Into the Dark: An Early Look at Massive Darkness

A big announcement made by Guillotine Games and CoolMiniOrNot recently was Massive Darkness, a new dungeon-crawl-style board game. Well, here at the CMON Expo, we got a whole panel on what people can expect from this new, and exciting, game.


We’re here with Thiago Aranha (CMON Lead Producer) and David Preti (Guillotine Games).

Game Box

The game is a modern-style Dungeon Crawl game. It will have all the popular fantasy tropes in terms of monsters. Goblins, Demons, Spiders, Kobolds, and on and on. There is a massive drive toward coming out with lots of different monsters. That will increase the replayability of the game, as each time you can play through with different monsters that you will fight. You can tailor-make your game to what you want to fight. There is no “GM-Player” required. It’s entirely cooperative. During the course of the game, your character will progress not only during the game, but also during the entire campaign system.

Monsters are spawned when you encounter new rooms. Also, there are event cards that can also create wandering monsters. Monsters generally move 2x and then they will make an attack (if they have something to attack).

As you would expect from a Guillotine Games/CMON product, you can expect plenty of awesomely-sculpted miniatures. You can get a bit of a look at them here.

Class Cards

Heroes each come with a unique special skill. From there you add in a Class Skill. You can match heroes with any class you want. While there might be a particular class that a character might favor, that doesn’t actually limit you. So again, replayability comes from switching heroes with classes in almost limitless ways. Classes combine skills with unique signature moves. As you play further into the campaign, your skill tree also grows, giving you branching options for how you want your character to progress.

Treasure Cards

But it’s not just skills you’ll amass as you kill off enemies. You also get loot! There’s weapons of all types: melee, ranged, consumable, and even magic items. Didn’t get exactly what you want? Or maybe an old weapon isn’t doing what you need it to anymore? You’ll be able to transmute them into more powerful ones.

Monsters come in the form of bosses leading masses of minions. There’s also enemy agents who can call in reinforcements. Maybe you’ll run across a random wandering monster as well! Guardians will carry powerful pieces of treasure, and they know how to use ’em! Thankfully, fighting against them, abilities and equipment stack together. Both the attacks and defense part of an attack is done with a single die roll. There are different attack and defense dice that you will roll together. Add up your attack totals vs. the defense totals and see what happens. There’s a limit of 12 dice for a die roll, since there are 3 of each type of 4 dice (2 attack, 2 defense) Special enhancements on items or characters are triggered by rolling certain symbols on the dice.

Game Tiles

The game board creates a dynamic world. There’s Shadow Areas on tiles that the heroes can use to their advantage. Heroes can use those spots as mid-game “hiding spots.” They can hide from wandering patrols. They can avoid certain attacks. They can even use those spots as launching-off points for their own surprise attacks. Like with Zombicide before it, just charging in headlong into the enemies will result in you more-than-likely losing the game and your characters dying (though there are a couple resurrection methods). This brings a deep tactical, and cooperative portion for the game. You must work together.

The molds for the miniatures are already in production. As such, there’s a real push to getting the game out and on time in a quick fashion.

They have a brand-new, prototype version of the game here. I snapped a few photos. I hope you enjoy.

There’s a lot of really cool things in store for this game. Stay tuned for more previews and info as we get closer to the Kickstarter launch date.

Final preview tidbit: They’re working on Zombicide: Black Plague Season 2. But they are not currently working on regular Zombicide Season 4.
Also, the Blood Rage team (Adrian Smith, Eric Lang, Mike McVey, and crew) are working on a new game. It’s not related to Blood Rage, but is a “spiritual successor.”

  • Chad_Caughmann

    CMON producing a dungeon crawler that requires boatloads of miniatures??? I’m shocked.

    I’d be much more impressed if they would produce a dungeon crawler that typically only had a handful of minis on the board at a time….instead of the same ‘ole heroes versus swarms and swarms and swarms of bad guys. It’s just been done to death (by CMON especially). I love the art style (basically the vintage Rackham look), but can’t bother myself to buy another system developed with the intention of pushing piles of miniatures.

    • Oli Phaunt

      Sounds like you want Kingdom Death. It’s already sold out though.

      • Chad_Caughmann

        Thanks for offering a suggestion, but nope. I intentionally chose to to skip Kingdom Death. It has some interesting concepts, but I (like many) aren’t a fan of the game’s reliance on “shock value” for it’s presentation (gore and overt sexuality).

        I’ve also never gotten a big sense of exploration from the gameplay videos I’ve seen…which is something I value. And I don’t like that all combats basically put you on a board that offers very little visual diversity…leading to combats looking “samey”. They may play differently, but the visual component of a game also plays a big part in the overall experience…and I just don’t like what Kingdom Death offers in that respect on multiple fronts.

        Overall, I’m very comfortable with my choice to skip the game.

        • odinsgrandson

          I don’t know about those videos, but I’ve felt that the sense of exploration and discovery is pretty strong in KDM.

          I agree that the overt sexuality/shock value isn’t really that great.

          It looks like expanding the board into different things is becoming more and more part of KDM- the Flower Knight plays on a completely different board, and each monster has anywhere from a little terrain alterations, to basically an entire set of craziness to add (the Lion God really changes that).

          I am trying to think of other games that can offer good exploration gameplay without turning into full RPGS. Have you played Shadows of Brimstone?

          • Chad_Caughmann

            I haven’t played it, but I’ve watched several gameplay videos. What I’ve seen looks decent, but not enough to convince me to buy it.

            What I’d really like to see is a dungeon crawler that’s got about the level of gameplay depth that Myth has during the Hero Cycle…but doesn’t involve the mountains of minis. I enjoyed the Hero portion of Myth a lot, but the game just got unwieldy with SO many enemy models on the board.

          • daroach

            Have you checked Gloomhaven? Not out yet, but it does seem to be what you are looking for.. lot’s of strategy, but not a mountains of minis.. Also really cool , new mechanics..

    • Gavin McClements

      Especially knowing that Black Plague 2 is coming, I cant have yet another game like this. Zombicide and Rum and Bones are enough…I echo your setiments exactly. Wish this was a less-spammy game, cause it does indeed look fun…

    • You do realize they just finished a hugely succesful Kickstarter for Masmorra? A dungeon crawler with just the heroes as minis, and the monsters genereated as dice rolls.

      • Chad_Caughmann

        I already owned Super Dungeon Explore, so I chose not to follow any of CMON’s chibi dungeon crawler stuff. All the minis looked like a poor attempt at copying SDE’s success. And with being so heavily invested in SDE, it felt silly to start investing in a new game that’s simply trying to capture the same market.

        • No, I would hardly call Masmorra a SDE ripoff, their gameplay aren’t even remotely the same, and SDE can hardly claim exclusive rights for using chibis? It’s not like they invented that japanese drawing style.
          But back to your question; You asked for a CMON crawler with few minis, and that’s exactly what Masmorra is. Take it or leave it, but stop whining about CMON only producing games with tons of minis then.

          • Chad_Caughmann

            @DanielRoos:disqus – the reason I say Arcadia Quest/Masmorra feels like a rip-off of SDE is due to several factors: 1) Arcadia Quest conveniently came out right around the same time Soda Pop and CMON split. With CMON no longer having affiliation with SDE, they saw an expanding market and needed to capitalize on it. Therefore -> “Let’s toss a game together as soon as possible to capitalize on the popularity of “chibi” gaming”.

            2) I didn’t suggest Soda Pop did invent the chibi style. Of course they didn’t. What they did do, however, is POPULARIZE it within the miniature gaming landscape.

            Due to the timing and former affiliation, it’s pretty clear where the influence to create Arcadia/Masmorra came from. Is the gameplay different? Sure it is. That doesn’t change the fact that the basic marketing concept to it is more or less for the same crowd. Evidence suggests that too, as there have been MANY debates on SDE vs. Arcadia Quest (and by extension, now Masmorra).

            But as for the part about you complaining about me complaining about CMON mostly pushing games that focus on tons of miniatures…my point still stands. That IS their apparent game design strategy for most of their games. Quality is an important factor…but so is QUANTITY (whether it helps create a better game or not). Otherwise they wouldn’t always use the sheer quantity of miniatures as one of their primary marketing points in nearly all the Kickstarters they run.

          • I’d like to note that there were around 22 new games that CMON showed off at the CMON Expo this last weekend. Of them, only a small handful were the “it’s got tons of minis in it” variety of big-box board game. Many games they will now be publishing, or at least distributing to an English-speaking audience, are small-box games of various types. Things like Unusual Suspects which is a party game, or Ta-Da and Play Me which are dice games, or Kaleido which is an object-finding game, and so forth and so on. Sure, there was Black Plague, Massive Darkness, Rum & Bones, and Blood Rage on display as well, but there were more “small-box” games being shown than “big box.”

          • Chad_Caughmann

            That’s a nice change of direction.

          • Phil D

            So CMoN just said: “Let’s toss a game together as soon as possible …” and Whoops! It’s incredibly popular and well balanced and highly ranked on BGG. 😐

        • odinsgrandson

          It is a real shame that CMON made Arcadia Quest look like an SDE clone in a lot of its initial choices (down to calling it “Arcade Quest”).

          Both thematically and gameplay wise, it is better if it stands on its own.

    • ced1106

      Okay, so be impressed by another company that makes a game you want. Don’t bother us by not bothering to buy another bucket-o-miniatures game.


        Some people come here to see other people’s opinions, good or bad. You can praise this game, or you can hate it. Neither bothers me. Trying to tell people not to comment – that bothers me.

        • Just want to go on record as saying that while it’d be great if everyone loved everything and only had positive comments to post about things, reality is that not everyone is going to like everything. That’s just life. And as long as the comments are constructive, it’s fine to have a negative opinion of the items in the news stories (the comments here fall into that category). Not every comment has to be “this is the greatest thing ever!” and TGN does hopefully create a forum where people can discuss their likes/dislikes in an open way.

  • Ken Barker

    What a huge disappointment. It’s yet another Zombicide game just in a different package…oh no wait there is a skill tree this time! Yeah, totaly makes it worth it now right? Meh.

    It’s baffling to me that people keep tossing money at CMON no matter what they come out with.

    • Teskal

      How different the game will be, we will hopefully see during the campaign after they provide the complete rules. If they can provide a cool Dungeon Crawler feeling, there will be many players for this genre available who do not like zombies-only-games.

      Worst case in the end will be always a lot of cool miniatures to paint and useable for other games. So no “people keep tossing money at CMON no matter” necessary.

      • Well, the dice mechanic is entirely different from Zombicide. So there’s that. And while characters in Zombicide do get a limited number of options as they level up, in Massive Darkness, that possible skill set is greatly expanded. There’s lots of options available, as opposed to just 2-3 per level.

        • Teskal

          I hope for many more mechanics, especially very different enemies.
          I’m also curious about the stealth mechanic. How it will work to hide from the monsters. It would be cool if it is also possible not to fight to success.

          • odinsgrandson

            Yeah- a sneak by mechanic is something that we’re really not seeing in many Dungeon Crawlers (Roge-types are generally delegated to high damage backstab abilities, or extra loot generators).

        • Ken Barker

          But that hardly validates creating a full new game and investing hundreds of dollars for if you already own Zombicide titles.

          Besides, they could have easily incorporated this skill tree into Black Plague when BP2 comes out. Many games do this, add mechanics etc. But not CMON. Instead they just make full new games with mediocre changes.

          Just seems like they came up with a cool idea for Zombicide and instead just made a new game for it.

          CMON is the EA of boardgames. They only want money and sadly their customers just keep buying. Just like EA is now milking everyone with their crappy “editions” with 8 expansions etc.

          • The two items mentioned are hardly an exhaustive list of everything different between Zombicide and Massive Darkness.

            But look, not every game is going to be for every gamer. If you’re not a fan of what you’ve seen for Massive Darkness, you can skip it. If you prefer Black Plague, cool. Keep playing it. There’s going to be an expansion for it coming out (relatively) soon, as mentioned in the news story. You’ll get some cool, new stuff for that game.

          • ced1106

            What’s so sad about buying great looking miniatures with a decent rules set?

          • Ken Barker

            Nothing if you don’t have a dungeion crawler. But this is hardly a dungeon crawler. It’s Zombicide just repackaged. It’s lazy.

            Use your money on “real” crawlers instead. Like Descent or Imperial Assault etc etc

          • Phil D

            . . . So you’re complaining that this game is just a repackaged version of a game that already exists and then you suggest we go out and buy other games like Descent and … a star wars themed repackaging of Descent …

            Yeah, I’m definitely being swayed by your opinions here.

      • Chad_Caughmann

        “Worst case in the end will be always a lot of cool miniatures”

        This has been my biggest gripe with CMON in the past few years. It feels like the goal for most of their games is “What kind of game can we make that will require a bunch of miniatures so we can inflate the cost of the game?”

        The luster of having a game with piles of duplicate miniatures to create the “many vs few, heroic” gameplay is wearing off for me, and feeling like a cheap design choice these days to appeal to an outdated sensibility.

        • Teskal

          CMON is made by miniature tabletop gamers who loves and made skirmish/wargame miniature games. So it is not unusual that they want to make new games with miniatures.

          But main reason to back a project is for me, first the miniatures, second the gameplay. If I do not like the minis, I do not back the project. If I like the minis, but not the rules, it is still possible that I back it.

          Miniatures are only one aspect of the game, like cards in a card game. The design for Zombicide and Wrath of Kings was fantastic. The Others: Seven Sins looks also like a fantastic game, but I need to play it first to be sure. But every game had a very interesting game design. It didn’t felt cheap at all for these games.

          • Chad_Caughmann

            I’m aware of who CMON is. I’ve followed them since the early 2000’s. My issue isn’t with the minis themselves….it’s with the volume of duplicates used to pad the size of a game.

          • ced1106

            Okay, then don’t buy CMON products. Why is this so difficult for you?

          • PRAY FOR MOJO

            Who says it’s difficult?

        • PRAY FOR MOJO

          My biggest gripe is I think their miniatures and art are ugly, so the rest doesn’t even matter.

          • Phil D

            “I think their miniatures and art are ugly” … said no one ever.

          • PRAY FOR MOJO

            What am I then? A bot? It looks like a pay-to-win mobile MMO.

            I understand some/many people may like it, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who would say that.

          • Phil D

            Not sure if you’re a troll or not …

          • Ok. Before this goes too far: Pray for Mojo doesn’t like the looks of Massive Darkness. That’s fine. Other people do like what they’re seeing. That’s fine as well. Not every game is going to appeal to every gamer.

          • Andrew Franke

            Can o’ WORMS. OMG it’s a game guys. CMON has produced a bunch of really good games. You don’t have to like them all. If they produce games that are similar to successful games that is good business.

            Look at what Hasbro did with the Axis and Allies Brand. Super smart move and they sold Way more games and more people are playing it.

            Games are my passion. I don’t like the CHIBI stuff, period. I love the other stuff CMON comes out with. Pick you game and go with it.

            This need to slam a game you don’t like and don’t play is worthless in terms of informing others.

            I don’t say bad things about CHIBI games because I don’t own any. The miniatures aren’t my style that’s all. I leave games others love like SDE alone.

  • odinsgrandson

    I don’t recognize any of those minis from Enigma’s Massive Darkness line, but they certainly fit the line’s style.

    This game is using that line of minis, right? The way the Ron and Bones minis ended up in a CMON board game?