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Barnes on Games- Scythe Roundtable, Mansions of Madness in Review

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28 Aug 2016 13:07 #232935 by R.P.Kraul
On Scythe, puzzly Euros are not my thing, but I've got to give them credit for nailing the presentation. Beautiful components that fit an unusual theme.

On Mansions 2ed, I was quite surprised by the game's simplicity. In fact, I would call it by far the simplest of the AHF games. So I do agree with Michael from that perspective. If you're familiar with AHF games, you may say, "This is it--move, search explore, roll some skill checks?" I do also agree that some of the mythos events are a little repetitive (and silly). There are scenario-specific events, and these are pretty cool, but the generic ones, I wish they'd snuffed them (given the way the app is designed, they could have). That said, I do love Mansions 2ed. Reason being, it tells a more cohesive story than the other AHF games (and the app is pretty innovative). But the simplicity does come with a cost, and for that reason, I still prefer AH. The two games don't really scratch the same each, but AH is just more satisfying. But Mansions will appeal more to casual gamers, and it should act a gateway to heavier games like AH & EH. I've only played Mansions solo, and it's a blast. I sense, however, that it won't work quite as well as a co-op game, and the reason is that, when you control only a single character, you just don't have a hell of a lot to do. I would rather play solo and coordinate the actions of three or four characters.

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28 Aug 2016 16:13 - 28 Aug 2016 16:14 #232941 by southernman

Varys wrote:

Southernman wrote:

Msample wrote: I'd say after reading Pete's comments, 2.5 stars is still generous. A lot of what he says resonates with me, and confirms my decision to skip this game.


Yeah, same here, reading everyone's highpoints (and lowpoints) of the game I'm happy that my decision not to get into this game was right - in fact as soon as I heard it compared with Eclipse (I hate that 'elegant' spreadsheet game) the rest of the discussion was pretty meaningless.


I've tried to play Eclipse and I can never get into it. Even the app puts me to sleep. Scythe, on the other hand, is quite enjoyable and easy for me to get into. I've also had no trouble teaching the game to others even people who seemed lukewarm about playing it beforehand. Everyone I've played with enjoyed it. They weren't always good at it, but they wanted to try it again. For me, that's a win.

I think you just have to try Scythe out once and see if it's for you. If you can find someone who has it, that would be best, but at the least, go watch a video play through. There are a few out already. I like the one by Jon Gets Games.


Too many great games in my collection and so few people and opportunities to play them means I do not waste those valuable occasions on games I'm pretty sure I will not enjoy. I can understand the opinions and descriptions of Mike, Pete & Charie and from what I read it is not for me, just as reading Mike's review on Star Trek: Ascendancy convinced me it is probably my type of game and I should splash out of it.
Last edit: 28 Aug 2016 16:14 by southernman.
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28 Aug 2016 16:17 #232942 by southernman

SuperflyTNT wrote: You nailed it.

Either it's for you or not, but until you play it you won't know.


Some of us (unfortunately) consider having opponents and opportunities to play games a luxury and therefore are extremely selective (and protective) of them.
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28 Aug 2016 20:42 #232944 by Egg Shen

Chaz wrote: So the main knock against Mansions of Madness is "you should go play an RPG instead"? Cool, except that doesn't work for everyone. My wife likes the storytelling, investigative, co-op aspect of MoM. We usually only get to play games with the two of us. Any game that requires a game master/bad guy player means that we're playing against each other, which she doesn't always love. Playing an actual RPG is right the hell out for all the reasons that I play board games instead. Hell, even the "you'll start to see the same effects multiple times" thing is pretty standard. How many times do you pull the same location card in Arkham or Eldritch Horror, or as the game master in Descent, send a bunch of beastmen at the squishy wizard turn after turn?

I'll grant you that all things being equal, there are definitely better ways to get the kind of thing that MoM is trying to go for. But for those of us without a regular game group that can just go play an RPG or something, MoM has a fair amount to recommend it.


I've tried out MoM 2.0 with my wife and the next day she said, "I kept thinking about Mansions of Madness all day. I loved it." Over the years I've come to trust her opinion when it comes to Ameritrash as she has a nose for simple and fun games without any superfluous bullshit. To put it in perspective some of her favorites are DungeonQuest, Wiz-War, Betrayal at House on Hill, Fury of Dracula, Nexus Ops, and Buffy. She was ready to immediately add MoM 2.0 into her list of favorites.

While I'm not quite ready to heap that much praise on it, I've been pleasantly surprised and happy with the game. Though I will say that I'm in the opposite camp of R.P. Kraul...I think lots of fun and interaction is lost when soloing the game. Where I have no problem soloing Descent...Mansions gets better with more people at the table.


As for Scythe...that game more than anything else seems like the boardgame facsimile of pretentious Oscar bait bullshit. It seems tailor made for the type of people that think the only good movies to come out each year are the few movies deemed acceptable by the Academy. If you think boring garbage like The King's Speech and The Artist are life changing, wonderful movies...you'll probably adore Scythe. To me it looks about as exciting as boiled Tofu. The most beautifully presented Tofu you'll likely come across...but still boiled Tofu.
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29 Aug 2016 15:13 #232992 by Matt Thrower
I'm going to review MoM myself at some point, but here's the short version: it's unusual and great fun, but there are big question marks over replay value. Far bigger that there should be at that price point.
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29 Aug 2016 15:18 #232993 by Gary Sax
Looking forward to reading your review.

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29 Aug 2016 16:23 #232994 by Chaz
The replay value is a question I have too. On the one hand, FFG does like to sell you expansions. On the other, the app could make it easier (possible?) for them to release new content or additional variation at pretty low cost. It wouldn't be crazy for them to start selling new scenarios within the app for a few bucks a piece. Whether they'll do this or not, I dunno. And you're right, for the price, I'd like to see more variety in the box. But I guess we'll see.
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29 Aug 2016 16:36 #232995 by Unicron
Scythe is duller than dogshit. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this isn't 4x at all. This game doesn't allow for player elimination or satisfying gains for being particularly combative. The costs, however, are staggering. Even Eclipse allows for extermination. I call bullshit. It's boiled tofu indeed.
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29 Aug 2016 19:31 - 29 Aug 2016 19:31 #233005 by Michael Barnes
I _like_ how controversial Scythe has become. Much more interesting when opinions are sharply divided.

On this whole RPG issue that is emerging from the MoM discussion...here is where it fails as an RPG-like experience. It has none of that greasy, malleable, fleshy stuff that goes on between a living game master and the players. You get a prompt, you do what it says, and it gives you a result. And most of those times the result is - inexplicably - not even specific to the scenario. So it's like pulling from this RNG table like from an old Iron Crown RPG, but reading it straight out of the book. There is no embellishment, there is no customization on behalf of the GM to make the prompts or outcomes specific to the situation, party or character. It's so bland and soulless. Even with the "live" GM in the old MoM, there was more of that human stuff going on.

I don't know, I just feel like the app is giving you an RPG experience but without any of the actual stuff that makes RPGs great. It's like...well, I don't usually work blue but it's like a blow-up doll version of an RPG.

But I am with the counter-argument about RPGs- they take a lot of time, a lot of commitment, and a lot of effort not only on the behalf of the GM, but also the player group. It's doubtful I'll ever play an RPG seriously or regularly again, so I get the appeal of a game that offers at least some semblance of an RPG experience. But when I am able to step back from the game and see that all I am really doing is rolling skill checks and occasionally choosing between two to three different possible actions...and there isn't any of that human stuff in there...well, then what am I actually doing there?

Matt's comment about the price point is a whole different issue I didn't even touch. Considering a huge part of the game is on your phone, $100 is ridiculous for what is in the box. The miniatures are terrible, they have those HUGE bases that you- for whatever reason- stick an Arkham Horror-style chit in. And then that base covers the entire room. Why not just lop $50 off MSRP and do away with these god awful figures? Keep the player figures, but lose the rest.

On balance, Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier is a vastly superior game.
Last edit: 29 Aug 2016 19:31 by Michael Barnes.
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29 Aug 2016 20:20 #233014 by DukeofChutney
I concur on the price point, it's roughly £30 higher RRP than the 1st edition and it feels like there is a lot less (haven't done a side by side so I cannot be sure). THe very limited number of scenarios is rather inexcusable given the digital nature of the content.

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29 Aug 2016 21:35 #233020 by Jarvis
I agree about the price point. This game should have come with one or two more scenarios (say a short 1 star one and another med-long one). I'm not going to mind it if additional scenarios are provided at a free or hopefully cheap rate. If they expect people to pay $15-20 for a scenario like the print on demand ones, then I will be passing.

I do like the game as a simple RPG light game. Sometimes the effects are out of left field and I wish those were cut down slightly. But it's not really anything different than any of the Arkham games.

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30 Aug 2016 02:38 #233033 by Grudunza
Two 4p, one 5p and several solo plays of Scythe, and for me it is the shit. Sits in a cul-de-sac with Kemet and Eclipse, where it is about building up your empire and seizing opportunities, but with enough of its own style and feel.

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30 Aug 2016 08:28 #233039 by charlest
Has anyone else here played Cry Havoc and Scythe? I'd love to get into a discussion comparing those two. I think both are very good games that adopt different approaches while both still being hybrids with area control. I think Scythe is the better game but it's not by a huge margin.

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30 Aug 2016 08:30 #233040 by LazarusTNT
I'm still trying to figure out how Scythe is "hybrid", not "FEPSB".

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30 Aug 2016 08:56 #233047 by R.P.Kraul

Michael Barnes wrote: Matt's comment about the price point is a whole different issue I didn't even touch. Considering a huge part of the game is on your phone, $100 is ridiculous for what is in the box. The miniatures are terrible, they have those HUGE bases that you- for whatever reason- stick an Arkham Horror-style chit in. And then that base covers the entire room. Why not just lop $50 off MSRP and do away with these god awful figures? Keep the player figures, but lose the rest.


The miniatures are ... eh, but the bases are awful. I recommend dropping those in the recycle bin and ordering some Litko clear acrylic bases. Shame it's necessary for a $100 game, but whatever.
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