My brother-in-law's birthday was this weekend so he invited our family down to Augusta to have a gaming day. As a Arkham Horror fan, he was anxious to teach us Mansions of Madness and also wanted to show us a fun, lighter game called Kingsburg. First, Mansions of Madness.
After a lengthy game setup, four of us sat down to take on the roles of investigators to work together to play against the Keeper (a GM type role played by my brother-in-law). A tile map was assembled for us to explore based upon a scenario and we needed to look for three clues to lead us to the objective we were trying to meet. The Keeper also has an objective and he has the advantage of knowing his objective and ours.
The game is basically moving around the different areas of map exploring, fighting monsters that the Keeper spawns against us and solving puzzles that are tile based puzzles such as putting together a picture or connecting tiles with wires on them from point A to point B to turn on the power that had been lost in a room. It is very much a co-op game with a lot of interactive between investigators as all of the investigators have different attributes. Some are better at fighting, some at solving puzzles, etc. Once you determine your objective, you are racing against the Keeper to finish the objective before he finishes his.
Even though the game took 2-3 hours, it moved very fast because there wasn't a lot of downtime. The interaction kept you involved with discussion and planning. And the overall game felt like a pen and paper RPG mixed with a boardgame (which is what I heard Fantasy Flight was going for). As such, I very much liked the game and look forward to playing it again.
Kingsburg is also from FFG. Even though it's been out for several years, I had never heard of it so I wasn't sure what to expect. It ended up being a medieval theme resource management game somewhat along the lines of Settlers of Catan with the Cities and Knights expansion. You have 5 turns with each turn being considered a year. Each year is split into 8 segments with 4 of those being seasons for harvesting resources and using resources to build buildings or train soldiers. There are too many buildings to list here but the buildings give you victory points (which is what you need to win the game) and bonuses within the game like bonuses to your soldiers, making buildings cheaper to build, etc. After the 5 turns the person with the most victory points wins.
Once again, I ended up liking this game too. It takes an 1 to 1.5 hours to play, the rules are easy to learn and there isn't a lot of downtime because some of the phases have all the players doing things at the same time. It definitely has a eurogame feel to it and I would consider this as a good gateway to non-gamers (much in the vein of Catan and Ticket To Ride).
I'll eventually do full reviews on these games and give scores for how the wife and boys felt about it. But I prefer to play games at least twice before doing a review.
I think we may need to start a tradition where on family birthday weekends we have gaming days. It's a great way to have fun with the family and learn some new games to boot.