Mansions of Madness - Board Game Box Shot

Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness title

Horrific monsters and spectral presences lurk in manors, crypts, schools, monasteries, and derelict buildings near Arkham, Massachusetts. Some spin dark conspiracies while others wait for hapless victims to devour or drive insane. It’s up to a handful of brave investigators to explore these cursed places and uncover the truth about the living nightmares within.

Designed by Corey Konieczka, Mansions of Madness is a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for two to five players. Each game takes place within a pre-designed story that provides players with a unique map and several combinations of plot threads. These threads affect the monsters that investigators may encounter, the clues they need to find, and which climactic story ending they will ultimately experience.

Mansions of Madness in play
image © Fantasy Flight Games

One player takes on the role of the keeper, controlling the monsters and other malicious powers within the story. The other players take on the role of investigators, searching for answers while struggling to survive with their minds intact.

Do you dare enter the Mansions of Madness?

User Reviews (28)

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Platinum Supporter
Thunderstone Fan
77 of 79 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Brilliant, Imaginative, Crazy Fun.”

I’ve played this game twice so far, and it has opened my eyes to the world of role-playing. It isn’t really necessary to role play, but the game just seems to bring that out. I haven’t laughed this much playing a game in a very long time.

Today, we ended with an epic battle against a seemingly impossible foe. The room was on fire, there were zombies all around us, and we were all acting out various Matrix-style moves. The Keeper broke my leg (in the game) and I found myself falling to the floor (for real), firing my duel .45’s. The win came down to a single die role. Our final possible turn led to one lady landing a sweep kick, and my character who was laying on the floor with a broken leg (and also deaf) firing the final shot that took out “Uncle Artie”.

I’ve played Arkham Horror a couple times (which by the way, uses the same core characters), but I find it much easier to get immersed in Mansions of Madness, and for the players (i.e. investigators) it is actually a very simple game to learn and play. Most of the fun seems to come from the stories and the players’ reaction to the story as it unfolds. You learn your objective as you go, you get to explore rooms, hide from monsters in chests, drag corpses into fires, and whack monsters with crowbars and fire extinguishers. The players don’t need to know all the rules at first, because the story tells you what to do.

I mark this as “Easy To Learn” from the point of view of a new player being taught. The first time playing the Keeper is actually a pretty steep learning curve.

Oh … and the puzzles are great … to unlock some doors and chests you have to solve real puzzles (tiles that you need to arrange in various patterns using a limited number of moves based on your character’s intellect).

This is an absolutely brilliant game to play. I have yet to see what is like to play with non-avid gamers, but it is definitely going to be among my top choices when I want to have some real fun.

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83 of 90 gamers found this helpful
“Kill Your Friends, Or Better Yet Get Them to Kill Each Other!”

From the moment I saw this game demoed by Rodney Smith on Watch It Played (that’s on Youtube), I knew I wanted this game. It has creepy pieces, complicated rules, a ridiculous number of cards, puzzles and items, as well as great storytelling. At least…2 times out of 3.

The game setup time is massive. It is critically important that everything is done correctly, as the entire game falls practically on its face if setup is not PERFECT. Only once you’ve run a few games, will you be able to quickly recover any mistakes you might make with minor oopses and apologies all around. Your gaming group will lose faith in you if you mess up enough though. So make sure you either have a forgiving group or you are confident that you understand the rules FULLY before playing.

I’d have to say my favorite thing about the game is that no one really knows by and large what their objective is. Or, to put it more correctly, no one knows how to ACHIEVE their objectives. The investigators are set loose in one of five possible game storylines and pushed towards the first of a series of clues. But they don’t know if they need to stay alive, stay sane, or prevent something sinister from happening.

The keeper is actually a player, whose main job is to stop the investigators from achieving their goals. Even though the keeper is aware of his objective at the beginning of the game, it is often a challenge to determine how to bring his or her evil plans to fruition. It is also very difficult to keep track of the whats and when and whyfors of all the various impediments you can generate as keeper to foil the investigators.

All players can get frustrated when they realize that they can’t do the things they think they need to in this game, but I’ve realized that the game stays interesting when playing with a group of players that create their own subobjectives. For instance : I must help this character with a broken leg escape certain death even if it means not discovering the mystery, or this zombie may be killing me, but I’m taking it with me for the sake of the others.

Also, let someone else play Keeper once in a while you twisted monster! Friends do hold grudges when you try to kill them enough times. Let them savor the sadistic glee that comes with being an evil overlord from time to time. It will help you to understand what it’s like to be a puny -I mean- courageous investigator as well.

Another thing that is satisfying to me is that although there is a lot of possibility for combat within the game, you never know as investigators whether or not you should potentially waste time confronting a monster or whether you need to get as far from them as possible to uncover more clues. That goes the same for the keeper. Your objectives are not always best met by bashing an investigator’s skull in. Sometimes you can actually create tension by NOT taking opportunities to cause harm to your players. It’s really much more fun to make them stark raving mad.

Some of the storylines included in the box are better than others, and more entertaining, at least to our group. The enclosed storylines do have diverging story arcs that make playthroughs of the same map lead to a different outcome/objectives. I would say that playing with a full house is a much better way to play…and if you ever play with just two make sure your player runs two investigators. It really doesn’t play well otherwise. In fact, it may even be impossible for a lone investigator to do all the things that would need to be done on some of the “larger” maps.

It is pricey. But as each play through lasts a long amount of time(2-3 hours) and the basic game includes 5 different stories, 15 hours for 4 people is about the same as attending 7 movies, and the price of this game is definitely less than 28 movie tickets. OK…so I guess you don’t pay for movies for your friends very often(cheapskate), but you probably have more than 4 friends that you could try playing this game with. If you don’t, then I would steer you away from this game since you can probably find 2 or more cheaper games that might be more compelling.

I’ve played this game with several different groups. And to date, even with bad playthroughs, I’d still say it’s the best game I’ve ever purchased.

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I'm a Real Player!
78 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“1st Session Review: Amazing Theme, Long Setup Time”

Mansions of Madness is an intimidating game to unbox and to set up. There are a million chits, plenty of obscure, conditional rules, and a confusing array of choices that the Keeper (aka dungeon master) must make before play begins.

But the game is also awesome.

When we first started setting it up for our “learn the rules as we play” sessions last weekend, I was pretty overwhelmed. I was the Keeper, I bought the game, but suddenly was getting dizzy with set up. The various decks aren’t labeled very well, and I continuously had to refer back to the contents pages of the rule book to see what I had to grab next. Thankfully, my veteran Arkham Horror friend, @Jason P, was there to walk me through the confusing parts of the setup process.

Once everyone chose their characters, and I made the various story choices for the first mission, everything settled down. Fantasy Flight’s mechanics work extremely well, taking a lot of the events out of the hands of the keeper and placing them in the various decks of cards used in the game. Unlike HeroQuest or something, where the keeper is guiding characters through a story, Mansions has the keeper actively playing along as well. He doesn’t hold THAT many secrets, or know of very many traps. They all come out in the cards, and the events that play out as time progresses (it’s especially fun if you didn’t read the event cards ahead of time).

The investigator characters are propelled forward by the story and the clock. It’s a much more linear game than Arkham, requiring everyone to keep moving, and keep discussing the clues they discover, in order to win before the game destroys itself. Everyone spends the first act wandering around the mansion, armed mainly with the various clues tucked into the story read at the beginning of the game. As turns progress, time markers are placed on event cards, and usually after 3-4 turns, the next card is flipped and a new “chapter,” of sorts, begins. Eventually you discover your game-winning objective (along with the keeper’s objective) and it’s a race to get it done.

Combat is a big part of the game, as investigators are fighting off various monsters controlled and summoned by the keeper. I loved that the combat is driven by a deck of cards, with flavor text and conditions on how each fight plays out. If you’re using a shotgun, for example, you keep drawing cards until you find one with “Ranged weapon” on it. You read what it says, you roll for whatever skill check it asks, and then you read the pass or fail text. It’s a lot of fun. There’s also a good bit of strategy involved in regards to the weapons you use, and also the attack order (each round, the investigators decide who goes first).

Another important aspect of the game are the puzzles. Similar to the videogame Bioshock, in order to search some rooms or open specific doors, players have to complete a simple tile puzzle. Everyone we were playing with really enjoying figuring out the puzzles, which involve spinning and swapping tiles to match symbols or to connect colored lines. They are a good side-project in the game, and can encourage teamwork (but not cheating) as various players use the “action” phase of their turn to take a crack at completing the thing.

Okay, so this game is probably too big to review like this, and with only one play sessions under my belt I’m sure there will be more to say later. As far as playtime went, setup took unusually long: over an hour. This was mainly because of all the learning involved with the various decks, chits, and occasional vague rule (like how to position item cards in rooms). The game itself took close to three hours, which was shorter than expected.

Overall, everyone seemed to really enjoy the game and we look forward to more sessions. It was a very detailed, realistic game with lots of rules and conditions to sort through. It’s also very satisfying from a theme perspective, and even though I (the keeper) won, it never felt unbalanced.

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
70 of 77 gamers found this helpful
“Lovecraftian storytelling game with a twist”

What to say about Mansions of Madness? I like the game, I really do. I want to like the game. I like Arkham Horror, and I like Elder Sign. Mansions of Madness was a game of a different format that I feel absolutely HAD to be made. But while I do like the game, there are some parts of it that leave me disappointed. This is not to say that I’m not game for Mansions of Madness at any point, but having played the game as both a player and the antagonist, I can see both sides of the coin with clarity.

To start, all of the familiar characters from Arkham Horror are here, and they are ready to investigate. Unlike Arkham Horror, your characters attributes and skills are determined by the starting item and talent that you give them. This makes for a very dynamic way to play all the characters in the game, and some of the abilities and items are very powerful indeed. They need to be, because the players will be at the mercy of the Keeper, a player representing the malicious force behind every awful event in the game. The Keeper is trying to accomplish some hidden goal in the game, and if successful, the Keeper wins and the adventurers lose. It can be as simple as driving a character insane, or by the investigators making one crucial wrong choice.

The game comes with a booklet that has four main set-ups featured for the game, and several branching paths within that set-up to determine what the actual story for the game is. Each scenario provides some brilliant set-up prose for the players to listen to, and you can easily tell that whoever designed the story had a gift for writing; it draws you in and sets up the mood nicely, as well as giving you an idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. Once the board is set up and the story is told, the game begins, with the investigators starting in the designated starting location for the scenario.

Right away, the investigators are under the gun. There is a time counter that is constantly moving. If the investigators don’t accomplish a certain task in a certain amount of time, bad things can happen. Not only that, but the Keeper gains threat tokens each turn, and with that threat, he or she can draw cards to play on the investigators, or summon monsters with the power cards he has at the start of the game. The investigators are going to be harried almost constantly, so actions must be chosen carefully. It should be noted that the investigators cannot affect the Keeper in any way; all they can really do is defend themselves as best they can from the Keeper’s influences.

This is not to say that the investigators are completely helpless. There are items that can be found all around the playing board of the scenario. These can be discovered by investigating certain areas where there are item cards face down. Some are nothing, but others can yield valuable resources. There are also obstacles to overcome, and locks to be undone. Obstacles are usually a puzzle or a restriction of some sort, and must be overcome before the items underneath can be revealed. Locks are more difficult, and often require a crucial item to overcome, but are often the staging area for the next crucial clue.

What are clues, you ask? Clues are indicators for the investigators as to what action or goal they should accomplish next. The clues often hold the key to the investigators winning the scenario, and failure to find these clues will more often than not doom the investigators to a grisly fate (or just the loss of the game, but this is Lovecraft we’re talking about).

So that roughly explains what the game is about. Now, let me explain what I feel gives this game a bit of a disappointing turn. There is a considerable amount of replay factor in how one plays the players, and how one plays the Keeper. Whether or not you have a lenient or a brutal Keeper can make all the difference in the world as to how the endgame turns out. However, where this gameplay is dynamic, the board set-ups and the stories are not. All of the key items for a scenario are located in one place for a given scenario, and if you know the scenario, you know exactly where to go and what to avoid. This can be circumvented by the creative gamer of changing key item locations over time, but only if one is advanced and knows how to tool the game.

Here is an example of what I speak, and those that have played the game know this scenario well. In set-up four, there is one scenario in which there is a certain room. In order to avoid spoilers, I will not say which scenario and which room, but if the investigators go to that room, they LOSE THE GAME. Period, end of story. Again, creative gamers can work around that little twist, but from that point on, you know that if you can recognize the scenario, you know not to go to that room, ever. That little bit of information takes a lot of the surprise and thrill out of things once you know it.

Now, most of the game is pretty fair and balanced. But it still doesn’t get around the fact that if you decide to play a game of Mansions of Madness with new players and you happen to recognize the scenario, you’re going to have to show some creative ignorance in order to avoid metagaming and ruining the experience for everyone else. However, this is a fun game, and if both the investigators and the Keeper are playing to win, it becomes more of a game of good versus evil, and that can be thrilling in itself.

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Viscount / Viscountess
Novice Reviewer
Junior Beta 1.0 Tester
61 of 68 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Choose Your Own Adventure meets Clue meets Arkham”

Basic Idea: Your team of investigators has been brought to a mysterious location to try and solve a mystery. You’re given a story and a prologue and thrown into the depths of Lovcraftian horror. You work with your team mates to explore the location, solve the mystery and survive the horror. All the while the evil “Keeper” is throwing obstacles, monsters and insanity your way at every step. It’s everything you always wanted Clue to be, but didn’t know it until right now.

Game Play: This game is mostly cooperative. The whole team of investigators work together to solve the mystery set before you. There is, however, the element of the Keeper (or as I like to call it, “The Evil DM”). While your group together can pick the story, the Keeper sets up the scenario and has his/her own turn at game play where they can add monsters, make investigators crazy and basically stir up the plot. An investigator’s turn is simple: you may move two spaces and do an action. Your action can include exploring the room (picking up the cards placed there by the keeper), working on a puzzle, attacking a monster, using a unique item or moving an extra spot (running). On the Keeper’s turn, he/she gain “threat” (points they can spend on actions), play action cards, attack players with monsters and move the clock forward in the game. While the play itself is simple, there are A LOT of components to this game. Each room has cards that the Keeper has placed at the beginning of the game. Some rooms are locked and the appropriate keys must be found before you can enter. Some rooms have locked suitcases and fried electrical circuits that translate into logic puzzles that players must solve to continue exploring. There are monsters, items, spells, clues and a series of time cards that create an air of suspense and will end the game if the investigators aren’t fast enough.

Thoughts: Start setting up this game AT LEAST 30 minutes prior to when you plan on playing. The set up is intense and the Keeper must do almost all of it by him/herself. While there is already an expansion out (Season of the Witch), there’s still only a limited number of scenarios available right now, so your gaming group might go through the available plot rather quickly. But I LOVE this game. I’m a huge mystery and role-playing fan and this game satisfies both of those parts of me perfectly. I love the puzzles and the locked rooms and the cooperative play. And if you’re a horror game fan, this game really manages to bring on the suspense and over all creepiness. With the exception of the set up time, I love every aspect of this game and can’t wait for more expansions!

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Intermediate Reviewer
Copper Supporter
Viscount / Viscountess
50 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“Down to the Basics Review”

Disclaimer: The main goal of “Down to the Basics Reviews” is to show what the game is about, getting down to the basics, the bare minimum necessary to captivated the reader.

So, about Mansions of Madness:

1) What it is?
A scenario based horror game where one evil player plots against honored investigators that don’t have any clues about what is going on.

2) How do you play?
If you are the evil player (The Keeper):
– Gather “Threat Tokens”
– Use Threat Tokens to play and activate some abilities, like move and spawn monsters
– Attack investigators if possible

if you are one of the good guys (investigators):
– Move your investigator’s miniature
– Explore (pick up cards) rooms
– Solve puzzles
– Attack monsters
– Exchange items

3) What are the decisions that you make?
As the Keeper:
– Setup: choose the objectives of the scenario and build the Keeper Action deck.
– Make a plan based on the Keeper Action cards available, like gather enough threat to spawn a powerful monster at the end of the game, or spawn several weaker monster during the game.
– Decide which card to play (Trauma, Mythos or Keeper Action Cards)
– Decide what investigators will be attacked

As an Investigator:
– Work with the other investigators to quickly explore the rooms in order to discover clues and objectives.
– Attack or evade monsters
– Try to figure out clues

4) What is good about it?
The atmosphere full of mysteries, the investigators know nothing about the items, monsters or even the goals of the adventure.
The quality of the components, the art of the modular board, the detailed miniatures. And for those that are familiar with the other Fantasy Flight Mythos games, there are a lot of items, investigators and monsters that are the same in Mansions of Madness.

5) What is not so good about it?
The setup is quite long and demands full attention of the Keeper, because mistakes may ruin the game for everyone. There are some problems with the scenarios of the base game, but for the most part they do not break the experience. Also in the base game, the scenarios are linear, meaning that one clue leads to the next and so on.

6) What it feels when you play it?
When playing as an investigator, you will feel inside a good horror story (or movie). You know nothing about what you will encounter, there is a feeling of loss and confusion as you advance in the adventure. Surprises are everywhere, clues that at first did not make any sense, useful items, scary monsters and the freak evil Keeper always observing and plotting his malevolous schemes.

As a Keeper you know everything, you are the mastermind behind a plan to defeat those pitiful investigators. It is really fun to watch their mistakes but sometimes it is hard to avoid giving them small tips on what they should do next.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Mask of Agamemnon
Novice Advisor
42 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Amazing Potential Falls Short in Arkham-land”

The first time I saw Mansions of Madness on a game store shelf, I drooled. Set in the Cthulhu mythos-drenched world of Arkham Horror and even using a handful of the exact same protagonist player characters, it looked amazing. I didn’t purchase it that day, though, opting for a game with a lower price tag.

About a year later I eagerly sat down to play with some friends and discovered that this wasn’t quite the game I was expecting.

Setup Time

The first thing to note in this massive game is that there are a finite number of scenarios, and one of the players becomes the storyteller, game master, or whatever moniker this game uses to describe the player that controls the monsters and non-player actions in this game (The Keeper, apparently). This, to me, is a black mark on Mansions of Madness–I have a score of roleplaying games on my shelf that allow that, and I sit down to play board games for the shared player experience, whether it’s cooperative or competitive.

That said, there are cards and tiles and tokens to be set up in a specific arrangement for each game scenario, and the storyteller is burdened with 100% of this work. In our single play-through, it took over 45 minutes.

Learning the Rules

It’s a Fantasy Flight Games game. I love FFG, but what can I say? Their rule books are absurdly long and detailed. We passed the rules around from turn to turn, stumbling through the storyteller’s chosen scenario and backpedaling several times when we discovered we’d done something very, very wrong. And this was with two experienced players out of five people sitting at the table.

I don’t want to sound like I’m burying this game–there were moments of fun sandwiched in the complexity, and I believe that, much like Arkham Horror, if this game is played often enough the rules will come much more naturally. Unfortunately, I believe the difference is that Arkham Horror is a fun, cooperative game with completely random elements throughout and has infinite replayability–especially with all of the expansions available! As far as I know there are no Mansions of Madness expansions, and the booklet of scenarios included is all she wrote.


The game is beautiful. The miniatures, mansion tiles, cards, etc. are all of the incredible quality that many FFG fans take for granted these days. Certainly worth the price tag on the product.

A number of actual, physical puzzles are included with the game and must be solved during the scenarios. However: if your group is the kind that groans when the game master breaks out a puzzle during any other roleplaying game and spends an hour or two complaining about it, they are not going to like this element.

Ultimately, I suppose I was hoping for Betrayal At House On the Hill with the Arkham Horror characters and elements, and with FFG quality. That expectation, much like a highly anticipated horror film, probably contributed to my disappointment in this game.

Should You Try It?

If you’re looking for a game in the horror genre or Cthulhu mythos, especially if you like Arkham Horror, Elder Sign, and the whole slew of games in that franchise, and you’re down with having one of your group run the game and everyone else playing through a storyline RPG style–then yes, you’ll totally dig this game!

But if you’re looking for the unified group play style (rather than having an adversary in The Keeper) that comes with other games in this franchise, there’s a few other dungeon crawl board games I’d steer you in the direction of first.

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Amateur Reviewer
41 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“Mansions of Madness is a Hit!”

I’ve always been a fan of horror themed anything. Give me a terrible horror movie and I’ll almost certainly enjoy it more than a romance or action film. With that in the open, take my review with a grain of salt.

Mansions of Madness is a game set in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu universe. You and your friends play a group of investigators, with one player playing the Keeper, who runs the Mansion. The game plays like many thematic/Ameri-trash games, so I will avoid giving an overview of the basic game play.

What makes me love this game more than almost any other game I own is the amount of story in it; each of the investigator’s has an interesting story, and each of the scenarios (there are 5 in the base game) is engrossing and slightly variable.

The combat is innovative, and fun. Instead of having a dice-based combat system, depending on what type of enemy you are attacking, you will draw different cards, and the cards themselves are then split in to types of attack. The cards often have an encounter on them, a la Arkham Horror, and the player must try to pass the encounter.

There are puzzles that the player can (and sometimes must) overcome in order to uncover the secrets of the Mansion and escape alive. This mechanic alone makes this game very interesting and exciting to play.

All in all, this is a game that is dripping with theme. If you’re looking for a heavy euro game, then you already know you won’t like this game. But if you and your are into games for the experience of playing them, then this is the game for you. It’s a staple of my collection, and I firmly believe everyone should try it.

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Gamer - Level 8
Gold Supporter
41 of 47 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Absolutely LOVED it.”

I was both fascinated and terrified by this game at first. I love Elder Sign, and Fantasy Flight has a lot of games in the Arkham Horror universe. The concept of building out an ever-changing mansion and manipulating miniature creatures really appealed to me, but when I felt the box and looked at the sheer number of things involved I was intimidated. I ended up buying it for a friend of mine who loves all things miniature as a test.

The setup is daunting the first time, but once you’ve played through it the subsequent rounds go a lot faster. One player is the Keeper, and they control the creatures and weird stuff that happens to the other players (the Investigators). If you’re a D&D player, think of the Keeper as your GM. He tells the story and manipulates the situation to try and kill all the adventurers.

The basic gameplay has the investigators moving around the mansion, which is set up differently depending on what scenario you all agree to play. Most of the game is about uncovering clues and solving puzzles. There are actual physical puzzles, like picking a lock or rewiring a room that’s gone dark. They’re a neat added feature and a welcome skill-based challenge rather than just rolling dice.

Combat is something you do have to deal with in the game, but it’s definitely not the main focus. You might encounter lots of monsters (depending on your Keeper’s play style) or none at all. You can usually escape the room they’re in and there are items that let you block the door behind you (also a neat concept), so you’re never just stuck fighting turn after turn.

Fantasy Flight makes great, sturdy games with beautiful artwork. The details on the miniatures were quite nice. Everything had a solid feel to it. Overall it’s quite well made, but I did have a few minor complaints:

1. The miniatures didn’t really “snap” into their bases – they just sat on them with little pegs. This is necessary to fit them all back in the box…but it still bothered me.

2. The artwork was a little *too* dark in places, which made it hard to tell where a room was divided for movement.

3. Some of the cards are really tiny, and the print can be hard to read.

4. Once you punch out all the cardboard widgets it’s a real challenge to fit everything back in the box.

The first time we opened the game there were three of us, and we played two scenarios back to back. It took us roughly 5 hours, but a lot of that was learning the game. Still, we all agreed that it was a LOT of fun and we’d definitely sit down and play more scenarios as time permitted.

I had a lot of fun roaming around the mansion and solving puzzles. We (the Investigators) lost both times, but it was still really cool just to explore. It’s not one you can just pick up and play, but if you have a dedicated group you can invite them over and have it set up when they get there to streamline the process. I think it would be even more fun with the maximum 5 players (1 keeper, 4 investigators).

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Professional Reviewer
I play black
Silver Supporter
41 of 47 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Something wicked this way comes”

You’re in a middle of nowhere, your car broke down, the rain is starting to come down and the humongous mansion looms over you – only sign of civilization around. As you enter, the house groans, boards creaking, invisible gust of air stirring the curtains and the door slams shut behind you. Coming here was a terrible mistake.

Mansions of Madness is a horror-themed investigation adventure based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft set in 1920s US. One player is the Keeper, acting as a Game Master running the scenario, introducing complications and obstacles for investigators to overcome. 1-4 additional players each have one character that they are responsible for who try to achieve their goals (which mostly modestly consist of getting the **** out of there alive).

Game comes with a set of gorgeous double-sided tiles that create the maps of the mansions with all the creepy cellars, studies and nurseries that you would expect. There are five scenarios that come with the base box (more are available through expansions), each with a unique mansion set-up. Furthermore each of the five scenarios has a little multiple-choice customization that tweaks certain aspects of each adventure, introducing some limited replayability. For example – did the owner of the house commit suicide or was he murdered? The customization affects placement of clues that gently direct the flow of the story as players explore the dark corners and echoing corridors.

The setup should be mentioned separately and is a burden. The Keeper is responsible for picking out only the cards related to the scenario in play and populating the board with these in a very specific order. Given the fact that the flow of the game is thrown off significantly if you mess something up – this takes a while. A Keeper would be well-advised to prepare all the cards in sequence in advance so that these could be laid out quickly. Otherwise players are in for an unpleasant wait before the fun starts.

Adventures provide the Keeper with some colourful descriptions that can be read aloud to set the mood. Once the action is under way – characters can start exploring, picking up items and clues, encountering monsters and attempting to keep their sanity. Keeper on the other hands triggers all of this unpleasantness using his own limited resources.

Combat is handled in an interesting way – for every attack a card is randomly drawn that determines what kind of a check would need to succeed in order to damage the monster. There are different sub-sets of these attack cards so you’d be looking for a different type depending if you are bashing that witch’s head in with an axe or blasting it off with a shotgun. Monsters, likewise, draw their cards on their attack, introducing a variety of ways in which they can mangle you.

The Keeper doesn’t have to physically kill the players though – insanity from finding chopped-up body parts in the cupboards or visions of bawling children in mirrors will render your character insane shortly and when that happens characters are susceptible to the worst things that the Keeper can throw at them.

Each character has a basic set of RPG-like attributes that govern how well they do in shooting/fighting/avoiding attacks/keeping their wits. All actions are resolved with a roll of a d10 with low being best. Sometimes character need to solve spatial puzzles like restoring an old painting or re-connecting old wiring in an old room. These are very nifty but fit poorly into the gameplay and break up the flow.

As time ticks away, event cards introduce new complications that ultimately result in the revelation of victory condition for both the keeper and the players – at that point the race to the finish starts with each side trying to pull of a win. A cataclysmic “everyone loses” is also possible.

All in all the game offers an extremely rich experience with many interesting mechanics and a tense atmosphere. The Keeper and their level of preparedness and ability to lead a game plays a huge role in the ultimate enjoyment of the game. The game design is anything but elegant with the many systems not interacting particularly well, so that makes rulebook checks frequent. The heavy impact of luck – if you roll really really well the threat may never materialize is a bit offputting.

This game works great as RPG-lite. It’s a one-shot adventure that lasts about ~2-3 hours that accommodates rich storytelling and building up the sense of dread. However, those looking for a more compact and streamlined experience will be disappointed by the disjointed nature of the game’s many sub-systems. It’s a shame, since there are many truly original aspects of the game that deserved better integration. As it is – the target audience for Mansions of Madness is narrow and those looking for a more manageable and compact experience fighting Cthulhu’s minions should look to Elder Sign as an option.

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I play blue
53 of 61 gamers found this helpful
“Good Solid Game”

This is another game from Fantasy Flight Games based in the Arkham Horror universe. It has some interesting and unique gameplay mechanics which fit well into the game. I like how it adds story as an important part of the game.

You can replay the game around five times, but after that you know about the five different stories that come with the game and it isn’t as fun to play. There are some nice looking components that are good quality, some of the cards are quite small though and they are hard to read. For a strategy gamer it is okay to play once you get the hang of the rules in the first few turns. But this is not a game for people who are being introduced to strategy games.

Overall it is a good game.

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Went to Gen Con 2012
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
72 of 83 gamers found this helpful
“Don't go into the cemetery alone!”

My entire gaming group love playing Mansions of Madness.

Let me talk about the negatives before I move on to why everyone loves the game.
First, there is a long set up time. My advice, if you know you are going to play set it up prior to people arriving. Check the set up. During one of our recent playing, it became clear that I had not set up the board correctly and the group was in a no win situation. (I forgot to add a door)
Not everyone in my group enjoys the puzzles – they feel stressed to make the correct decision.
It may be possible to have a situation where no one wins.

The positives
With the different scenario choices, and expansions, it is possible to play the game frequently and have a different experience every time.

The pieces are fun to work with- and if you purchase some of the pre-painted miniatures (or paint them yourself) from Fantasy Flight, you can have the “main” fight include a painted miniature.

Since the characters are not forced to go in one direction, it can be pure joy to watch what trouble people can get into. There is usually at least one person in the group who is sure they should go check out something (the cemetery) while the rest of the group “Goes on ahead. They will catch up.”

The theme is easy to understand- everyone enjoys a haunted house story.

Even though this is not a “press your luck” game most players feel like they should stay as close to the door and explore at the same time. This isn’t possible and leads to a lot of fun group discussion.

If you have 2-3 hours and want to have a fun time, turn down the lights, turn up the scary music and kill off the investigators one at a time. After all everyone knows you shouldn’t go into a cemetery alone.

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Rated 10 Games
Intermediate Grader
66 of 77 gamers found this helpful
“Into The Mouth Of Madness”

In this foray into H.P. Lovecraft’s universe, all the players except one play as a party against a Keeper, who is the other player. The Keeper chooses from one of 5 scenarios, and then makes several story choices about that scenario.

Each choice affects victory conditions or the layout of the house or items or monsters in play and so on. What is fascinating is that the players (other than the Keeper) do not know what the victory conditions are at first.

They learn the conditions by finding clues, solving puzzles and defeating monsters thrown at them. The Keeper can also trigger random events that can hurt players and can inflict injured players with physical or mental maladies.

The game components are excellent and colorful. Game play is simple once you understand the rules (which does take some doing), and the game is typically well balanced. I have had several games come right down to the wire. It is not unusual for all players (keeper included) to lose.

This is a boardgame that feels like an RPG, and the mysteries within it make it very satisfying.

It does take a while to set up, and it could use more scenarios, but otherwise this is an excellent game.

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42 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Mansions of Madness #MoM”

Mansions of Madness, is exactly that it is constant madness from all of the components to the rules and to the extensive amount of time it takes to set up, play, and then put away. First I’d like to start with the components, THERE ARE TO MANY PIECES FOR MoM. Don’t get me wrong I love miniatures, its just the amount of pieces that come for this game are ridiculous. I’ve misplaced so many pieces for this game because there are again too many pieces; there are really small pieces, really big pieces and pieces that just don’t fit right into a storage container. Next lets talk about packaging, the game comes in a nice sturdy box but once you get all the pieces out you have no way of keeping them together, the game doesn’t come with any baggies or containers for the pieces so you must go out and buy them. Third, the rules are a tad over complicated to explain to a group of people, the stories seem to work but getting into the rules of the game are ridiculous. Lastly this gam has very little replay value, once you get through the stories that come with the game you have nothing else to do with the game unless you buy expansions and buy another expansion. So to summarize not enough replay value, to many pieces, not easy to teach, and takes up an enormous amount of time. But besides these flaws somehow I still enjoyed this game.

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63 of 75 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic atmosphere”

While the initial set-up time of this game is one of the longest I’ve seen, it is well worth it. The scenarios that come with the game are suspenseful and lend themselves to a degree of light role-play for those that are into that sort of thing.

Mechanically the game is simple, with checks being resolved using a standard ‘roll under X on a d10’. Combat is resolved using a deck of cards which determine the flavor and mechanics of the attack – this is a nice mechanic in theory, however there are many types of attack and the deck is sufficiently small that you find yourself repeating the same attack cards over and over.

The puzzles are an interesting twist and there are sufficient distinct puzzles, pieces and configurations to prevent repetition.

The game comes with only 5 scenarios, though each has several variable options that mean you can play the same one more than once and have a different experience.

The best tip I can give for enjoyment of this game is that the most experienced player be the Keeper. It will be their job to enforce the rules, and having someone who knows how to take advantage of the mechanics will really make the players work to eke out a win, just like Cthulhu games should always be.


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