Tower of Madness Game Review: An exciting, dark game of strategy and chance

Tower of Madness Game Review

Best Moment

Two Doom marbles had already dropped. We knew the third was close to falling. No one had gone mad yet…until my nephew dropped his last madness marble, immediately went insane, followed by the third Doom marble hitting the ground. He simultaneously went crazy and won the game in the same round!

Gameplay Overview

Play as an investigator exploring ghastly locations trying to uncover the truth behind the ancient horror. You’ll roll dice to perform your best investigations, but beware! If you fail to successfully investigate a location, you might irritate Cthulhu resulting in dropped marbles. These marbles may provide points, contribute to your insanity, grant spells, or lead to the awakening of the ancient horror! Be careful and cautious as you proceed.

Quick Thoughts

You will absolutely love the theme of Tower of Madness with its supporting artwork! It is creepy, kind of gloomy, and really sucks you in. Add to that an actual tower filled with unspeakable horrors, unnatural influence tokens, some really spooky locations, creepy tentacles to pull, and you’ve got an exciting and eery challenge that only the most skilled investigators can navigate.

For a light-to-mid-weight strategy game, there’s a good balance of luck and strategy (I’d say 60/40 respectively). That high of a luck factor allows for younger players to enjoy competing against adults without the adults needing to “dumb it down” too much for the kids to have fun. The varying components of the game (e.g., location-specific rules, investigator benefits, unnatural influence markers, and spells) set up a good strategic foundation with a variety of means to succeed…or go crazy.

Tower of Madness is a game with a very unique combination of particular mechanics and elements. It combines set-matching with dice,
marble-falling, adventure cards with unique traits, good vs. evil, push-your-luck rolling, and marble set collection (for good or bad). It may take a bit to let all these facets settle in your mind into one, cohesive game experience, but it is definitely worth the effort.

I really enjoy the light push-your-luck dice rolling. Essentially, once you successfully investigate an area (by rolling a Gate, a Heart, and a Mind symbol), you have a chance to roll for the highest Discovery Points you can (12 being the max). Only the lead investigator gets the victory points for having the best investigation in that location…so push your luck to get those points! Don’t forget that spell cards can modify Discovery Points, for good or bad!

Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure you prioritize locking in a successful investigation before you go crazy trying to get the highest score for that round! A roll of 12 will do you no good if you don’t roll those key symbols.
  • Always consider what if you went crazy and how you would approach your strategy. Depending on the point in the game, it may actually be advantageous for you to try to go crazy!

Scoring & Wrap-up

Overall, as a medium-weight strategy game, I give Tower of Madness a 7 out of 10 (“Good – usually willing to play” on BGG’s scale) for the following reasons:

Promoters

  • The theme is just awesome. It’s dark, it’s mysterious…there’s a giant octopus monster itching to devour everyone. You’ll love it.
  • There is a solid balance between luck and strategy which makes it great to play with a mix of kids and adults.
  • It’s got a nice, light push-your-luck component (I love push-your-luck games).
  • Each round is different with the varying location nuances. You only get the first round to get your feet wet before the craziness ensues!
  • The storyline is followed very nicely throughout the game. All of the components and actions contribute to the main storyline with a compelling protagonist and a horrific antagonist!

Detractors

  • There are certain scenarios where it’s advantageous for a player to lose their minds. While this may lead to victory for the player, I rarely like when there are “holes” in a game that influence players to try to make a break for “losing.”

If you’re interested in the Cthulhu craze, if you liked the classic Kerplunk game, or if you’re looking for an awesome three-dimensional set-up with a creepy theme, you’ll really enjoy Tower of Madness. The varying components give you a fresh experience each game (even each round!), and will make you want to come back for more.


Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.