23rd June 2019
It's Sunday lunchtime at 'The Sovereigns'. Normally this would mean 50 Fathoms, but plans change unexpectedly.
And when life gives to lemons, you play 'Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection'.
In Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection all the players are 'well respected' academics who are completing for a promotion.
It appears that promotion in Miskatonic University achieved by going into the university's Restricted Collection and retrieving as much knowledge as you can.
'Pretty simple', you may say? But it appears that the Restricted Collection is really scary place where bouts of insanity lurk in every aisle.
Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection is a set collecting and push your luck (Or more accurately, push you sanity.) game.
What's in a game?
Firstly, the game comes in a box that looks a bit like an old book and is thematically very nice for a game about a library.
The lid is held shut with a magnetic latch and swings open (Yes, like a book.) Within, you will find all the necessary components. Inside you will find:
The components (And the packaging.) are pretty straightforward and contain some nicely evocative art. The individual player board is strange thing. completely superfluous to the game, but allowing the game to do a clever little visual trick, which is explained below.
How's it play?
The game is played over 5 rounds and is about collecting sets of cards. There are 3 different types of card types. These are all explained below.
First, there's setup.
Defence cards and a player board are given to each player.
Next the points cards are laid out. This done every round for all 3 rounds.
Playing a round.
Gameplay is quite simple, players are faced with 2 choices in their turn. They are:
This action is pretty simple; the active player draws a card from the library deck and deals with the consequences. As explained above their are 3 types of card that can be drawn. The drawn cards are then slotted against the player according to what type of card they are.
Completing a set.
When a player completes a set - it is good, depending on which set they complete.
Getting a double.
If the active player gets a double of either a grimoire fragment or a sigil piece, then heir mind temporarily snaps and they flee the library. Fleeing is bad and is explained below.
Student cards are all identical so drawing a double of a student card has no effect.
Defence cards are useful tools used to mitigate the effect of drawing unwanted doubles. Each one has a different affect. One card will allow you to skip the draw phase, another may allow to discard a card before it takes affect. Another allows you to pass it on to another player.
Each card has a different affect and when it is played it is turned face down and cannot be used until turned face up again.
The only way turn face down card back face-up is by completing a set of 4 student cards, or being 'expelled' from the restricted collection!
Exiting the library.
There are 2 ways a player will exit the library.
Either of their own volition or in terror after drawing the wrong kind of double.
If a player chooses to leave the restricted collection, they carry out 2 actions.
If they player is forced out of the restricted collection, they carry out 3 slightly different actions.
Play continues until all players have left or fled the restricted collection. Then the round has ended.
Play progresses until all 5 rounds have been completed.
Then all the points from the black, red and grey cards are tallied. The highest score, wins.
Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection is actually a very simple push your luck game. your only ever have a binary choice, continue exploring or leave. The game is really about calculating risk vs reward.
Is the reward worth the risk? This is always a very situational question.
Staying in the library longer than other players will always net you higher points.
Furthermore completing a set has a double benefit, not only does it gain you 3 points or reset a defence card. It allows you to discard that set and 'reset the meter' and gives you breathing space.
And that's the cleverest thing about this game. The scoring mechanic. The fact that cards are always scored or removed, means that there's always a chance to get the maximum set score for a round. So, not only does it pay to stay in play longer during a round, the stakes get higher from round to round. Those 10 points for staying the restricted collection the longest in the final round are great and can get you back in the game if you're behind- provided you don't go bust in the meanwhile.
But otherwise I found the game is a bit... well a bit 'meh'.
There's nothing bad here, I don't know, it's just a bit uninspired, unexciting, unengaging.
I play, I paint.