03 June 2018

Mansions of Madness 2nd edition: Sanctum of Twilight review

The favorite board game in my collection, Mansions of Madness 2nd edition, recently received a new expansion "Sanctum of Twilight". It was a no brainer decision to purchase it since both Caroline and I are big fans of the game and so far the scenarios and gameplay has given us dozens of hours of fun.

I will need to make an overview and talk about this series in the future, but for now I will focus on another review for the expansion alone.  I will try to keep this short and without spoilers as always when it comes to this game.

Let's start with the bad first. This is the third "new content" boxed expansion for the 2nd edition of the game, not counting the two expansion boxes that included conversion kits for all the stuff from the base game and expansions for the 1st edition.

The core game Mansions of Madness 2nd edition was a huge box, and very expensive, but it included a lot of value for money. The first expansion, "Beyond the Threshold" was really good and included a bunch of new stuff and was decent value for money. The "Streets of Arkham" expansion, which was the biggest expansion to date had a lot of components but was pricey. This expansion, the third one, feels like the least value for money in terms of components in relation to the price you pay.

The box itself is flimsy soft, and for most people disposable, cardboard instead of the solid cardboard boxes we have gotten used to. You get 2 new playable characters, a couple of tiles, 1 new monster and a handful of cards. The price in relation to the amount of content is outrageous bordering on shameless.

Fortunately the negative part of my review ends with the price tag. The Sanctum of Twilight is a much better and more interesting expansion compared to the last one, Streets of Arkham, but I still rate the first boxed expansion "Beyond the Threshold" to be the best of the expansions released so far in terms of scenario quality.

The new items you get are mainly fillers for existing decks, the new monster which is a "Wraith" is nothing special. The two characters however are really good, especially Lily Chen the martial artist which is ridiculously good at fighting unarmed. Since weapons are scarce in the game, her ability to dispose of her enemies in a couple of strikes is invaluable! Charlie Kane is fairly OK, and will be most useful for one of the scenarios of this expansion.

However, what really makes Mansions of Madness 2nd edition a great game, and one that we play frequently, are the scenarios. This expansion comes with two new scenarios that we found very interesting.

One of them involves a two part scenario, which begins during a parade and ends inside a large mansion. In the first part you have to race around town and collect evidence and clues about a mystery surrounding the Twilight Ball and the Queen of the parade. The scenario was really well made and the locations made interesting with the parade part including possible sabotage of the parade wagons to buy more time for your investigators and interviewing smalltime shop owners, and the second part including a masquerade and the unraveling of a hidden secret.

The second scenario is also very interesting, and we have yet to beat this one despite several attempts. Your investigators get abducted and wake up in a cell, and your objective is to escape the Silver Twilight lodge before your cultist captors realize your escape attempt and overwhelm you with their numbers.

We both found the scenarios more interesting, and fun, than thos of Streets of Arkham. However, I think Fantasy Flight Games made a mistake in the difficulty rating for these scenarios. The parade scenario was above average in difficulty, while the scenario with the captive investigators is "nightmare mode". We played it several times, last time we even picked an A-team especially well suited for the scenario but the game managed to balance our choice of characters and keep it difficult!
The scenario also offer a nice variety of exploration/investigation and combat which I always liked in Mansions of Madness 2nd edition.

In the end recommend this expansion, and if you are going to purchase the expansions I would say that you should buy them in this order:

Beyond the Threshold
Sanctum of Twilight
Streets of Arkham

With this expansion the game with the tiles, cards, investigators miniatures etc just barely fit into the core game box (I don't use the plastic monsters in our games so they are never in the box). I think the game right now is at risk of getting severely bloated, like Arkham Horror did where you ended up with 50 decks and 2000 components that were barely if ever used in the scenarios. While I am still happy that I got all the boxed expansions I think that Fantasy Flight Games should focus more on releasing standalone scenarios in the companion app, like they did with that one scenario a while back. I am more than happy to pay for new scenarios only, and I don't think the game needs more stuff. Just make up more scenarios that utilize the tiles we have got already! Especially those of Streets of Arkham which are severely under used in the Streets of Arkham expansion.

Mansions of Madness 2nd edition: Sanctum of Twilight 8/10

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