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#1 Schwaig

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 12:47 PM

Hello fellow Investigators.

 

No, this topic is not in the wrong section. It is directed to all those who play Arkham Horror and know Mansions of Madness as well.

 

The basic question of this topic is:

If you love to play Arkham Horror and have most of the expansions, will you enjoy to play Mansions of Madness as well? 

I'am asking, because I would not want to buy the game just for reasons of collecting. I got myself a copy of Elder Sign recently (luckily it was a good offer of a used copy and not a new one) and was quite embarrassed of the game. Nothing new thematic and the mechanics were way to simple and boring for my friends and me. I had higher expectations.

 

How do you think it would be with Mansions of Madness? Do you think the game is worth to buy it? (Its not exactly cheap around here at the moment)



#2 Lilikin

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 01:45 PM

I could probably run a game of mansions most weeks and find people as it is easy to run IMO and basically can be sold to the unwashed (like my wife) non gamers as Cool Cluedo (activating flame suit) personally as the baddie is very fun to play unlike some other games of this format 4v1 as you actually feel like they are a fly in your web rather than the custodian of the target in target practice and the skill isn't winning for me its making them thinking they can win then snapping their neck. It has lots of theme and story telling and I still have players remembering when they were scalped by an axman. I play board games for social interaction, also elder sign is a good app not a great game
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#3 amikezor

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 03:10 PM

Both games are different on several aspects.

 

Arkham Horror (aka AH) is more complex and less oriented to story coherence. AH has some strategy side that is more entertaining than the ones from Mansions of Madness (aka MoM). If you play AH for the strategy, I recommend that you do not play MoM. If you play AH for the immersion and the narrative aspect, you should definitely give MoM a try. It does a better job at telling a coherent story. AH basic loop (get clues, seal gates) is in the end a bit annoying. MoM also has its flaws (balance between keeper and investigators, mainly), but if you play it like an rpg-like, it is great. On the other hand, MoM replayability is much lower. Using fan-made scenarios (which I finally reviewed here), that are typically better than original ones, can alleviate the problem though. 

 

 

Elder Sign is for me hyper-boring.

 

warm regards


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#4 Dr.Faust

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 04:19 PM

Elder Signs is simple but fun for new gamers--easy to learn and fun to play with a group. The expansion makes it more tricky, but still a fairly easy game.

 

The app...great Yog-Sothoth, the app...if you want to see true Horror, play the app. Especially Ithaqua.

 

I've never played Mansions but still want to. I am a collector and fear, though, that buying the basic game will make me want to collect all the expansions for it as well! XD


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#5 Julia

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 04:51 PM

Amikezor touched an interesting point in his post. If you want strategy over storytelling, you won't like MoM. If you want the RPG-flavour over the strategy, you'll love MoM. But beware: it requires a lot of work to transform it in a good game. It has a huge potential, but requires:

 

a) the Keeper is not a mad butcher, otherwise, pushing the game to its limits means game over 99% of the times

b) patience with the flavour texts and the impossibile situations they summon (nuns frenchkissing witches or gangsters using their tommy gunn as a baseball bat are no extraordinary situations in the mansions of madness. After all, they are not called "Mansions of Logic")

c) sometimes you end up in eternal mexican standoffs, where nobody is able to win, nor to lose the game, and it becomes slooooow

d) there are some logical inconsistencies due to the fact that sometimes investigators do not move according to the ideal timetable, and you end up with people screaming around the house "do not enter the freezer" that should have been a help for you buddy who three turns earlier had already opened the fridge (and discovered what lies in every mad fridge of the world)

 

Call of the Wild somehow re-addresses many of these points, allowing different things to happen and offering also coop possibilities (no Keeper involved). The sensation I have is that this could be the beginning of a new incarnation for MoM, and that coming expansions and PoD will prove more interesting than what we've seen in the past. But, clearly, it's only a hope.

 

Nonetheless, I'd like to spend two minutes on a consideration about the Arkham Universe: the explosion of Arkham microcosmos is represented by Mansions of Madness. You zoom to a single house, a single night of tragedy, a single bloody event. On the other hand, exploding Arkham macrocosmos spells Eldritch Horror. The three games represent a unique experience, and maybe the most ambitious project in the advanced boardgames era: offering a similar story, with common elements, set in three different "environments" all being strictly related. I'm not a big fan of Mansions, and I don't know how I'll like Eldritch, but still, academically speaking, I can't, but applaud for what they tried to do.


Edited by Julia, 14 November 2013 - 02:14 AM.

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#6 amikezor

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:08 AM

[...]

(i) If you want strategy over storytelling, you won't like MoM. If you want the RPG-flavour over the strategy, you'll love MoM. But beware: it requires a lot of work to transform it in a good game. 

 

[...]

 

(ii) Nonetheless, I'd like to spend two minutes on a consideration about the Arkham Universe: the explosion of Arkham microcosmos is represented by Mansions of Madness. You zoom to a single house, a single night of tragedy, a single bloody event. On the other hand, exploding Arkham macrocosmos spells Eldritch Horror. The three games represent a unique experience, and maybe the most ambitious project in the advanced boardgames era: offering a similar story, with common elements, set in three different "environments" all being strictly related. I'm not a big fan of Mansions, and I don't know how I'll like Eldritch, but still, academically speaking, I can't, but applaud for what they tried to do.

 

I totally second Julia's point (which I took the liberty to stress with an 'i'). Some effrot is needed to make it really entertaining. On a side note, I did not like so much the last expansion; although it had some interesting mechanics, the mythos stories are gone and that is a shame. Again, I believe that several of the fan-made scenarios are really worth playing (and they are free :-). 

 

On the (ii) point, I am also very interested to know how the AH will expand to the whole world. I just wonder how many more games of that sort I am ready to play. I played AH a very large number of times, MoM quite a lot. Now, I don't know how many extra games I can play with Siter Mary, Michael McGlenn and the great 'Drake' (among others). I shall however definitely give a chance to EH.


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#7 Schwaig

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 02:43 AM

Thanks for all the responses so far. They are very helpful.

 

Personally, I like the concept of the keeper. I imagine that this element does not allow the investigators to 'control the board', as we say it about AH. But Im not sure how my friends like it. Total-Cooperative games worked best in the past, but I will ask them what they think about it.

 

By the way, can anyone estimate how long a round of MoM takes compared to AH (played with about 4 players). Its not uncommon that people won't play AH because it takes to much time for them. (Our rounds take around 4 hours most times)

 

@Lilikin

Do you think it is a good game to show new players the way into the 'AH-Universe'?

 

@Amikezor

That sounds quite good, though I'm not yet sure how much rpg my group wants. Some friends of mine are surely in for it, others may be not. I will have to try other rpg-like games with them first.

 

@Julia

a) Don't know if anyone can handle this properly, we would have to try.

b) The impossible / illogical situations would not be a big deal for us, I guess. At least we loved Munchkin :D

c) That seems a serious flaw. How often do you think this happens and for what reasons?

d) Sounds like a good portion of Horror-feeling. Just like you watch a movie and you think all the times: 'Don't go in that villa alone, what are you doing?'



#8 Julia

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:17 AM

Schwaig,

time is a major issue with Mansions. We had games running 5 hours or more (and we always play Arkham under 2 hours), and the set-up of the core game and most of hte adventures is totally *crazy*: you have a sheet where are listed, according to some of the choices made by the Keeper, all cards to be seeded for the adventure (for example: in Room 1, place the "Axe" exploration card, Clue n.2, a "Nothing of interest card" and the Padded Lock card). If *any* of these cards is misplaced (and when you have 40+ cards to seed this could happen), then there's a risk the adventure is not beatable (you finish into a cul-de-sac where you need a card to go further, but there are no cards available). So, consider a setup time longer than Arkham's.

Honestly, although I do love the design, the core game is seriously flawed. It does scale down *horribly* (Keeper's power is a function of the number of investigators playing, but Events do have a universal time trigger, hence, the less investigator you play, the slower you go, but the crap keeps on happening at the same pace). The Keeper is forced to reveal the Objective (conditions to win the game for both sides) after Clue 1 is found (which is perfectly valid trigger) OR Event 4 is resolved regardless of the number of clues found (this could end up in absurd situation like: the party sits on the entrance of the Mansion without doing anything for the whole game. Event 4 is triggered, Objective revealed: investigators know they have to leave the house to win the game. In the next round they leave, without knowing anything of what's going on, but still, they won). Monsters are allowed to attack once / Keeper turn, but they could actually damage every investigator passing by during their turn, so that if you have a Chthonian in a room you have to pass through, and you try to pass with all 4 investigators and they fail the Evade, then all 4 are damaged (5 hits or something) and then the Chthonian attacks (which is totally crazy). Additionally, monsters can play "hide and seek": if they exit the room you share with them and reenter with the following movement, you check Sanity AGAIN, even if it's the same Maniac you've seen already 100 times in the same adventure. So, all of this can be extremely frustrating. Keeper can add frustration on frustration by playing Mythos cards on your head. I won a game simply because investigators had to open a door, and for something like 5 turns I pushed them back playing Mythos and Trauma cards on their head. And in the end nobody was happy. So, in december 2012 we played the last PoD (House of Fears), we ended up in an 8-hour game (I never finished it, being collapsed on the couch under my friends' two golden retriever) leaving everybody so unhappy we put the game on a shelf and left it there for a year more or less (more recently we played some newer scenarios from Call of the Wild, and we enjoyed them a lot more, even if, as Amikezor said, they could have been provided with a better atmosphere).

As for you last points:

a) you should consider if you like more Thriller movies or Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead. Additionally, if the Keeper is more a competitive boardgamer (focused on what to do to win in the shortest and most effective way possible the game) or could enjoy being a sort of Game Master, focused on telling a story (my thoughts on this point are monodirectional: if I want an RPG experience, I go with an RPG, not with a boardgame. But for others this could be different, and they will certainly like MoM more)

b) I do love Munchkin too, but trust me, after 6 hours of dice rolling and dogfighting, with the idea of "one more hit and I win the game" you pick up a card saying you point blank a Maniac and deal one damage to him and 2 to yourself because you didn't know what you're doing, and you keep on drawing similar cards... well... it's no good

c) this happens sadly often. I haven't played MoM as often as Arkham (maybe I played 30-40 games or so), but often, in the end, when the climax should be reached (considering frenchkissing nuns this could sound ambiguous. Uhm), you end up in situation where you need 2 more hours to do the very last thing (and everybody is sleeping around the house - not the mansion, your house) because the Keeper simply keeps on repeating the same action that forces the situation to loop endlessly

d) point is the fridge-warning should have been triggered before the fridge-opening, in the story line original idea, but this never happened because investigators went another way. Problem is that an RPG offers flexibility (they go another way? well, then the Keeper can move the encounter) while the set-up of a boardgame can't be really changed. So, paradoxal situations arise (another one coming to mind - don't remember the adventure: investigator see a crawling hand moving on the floor. Two rooms later they see the same hand returning to life, so they should have had the encounters the other way round).

Still, as Amikezor said, some of the fan made scenarios are good. They have been playtested to death, and they work perfectly. New scenarios coming for the game have all the major problems I spotted out kinda solved, and the game is now going in the right direction (let's hope they will go on with this). You need to have three things to really enjoy Mansions:

- some money to invest (at least for the core game and Call of the Wild (the latter is on promo on bookdepository.com for 23 EUR instead of 60; it's an English site with free shipping around the world, so, shipping to Germany shouldn't be a problem). Beware, it's a cash cow: each expansion has not so many Scenarios (forget the complexity and variability of a Descent campaign), and the replayability of each Scenario is quite low

- some patience to invest: in reading carefully the adventure, trying to spot out the weak points and fix those before gathering friends and playing

- a love for RPG able to stop you from being a cruel butcher: most people will simply ditch you if you follow this path

 

IF I had to choose a "GM vs party" game, I'd go with Descent over Mansions. If I had to choose another Lovecraftian game, I'd go with the Call of Cthulhu LCG, which is awesome. Or wait until the first reviews for Eldritch are out (this one should definitely grant you a lot of replyability). I should get my copy in a couple of weeks and then I'll certainly write some extensive feedbacks (GM your e-mail if you want further details on EH or any of the above mentioned points)

 

Ok, longish feedback. Sorry if I've been too talkative


Edited by Julia, 14 November 2013 - 05:47 AM.

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#9 The Professor

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:43 AM

Julia,

 

     That post was worth it to me simply so I know NOT to by MoM.  I had to laugh at one element of your letter "b" write-up, "after 6 hours of dice rolling and dogfighting" because it reminded me of an AH game in which my brother, his girlfriend, my mother, and I were in our second hour of play and my mom responded, after quite a few poorly resolved combat sequences and not an insignificant number of glasses of wine, "what do I need to roll to got to bed?" 

 

Cheers,

Joe


Edited by The Professor, 14 November 2013 - 05:45 AM.

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#10 amikezor

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:17 AM

Obviously, my opinion on MoM is different.

 

To my experience, AH games were typically longer than MoM (with the exception of AH games by myself).

 

I agree that the game totally looses interest when the keeper is trying to win at all costs, i.e. at the cost of frustrating all players. Though, several rules should prevent this: only on horror check per monster per investigator per turn (so hide and seek does not really work in practice), you can always pass through monsters (so there is no way to stop an investigator that always run faster than a monster), only 1 mythos card per investigator per turn, most keeper action are also in restricted use, etc. 

 

Anyway, we had the discussion with Julia many times now, and we disagree on this point, which is fine I guess :-)

 

To me, the basic loop of AH (find clue, seal gates) is a real issue. The rolling dices argument is totally reversible. But I may simply have played it too many times.

 

 

Whatever games you end up playing, enjoy ! 

 

regards


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#11 Julia

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:48 AM

To me, the basic loop of AH (find clue, seal gates) is a real issue. The rolling dices argument is totally reversible. But I may simply have played it too many times.

Anyway, we had the discussion with Julia many times now, and we disagree on this point, which is fine I guess :-)

 

Yes, it's totally fine we have different opinions on the game (actually, we agree on most of the points - there are bugs that need to be fixed, and you have to play MoM with an "RPG eye" and not as a die-hard boardgamer who wants to win at all costs or that tries to metagame exploiting the bugs of the game).

 

Our opinion simply differs is the way the we consider both games, but it's good Schwaig and the others could listen to all possible point of views :)

 

Best thing you can do is trying the game. With a friends, in a game club, at a convention. Point is that it plays very differently from usual BG, and the fact that every time you choose one of the three objectives for a scenario you have the very same set-up, killing replayability, so you should see if this is your cup of tea or not. Very hard to tell without trying.


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#12 amikezor

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:52 AM

 

To me, the basic loop of AH (find clue, seal gates) is a real issue. The rolling dices argument is totally reversible. But I may simply have played it too many times.

Anyway, we had the discussion with Julia many times now, and we disagree on this point, which is fine I guess :-)

 

Yes, it's totally fine we have different opinions on the game (actually, we agree on most of the points - there are bugs that need to be fixed, and you have to play MoM with an "RPG eye" and not as a die-hard boardgamer who wants to win at all costs or that tries to metagame exploiting the bugs of the game).

 

Our opinion simply differs is the way the we consider both games, but it's good Schwaig and the others could listen to all possible point of views :)

 

Best thing you can do is trying the game. With a friends, in a game club, at a convention. Point is that it plays very differently from usual BG, and the fact that every time you choose one of the three objectives for a scenario you have the very same set-up, killing replayability, so you should see if this is your cup of tea or not. Very hard to tell without trying.

 

 

Very well written. I concur  :)

 

warm regards


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#13 Lilikin

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 07:26 AM

Don't want to disagree with Julia but my experience with MoM is much shorter than AH games I guess as AH is basically maths and probabilities basically an expanded version(in everyway) of Elder Sign where the basis of the game is improving probabilities of dice rolls AH losses its theme very quickly personally and that's what I love about it. AH reminds me of star craft where the game is about getting stuff ready in the correct order or the guy that has built that unit at exactly the right time loses and the excellent AH universe is lost I feel on AH. Because I feel I tend to just do the same things in the same situations.

MOM is different you wont be mathing out the game and yes it isn't balanced, but that's how Lovecraft is pretty good at killing off the heroes in his books. The difference between a good baddie is he makes them enjoy the losing. I don't have a problem with a nun who is slowly losing the plot kissing a demonic witch not because I am immature (I am) but because that's what madness means and I am sure if I was a gangster and I was twinkle toeing some mean beasts anything in my hand would be over its head.

back to your question at me. Yes it is GREAT for new player my wife who hates anything geeky loves playing as a) its basically Cludeo and b) as the baddie you can run all the rules get them to understand the move and action and what a test is then read all the cards changing the text if you wish and getting them to roll,
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#14 The Professor

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:38 AM

Lilikin,

 

     You had me at StarCraft!  Not exactly the game I would have used to make the point, but it's great to see that there's another SC lover out here.

 

Cheers,

Joe


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#15 Soakman

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 12:51 PM

So, I want you to know that all of Julia's comments are extremely valid.

 

That being said, (I don't know what I'm doing differently than you guys, hahah) my AH games often go to 6 or 7 hours of playtime. And while I enjoy every minute of them, MoM takes maybe a third of that time.

But yes, since MoM is not Co-Op, you often end up with one side or the other feeling disappointed in the game.  Sometimes the keeper walks away feeling like he abused and violated his players...Sometimes the players walk away feeling good, but guilty of depriving the keeper of a win just by standing in a fire before the objective is revealed (If you die before the objective is revealed, you miss a turn but get a BRAND NEW investigator).

 

It is very fun though imo. But you have to have a group that can shrug off the baggage and replay the same scenarios without being overwhelmed by that "but last time...." feeling. 

The game has a lot of potential and seldom maximizes it. But thematically it is great, and if you like having a tool box to create and build your own custom games, this game (with its expansions) is amazing.

The appeal to me lays with the heavy theme, imbalanced scenarios (and trying to overcome them), the tool-box nature of the components, and seeing the original AH redefined in the space of a single location on the AH board.

 

Investigator Agency is an issue for me as it seems like often you are simply running down a hall waiting for something horrible to happen to you. But playing the keeper is very very wickedly fun.


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#16 Lilikin

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 12:57 PM

Totally agree, I wouldn't play MoM with hardcore gamers as I am not blessed with a group near me as I am working on it, and want to include my wife in my hobby MoM is great, a hardcore group of gamers? Stuff AH or MoM, TI3 up man
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#17 Dr.Faust

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 04:05 PM

Don't want to disagree with Julia but my experience with MoM is much shorter than AH games I guess as AH is basically maths and probabilities basically an expanded version(in everyway) of Elder Sign where the basis of the game is improving probabilities of dice rolls AH losses its theme very quickly personally and that's what I love about it. AH reminds me of star craft where the game is about getting stuff ready in the correct order or the guy that has built that unit at exactly the right time loses and the excellent AH universe is lost I feel on AH. Because I feel I tend to just do the same things in the same situations.

MOM is different you wont be mathing out the game and yes it isn't balanced, but that's how Lovecraft is pretty good at killing off the heroes in his books.

 

While I am still on the fence about getting MoM myself, I do want to point out that Lovecraft didn't kill his heroes very often. Bad things happened to them, certainly, but in the end, they were, more or less, successful if they were attempting to stop the Big Bad Ancient One from emerging or doing its dirty deeds done cheap (seriously, Wizard Whately? Selling out the entire planet just to learn how to make your own gold? What the heck, man!?)

 

As for the RPG elements, I think that Julia is right--the control of the board is entirely up to the Keeper in the end, and it is the Keeper who decides if this is going to be a butchering machine or a dark story for your friends. As an enthusiast for the theme, I can say that AH doesn't lose it's theme quickly if you take some 'precautions'. One, try and get out more Location Encounters. Read them ahead of time before reading them to the player in question and don't tell them what the result of their decision will be--if they have to chose to try and steal the book or not, don't tell them that if they DON'T, then they wind up losing a point of Sanity. It keeps them on their toes and takes away the security of the 'Math' since they won't know what kind of check they will need to make.



#18 Julia

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 07:38 PM

Just wanted to leave a couple of reference links where Scenarios from the core set and some PoD are analyzed:

 

- Roberta Yang's What works and what doesn't (mostly what doesn't)

 

- Chris Davis' MoM - Fully revised

 

They both offer good insights on the problems that afflict MoM, and offer solutions and interesting reflections. Clearly, there are spoilers inside, but for those who could be interested to be Keeper for the game, or just want to go deeper with this, they are an interesting read.


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#19 spalanzani

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 04:14 PM

I'm a big fan of both, but for different reasons. I find AH to be a wonderful team effort to save the world from some slumbering ancient evil, but MoM is all about the obstacle course and a different sense of victory. Definitely agree that you need to approach MoM as a RPG, too - in fact I always play the Keeper because I'm the one who is more concerned with theme and storytelling than with winning. Not to brag or anything, but our first game of MoM was two thousand times better than any game of AH I've ever played, and even though the investigators lost, it ended with one of those rare and wonderful moments when everyone sat back and said just how much they'd enjoyed it. I lobe AH, don't get me wrong, but I've never had quite the same experience as that.

Not that it's all rosy of course. CotW was a bit of a let down to be honest. But generally, I feel there is more opportunity for immersion in MoM than the basic loop of AH mentioned earlier, but you really need the right group to make the game work.

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#20 Soakman

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 12:28 PM

I'm a big fan of both, but for different reasons. I find AH to be a wonderful team effort to save the world from some slumbering ancient evil, but MoM is all about the obstacle course and a different sense of victory. Definitely agree that you need to approach MoM as a RPG, too - in fact I always play the Keeper because I'm the one who is more concerned with theme and storytelling than with winning. Not to brag or anything, but our first game of MoM was two thousand times better than any game of AH I've ever played, and even though the investigators lost, it ended with one of those rare and wonderful moments when everyone sat back and said just how much they'd enjoyed it. I lobe AH, don't get me wrong, but I've never had quite the same experience as that.

Not that it's all rosy of course. CotW was a bit of a let down to be honest. But generally, I feel there is more opportunity for immersion in MoM than the basic loop of AH mentioned earlier, but you really need the right group to make the game work.

 

I find it really interesting that you say CotW was a letdown. I find that the consensus is that MoM was doing many things poorly until CotW.  I tend to agree with that sentiment, though I like the entire package as a whole. To me, CotW made playing an investigator more attractive because you weren't all just following the first player through hallways. Everyone had a variety of places to go and ways to help out with the objective (or getting to the objective).

 

Although I tend to enjoy linear plots because they are usually more solidly written, my experience with the base game + FA tend toward the keeper having waaaaaay more fun than the investigators (and the people I play with also love the thematic elements and I play a relatively merciful keeper).

 

BUT one of the things I really really love about MoM and also appreciate from the developers is that especially in the Base Set + FA, the timing of the entire chain is very accurately done.  I've had dozens of games that could turn one way or the other in the last turn. And that is very exciting. The only true problem with this is that generally when that last turn comes around, everyone knows what is going to happen. Either the keeper doesn't have enough threat to stop the investigators or the keeper plays panic or some other "locked doors" mythos card and the investigators don't even have a chance to win. No die roll, no counter-mythos abilities, no nothing.  It's just like... annnnd I was saving this card because I knew this was going to happen from turn 1.

 

I dunno. That's the crutch of the problem to me. When you finish a game and everyone around the table thinks "Man, that card is cheap," or "Man, at least give me a chance to fight back."


Gallery of Thematic Custom Investigators

 

You can find the .EON File Page @ Board Game Geek! Just follow this link: http://boardgamegeek...#comment4314881





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