Summer if beginning to cool down as fall quickly approaches, as well as the spooky season. This is by and large my favorite time of year, and there is no better way to be kicking this season off than by setting the tone with some great thematic media, and this week I had the pleasure of learning a new comer to the spooky season; Vast: the Mysterious Manor.
This is a complete reskin and mechanical overhaul from Vast: the Crystal Caverns, but plays in an extremely similar way. In The Mysterious Manor, you take control of one of five different characters, each with their own unique mechanics, play styles, and win conditions; The Paladin, The Skeletons, The Spider, The Manor, and The Warlock.
Players take turns using their actions to move towards their end goal, while exploring the Manor and interacting with its rooms and inhabitants along the way. Some characters care about exploring and picking up treasure and upgrades, while others hang out in the background and solve their own puzzles when they can. The game will be vastly different based on which character you choose to play, and which other characters are being played in the same game.
The Paladin wishes to once again be a favored crusader, so he has ventured into the Mysterious Manor to slay The Spider that resides within, but the Manor’s old inhabitants, The Skeletons, aren’t very welcoming of the trespasser. The Paladin wins the game by slaying The Spider, and loses by being slain by The Skeletons!
The Paladin plays like an RPG, as you gain Light and Fury (which is the manifestation of your devotion to your god) and spend them as resources to power up the effects of Favor cards. As the game goes on, you gain Grit from different events, which stacks and powers up The Paladin at different thresholds, similar to experience and leveling up. At the beginning of the game, you start with only three actions, but in the late game you can have up to 7. You also collect loot from the Manor as you go, getting upgrades along the whole journey.
The Paladin should be your choice of play if you like looking back on a character with a sense of pride and accomplishment at the journey you’ve endured.
They’re spooky, they’re scary, they’re the former inhabitants of the manor who has been awakened by the intrusive Paladin. There are six in total; Casty, Screamy, Shooty, Slashy, and Stabby, all of whom have their own unique abilities, and all share a loathing hatred for the warrior of light in their home. The Skeletons win the game when the intruding Paladin has been vanquished, and can not otherwise lose the game until somebody else wins!
The Skeletons play like their own war game, as each unit comes with a special ability, and they get special advantages when they are nearby other Skeletons. For instance, a Skeletons defense is equal to 1 + the number of other Skeletons in the defending Skeleton’s tiles. When attacking, Skeletons get a bonus to strength for each tile that has a Skeleton in it adjacent to the defender.
You should hang out with the kings of spook themselves if you like executing group tactics and planning strategies turns in advance. The Skeletons heavily reward those who plan ahead.
The Spider has been locked in this abhorrent manor for just a few too many centuries. Finally, it has been unlocked once again by The Paladin, now all it has to do is collect enough blood to power itself up and become terrible before making its escape! The Spider wins when it has collected 12 Terror, and loses when The Paladin has squashed it.
The Spider specializes in different fields based on which form it’s in; the Giant Spider, the Sorcerer, or the Spiderlings. While in Giant Spider form, you have medium movement capabilities, but are capable of laying eggs and collecting Blood to turn into Terror later. While in the Sorcerer form, you have low movement capabilities, but can tend to your eggs and are able to see more tiles. While in the Spiderlings form you have excellent movement capabilities and can spin webs with excellence, but are vulnerable to attacks from many different angles.
You should play The Spider if you like territory control and manipulation of board states. The Spider can be difficult to play correctly, but rewards players who can manipulate other players with ease.
Meanwhile, The Manor has been awakened by all the ruckus. What’s this? A Paladin has broken my seals in order to enter the Manor and is now trying to kill my prisoner? And what is this Warlock chap doing in the Manor? I see my trusty Skeletons are on the job, but I have a better solution to this infestation. The Manor wins by completing RItuals in order to create enough Seals to trap everyone in the Manor once and for all. It can not lose unless another player wins.
The Manor plays like a puzzle solving game. It is able to move the tiles of the Manor around by shifting and swapping them in order to line up the pathways necessary to complete a RItual. Once a Ritual has been completed, The Manor is awarded a number of Seals based on the difficulty of the completed Ritual. Some Rituals also reward you with Portents, which give you additional actions during your turn in order to help set up the more difficult RItuals.
You should play as The Manor if you like solving spatial puzzles and interacting with the game in a way the other players can’t predict.
Long has The Warlock studied the mystical powers held within the walls of the Mysterious Manor. Finally, a Paladin foolishly unlocked the Seals for him, and it is his time to take the power of the Manor for himself, and he shall finally be completed. The Warlock wins by cursing and dominating Poltergeists and treasures in the Manor, and can not lose unless another player wins.
The Warlock is working to surround itself with treasures or poltergeists to align them in his magical network in order to curse them and take their power for himself. Once he has cursed five in total, he wins. This is done by playing spells that have permanent effects to help deter people from treasures and to make the poltergeists stronger so as to not be killed before he can dominate them. In order to dominate a piece, The Warlock has to stand near a tile with a treasure or poltergeist. Any treasures or poltergeists that can be traced in a straight line from the ones surround The Warlock are in the network. The Warlock can then place a Curse token on each object in their network.
You should play as The Warlock if you think you can predict and plan for other player’s actions, as well as solving spatial puzzles.
All in all, Vast: the Mysterious Manor is an excellent experience, being fairly different from the last playthrough each game. If you want to buy a board game that comes with five board games, I would recommend Vast for you.