In October, Fantasy Flight Games announced Call of the Wild, an upcoming expansion for Mansions of Madness. The game’s investigations into arcane mysteries and eldritch horrors take to the fetid forests and oozing swamps of the great outdoors. You and your friends will need to carefully guide your investigators through terrain littered with pitfalls, deep pools, and rushing rivers.
Taking the madness out of the mansion creates a whole new kind of horror for investigators who choose to brave the wilderness. There is nothing more terrifying than the unknown, and the dark and dangerous outdoors are filled with creatures and obstacles that the investigators can barely begin to imagine. The process of exploring the forests and swamps lends itself to a more open-ended and non-linear process of investigation and narrative.
A Strategy for Survival
In the base game of Mansions of Madness, each clue helps the investigators find their way to the next, leading them along a perilous path to the keeper’s dastardly plans. In The Call of the Wild, each clue does not necessarily lead to the next hint. Rather, each clue gives the investigators and players another glimpse at the larger picture, and you must use careful deduction to lead you in the right direction and foil the keeper.
Typically, when beginning a scenario, the players all read a brief bit of narrative that gives the investigators the first bits of information that they require to begin seeking out clues. Since Call of the Wild encourages a more open-ended approach to your experience of the great outdoors, investigator players and the keeper are both given Strategy hints. The Strategies give both the keeper and the investigator players a way to approach their side of the game, but it doesn’t provide the same explicit direction as the narrative snippets. Players must keep this Strategy in mind as they work to foil their opponent and explore the vast wilderness.
The Perils of the Forest
The untamed wilderness is no place for the faint of heart, and exploration isn’t as simple as just strolling about the woods. The treacherous pits and swift rivers are among the tamest of the terrors that you must face in the forests and fields, but they are by no means easy to navigate.
The earth itself may open to swallow your investigators if they do not take care while exploring. Pits can dot the map as a result of Event cards or a Keeper Action, and they can stop an investigator in their tracks or deal damage to hapless explorers. After an investigator or monster encounters one of these sinkholes, the player may be able to discard the pit token or he may be forced to replace it. Depending on what the token indicates, a pit may become a persistent problem for investigators while they explore.
Rivers and pools of water swirling or stagnant represent impassible borders that investigators cannot cross on foot. These bodies of water require an investigator to use a boat, bridge, or spell to aid their passage. Bridges tend to be the long way around, but it may be your only chance to escape to make a mad dash in the right direction. Boats can only be used by a character that has managed to find the boat house keys, and the boat can be used to move across an impassable border. Investigators who steep themselves in the arcane can learn the “Levitate” spell, and then they can simply float over the previously impassable borders. Like any spell, the process of levitation is not an exact science, so resort to spellcraft at your own peril.
These impassable borders are obstacles for most monsters, too, and they can be used to your advantage. An investigator with a ranged weapon can take shots from a safe distance at a creature on the opposite side of a river. However safe you may feel, though, it pays to always have an escape route planned. If an investigator finds himself with his back to the water, he may be trapped as monsters approach, and flying monsters can ignore the impassable borders entirely and land in your space unimpeded!
Each new scenario in Call of the Wild encourages the investigator players to explore its treacherous and terrifying terrain as they seek out some way of defeating the keeper.
Can You Pierce the Mind’s Veil?
In “The Mind’s Veil,” one of the new scenarios in Call of the Wild, deduction, exploration, and careful attention to detail are your only hope of surviving the eldritch powers that have entrapped you and your fellow investigators. You have woken up on a hilltop, surrounded by a thick fog and attended by a dark and mysterious stranger. You have no memory of how you came to be here or why you have a backpack full of strange artifacts, but you know you must find a way through the mist at all costs.
The fog that obscures both the forest and your memory is represented by setup of the tiles. The setup for the scenario is fast and easy, with only a few tiles making up the initial area surrounding the hilltop. Around the edge of the board are cards called Trail Cards, which the keeper lays out at random on each edge of the board. When an investigator decides to brave the unknown edge of the forest, the Trail Card is flipped over, revealing the next tile to be placed. This new tile replaces the Trail Card, and the investigators can move into the new area to further explore.
Investigators should take care when wandering into the mists, however, as the keeper will have a chance to spawn horrible creatures into the newly revealed space each time a Trail Card is resolved.
The investigators need to explore the map in order to reveal new areas and learn helpful clues about the mystery of their circumstances. Only by surviving the horrendous denizens of the woods and through careful deduction using the clues they uncover can the investigators discover how to escape their imprisonment in the woods.
Each of the new, open-ended scenarios in the Call of the Wild expansion for Mansions of Madness features new ways for the investigators and the keeper to explore the horrors of Lovecraft’s weird fiction. In our next preview, we’ll look at how the keeper’s role has changed now that he’s outside the walls of the mansion!