|Mansions of Madness | Published 05 January 2011|
A hiss that sounded half serpentine and half feline jolted Jenny Barnes from her concentration. She looked over her shoulder but saw only shadows down the hall, dancing to the music of the wind whipping through the curtains. She scowled and turned back toward the tangle of wires that barred her from opening the mysterious door. Afraid of getting electrocuted, she parted the wires carefully, trying to trace a cohesive path. But then the hiss came again.
Determined not to let her mind play tricks on her, she kept her eyes on the colored wires. However, she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone...or something was watching her struggle with this elaborate electronic lock. Watching and laughing.
In Mansions of Madness, players explore many different locations where sinister individuals are hiding their deadly secrets. These individuals often resort to extreme methods to protect their secrets, such as creating elaborate puzzles to challenge the minds of those they see as inferior. Yet many investigators possess cunning wits, and manage to solve even the most daunting these mental traps. However, the question must be asked, what is worse? Being defeated by such a puzzle, or being devoured by the shapeless entity that lies beyond the locked door?
Our delve into the many workings of Mansions of Madness, the macabre board game of exploration, storytelling, and investigation for 2-5 players, has thus far shown us how to construct the story, how to equip investigators, the makeup of an investigator’s turn, and how the keeper operates. Today we’ll take a look at one of the game’s most unique aspects: the puzzles.
During their exploration, investigators are bound to come across a situation where they must think their way out. Brute force can only get you so far when you are dealing with an evil presence that fights its battles in the mental arena. Some investigators are better off with a gun or an axe, while others opt for brains over brawn. The latter type of investigator excels when it comes to solving the traps and locks that will surely plague their way.
Puzzles can come into play through exploration or attempting to move through a door. As we mentioned in our preview of the investigator’s turn, one of the available actions to investigator players is exploring. When exploring a room, it is possible for an Obstacle card with a puzzle to be revealed, forcing the active investigator to attempt the puzzle before continuing their exploration. Likewise, if an investigator attempts to move through a door, it is possible that the door is locked and can only be opened by solving a puzzle.
When a puzzle card is revealed, it will explain how the puzzle is set up. Puzzles come in three main types: wiring, lock, and rune. Players can attempt to solve the puzzle by using puzzle actions. These actions include swapping adjacent puzzle pieces, rotating puzzle pieces 90 degrees, or discarding a puzzle piece and drawing a new one. The number of puzzle actions a player receives is equal to his investigator’s Intellect. Needless to say, the more intelligent an investigator is the quicker (fewer turns) he can solve the puzzle. Investigators can also use Skill Point tokens to add their Luck to their Intellect when trying to solve a puzzle, as explained in our investigator preview.
Figuring it Out
Here is a detailed example of how to attempt a puzzle:
Now that you know how to tackle the many puzzles that await you in the crumbling manors or ominous cemeteries, prepare yourself for the other dangers that lie behind those locked doors. We haven’t yet seen monsters, combat, or the true dangers of insanity...
(A completed rune puzzle)
Check back in the coming weeks for more on 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.
Looks very good. I just worry about its replayability. Of course, I'd probably still buy the game if I could only play it once.
Sweet! Looks like this game will be fun! :-)