Madness Returns to the Mansion in Beyond the Threshold

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Yog-Sothoth’s name flutters at the tip of the wind. Time has stretched to sempiternity and upon the dark cloud the iron gate sits. Enter and float Beyond the Threshold with the first proper expansion to Mansions of Madness 2nd edition.

This expansion is a step farther than the figure and tile supplement packs released, offering full-blown new content to throw into your mansion crawls. We have new map tiles, two interesting new investigators, a never before seen monster type, and a bulbous mound of cards to toss into nearly every existing deck. Utility here extends to previous scenarios, allowing tiles and the new misshapen Thrall to haunt your dreams.

The new spell Arcane Insight is a little mundane–particularly for a supernatural endeavor–but Poison Mist is top shelf. This noxious beauty imparts a solid three damage, but will often spill collateral carnage onto adjacent enemies. The hidden effects on the back of the spell are pretty wild and offensively potent with just a touch of occasional blowback. It’s a chaotic yet strong weapon to add to your arsenal and one of my favorite spells.

The new status effect of Mesmerized is good times, at least from the perspective of almighty Cthulhu. The Thralls enjoy liberally throwing this around and taking control of your mental faculties. Besides wetting their knickers, your investigators will attack each other, start fires, and run around aimlessly. You can do little to brace for impact since the effect is on the reverse side of the card and unknown until it fires. Thematically, this is almost a more solid implementation of lost sanity than the present Insanity system.

The new investigators consist of the shaman Akachi Onyele and the handyman Wilson Richards. I love the look of Wilson in particular, as he wields a large double-barreled shotgun. Dude’s a tease though because he never seems to start with it. Instead, you enter hell wielding a razor or 2×4 on most nights. You only live once—unless you save and restart when things go south.

Like the enormous alien presence of Yog-Sothoth, the identity and reach of Beyond the Threshold lies far beyond the physical form. It’s 2017 now, the future is here, and our board game content is delivered in bytes. The real reason you’ll want to taste this dark treat is the inclusion of two really solid scenarios to add to your growing menagerie.

Vengeful Impulses is the shorter of the two and features an interesting twist on the previous formula. In this scenario the mansion hasn’t quite gone One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest just yet. Instead of throwing hellfire and .45 rounds, you’re navigating silver tongues and side-eye. Guests must be questioned and dinner will be served. If the butler was portrayed by Tim Curry, things would not be amiss.

Gates of Silverwood Manor is the main attraction in this double-feature. This 2-3 hour scenario features some altogether new mechanisms and sly tricks. Things are not what they seem (oh they never are) and the physical play-space itself will pull a fast one on you. It helps that the climax is particularly strong and the narrative conclusion is fantastic, or at least as fantastic as it could be with three paragraphs and a voice-actor taking over the speakers on your iPad.

Multiple endings and high difficulty make for a strong sense of replayability here. Despite only a small amount of physical artifacts, Beyond the Threshold really delivers a large content bump to this fresh new style of game. It also offers a positive outlook at the horizon as we see the boundaries of the system given a light shove in either direction.

My only quibble with this new content is the inclusion of the six new double-sided tiles. While the artwork is great and you can’t argue with the concept of variety, it’s fair to question whether we really need another set of swanky indoor terrain. Clawing through the large set of existing floor pieces is already slightly painful, and functionally these new pieces add very little. Let’s be hopeful that future tile quantities are minimized or at least feature new foreign locales.

When the only complaint is too much variety, I think that says it all. Beyond the Threshold is certain to impress and have you yearning for future plays. Clever new mechanisms and a strong narrative execution will always hit the spot like an icy cold adult beverage. Crack it open and indulge.

Have you checked out Mansions of Madness 2nd edition yet? Are you looking forward to experiencing Beyond the Threshold? Let us know in the comments.

In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on twitter @CharlieTheel

All images courtesy of FFG

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