This Saturday, I discovered an amazing board game called Mansions of Madness. Set in the "Cthulhu mythos", players control one of eight investigators exploring trap filled locations with monsters to fight and run away from while solving semi-random logic puzzles, scrounging for new equipment and advancing the storyline before timed events go off.
For all intents and purposes, it's the closest I've seen to Resident Evil: the board game. Even the first scenario puts the modular board to look like a digest version of the Spencer Estate, which fans might recall from the first game. The game is played by having one person be the moderator and controller of the monsters, building up points every turn to move monsters, play cards on players with weak sanity. Combat is handled by drawing through a combat deck until your chosen weapon type is given, where it sets the mood and gives you a stat to roll a die against. The card also dictates what bonuses or penalties you get if you succeed or fail the skill check.
You can trigger puzzles by investigating certain rooms. In the scenario I played, I got 3 different puzzles- a fuse box puzzle, a combination puzzle and a sliding tile one. You get a certain amount of moves depending on how smart your character is, and can't be given hints by the other players.
I played for about 2 hours. It only took 5 minutes for me and the other players to get started after setting up the board, but those playing the moderator should go through the rule books so they know what everything does and which cards to set up. It's available on Amazon for $57 right now, with good production values with figures, monsters, cards and the modular boards.
The only major downside to the game is that there are only five scenarios offered in the base set. There are variants with each storyline so you can replay the events without ruining the surprises, but it is kind of a bummer none-the-less. Already there is one affordable expansion pack and fans on BoardGameGeek.com have made more for free.
[Photo via SolGrundy's Flickr]