Vast: The Mysterious Manor by Leder Games
Price: ~$75.00 (available now for pre-order)
Players:1 to 5
Playtime:90 to 120 minutes
Perfect for:Players who enjoy asymmetrical strategic movement and action games with a heavy competitive slant.
Vast: The Mysterious Manor is about a deadly house and its inhabitants. Each creature (the house included!) has its disparate agenda to thrive and survive, so players must carefully leverage their own personal skills to both attack and evade their opponents. Before talking about the gameplay mechanics, here is some further information on the theme and plot from the publisher, Leder Games (Root):
The manor has sat in the shady part of the valley abandoned for generations. The spider having escaped her abyssal prison is now seeking to return to her terrible glory, while the skeletal guards of this estate continue to stir in the darkness.
The paladin has come to the manor, seeking atonement from the gods he must destroy the spider.
Return to the world of Vast in a whole new adventure Vast: The Mysterious Manor.
To play Vast: The Mysterious Manor, one to five players begin by choosing their character among a) The Paladin, who is trying to kill The Spider; b) The Skeletons, who are trying to kill The Paladin, c) The Spider, who is trying to prosper by spreading terror; d) The Manor, which is trying to haunt their house through manipulation, or e) The Warlock who is trying to dominate treasures and poltergeists into specific layout patterns on the board.
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On a turn, a player will have the opportunity to take a series of actions that are entirely role-dependent. For example, The Skeletons can command up to five creatures at once, and they have the ability to scurry around the board at will, including using pathways and portals inaccessible to others. The Spider has three different forms it can morph into, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Gameplay continues until a player has completed their unique objective, and obviously, the first person to do is declared the winner.
What works in Vast: The Mysterious Manor is the exceptional non-symmetrical gameplay design and the components. Designer Patrick Leder has once again crafted a game that is engrossing, engaging, and require players to be incredibly vigilant and nimble in regards to strategy. The first few games may feel a bit like chaos, but there is definitely a cohesive checks and balances system at the heart of The Mysterious Manor; it is incredibly impressive how much the five roles differ in terms of gameplay style yet integrate wonderfully. This engaging premise is only bolstered by fantastic art and miniatures from artist Kyle Ferrin. The skeletons and spider forms, in particular, have incredible detail, and the variance in size and shape really adds to the gravity of encounters.
Players should note that Vast: The Mysterious Manor has a rather steep learning curve and will likely require multiple playthroughs to find the strategic equilibriums. This is due to needing to learn The Mysterious Manor through a stepwise progression: 1) understanding your own abilities and how to best leverage them; 2) recognizing your opponents’ actions to combat them effectively; and 3) developing a strategy on how to play both offense and defense concurrently. It’s the third point that is the most challenging. For example, a common set-up is to play with The Paladin, The Spider, and The Skeletons. It’s very easy for The Spider to sneak away from The Paladin, and let that character just deal with The Skeletons, while trying to spread terror. But unless The Spider also harvests blood from The Skeletons (interesting image), The Skeletons are likely to win the game quickly. There’s a great circle-of-death mechanic that must be maintained.
Vast: The Mysterious Manor is another win for Leder Games as they continue to establish themselves as the preeminent designer and publisher of asymmetrical titles. The Mysterious Manor is meant for the more experience gaming group, but those who are willing to learn the intricacies of the nooks and crannies will not be disappointed.
Note that this is a standalone game than can be played right out of the box, buy the characters and components can be mixed with other Vast games, and instructions on how to do so are included.
Recommended if you like: Root, Vast: The Crystal Caverns
Final Grade: A
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