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You Are Cordially Invited to Mausoleum, a simply smashing little party game in which your unlucky heirs meet with horrible accidents as you race to build the largest mausoleum. Petulant Brats, Meddling Cousins, Well-to-Do Aunts and Long-Lost Uncles are among the many guests at your party who can meet with Croquet Accidents, Auto Trouble, getting Lost in the Hedge Maze, or a number of other unfortunate mishaps as you use their inheritances to build the grandest mausoleum money can buy. Meanwhile, your opponents are struggling toward the same end, with a multitude of tricks at their disposal to muck up your carefully laid plans.
R Hunter Gough
Savant Garde Entertainment
R Hunter Gough
Players: 3 - 5
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 106 grams
Language Requirements: Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English, and additional rules are provided. This is a domestic item.
- 54 cards
Average Rating: 4.5 in 5 reviews
Due to an unfortunate quirk of fate, my nearest and dearest friends usually run away screaming from any game more complicated than BRAWL, but MAUSOLEUM was a hit the first time I brought it out. Fast-paced and infused with a wonderfully dark sense of humor that allows you to deliver such lines as 'the cadaver of your repulsive dowager has been unfortunately misplaced' made this an instant winner.
The simple black & white illustrations accompanying the cards are likewise hilarious, such as the ransom note declaring 'We Have You ... oops...' on the Botched Kidnapping card, or the bowling ball, carrot, and thimble on the Mildly Suspicious Suicide card.
The major gameplay problem of grave-hoarding has been neatly fixed by Savant Garde Entertainment, who have posted new rules on their website that generally smooth out all aspects of the game. A revised version is also planned for future release.
While this cannot be considered a game of great strategy and refinement, it is a whole lot of fun, and in the end that's the only thing that counts.
Premise: Mausoleum is a card game where the basic concept is rather dark: invite heirs to your party, kill them off, and buy great graves for them. The first player to accumulate $10m worth of crypts, monuments, and ossuaries wins.
Rules: There are two sets of rules to this game. One version comes with the cards, and the other is available on line. In the original version of the game, all cards are shuffled together. In the version which exists on line, the graves are pulled out and laid in the middle of the table. No matter which way you play the game, the basic rules are the same. Play is done in turns, one at a time, clockwise around the table beginning with the dealer. Players draw one card (either from the deck or the discard), and play one card. The usual progression is to:
1. Play an Heir into your Party.
2. Use an Accident to off an Heir, and put them in your Morgue.
3. Bury Heirs in your Morgue by discarding enough Heirs to buy a Grave.
There are four types of cards:
Heirs: There are 18 Heir cards ranging from Petulant Brats (worth $1m) to a Loving Grandfather (worth $7m). Some of the Heirs have bonuses associated with certain actions. (For example, if you bury the Adoring Wife with the Beloved Husband, each is worth twice as much.) There are also some Heirs who cannot be buried together (Black Sheep) or have limits to when they can be offed (you must off Meddling Cousins first).
Accidents: There are 18 Accident cards. Your Heirs can be killed off by everything from a Loose Chandelier to a Mildly Suspicious Suicide to a Croquet Accident. Only two Accident cards do anything different. Botched Kidnapping allows you to off someone who is in someone elses Party and put them in your Morgue. Thermonuclear Mishap kills off everyone in everyones party all at the same time.
Graves: There are nine graves ranging from $3m to $7m.
Incidents: The remaining nine cards are Incidents which allow you to discard Heirs from Parties or Morgues, as well as the Doozy--which essentially means that Heirs must be killed off twice.
The Dish: If you have a darker sense of humor and appreciation for the Victorian, you will love playing this game. The game is dedicated to Edward Gorey for good reason--the game has the feel of his books--its lightly macabre nature is amusing, but not offensive.
Strategy: The strategy is fairly simple, with the chance of what you draw and the play of your opponents having a greater influence on the outcome than your methodology.
Art/Appearance: The art consists of hand-drawn sketches which are actually sweet despite the appearance of being not quite finished.
Packaging: The cards are a good cardstock that will withstand the many games you will want to play. The box is sized perfectly, so it also will withstand time. (Although after several months of play, it will see a bit of tape on the corners.)
Value: It is definitely entertaining, and an excellent value for the money.
The Score: 8.2 on a scale of Zero-to-Ten.
Q: A plane (full of your relatives) crashes on the US-Canadian Border. Where do you bury the survivors?
A: You can't, you have to kill them first.
Mausoleum is a surprisingly tasteful game about murdering your relatives to get your inheritance. Oh sure, it's off-color and kinda sick, but it's also funny and strangely quaint, a game heavily influenced by Edward Gorey.
But tasteful? Well, it's not like you're spending that inheritance on sports cars and yachts and other lavish personal gains. Instead, you use it to build the grandest mausoleum any family has ever been buried in. It's a tribute to all those dearly departed relatives. Of course, that requires that they be dead first, doesn't it?
So mausoleum allows you to help them to their ends by inviting them to a smashing little party at your estate, where, one by one, they can fall down wells, become lost in the hedgemaze, or be the victim of botched kidnappings and mildly suspicious suicides.
(Speaking of which, the illustration for that card just shows a bowling ball, a carrot, and a thimble. Tasteful, I suppose, but perplexing and far from 'mildly' suspicious. One day I'd like to hear the explanation behind this one--hint, hint, Mr. Game Designer, sir. Perhaps it could go up on your website?)
The cards have sketchy little cartoons implying the various modes of death, but they aren't any more grisly or objectionable than the opening credits of that Mystery show on PBS. Even your grandparents shouldn't be too put-off by this game.
Compared to Gother Than Thou (Savant Garde's previous release, which I also highly recommend) Mausoleum rates better in terms of game play, but isn't quite as stylish or graphically attractive. But, since Mausoleum's jokes aren't aimed at the Gothic community, it should reach a much broader audience.
The game is a blast, one I've played numerous times and will gladly return to again and again. It involves strategy and cleverness, yet doesn't require so much focus as to preclude you having a conversation while you play. The mechanics are innovative and unique, and the cards are quite humorous as well. All in all, a lot of fun.
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