Mansion of Madness 2nd Edition is a fully cooperative game for 1 – 5 players inspired by the horror works of H.P. Lovecraft. Each player will take on the role of an investigator looking into various scenarios with different stories, difficulties, and duration. What really makes this game stand out from others is the companion app (available as a free download for Android, iOS, and PC). Unlike the first edition, the app takes on the role of the Keeper overseeing the actions of spawning monsters, revealing events, and even randomizing the game board for maximum replayablity.
All of the art on the cards and board tiles are beautifully illustrated. The miniatures are made from a softer plastic than some companies but still show nice details. The pegs used to attach them to the base are a bit of a pain. Some are too long and dig into the cardboard insert below or a bit too short to make a good fit. The base has a slot to slide the monsters token into, which are also a little painful. Sliding the token in can be a tight fit and a few of the bases still had plastic flashing obscuring the opening which was easily removed with my finger nail. If you are buying the game just for the miniatures you might walk away a little disappointed. However, the game as a whole does not disappoint.
Play starts by opening the companion app and selecting the scenario you wish to play, then selecting which investigators your group has chosen. Those choices are put into the app and it generates a pool of starting items which can be divided among the group as you please.
Once the scenario starts a preamble sets the story, giving you the reason your investigators are looking into this mystery and clues as to what you should be doing. Finally, the starting tile is revealed and the app shows you what tokens to place on the board along with a description of each.
The game play has two phases the Investigator Phase and the Mythos Phase. During the Investigator Phase each player can take 2 actions such as Move, Search, Explore, Interact, Attack, and solve puzzles. Movement is done by moving your miniature to adjacent spaces on the board, actions like Search, Explore, Interact, Attack, and others are done by clicking the icon on the app you wish to activate. When pressed the app gives a brief description and asks if you want to continue with the action. This lets you think twice when you want to Explore the next room but hear otherworldly sounds coming from it. Once the action is confirmed the app continues the descriptive text and tells you what challenge you might have to resolve or items you find.
The Mythos Phase begins after all Investigators have taken their turn and that is confirmed with the app. At this point seemingly random things can happen to Investigators, new monsters can spawn, existing monsters will move and attack and further details of the scenario can be revealed. The game can feel like you can take your time searching every room and moving at your own pace, but in reality the scenario is playing out regardless of the Investigators actions. Every move and action has to count if you want to win the scenario.
When I first heard this was an app enabled board game my concern was that it would no longer feel like a board game. That the social feeling that comes with a board game would be lost in favor of the more solo feeling that video games tend to give. That concern was quickly erased! The app never felt invasive, overbearing, or clunky. It felt more like having a devious friend who knew all the rules and could explain what you had to do next without any confusion all the while describing each room, event, and monster in vivid detail.
My first play through ended with 4 of the 5 investigators insane and the Priest saving the day by preventing the… well I won’t spoil it. As with most games it did take longer than the 60 – 90 minutes the scenario suggested but that tends to be the case when 5 people play a new game for the first time. Everyone who played thoroughly enjoyed the game and is looking forward to trying out a new scenario.
As if an excellent game with a remarkable app wasn’t enough. Fantasy Flight Games thought about their fans who invested in the 1st edition of the game. Inside the box of the 2nd edition is a conversion kit that has everything you need to use the Investigators, Monsters, and board tiles from the 1st edition of the game and the two expansions! This level of forethought on not making a previous edition undesirable is almost unheard of.
If you are a fan of Lovecraft and Cthulhu genre games I highly recommend this!