FLASHBACK FRIDAY – Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection – Chaosium Inc. – Review

Light, easy to learn, and quick, I think you'd be happy diving into the Restricted Collection. It's too light for the most-serious gamers, but an enjoyable distraction or filler.

Drew Vogel

MeepleGamers

7/10

Theme and What is it?

The game is a quest – an extremely dangerous quest. Dr. Henry Armitage, Chief Librarian, needs you to search the library’s perilous Restricted Collection for fragments of lore from among the grimoires to recover pieces of a particular sigil.

Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection lasts five rounds, and each round continues until no one is left in the library, each player having left voluntarily or having been expelled. 

Basic play consists of taking turns to select a library card and placing these cards face up on your player mats. Library cards come in three types: Sigil pieces, Grimoire fragments, and Graduate Students. 

In more detail:

  • Sigil pieces: Three pieces make a set and earn a Lore card. Picking up a duplicate leads to expulsion unless you can use your defense cards.
  • Grimoire fragments: Three pieces make a set and earn a Lore card. Picking up a duplicate leads to expulsion unless you can use your defense cards.
  • Graduate students: Collecting four means you can re-use one of your defense cards.

Players have a chance to win black or red Sanity cards, which increase your score. The game ends when the final fifth round is completed.

You then add up all the score cards you have received and the player with the highest score wins!

The mechanics of this game are very simple and easy to grasp. On your turn, you may either leave the Restricted Collection (pass & end your turn) or draw a card from the Library deck. 

LEAVE THE RESTRICTED COLLECTION (PASS):

If you choose to pass, you lose any Sigil and Grimoire cards (but keep any Graduate Students you’ve collected). You collect the lowest value Sanity card and add it to your score pile.

SEARCH THE RESTRICTED COLLECTION:

If you choose to draw a card, the card is placed in one of three slots in your player area (your Desktop) unless it is a duplicate Sigil or Grimoire. 

If you complete a set without duplicates, here’s what happens:

* Sigil: You take a Lore card (which give you points) and discard all your Sigil cards.

* Grimoire: You take a Lore card and discard all your Grimoirie cards.

* Graduate Students: You may immediately refresh one of your spent Defense cards, and must then discard all your Graduate Students.

EXPELLED FROM THE RESTRICTED COLLECTION:

If you draw a duplicate Sigil or Grimoire card,  you are expelled from the Restricted Collection and take no more turns this round. You also lose ALL your collected cards: Grimoire, Sigil, and Graduate Students. You receive no Sanity card; instead, the lowest value Sanity card is returned to the deck.

DEFENSE CARDS:

Each player has seven defense cards that they can use during the game. These cards can help stave off disaster, and their judicious use may determine if you survive — or go insane! Gathering Graduate Students allows you to refresh a Defense card.

This game looks neat just sitting there. It comes in a book-shaped box with a magnetic closure. The cover is attractive and appropriate for the theme of the game.

Opening the book/box, the artistic treatment continues with the library label on the inside front cover.

As is so common with Knizia’s games, the theme is pasted on. It could be collecting teddy bears, or types of fruit, or automobile parts… That being said, the theme is as-richly applied to the production of this game as it could be.

All the components of this production are of good, high quality. The box is sturdy, small, and well-designed. The game components are of good quality, too… The cardboard is thick and sturdy; the cards are not flimsy and have a linen finish.

Everything fits neatly inside the box, and this small game will look sharp on your shelf.

The artistic direction is appropriate and serviceable for this type of game. Everything is color-coded in a subtle way that, once you notice it, helps to identify where items should be placed. This game does not rely on those colors, though, so it should be friendly to color-blind people.

One thing worth mentioning… The player boards (their “Desktop”) is a neat little cardboard piece decorated to look like your character’s desktop, with snazzy cut-outs along three sides where your cards slot. It’s a neat approach.

The artwork is mysterious and has nice details on the cards. The back of the Library cards creeps me out!

This is a light set-collection, press-your-luck game and nothing more. It’s a great filler that looks nice on the table and plays quickly enough that you can knock out a game or two while you wait for your game group to assemble.

The Defense cards add a little twist to an otherwise familiar collection of mechanics.

It plays equally well at all player counts, and would fit comfortably on a standard card table.

The age range listed on the box is 13+, and BGG agrees with it. However, mechanically, I don’t see any problems with this game being played (maybe with some adult help) by 10+. Perhaps the theme is a little intense for younglings, so that’s why it’s rated higher.

Light, easy to learn, and quick, I think you’d be happy diving into the Restricted Collection. It’s too light for the most-serious gamers, but an enjoyable distraction or filler.