I am a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft prose as well as the boardgames based on his creations. I played a lot of Mansion of Madness and The Arkham Horror and some of my friends also share the appreciation for that author. So when I heard that Krzysztof supported the Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection on Kickstarter and is looking for somebody to test the game with him I was of course ready!
The game & components
First of all, the game was created by Reiner Knizia – a true mastermind of lighter games, like Battle Line. That was the guarantee of well thought and tested mechanics.
Secondly, the game is kind of quest – Dr. Henry Armitage, Chief Librarian, needs you to search the perilous Restricted Collection for fragments of lore from among the grimoires to recover pieces of a particular sigil. Of course, as usually to save the word against the
Thirdly, as for the flow of the game, Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection lasts five rounds, and each round continues until no one is left in the library, each player having left voluntarily or having been expelled. Basic play consists of taking turns to select a library card and placing these cards face up on your player mats. Library cards come in three types: sigil pieces, grimoire fragments, and graduate students.
Fourthly, in more detail:
- Sigil pieces: Three pieces make a set and earn a lore card. Picking up a duplicate leads to expulsion unless you can use your defenses.
- Grimoire fragments: Three pieces make a set and earn a lore card. Picking up a duplicate leads to expulsion unless you can use your defenses.
- Graduate students: Collecting four means you can re-use one of your defense cards.
Players have a chance to win black or red sanity cards, which increase your score. The game ends when the final fifth round is played. You then add up all the score cards you have received and the player with the highest score wins!
I had a pleasure to already play the game twice. It was very easy to fit two session during the weekday evening as the game is not overly complex nor too long. In our initial attempt, we were testing the defense card, risking, bluffing and the result was pretty random:
- Michal 35
- Krzysztof 32
- Maciej 14
During our second game my wife joined us. And then the real game started as now we were aware of the main game mechanics and knew how to steer among uncertainty. There was a lot of laugh and good humor as most of us can rally immerse hi/herself into the H.P. Lovecraft games. The final scores were:
- Michal 36
- Maciej 33
- Magda 29
- Krzysztof 17
This was only couple of initial games – with great company of H.P. Lovecraft fans. Still, I would like to share some of my impressions and observations about the game.
- Definitely the game is quick, and can be played between larger titles or as a starter
- The Arkham-based game to get a positive mark from me must be thematic. And the Miskatonic University is definitely such – it has beautiful graphics (students are my favorite!) as well as game mechanics (you got mad if you are unlucky)
- There is thrill in the game and a bit of risk – shall I draw another card, or maybe steal from the friend? Or maybe it is time to run and take the smaller but certain lower-value sanity card?
- The box – isn’t that great? The book-shaped game box is fantastic – very ergonomic and very thematic!
- Unavoidable characteristic of such a game is that it can be pretty random sometimes. We can mitigate that randomness by play of defense cards in case of bad draw but on the other hand we score some points by sheer luck.
With devoted players and proper attitude the game definitely can be a very nice position to fill part of the evening. Do not expect too much – but do not underestimate it too!