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A preview of the keeper's turn in Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness | Published 10 November 2010

Gloria Goldberg tried to keep her breathing steady, but it was no use. Her heart was threatening to burst from her chest, beating a rhythm more frantic than the pounding rain outside. She stepped carefully, her probing arms navigating her through the darkness. A sound came from behind her; claws across the wooden floor. She spun around, but it was no use. The blackness was infinite. Then the lightning crashed, and she saw the shape come for her. Cold hands grasped her throat, pulling at her hair. It wasn’t until she fell to the ground that she realized she was still alive. But a feeling of foreboding came over her as she heard her assailant’s feet scurry off back into the darkness. Something more terrible than death was coming. She could feel it...

An evil plot is unfolding in Arkham, and a handful of unfortunate investigators have become wrapped up in it. A mysterious mastermind orchestrates the events, guiding his minions on their quest to bring about a terrible outcome. In our recent investigations into Mansions of Madness, the macabre board game of horror, insanity, and mystery for 2-5 players, we have seen how the keeper sets up his story for the game, how players set up their investigators, and what investigators can do on their turn. Today we’ll look at the keeper, and what diabolical options he has on his turns.

A bit of housekeeping kicks off the keeper’s turn, but his most important steps are as follows:

  • Gain Threat step
  • Keeper Action step
  • Monster Attack step
  • Event step

The Keeper Action step is the where the bulk of the keeper’s choices lie during his turn. But in order to execute Action cards (or perform other maneuvers that we’ll discuss later), the keeper will need to stock up on Threat - his “currency” for nasty tricks. A number of Threat tokens are generated each turn equal to the number of investigators playing. So in a 5 player game, the keeper would gain 4 threat (one for each investigator) during the Gain Threat step of his turn.

The options the keeper has on his turn (in other words, which Keeper Action cards he has before him) depend on which story is being played. During his setup the keeper gathers the Keeper Action cards (typically about 4 or 5) specific to the scenario. These cards have a variety of functions, and are the keeper’s key to completing his objective.

To activate a Keeper Action card, the keeper pays the appropriate threat cost (but doesn’t discard that card). Some Keeper Action cards enable him to draw Mythos and Trauma cards (which we’ll discuss later), while others allow the addition of minions and environmental effects to the game. As an example, let’s imagine the story gives the keeper the following cards: Summon Worshippers, Summoning, Command Minion, and Dark Ritual. Those four cards are placed face-up in front of the keeper, and he can spend the threat required to activate them over and over again throughout the game.

The keeper can play as many Keeper Action cards (multiple times) as he can afford. Some Keeper Actions allow him to draw Mythos cards, but he’ll have to wait to use them; Mythos cards represent “interrupt effects” that the keeper can only play during an investigator's turn. Like Keeper Action cards, the makeup of the Mythos deck is dictated by the story you’ve chosen to play, and each card has a Threat cost. Unlike Keeper Action cards, Mythos cards must be discarded after they’re played. So if the keeper seems to be hoarding Threat and Mythos cards, expect the unexpected! Your gear may crumble at the worst time, a painting may fly off the wall and toward your head, or you may even find yourself an unwilling puppet of evil!

Monsters only move as a result of Keeper Action cards such as Command Minion, but if an investigator finds himself in the same space as a monster during the keeper’s turn, combat may ensue.

During the Monster Attack step of his turn, the keeper may choose to attack investigators in any space they share with a monster. We’ll discuss combat in a future preview, but suffice it to say that simply beating the investigators down may not always be the best strategy. Instead, the keeper might let them live in order to inflict physical and psychological suffering on them. Trauma cards (such as Claustrophobia) can typically be played on investigators whenever they take damage or horror, and they’re a great way for the keeper to add insult to injury.

The final step of the keeper’s turn is the Event step, in which he places a timing token on the back of the top card in the Event deck. Each story has its own Event deck, and when the tokens on this deck equal the number on the topmost Event card, that card is flipped over and read aloud. This deck often serves as a game timer, since the final event provides a game-ending condition in many cases. More often, the Event deck serves to deepen the plot and provide exciting environment-changing conditions.

All together, the keeper has a number of compelling decisions to make on each turn, and it all contributes to the overarching feel of a cohesive and engaging narrative. Join us next time for another look at Mansions of Madness!

Mansions of Madness is a macabre game of horror, insanity, and mystery for two to five players. Based on the beloved fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Mansions of Madness tells a story in which one player takes on the role of the keeper, a malevolent force working to complete a sinister plot, and all other players take on the roles of investigators, the unlikely heroes who gather to oppose him.

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Comments (31)

Muad Dib
Published: 11/29/2010 11:21:28 PM

It's possible that the person who wrote 'breath' instead of 'breathe' did it on purpose, but then made another mistake. later by not adding a hyphen. The writer left off the letter 'e' with the intention that the person saying it was actually running out of breath. "I can't breath,".

An easy solution is to use some white-out on the letters t and h. Don't forget to add the hyphen too:

"I can't brea-,"

Now in this instance though, some people will pronounce the 'a'. Like 'bree-a" (rhymes with see-ya) So i would white-out another letter, get rid of that 'a'.

"I can't bre-," 

Hope this helps!!!

Published: 11/20/2010 2:57:26 PM

Oh wow, apparently "breath" has already been addressed in the comments.
Well it's not going to take away from my enjoyment of the game, but "breathe/breath" is one of those nauseatingly common mistakes that I see everywhere. You know the kind: where the misspelling is more popular than the correct spelling? Such as your/you're, "dissapointed," and "definately."

Considering how much text exists in Arkham Horror and its expansions, it's nice to see that there are so few mistakes. I don't really care too much about a typo, It's just that "breath" is one of those typos. So... no offense to anyone.

Published: 11/20/2010 2:48:07 PM

"I can't breath"


Dr strangle
Published: 11/14/2010 1:15:33 PM

Ok, no comments on my spelling now, im not english! :P.

I can realy see both sides to the spelling argument here. I dont think the game will be any less fun because of some spellingfails. However, its sad to see games with high production value, great artwork and intelligent machanics be victims of such an easy cured illnesses as bad spelling.

But this is not in final print, no? So there is still time to fix the problem. Hopefully someone at FF reads these comments and can foreward the detected need for proofreading?

Published: 11/14/2010 12:24:01 AM

I love the tentacles on the card border template. Very fancy. ^^

Published: 11/13/2010 1:56:27 AM

Now this really looks like Descent but set in Lovecrafts world. So it will be good but if good enought for me to buy it? I dont know right now, I will see after more news about it and after I'll see it live.

Published: 11/12/2010 5:18:17 AM

NarcoSleepy, While people like yourself accept glaring mistakes and spelling errors in board games, FFG and other publishers will not bother to proofread their products to the satisfaction that most players should expect, if they are a serious board gamer.

Published: 11/12/2010 3:46:40 AM

I think that this game sounds very interesting! My only concern would be the replayability factor - are there enough scenarios to ensure that this game does not become redundant/predictable ? My apologies if I have missed the post with all this information.

Tarot Mage
Published: 11/11/2010 11:47:26 PM

Looks like we'll just have to wait until the game is released to see if the misspellings were corrected. Until then I'm perfectly fine in saying we agree to disagree on the subject.


The backseat English major.  ;-*

Published: 11/11/2010 10:27:02 PM

I really love that the majority of posts complaining about misspellings - contain misspellings!  Hilarity ensues.  When we played Mansions of Madness last month, we were playing with an unfinished product.  Corey said that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done before the final release, so I don't think it is too far fetched to believe that we may be seeing pre-release material here.  If not, while annoying to the backseat english majors, this is not something that is going to kill a very fun (if brutal) game.  If it really bothers you that much, send in your resume... or go play Carcassonne.

Published: 11/11/2010 3:22:54 PM

Does this game drip with theme or what! I love the Cultist/Summon mechanic.

Published: 11/11/2010 1:59:13 PM

As CAS would say:

Eldritch grewsome!

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