One Year On – July 2018

Two games to look back on this month, and both are still regulars to the table.

Mansions of Madness (Second Edition)

The game that started the flurry of app driven board games, and it’s still one of the best.

Fantasy Flight Games have shown considerable support for this game, releasing not just physical expansions but downloadable content (DLC) too.

I have to admit that some of the DLC has been a little disappointing – Dark Reflections being the biggest let-down – but generally they are pretty good, and I think at £4.99 most are good value.

For us, Mansions usually hits the table during holiday periods, as we find it just too long a game to fit in otherwise – probably due to our slow gameplay more than anything else – but it still remains a firm favourite with my daughter.

We currently have two expansions – Beyond the Threshold and Sanctum of Twilight – and both have been extremely enjoyable to play. I like the characters they’ve introduced, the new cards and monsters, but most of all the extra scenarios.

In my opinion you really need to buy into this game to keep it at its best, repetitive play of the completed scenarios makes for a, ‘been there, done that’ kind of feeling, even varying the characters doesn’t help much.

There are a few quirks with the game that new players will have to get used to, like the tight time constraints the app put on the scenarios.

You’ll set of on your first adventure, taking the time to investigate everything, and before you know it things start ramping up, with monsters spawning left right and centre – and then your dead, or insane, or quite possibly both!

To give the game some credit though, it does usually give you fair warning that you need to get on with it; a little light prodding one might say!

The story telling throughout is of a very high standard, and I really enjoy the scenarios that concentrate more on the investigation side of the game, almost like a ‘whodunnit’ movie. We’ve had some very thematic games, which have produced some highly cinematic moments, like last minute escapes, or in the case of Yasmin, a walking armoury when she managed to gain every weapon under the sun and destroyed everything that crossed her path!

The game also promotes a lot of player interaction as you all decide turn order, and who’s going to do what – you never feel left out, and watch each others moves in the hope that something useful will be revealed.

The mini-puzzle type games that the app introduces seem to be getting more varied with each expansion release, and some present a pretty problem; again everyone gets involved trying to solve these, especially the colour sequence ones.

I’m just starting to think about painting the miniatures, and one thing is for certain, those bases will have to go! They’re just so big and clumsy, and a lot of the monsters just don’t sit well on them and they take up a lot of space on the board. I’ll keep the tokens at the side of the board for reference; after all I’ll only need to keep one of each type of monster.

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition Monster Tokens
The bases will have to go!

Clear round bases seem to be the way forward, as a quick gander on BGG will reveal, and I think they work really well with the variance of tiles.

Mansions of Madness Second Edition is three years old now, and its popularity doesn’t look like flagging. When it come to Arkhamesk games there isn’t anything out there that can really compete- a horror based dungeon crawler with integrated app that immerses the players deep within a story. Admittedly, Arkham Horror The Card Game may be judged a better game, and some may argue it tells a better story, but you have to create that story, whereas here it’s all done for you – just play, enjoy, and don’t expect to win!

Read the review HERE

Timeline

Timeline Lovely tin!

Not a lot to add here – Timeline is what it is!

It isn’t the type of game that gets replaced on the shelf – for starters its small, there isn’t much in the way of direct competition, its easy to learn and play, its educational, and of course those tins look great!

This is one of my Wife’s favourite games with all three getting a fairly equal slice of the game cake (we have Inventions, Music & Cinema, and British History). I personally prefer Music & Cinema, simply because it invokes memories of seeing certain films or listening to a particular type of music.

Yasmin, however, refuses to play any of them, despite being a bit of a history buff, and this seems a common thread amongst the younger generation. Children are at a disadvantage when first playing these games, but if they persevere they will learn and become familiar with the dates. Unfortunately, children like Yasmin don’t like to play games that they feel disadvantaged playing, or think they have no chance of winning.

Timeline isn’t just a game though; it is a cause for conversation and debate. Many a time we have played and ended up discussing why we think a certain card is wrong (they’re not usually – though ambiguity can creep in), or chatting about memories of certain movies, and all too often the iPad comes out and Google fires up – you see, education, education, education!

We don’t play by the rules though – we play it tough!

By the rules, if you place a card incorrectly it is removed from the game and the player draws a new card. We leave the card in play, putting it in its correct position, and this drastically increases the difficulty of the game, not to mention the length!

You often end up with lots of cards squeezed together in consecutive years, meaning you have to be quite precise about what year you think the card your playing is.

What's in the ...tin?
A beautiful little package!

If you play the game often enough then this is the only way to play, otherwise, as you start to remember roughly what year the cards are, the game becomes less of a challenge and is over quite quickly.

For its tiny price tag you get a simple, entertaining and educational game that looks fab in the tin and not bad out of it either. Its small enough to pop in your pocket (especially if you take it out of the tin and put it in a baggy) and take down the pub, or even on a plane or train, and it will always give you something to talk about.

Read the review HERE

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