Archive for December, 2017

Longtime readers of this site will know of the pure admiration and love I hold for Mansions of Madness. Since its first edition release, it’s a game that I’ve praised for blurring the lines between board games and RPGs. The release of Second Edition in 2016, along with the app that acted as the game’s GM, creating a fully co-op version of the game, is a development in tabletop gaming that I’ve lauded again and again. It’s now a game that appeals to boardgamers, role-players, and video-gamers.

Now, a brand new expansion has been released in Streets of Arkham. Although the core set had a couple of scenarios set in the nearby town of Innsmouth, this time the new scenarios aren’t just limited to the titular “mansions”. You wander around museums, hotels, parks, beaches…the game has exploded!

Fantasy Flight have obviously taken on board the feedback on the first expansion – Beyond the Threshold – which was enjoyable, although a little on the thin side, only supplying only a few new characters, one new monster and two new stories. Streets of Arkham, offers up four new investigators, three new monsters, new tiles and three new scenarios.

The new characters are a mixed bunch (aren’t they always?), but all look fun to play, and offer some intriguing abilities in the game. The new monsters are where the game really shines, though. The Star Vampires (personal favourites of mine since a memorable game of Call of Cthulhu nearly ten years ago) look terrifying on the table; truly alien and terrible. The Lloigor miniature is the best in the box, so far. Not as tall as the Star Spawn from the core set, its pose and detail is far superior, towering and looming over the feeble investigators sent to defeat it. Looks great on the new map pieces too, especially as a potential climax to one of the new scenarios.

The new scenarios are the absolute cream on this antediluvian, non-Euclidean cake, however. There are actual mysteries to the solved! The game even tells you to take your own notes before you start! What’s more NPCs appear on the board, interact with it, and have their own little turns during the Mythos Phase. IT’S A BOARD GAME WITH CUT SCENES!

With this latest expansion, Mansions of Madness has come even closer to being the ultimate board-game/RPG hybrid, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. If you’re already a fan of the game, then this is an absolutely essential purchase to up your game. 10/10.


A Dark Souls and a Bloodborne review in one week? We must be gluttons for punishment.

Bloodborne: The Card Game is based on the Chalice Dungeons in the video game — the ever-changing labyrinths and tombs carved out by the Great Ones beneath the fallen city of Yharnam, where horrifying creatures reside.

In general, Bloodborne is a game about risk management with inventory management and tactics. You start with a hand of basic weapons, which you get to upgrade to improve your fighting combos and capabilities.

Each turn, one monster chosen at random attacks players, who fight back as a team, with everyone playing a card from their hand simultaneously to attempt to kill the monster. Players collect blood from the monster, assuming it dies, based on how much damage they dealt. Monsters can fight back with exploding dice that can potentially deal infinite damage.

Players can fight as long as they want, but if they die in combat, they lose their progress. Players can opt out of fighting to bank their blood and save it permanently. Collected blood counts as victory points.

I’ve become a big fan of card games recently, with my two main favourites being Legendary and FFG’s Lord of the Rings LCG. I was pleased to discover that the Bloodborne card game took on parts of each that I really love. It has the constantly expanding and upgrading your deck that underpins all of the Legendary systems, as well being hard as fucking nails, a la the LOTR:LCG.

Components wise, CMON are as on form as ever. The plastic and card tokens are superb, and the artwork is brilliant throughout. The cards are look like they should be hard wearing, but as with all deck-builders, you’ll probably want to invest in some sleeves if you see this getting heavy rotation in your group.

I also loved how fluid and fast moving the gameplay is once you get a couple of turns under your belt. Also, the number of monsters and boss monsters means that there should be plenty of replayability. Recommended for both fans of deck builders and the video game.

Dark Souls is a fantastic series of videogame action RPGs that rewards patience and skill in the face of overwhelming odds and a crushing difficulty.  The series is universally praised and has led to other games trying to imitate its magic, but they have never been able to truly better it.  So can the board game of Dark Souls match the games brilliance?  Well in short, yes and no:

In terms of the look and feel of the game and its mechanics, it captures the feel of the game to a tee.  Firstly, the quality of the models and models are superb, the card quality is nice and thick, the stat cards work brilliantly and the artwork captures the dark and gothic ambience, whilst not intruding too much on keeping the cards and counters clear and concise.  The Boss and Mini Boss monsters absolutely tower over your heroes and whilst some may argue more detail could have gone into them, I personally feel they are great as they capture the look of the iconic monsters without making them too messy.

In terms of gameplay, you and your team of heroes have to travel through a randomly generated area using tiles (your choice) until you fight your way to a fog gate where you will then either fight a mini boss, or if you have already defeated the mini boss, you fight the main boss (and the mini boss at the same time if you so choose).  On your journey to the boss, you have to face different encounters in each of the room which can contain monsters, traps, treasure and the like.  The monsters are controlled by a simple yet affective AI on their card so you know how a monster will react.  Like the game, this encourages to learn the pattern of attack of the monsters in each room, as you progress.  If you wish to level up you have to return to the Bonfire space at the beginning to increase your stats, buy new cards and replenish your health and Estus Flask (Healing Potion for those who haven’t played the games).  However doing so resets the board and you have to fight through the same area again (just like the games).

This, for the game, is both a blessing and a curse.  For the pros, it captures the feel of the game, teaches you and your team to cooperate well to get through the dungeon and deal with the monsters by mastering how to effectively deal with the AI and also assists with grinding areas to get the best gear and experience to deal with the more difficult later rooms and the boss fights.  The boss fights are also excellent as you have a bigger area to fight in, and the mastering of a bosses attack pattern and weak spots adds a lot more strategy and depth to the game that is sadly absent in the main part of the game.  The boss fights are definitely the highlight of the game by far.

However the downsides are heavily dependent on the type of gamer you are.  If you love grinding and farming gear to become so powerful your mere minty breath kills monsters, then you will have no problem with the main part of the game.  However, as the encounters do not change this can lead to repetition setting in, and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my play through of the game, I am worried that multiple play throughs will lead to this repetition being the games’ undoing after extended play.  On the other side of it, whilst the videogame rewards the player with patience, skill and finesse, the fact combat is heavily based on dice rolls and your gear can lead to some encounters either being a breeze and too easy, or being too hard as bad luck can still defeat your strategy.  Whilst I personally love me some chaos in games and a little luck, this may deter some people from returning to the game if they found it either too easy or too hard, and the fact that if one member of your party dies you all have to return to the bonfire, that bad luck can feel very frustrating.

As I said though, these downsides very much depend on the type of gamer you are, and as they are thematic to the source material, it is not something I can really hate on aside from that it is more noticeable in a board game format.  Aside from this, the only gripes I have with the board game otherwise is that the campaign at the back of the manual feels tacked on. I didn’t see how the game differed massively from you choosing your own bosses and encounters to the suggested campaigns, aside from that it covered individual games. Also,the manual could have been laid out better with a more convenient reference card as there were a few times I had to trawl through the manual to check a rule that was hiding in a paragraph somewhere.  If the information was in a handy reference or summary I feel I would not have to have done this as often.  However, these are minor gripes and do not detract from the main enjoyment of the game.

So does Dark Souls: The Board Game capture the feel of the videogames?  The game plays and feels like Dark Souls and cleverly transfers the majority of the games mechanics to the board, and if you are a fan of the series and don’t mind the gripes I mentioned, then crack it open and Prepare to Die.  Just don’t expect a perfect experience.


Blake Harmer is a regular contributor to The Crazy Train and The Gamescast at You can follow him on Twitter at @fucksakeblake, but there’s no real point in doing so.