enough threat left over to have him snag a sample and leg it towards the ceremony room.

Both investigators pursued him, but were only able to shave off about half his health before he made it through a locked door. One sample down, one to go.



Unable to pursue the maniac, Melissa went the other way towards the bedrooms. Unfortunately by the time she got there one of the Event cards triggered a flaming zombie in the hallway. She shot it, which lit the hallway on fire, and since it was still "alive" on my turn I had it snag another sample and duck into a locked room.

Unfortunately for me the "lock" ended up just being a Dark Room, so she was able to follow and gun it down. By the time the maniac was able to get to the alter they had explored the bedrooms, and were making their way towards the garden when I noticed something on Maniac Attack, namely that you could spend 4 threat to have the maniac heal-up and appear next to any one lone investigator.

Since I had an excess of threat from the sample and several turns of hoarding, I was able to move an investigator using Uncontrollable Urges, then have the maniac leap out of the shadows, grab a second sample, and book it back into to the locked rooms.

Having dealt with the shoggoth objective before Melissa knew what was about to go down, so she just explored nearby rooms for items and waited for me to drop the second sample on the alter.


I was pretty confident that there was not much she could do about it, as it had 13 health and a massive horror penalty, and they had both taken some hits to sanity and one of them was a few points of health in the hole. Oh, and as an added bonus none of them were packing a shotgun. It was because of all this that I did not initially maneuver the maniac and second zombie to help out.

That was my first mistake.

Melissa had picked up an elder sign at some point, so had Jenny unload on it before Carolyne used the sign to push it back 2 spaces. The first gun shot only did 2 damage, so I figured that I would not be a dick and have it move 2 spaces towards the foyer, instead interpreting the spirit of her actions and pushing it back into the basement area.

That was my second mistake.




I moved the shoggoth again and Melissa continued her tactic of gunning and signing; she dealt 3 more damage, but failed the Lore check with the elder sign, meaning that it could now get into the foyer. Things were looking grim, but even at this point she could still succeed if she moved into the foyer got the sign to continuously work until the shoggoth was destroyed.

The problem was that her guns only did 3 damage, she could only have one investigator shoot at a time, she was out of skill points, and the combat cards determined not only which stat she had to roll against, but could also affect the damage output. Case in point, her next attack only dealt one damage...

...plus a stun token.

Shit.

Stun tokens prevent a monster from moving or attacking, and they only go away when the Keeper discards one during her turn. I say one stun token because they can stack. Another case in point, her next attack dealt a whopping 4 damage...

...plus another stun token.

Double shit.

What made it even funnier is that she did not even need those stun tokens, because the next attack she made with Carolyne dealt just enough damage to take it out. But that is the way it can go: sometimes you get to roll Marksmanship and only deal 1 damage with your 4 damage gun, sometimes you get lucky and deal weapon damage + 3.

So this brings the investigators up to a whopping three out of...I dunno, ten or so games? Still not a good ratio, but it is a start. Oddly enough the last time we played this scenario she also blew up the shoggoth when it got to the foyer, so maybe she just has a +9 against shoggoths?

Anyway, we are going to try the second scenario again in the next day or two, but use four investigators instead of one or two to see if it runs any smoother.

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. It's just a great board game, especially pleased figurines that you can paint by yourself.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you, it's just amaizing. I'd like to play this game with my friend. Today's kids are more into computer games. But in your imagination you can more than in front of your monitor.

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