A great gift for any given D&D group is the “hey, I bought everybody a new set of dice” kinda gift. Something like this. You know that this guy always ends up with blue and that guy always ends up with green and you then get to ask “what happened with the dice I bought you last year?”
“Dude. I dunno. They’re somewhere down here. It’s not like I take them out of the basement.”
And, after a couple of years, EVERYBODY can wonder at where in the heck the dice went. Seriously. You have bought, like, 300 of them by now. How can they all be gone without a trace?
Anyway, some of the gifts for the D&D group are like that one. Sometimes, however, you want to buy the Next Big Thing. But… it’s like $200.
Well, you could do the whole “everybody chips in $40 and we’ll all get to play it!” thing but then you have the conversation about whose home happens to hold it when it is not being played… and, as everyone knows, whomever had it last is the person who will have it forever. And $40 is a lot of money.
So, sometimes, you’ve got to bite the bullet and buy the game and then say “HEY THIS IS MINE AND I THINK WE SHOULD ALL PLAY IT TOGETHER!”
And mumble “and you can use the dice I bought you last year” under your breath.
Anyway, there’s a 2nd edition of Mansions of Madness out.
Now, it IS pricey. That said, it’s downright awesome. It’s an entire session’s entertainment in one single box. If you played the old version, you know that it was one of those 1 vs. 3 or 4 games. Which made it kind of cool, but it’s asymmetrical. And that has all kinds of costs and benefits and if you’ve ever played one of those 1 vs. 3/4 games, you should know that 1st Edition did not particularly improve on any of those.
That said, 2nd edition, the one I’m talking about, figured out that having a 4-5 person co-op game resolves two out of three of those problems out of the gate. As such, it’s a 4-5 person game that pits the 4-5 people against an inexorable AI which allows it to be a co-op game, in all its grown-up glory.
Now, there are a handful of problems with the game. If you buy it and take it over to the gaming group still in the wrap, you’ll all find yourselves spending an hour popping the various pieces out of the cardboard and, goodness, then you’ll have to read the rules together to set up the game just right, and only THEN will you all spend 2-3 hours playing against the inexorable AI.
The main problem, of course, is that when it was competitive with you and 3-4 people vs. the evil DM, the evil DM would do a great job of creating an atmosphere for your game in which you would inexorably either win or inexorably lose. Mostly, by reading a paragraph from his book whenever you entered a particular room or area.
“As you walk onto the green grass, you seen it yellow and then brown around your footprints… this ripples out from your footprints until they hit the apple tree in the middle of the courtyard… skeletons fall from the now-dead apple tree and hiss at you as they advance.”
Stuff like that. 2nd Edition? Well… I haven’t played it yet. I’m really looking forward to it.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913[/efn_note]