Mysterious organisation The Order of the Silver Twilight takes centre stage in Sanctum of Twilight, the latest expansion for Mansions of Madness Second edition. The box brings 2 new scenarios, 2 new investigators, a new monster type, and a selection of additional player-cards to the game. Are the investigators worthy additions to your band of heroes? Will you be able to thwart the machinations of The Order? Is this box worth getting? Let’s find out!
Sanctum of Twilight – What’s in the box?
Sanctum of Twilight is a small expansion, similar in size to last year’s Beyond the Threshold. Gone, sadly, is the nice sturdy box, replaced by a glorified cardboard sleeve, which you’ll be chucking as soon as you’ve found somewhere else to keep things (and taken a photograph for a review article…) The components themselves are top-notch quality-wise: this looks like the same harder plastic and sharper detail that was introduced with last year’s Streets of Arkham Expansion.
The 2 new monsters (models supplied unpainted, with solid black bases)
That said, the amount of content is somewhat disappointing, especially the plastic: 2 new investigators (1 of whom is inexplicably standing on 1 leg), and just 2 copies of a single new monster type – 4 figures total. There’s a good practical argument for this (I don’t think I’ve ever needed all 4 Thralls that came in Beyond the Threshold), but along with the box, it is another direct point of (unfavourable) comparison for the value-for-money of this expansion.
There are plenty of new cards to add to your Mansions gameplay experience – new conditions, spells, items, horror and damage, all of which have the potential to crop up in older scenarios. There are more tiles in small and medium size, and a decent pile of additional tokens: plenty of people tokens, and new “Restraints.”
Of course, as with any Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition expansion, a lot of the content you’re paying for isn’t in the box. The real life-blood of the game is the digital scenarios, and Sanctum of Twilight comes with 2, both unlocked once you tell the app that you’ve added Sanctum of Twilight to your collection.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Politician?
The 2 investigators in Sanctum of Twilight are Charlie Kane, the politician, and Lily Chen, the Martial Artist. These are both favourite Eldritch Horror characters of ours, so it was nice to able to welcome them to Mansions of Madness.
Charlie’s strengths have always been around smooth-talking people, and his Mansions persona is no different. He has 5 Influence, and his ability allows him to automatically convert an investigation into an Elder Sign, if he is within range of a person token. This is an ability that varies a lot from scenario to scenario (is there a person token around?), but the scenarios linked to Sanctum of Twilight definitely seem designed to play to this strength.
Charlie’s other stats aren’t bad either: 4 Observation and 4 Willpower protect him against a lot of effects that he has to face during the Mythos phase, and 3 Strength, 3 Lore are tolerable too. His Agility is his weakest stat at 2 (he is a pretty large guy), so stay away from Bladed Weapons which tend to test this. His biggest weakness is the fact that he only has 5 Health, so you need to be careful not to leave him alone with monsters for too long, but on the plus side, it leaves him with a big 9 Sanity.
Where Charlie is all about the charm and talking his way out of the situation the other new investigator in Sanctum of Twilight, Lily Chen, is a fighter through-and-through. Although her stats are very balanced, she gets a damage bonus whenever she manages to injure a monster whilst attacking unarmed. It’s never going to get to Shotgun levels of power, but she can easily do 3 or 4 damage with a single punch, which is very solid. Often a high player-count game of Mansions of Madness involves a fair amount of squabbling for weapons, at least at the start, so having someone who thrives on unarmed attacks is great (although she’d love to get her hands on some Brass Knuckles).
Lily has 7 Health and 7 Sanity, 4 Strength, Agility and Will, and 3 Observation, Influence and Lore. In all honesty, the only real drawback I see with her as an investigator is the strange pose her miniature is in – yes martial artists sometimes stand on 1 leg, but this felt a bit conspicuous and impractical for all those times when you’re just asking questions, keeping a low profile and not fighting monsters.
What’s on the cards? Looks stressful!
There are some interesting new cards in Sanctum of Twilight – your investigators can now find themselves in a new condition: Stressed. Stressed is nasty, automatically blighting one success from any test you roll, which is up there with stunned (1 action only this turn) as one of the worst we’ve seen.
There are also new cards for the Damage and Horror decks, and a few new Insanity cards. FFG seem unable to make up their mind on how they want the insanity mechanic to play out – broadly the insanities in Sanctum of Twilight seem to be taking us away from the ‘traitor’ mechanic, but the most recently announced new expansion pushes everything back to the other extreme, with a new “some of you are the monsters” twist.
As mentioned above, Sanctum of Twilight also gives you ways to place “Restraints” on the board. When a monster shares a space with a restraint, your investigator can move through that space without needing to evade them – very useful for dealing with the mob in Escape from Innsmouth, the second scenario in the base game. You can also discard a restraint to stop a monster in that space from moving (although once you’ve done that, it no longer gives you the free evade on future turns).
Any new Toys? Yes!
Sanctum of Twilight also comes with a fun sprinkling of new items – Membership rings of the Silver Twilight order are fairly scenario-specific, but others will be turning up all over your future play-throughs. Some of the new items are a little bit underwhelming: it’s hard to get excited about an item that only places a Restraint or allows you to re-roll a dice during an evasion attempt (as a group we don’t tend to do that much barricading or evading – once the monster appears, we’re going to fight it!) That said, there are definitely some really powerful items in Sanctum of Twilight: for the first time in Mansions of Madness, there are Shoes your investigator can wear! Tracks shoes to move an extra space, or “Sensible Shoes” to boost your agility.
The Twilight Dagger is a nice bladed weapon that increases the damage you deal when attacking with a spell, and on the subject of spells, there are 2 new additions to the arsenal here as well: Spectral Razor for attacks, and Binding to place Restraints – having a way like that to repeatedly place Restraints makes discarding them to prevent monster movement a much more realistic proposition.
All-in-all, I thought that the cards included in Sanctum of Twilight were good, and it’s elements like this which help round out the existing scenarios we have for the game.
New Mysteries, Familiar Challenges
1: All the Fun of the Festival
There are 2 new scenarios that you unlock with Sanctum of Twilight. The first takes place during the Twilight Festival, when the soon-to-be-crowned Queen of Love and Beauty seek you out. She is afraid that the order of the Silver Twilight are up to something, and that the upcoming festival may bode ill for her – only you can help her. This scenario introduces a new mechanic, with tiles that move over the top of other tiles (Parade Floats), but also retains a lot of the classic elements of a Mansions of Madness investigation: interacting with people, solving puzzles, and just slugging it out with monsters. The scenario definitely felt like it played to the strengths of Charlie and Lily, and isn’t the most challenging scenario ever, although it can certainly catch you out.
The main problem with this scenario is the limited impact of anything that happens in the first hour. The scenario splits into 2 stages and whilst Act 1 can give you a lot of clues on where to look/what to look for, you can’t actually win at that point. In fact, you could basically just stand and twiddle your thumbs until Act 2, and still emerge victorious if you visit the right places in the second half (or not, if you roll badly at the key moment). Given that “the right place” doesn’t seem to vary much, there’s also a question of replayability value with this one.
2: Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors is the second scenario in Sanctum of Twilight, and it begins with the narrator describing a peaceful day in the park, how nice it is that for once there are no desperate phonecalls, mysterious disappearances or anything of that ilk for you to concern yourself with.
Of course, it doesn’t last, and before long you’ll be waking up in the cells under the Silver Twilight Lodge, along with a selection of fellow-captives. You need to figure out why you were brought here, and find your way out with enough evidence to prove what has happened.
This scenario was an interesting one. The interactions on offer with the person tokens are a bit more varied than normal, and it felt decidedly odd when your investigator was essentially given the option to flirt with a person token in order to get more information.
The scenario also felt more than a little bug-y: once or twice, we clicked on one person but got a response from another, or simply got an error message with a line of code. I’ve seen reports from others who were instructed to “gain the Preston Fairmont spell” [spoiler: Preston is a playable character, not a spell…]
Ultimately, the bugs aren’t enough to stop you from completing the scenario, and we managed to get out after a few attempts. The large map makes this one fairly punishing with only 2 investigators, but it does offer a nice multi-tiered resolution, allowing for a partial victory even if you aren’t able to get clean away.
Sanctum of Twilight: Final Thoughts
Overall, I found Sanctum of Twilight a bit of a mixed bag. It definitely adds to your games of Mansions of Madness, but it always feels like it could do a bit more. Charlie and Lily are both good additions to the Investigator line-up, and it’s always nice to have new cards, but the monster is nothing to write home about.
Scenarios are the heart of Mansions of Madness, the things that give the game life and re-play value. The two included with this box will certainly keep you occupied for a while, but they aren’t the strongest examples in the game.
Overall I’d give this box a 7/10 – still worth getting for the completionist, but not all that high on the list in terms of priority.
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I'm an avid board and card-gamer, still trying to figure out where Board Gaming fits into life as the dad of a very grabby toddler.
I enjoy thematic games (Fantasy, Cthulhu, etc) and play a lot of cooperative games, along with a bit of competitive gaming (currently Legend of the Five Rings) when I can make it out of the house.
When not playing games, I can be found doing a mundane office job, or working on my own Blog, Fistful of Meeples.