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Mansion of Madness Overview

Mansion of Madness Overview

Mansion of Madness Overview

This is our spoiler free overview of Fantasy Flight Games‘ Mansions of Madness (Second Edition). If you want to know what we think of this game – read our review here.

The Game – Mansions of Madness (Second Edition)

In Mansions of Madness you and your fellow players take on the role of investigators in and around the Lovecraftian town of Arkham Massachusetts. As investigators you are tasked with solving the arcane mysteries within each scenario. This is a highly thematic game filled with stories that have many twists and turns, are you up for the challenge? Read on to learn how to play this fascinating game.

Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition)

Game Components

  • 1 Rules Reference – A Glossary of rules that is designed to make it easy to look up rules whenever a questions occurs during play.
  • 1 How to Play Guide – A quick start rule book with helpful examples of what to do.
  • 24 Map Tiles – modular board tiles representing rooms, streets, shops and hallways.
  • 8 Investigator Cards with Matching miniatures – The Investigator cards show the character stats while the miniatures act as the player’s pawn during the game.
  • 40 Common Item Cards – These represent items you either have to begin with or find as your are investigating. They often provide you with additional benefits when used.
  • 24 Unique Item Cards – These items represent scenario specific items the player might find that are necessary for completing the current story.
  • 16 Search/Interact tokens – Tokens placed on the board to represent items the player can either search (?) or Interact (!) with.
  • 16 Explore/Sight Tokens – Tokens placed on the board to represent places the players can explore (lantern) which often lead to more of the board becoming visible or places the players can see (eye).
  • 22 Person Tokens – These tokens get placed on the board represent people the players encounter during a Scenario. Players can ask questions of these people when they come across them in the game.
  • 30 Spell Cards – These act like item cards and are given out or discovered by the players, the difference is that magic has consequences. Once a spell is used, the player flips it over and resolves the consequences of casting the spell, then they take another copy of the same spell from the spell deck, ready to do it over again.
  • 37 Condition Cards – throughout the game the investigators will be afflicted by a variety of forces and may develop certain conditions.
  • 40 Damage Cards – Investigators will suffer physical damage while investigating a scenario, either from an enemy attack or another reason, the players will need to draw Damage cards and complete the text written on them, one at a time.
  • 40 Horror Cards – Similar to Damage Cards, Horror cards affect the investigators mental well-being. Having too many can cause a player to go insane.
  • 4 Barricade tokens – These tokens can be placed in front of a door or passage and help to prevent enemies or other investigators to get past.
  • 4 Secret Passage Tokens – These tokens are added to the board as directed by the app to add secret passages to rooms.
  • 18 Fire/Darkness Tokens – When directed by the app, a room can catch on fire. Fire can spread between rounds. Darkness on the other hand represents when the room or space has limited visibility. This usually prevents a player from adjusting their test using clue tokens.
  • 8 Wall Tokens – Wall tokens get place on the board as directed by the app to change the layout of board tiles in a scenario.
  • 4 Door Tokens – Door tokens do the same as Wall tokens, but in this case add additional doors to the board tiles.
  • 6 ID Tokens – From time to time, the game will add two enemies of the same type to the board. The second and any subsequent enemies of one type will get an ID token to distinguish them from each other.
  • 24 Monster Tokens with Matching Miniatures – Each Monster comes with a paintable miniature of the monster, the base on which it stands and square monster token that fits in the base to describe this monster’s stats.
  • 26 Clue Tokens – These tokens are both assigned at the beginning of the game and picked up through the course of the game’s events and provide a way to turn a dice roll with a magnifying glass to a success.
  • 5 custom 8 sided dice – The game comes with 5 dice which have either blank sides, magnifying glasses, or Elder Sign (stars).
  • 1 Conversion kit – For players with Mansions of Mansion (First Edition) this conversion kit provides elements to upgrade the enemies and investigators to the Second Edition.

Game Play

Mansions of Madness is a game that plays over a series of rounds to complete a specific scenario. In each round the investigator explores the modular map to find clues on how to solve the mystery. Sometimes, players will stumble upon other NPCs (non-player characters) who will either help or hinder the investigation. Each scenario lasts 2-3 hours and typically involves multiple objectives to be completed culminating in a final boss battle. To help the investigators, they have common and unique items which include weapons to help them succeed.


The game setup is fairly easy for this game. Simply open the Mansions of Madness app and select a scenario. The players choose their investigator and select those people in the app. The app will then list the starting common and unique items and spells that the players have, the players decide how to divide them up amongst themselves. Then the scenario begins with the app giving a audio narration telling the players about the scenario and telling them which map tile to lay down and where to place their investigator miniatures to start.

The Board

The artwork on the Mansions of Madness board is highly detailed and represents the location where the scenario will take place. The specifics in the artwork of the rooms are used by the app as part of the story. So it is worth paying attention to the board itself as it is more than just a “room representation” in this game.


A game of Mansions of Madness is played in a series of rounds. Each round has two phases: The Investigator Phase and the Mythos Phase.

Investigator Phase

In the investigator phase each investigator gets to take a turn and perform up to two actions from a list of seven actions. The same Action can be selected for each of the two if you wish.

Move Action

An Investigator can perform a Move Action to move across adjoining spaces. One Move Action allows an investigator to move up to two spaces. Investigators can not move through walls or unopened doors or other impassable boundaries, unless otherwise instructed. In Mansions of Madness a move action can be interrupted to perform another action, so you could move 1 space, perform another action, then move your final space.

Explore Action

If the investigator is in a space with a red lantern (explore) token, they can perform an Explore Action. This often will reveal rooms beyond where the investigator has travelled. To explore a room, players click on the appropriate explore token in the app. The app will reveal more of the story and possibly open up new map tiles that are placed, along with new tokens in that room for the players to interact with. Be careful though, sometimes what is behind that explore token is a monster waiting to attack!

Search Action

Within spaces that have been opened players will encounter question mark tokens. These are Search tokens. They typically get placed on the map tile and are used to represent something to be searched. By clicking on the appropriate token in the app, the investigators can search these places. Oftentimes this will provide players with a Test to complete (see testing below) other times players will get new items or information from the search to help them in their investigation.

Interact Action

There is really very little difference between Search and Interact. The token for Interact is an exclamation mark. These represent items players can interact with. Players can also interact with person tokens and ask questions or make statements to NPCs via a multiple choice list in the app.

Trade Action

When two investigators are in the same space, they may, as an action, trade any number of items or spells wiry each other. If there are items in the investor’s space, they may also pick those up or drop items as part of the trade action.

Component Action

Items and spells investigators have sometimes have the word Action on them. These card actions can be performed as one of the two actions in a round.

Attack action

When a enemy monster is on the board, players may have their investigator attack that enemy. Enemies must be within range of an investigator to be attacked. If the investigator wants to use a melee weapon or spell on an enemy the investigator must be in the same space. If the investigator wants to use a ranged weapon (denoted with a gun on the card) they can be up to 3 spaces away from an enemy, but not through walls or doors.

Once a player has decided how they want to attack, they choose the “tentacle icon” in the bottom left of the app. They find the corresponding enemy, select it and choose “Attack”. The app will ask what type of attack, Attack with Heavy Weapon, Bladed Weapon, Firearm, Spell or Unarmed. Once a player chooses one of those, then the app will tell the player how to resolve the effects, which often includes a skills test. Depending on how that goes, the player records the damage assessed by using the plus or minus on the enemy tracker.

End of Investigator Phase

After each player takes their turn, the Investigator phase ends by clicking on the arrow icon on the lower right and confirming the end of the phase moving the game to the Mythos Phase of the round.

Mythos Phase

During this phase, the Mansions of Madness app will create Mythos Events, Monster Activations, and Horror Checks to hinder the investigators in the scenario.

Mythos Events

These are events either specific to a scenario or based on actions that the investigators have taken. Players will get a message in the app for them to resolve, often this includes completing a test (See Testing below).

Monster Activations

Each monster on the board will activate and move around the board. Often this movement is relative to the location of the nearest investigator. It will also tell the players how the enemy attacks.

Horror Checks

Finally each investigator needs to resolve a horror check against a single monster within range (three spaces, not through walls or doors). To resolve a horror check, the players choose a monster from the drawer and resolve the Test as instructed by the app.

Damage & Horror

Throughout Mansions of Madness, investigators will suffer Damage and Horror. Each investigator has a Health number and a Sanity number located next to their portrait on the investigator card. Each time an investigator takes Damage or Horror they will draw a card from the appropriate deck. flip it over and read the card. The investigator resolves what the card says and then either Resolves Immediately and flips the card face down or Keep Faceup for an ongoing effect. Either way these cards count towards the total number on the investigator card.


If a player’s damage cards count up to equal with or more than their health, they become Wounded, they take a Wounded card from the deck and discard all facedown Damage. While wounded, only one of their two actions can be to move. If while wounded, the investigator suffers Damage again equal to their health, the investigator is eliminated.


If a player’s horror cards add up to equal or more than their Sanity, they go insane. When an Investigator goes insane, they take an Insane Condition card and discards all facedown horror. For the rest of the game, that investigator does not share what’s on their card, and will try to win the game possibly by different means.

When selecting a Insane card, the card must show an investor icon and number that is equal to or less than the number of players. Some insane conditions are impossible for two player games, so they would be unfair to play. At least give the other investigators a fighting chance! If the insane investigator suffers horror equal to or more than their sanity, they are eliminated.

Investigator Eliminated

If an investigator is eliminated, they drop all their possessions in the space they are in and remove their figure from the board. The rest of the investigators have until the end of the next investigation phase to complete the investigation. If they do not, they must select the “Investigator Eliminated” option from the in-app menu and the game ends.

Skills Test

The Mansions of Madness app will time to time, show a short piece of narrative followed by a skill icon that also appears on the investigator card.

Investigator’s resolve the test by looking at the skill icon on their investigator card and rolling the number of dice shown next to that skill. They count our success for each elder sign (star) they roll as the test result. The test in the app, may have players modify the number of dice they roll.

After rolling the dice, investigators may spend clue tokens to convert the magnifying glass icon on the dice to an additional successes.

Some effects in the game will cause investigators to suffer Damage or Horror. The app will tell the players what “skill negates” – perform the skill test as normal including spending clues. For every success draw one less Damage or Horror card.

Lastly, there are two types of skill tests. One has the skill icon followed by a number, this number represents the number of successes needed to pass the test. The other shows the skill icon and a number picker style of input field. Players enter the number of successes and submit. The app will tell the players if they were successful. This type of test is cumulative in that players can test multiple times and keep adding successes to complete it.


Lets talk about the monsters in Mansions of Madness, besides the miniatures for each monster, they each have a Monster tile. This tile slides into the base for the monster and contains multiple pieces of information about the monster.

  • Awareness – (on the upper right on the front of the tile) – When performing an evade check and there are multiple enemies in a player’s space, the enemy with the highest awareness is who an investigator must evade.
  • Horror Rating – (on the lower right on the front of the tile) – When performing a Horror Check, and there are multiple enemies within range (three spaces) the enemy with the highest Horror Rating is who the investigator does a Horror Check against.
  • Brawn – (On the lower right on the back of the tile) – this number is used for the monster’s strength when breaking down barricades.
  • Abilities – (on the back of the tile written in plain text) – If a monster has special abilities and there may be a brief narrative about what this monster is.

Evading Monsters

If at any time, the investigator wants to move out of a space with a monster in it, they must perform an “Evade check”. To do this, they must determine which monster in their space to perform it against, then chooses the Monster from the app’s Monster drawer (under the tentacle) and presses the “Evade” button. The app will tell the investigator what happens and they must resolve the effect, possibly negating damage or horror. After a successful evade check, the investigator performs their action. If they fail the evade check, they forfeit their action. If they were moving through the space, they must forfeit the rest of their action.

Monster ID tokens

As mentioned in the Game Component section, multiple monsters of the same type can appear on the board at the same time. If this happens, the app will put an ID token next to the monster’s image in the monster drawer. Players should also put the corresponding ID token in the slot of the base for that enemy. These are just markers so the players can identify which enemy is which.


Items are things the investigator collects. It could be a weapon or some item that can help a player. In either case, players can keep the items they’ve gained face up in front of them and look at them at any time.


A player with a spell will claim a random copy of that spell from the deck. they can not look at the back until they perform the spell as an action. Once that happens they look at the back and resolve the effect. This usually includes discarding this spell card and taking another random copy of the spell from the spell deck.


Condition cards will alter how an investigator can react to a situation sometimes for better, but often for worse. Condition cards will also tell a player how long that condition takes effect.

Board Features

There are additional tokens that can be placed on the board that will help or hinder the player’s investigation.


These will be described in the app regarding what specifically they represent (cabinet, bookcase etc) but they as an action can be moved infront of or away from a door. Neither investigators nor Monsters can move through the door with a barricade. If a monster attempts to get through a barricade, it rolls dice equal to it’s brawn number. If it scores 2 or more successes, it breaks down the barricade and the barricade is discarded. otherwise the monster fails to break it down and moves no further.


If a fire breaks out in the game, don’t panic. Whenever an investigator moves into a room with fire, they suffer one facedown damage. Whenever a monster either starts in a space with fire or moves through a space with fire, they suffer one damage.

As an action any investigator can try to extinguish the fire by performing an agility test. For each success, they may remove one fire token from their space or one they move through later in that round.

At the beginning of each mythos phase fire will spread, the investigators will add a single fire token to a space adjecent to another that contains fire.


Investigators in a space that contains darkness, can not spend clues to complete skill tests or take additional steps in puzzles

Secret Passages

An investigator or monster can go through a secret passage and move to any other space containing a secret passage as though the spaces were adjacent.


From time to time, the investigators will encounter puzzles to solve, maybe it’s picking a lock, or arranging a photograph, or solving a combination. These are similar to skill tests in that they use a the value of an investigator’s skill to solve. This number becomes the number of actions a player can take in the app to solve the puzzle.

The three type of puzzles are:

  • A Lock Puzzle – These require an investigator to get a single block all the way into a notch to the right of the puzzle, the trick here is there are other blocks in it’s way and they need to slide those out of the way to be able to slide the single block over.
  • A Picture Slide puzzle – These puzzles require an investigator to swap sections of a large picture that have been scrambled until they unscramble the picture
  • Code Puzzle – The app will present a number of empty slots with a set of possible numbers or symbols that could go in those slots, the investigators must figure out the combination using the feedback provided by the app. The app will tell the investigator if any of the code are the correct symbols, but in the wrong slot – by showing a magnifying glass, or correct symbol and in the correct slot – by showing an elder sign symbol. It will not specifically say which symbol is correct, that still needs to be deduced.

Winning the Game

If as a team of investigators, you were able to make it entirely through the scenario without being eliminated, you have succeeded and Won the Game! If any investigator went insane, they have their own win condition which may or may not mean they won. If any investigator is eliminated and the team is unable to complete the investigation by the end of the next Investigation phase, the entire team loses. And don’t be surprised about loosing, it happens quite a lot in games of Mansions of Madness!