Updated: Jan 4, 2020
Dexterity games have rocketed in popularity over the past few years. One of the reasons for their success is that they often enable children and adults to compete against each other on equal terms. Some though have the disadvantage of being fiddly to set up and of involving game play that results in components being widely scattered around the room.
Designed by Asger Sams Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen with art by Etienne Hebinger, there are no such problems with Panic Mansion. In this game, all the action takes place inside the boxes which each player holds. The boxes each represent a dilapidated haunted house where each room is connected through open doorways to the two rooms to which it is adjacent. The eight rooms are distinguished by their different decor. Play involves each player placing various meeples and objects inside their 'house' and tilting the house so that the figures move through the doorways.
The Panic Mansion rules suggest two basic games. In the simplest version, all players take an adventurer meeple, a ghost meeple and three treasure chests (golden cubes). A card is turned over to reveal the room where the adventurer needs to end up and players race to be the first to get their adventurer and all three treasure chests into the indicated room while ensuring that the ghost ends up in a different room.
The second game involves a greater variety of objects, including spiders, snakes and 'eyeballs'. A card is turned over to show the exact mix of objects that have to end up in the target room with everything else elsewhere. As in Jacques Zeimet's Ghost Blitz (Zoch Verlag), you can step up the difficulty sharply by instead playing a variant whereby what has to end up in the room is whatever is not shown on the card.
That's all there is to Panic Mansion. It's a very simple game that is unlikely to take more than a few minutes to play. Nevertheless, it's enormous fun and can prove quite manic as players race against each other to slide the objects around their individual 'houses'.
Panic Mansion is published by Blue Orange and distributed in the UK by Coiledspring Games. It is beautifully produced, with great looking components. They've even designed the box so that the base has a transparent section enabling you to quite literally try before you buy without taking the game out of its shrink wrap.