Posts Tagged ‘lovecraft’

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.


Don’t worry, no spoilers follow. 

Mansions of Madness was easily the best game release of 2016, but until now, new releases have been limited to the upgrade kits (which added in the gubbins for those who didn’t own the first edition) and one DLC scenario. Thankfully, there is now a small…well, medium, sized…boxed expansion.  

So, what do you get in this box of mystery?

Well, two brand new playable characters, for starters. Wilson Richards, the handyman, and Akachi Onyele, the shaman, are characters that are familiar to players of other games in the Arkham Horror Files series. Their special powers are pretty useful, with Richards becoming Focused every time he takes a Horror Check, and Onyele is able to instructions to discard Clue tokens. 

You also get some extra items, and a couple of new spells for your characters to discover in their “adventures”, as well as more than a few extra room tiles and monsters that are designed for use in the two new scenarios included, and they’ll no doubt also get mixed into the previously released adventures.

The new monsters are limited to just one type, the Thrall, and they’re a pretty nice looking design, calling to mind the later scenes of John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, with distorted faces and mutated limbs being the order of the day. They’re a cool design, and hopefully they’ll make an appearance in future (and past) releases, too.

The two new scenarios are what we’re most interested in, of course…so how are they? Well, actually, they’re really bloody good. The stories are, at first at least, less the killer monster on the loose sort, and actually start out as more the 1950s creepy house in the mist or murder mystery sort. For me, this is a great win, as much as I love all the Arkham Horror Files series, sometimes they are a little less The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and a little more Fright Night! A return to a more Call of Cthulhu RPG style of play is most welcome here!

The two scenarios included are superb, but the rest of the box set feels a little lacking. Two extra characters and just one new monster type in a boxed expansion feels a little thin. Hopefully a larger expansion is on the horizon that will give us a little more satisfaction on this front. 

Definitely worth picking up for the extra scenarios…but there is a feeling that the rest of the box is not what it could have been.

Mansions of Madness: Beyond the Threshold is available now priced £29.99. A copy of the second edition core set of Mansions of Madness is required to use the contents. 


Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb.

I’m no stranger to Lovecraftian gaming. I started playing Call of Cthulhu almost as soon as I’d started reading any of his stuff. I play Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign and Mansions of Madness pretty regularly. Similarly, I’m a pretty big fan of the Lord of the Rings LCG from FFG. So, the promise of a game that could give me a mash up of the experiences that those two things give me? I’m on board for that. Could this be he game that finally fills the hole that Mythos left in my life all those years ago?  

Mythos is a game that sticks in my mind as it was pretty unique among CCGs at the time; being focused less on building up decks with which to crush your enemies with, and more one that was geared towards providing that narrative gaming experience that all of us at Suppressing Fire love so much. 

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a gaming experience that doesn’t quite gel with anything else that I’ve played before. While it’s ostensibly a card game at its core engine, it also brings in elements of role-playing, board gaming and even a choose-your-own-adventure game book. The game starts with you building your deck – which is incredibly easy at first, with the necessary fractions and quotas clearly broken down for each character. There are also Starter Decks for each investigator, so you don’t need to worry about getting bogged down into deck building if that’s not your thing – you can just dive straight in and start your adventure. 

Each scenario starts with a quick narrative description of what’s happening, and then you’re let loose. Much like last year’s second edition of Mansions of Madness, immersion is truly key here, and it actually feels as though you’re cast in a Lovecraftian mystery story, rather than just playing a card game. There are monsters to fight, mysteries to solve and houses and other locations to explore. It feels less like a solitaire card game and more like a really good “point and click” mystery game. Remember those? Good, because I loved them. 

The physical components of the game are pretty good…but they could have been better. I’m concerned that that the chits you’ll be regularly pulling out of a bag to manage your skill modifiers are going to wear pretty badly. Plastic or resin would have driven up the retail price, of course, but I think it would have been a better long term investment. The cards are pretty good quality – although not as good as FFG’s used to be. If you’re not a careful shuffler, then you’re going to want to invest in some decent cardsleeves. 

These minor quibbles about the components aside, there are HOURS of gameplay in just this core set. There’s several playable characters, and three scenarios, all of which can be linked into a full blown campaign system. In terms of playability and lifespan, the value for money is very high indeed; especially if you’re a Lovecraft nut like I am. Perfect for solo play, but the co-op provides a truly fun experience, too. 

Highly recommended. 


Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb.

Most people consider 2016 to have been a pretty crappy year.  Whether it’s global politics not heading in the direction you would like, the deaths of many beloved celebrities, or that thing with the gorilla, it’s not been the best year ever.

What is has been, though, is a really strong year for tabletop gaming.  So, with that in mind, here are the best games to have come out in 2016.


Mansions of Madness


There have been some really great miniatures released this year – Zombicide: Black Plague has some amazing figures, cards, and miscellaneous play aids.  There has been some truly stellar artwork on cards (the Lord of the Rings: LCG artwork is always incredible). Mansions of Madness takes it this year, however, due to not only having incredible artwork on its box, in its rulebooks and on its cards, but due to the AI app (about which plenty has been written elsewhere, so there is no need to repeat it here) it also has its own sound effects, narration and music.

Truly staggering, beautiful and horrific, and easily the most immersive game released this year.


Mansions of Madness


Co-op games are easily my favourite types of game, and account for the vast majority of my collection. Marvel Legendary saw three expansions released this year – Civil War, Deadpool and Captain America – and they were all super fun, with the Deadpool pack being head and shoulders above the others. Zombicide: Black Plague was a fun, hack and slash co-op. Hostage Negotiator is one of the greatest solo experiences ever made.  However, this year it has to go to Mansions of Madness.  The AI acts as a GM, regulating hidden information, moving the bad guys, and keeping you guessing in ways that it is simply impossible for a traditional tabletop AI to do so.  Mansions of Madness is not just the best co-op/solo game of the year, it represents a huge leap forward for solo and co-op gaming as a sub-genre.


Zombicide: Black Plague


There are two types of game that have to be extra special to make me sit up and pay attention – purely because they’re both ridiculously oversaturated markets – and that’s zombie games, and dungeon crawls.  Previously, I was struggling to find a better zombie game than Zombie Plague, and struggling to find a better dungeon crawl than Castle Ravenloft.  What Zombicide: Black Plague has managed to do is to create an identity all of its own by merging elements of both subgenres into an Army of Darkness-esque action romp.  Highly recommended.


Star Wars: Rebellion


Star Wars: Rebellion may look like one of those facelift Risk variants that Hasbro craps out every Christmas, but what it actually is is a wargame custom made and built to feel like Star Wars.  Sure there are Star Destroyers, and ground troops, and territories, but it is a game about the smaller people who make the stories happen.  By keeping all the strategy of the mechanics focused on correctly using your handful of characters, it keeps the whole game character focused.  At no point does it feel like “I’m amassing by Star Destroyers over Nal Hutta”; it feels like “Governor Tarkin is taking command of the blockade over Nal Hutta.”.  You make a story as you play, and that is something I love so much.  Fantasy Flight Games have done nothing but truly great things with the Star Wars licence, but this is their crowing achievement so far.


Mansions of Madness


I’ve long maintained that while a boardgame can do tense, it’s virtually impossible for it to be truly scary – that’s the realm of RPGs, LARPs and video games.  You can’t quiet buy into the story on the same level that you can with those other mediums.  Even Space Hulk – the pinnacle of tension on the tabletop – is never truly scary in the way the true classics of the genre are. Mansions of Madness has bucked that trend.  Now things are hidden.  Things are surprising and startling.  You fear darkness.  You fear the unknown.  Mansions of Madness is an essential purchase for the dedicated horror gamer.

Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits.  You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb