After a 9-month hiatus, I'm happy to have been able to squeeze in a few games of Mansions over the past couple of weeks.
I got to introduce a couple of guys to Cycle of Eternity (it's all we had time for), and they both loved it.
That got me in the mood to keep playing on my own, so I finally took the shrink-wrap off Beyond the Threshold and played both scenarios solo 4-5 times each (still haven't touched SoA, SoT, HJ and PotS, even though I own them all).
I then played the Valkyrie scenario "A Glimpse From the Past" twice.
I wasn't able to leave any feedback in app for "A Glimpse From the Past," which I played solo with two investigators (Carolyn Fern and Vincent Lee). First game, I lost due to the elimination of Vincent Lee (who was struggling to get anything done because he ended up with the Restless Anxiety insanity condition and I kept screwing up on his behalf on a critical puzzle, while Carolyn kept to herself to deal with some certain disturbing scenario-related matters). Must have hit the wrong button (?), as I did not get an epilogue as one does in FFG scenarios.
I won the second game, but still didn't get any kind of epilogue... is that normal for Valkyrie (I seem to recall this happening when I played other scenarios in the past)? Or was that a glitch? Anyhow, missing the epilogue was a bit of a bummer after having slogged as hard as I did to get to score a victory (with both investigators wounded, but otherwise still sane).
. I loved the premise of the scenario.
. The story was coherent and was not anything I had seen in MoM 2e before.
. Flavourful descriptive text, especially the intro and journal entries/incriminating evidence.
. Event text was generally (but not always) a good fit for the unfolding narrative.
. The scenario had innovative mechanics (i.e., the option to hide things; the ritual dagger; climbing in/out of windows; options for achieving the final objective).
. Some great surprises the first time around!
. One of the puzzles was especially creative... as was the consequence for getting it wrong!
. Great and truly evocative sound effects.
. Excellent use of core set materials (I had RN and SM enabled, but nothing from either collection ever came into play). Enemies were used sparingly and to great effect (I hate it when wave after wave of totally random enemies hit investigators for dubious in-game reasons).
. Logical use and placement of items.
. The cat!!!
. Mature themes.
. Exciting finale that does not require pummelling a big bad end guy to death.
Could be better
. Variability upon replaying: the layout of the board will remain unchanged, even with the availability of the RN and SM tile collections. There won't be any surprises, and odds are you will find/explore 95% or more of what there is to be found/explored. That said, I understand that a tremendous amount of time/work goes into the creation of one of these scenarios, and there must always come a time when the designer decides: "good enough!" And perhaps the designer did not have access to the tile collections when this scenario was created.
. Combat could prove a lengthy slog, given the items/spells available in the scenario (my choice of investigators might also have been part of the problem). Fortunately, the amount of combat was limited in the game.
. When playing solo with two investigators, I found that the scenario could kind of drag, especially from the middle mark or so when one investigator gains a particular "something"... that character's action choices were quite limited from the point of acquisition onward, and the identical sequence of events/tests that repeated every round until the end of the scenario went from "awesome!" to "please stop, this is painfully redundant." And when the other investigator is afflicted with Restless Anxiety, it takes a lot more time to get things done (that isn't the scenario designer's fault, but something which put a damper on my experience).
. Both my games went 22+ rounds, which I felt was too long for this scenario, especially given how frequently events would recycle.
. At times, text for combat and horror checks was inconsistent with the enemy being fought. There should be easy fixes for this.
. The sound effect marking the transition from investigator to mythos phase is painfully jarring... the first few times, I could bear with it. Over 20+ rounds, it became almost intolerable. I might not introduce this scenario to more casual players on that basis alone (especially since the audio effects and music in this scenario otherwise really enhance the experience).
. Not getting to see what should have been different epilogues at the end of each game was a bummer (maybe I did something wrong?).
Final thoughts / score
All in all, this was an ambitious and impressive scenario that made the most of the core box material. I'm really glad I got to play it a few times (solo), and I might consider introducing it to my gamer friends if the investigator/mythos transition sound FX were fixed. There are enough surprises and innovative mechanics to be worth at least one play.
Hopefully, a higher investigator count will allow faster completion of the scenario and more dynamic interactions once someone gains a "particular item."
A score of 7/10 seems about right to me at the moment (an 8/10 for the initial couple of plays, dropping to 5 or 6 following repeat plays)... my rating may require adjustment after I've played more official FFG and Valkyrie scenarios.
Many thanks to the designer (whose name escapes me at the moment-sorry!) for sharing his creativity and hard work with the community!