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Game review: Mansions of Madness Second Edition is an 'app' board game of mystery and adventure
Mansions of Madness Second Edition is an app-assisted horror game inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It allows a group of adventurers to explore a story-driven adventure in an old spooky mansion. - photo by Ryan Morgenegg
Mansions of Madness Second Edition is a board game unlike any other. It's more than a game, it's an experience. From one to five players attempt a daring adventure trying to solve a mystery in a haunted mansion. A companion app is necessary to play, taking the game to whole new levels.

Inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Mansions of Madness Second Edition is set in a darker version of our world in the 1920s. Players work together to explore a spooky mansion room by room, fight monsters, solve puzzles, gather evidence and avoid death and insanity. A typical adventure has the players trying to stop some horrible monster, ritual or act of evil.

The free companion app is available for both Android and Apple devices and personal computers. It is easy to navigate and contains four different scenarios to play. Length of play time depends on the scenario selected. One could be playing for 90 minutes or six hours. Each scenario has a unique story and win conditions.

It's important to note that even if a group of gamers plays the same scenario twice, the app mixes up the map, adds new puzzles and creates enough changes to allow enjoyment time and time again. This is pure brilliance on behalf of Fantasy Flight Games and makes the game even more attractive to purchase.

There are eight unique investigators to play in the game and each has a special ability. They also have a set of similar abilities but with different rankings. Some are good at fighting, athletics, mental and mythical challenges. Two vital stats are sanity and health. Run out of either of these and the game ends for all players.

As the game begins, the app sets the scene with full dialogue, moving pictures and sound. Eventually the players will end up at a mansion or similar exploration location. The app shows what game tiles, tokens and monsters are needed from the physical game. Players build a physical map on the table, adding pieces that indicate places to explore, search and interact with. When indicated, monsters will appear and attack investigators.

The app handles fights with monsters, puzzle mini games, exploration actions, interaction with the game and search actions. The app remembers what progress has been made and can even be saved or loaded at a later date. The bookkeeping headaches of a game this big are a thing of the past.

As players explore the mansion, a story will unfold. There will be clues that lead investigators to perform certain actions, search certain parts of the mansion or gather certain items. Eventually the game will reveal what is exactly needed to win, and if the players are successful, the game ends with some fun dialogue and images, bringing a satisfying conclusion.

The components of the game are top-notch and typical of what one might receive in a game from Fantasy Flight. There is an excellently written rulebook, beautiful artwork, nice miniatures, quality cards and durable map tiles. The app portion of the game is well done, free of bugs and is like adding frosting on an already tasty multi-layered cake.

Additional scenarios will be available for the app soon. Two figure and tile collection expansion packs were announced recently that will allow gamers who are new to Mansions of Madness the ability to add the floor tiles and miniatures from the first edition of the game. For those who already own Mansions of Madness first edition, hang on to it and any expansions. They can be used together with the second edition for expanded games. More information on the second edition expansions can be found here.

It's hard to do this type of epic game justice in just a few words. Those who might like this game are those who enjoy heavily themed games, story-driven content and cooperative game play. I would not recommend it for kids because some of the text, monsters and themes are frightening. It is a higher-priced game at $100, so be sure to check it out before buying. Find out more or download the free app at Fantasy Flight Games.
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