Battling Maddening Monsters in The Big Book of Madness

June 10, 2020 | Sessions | 0 comments

Return to the forbidden pages of a monstrous tome with a group of young students in The Big Book of Madness.

Thwarted time and time again, it was time to adjust my strategy in The Big Book of Madness. With the same duo of students and collection of spells, I had enough knowledge to win! Theoretically. My enjoyment of certain solo board games comes down to just playing. This time, I was ready to focus more on my specific moves. Back to the book!

Game Overview

Game Name: The Big Book of Madness
Publication Year:
 Maxime Rambourg
 Xavier Gueniffey Durin
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game (Cooperative)

Deck management is the core mechanic that doesn’t always jump out from the beginning. Maybe it’s not a glamorous aspect, but it’s certainly interesting!

Each character’s deck must be kept clear of too much madness. And never run out of madness cards!

The Trick of Maintaining Certain Deck Sizes in The Big Book of Madness

A Slew of Spells

My first student was still a little perturbed about his distinct lack of fire spells, but at least he had something going for him! The available spells were disastrous.

Early on, a monster appeared and ate up plenty of spells. It wasn’t a major loss, but still. Not my low-level magic!

The spells are always interesting. Only a handful are used with each play, leaving the door open for a lot of variety. The higher-level spells are also unknown at the start.

In a thematically correct way, he stayed away from the earth spell and utilized the others in interesting ways.

The Awesome Power of Upgraded Spells in The Big Book of Madness

Diversifying Elements

Don’t think the other student wasn’t useful, though! This team was in it together to whatever ending the book led to.

She possessed more powerful spells that cost a lot of elements, but I made some wise moves early on. Her deck was filled with value 2-3 element cards. Good choice!

I had a lot of fun finding ways to put these to use. Aura of Fire only happened twice, but it was awesome to behold!

The intriguing thing is how these spells are almost entirely about healing or offering support to another player. Defeating curses happens in other ways.

Finding Ways to Use Elements Effectively in The Big Book of Madness

In the Cursed Land

The theme often melts away when it comes to defeating curses… It’s only the matching elements that are needed.

However, I really enjoyed this challenge! I made the early decision to ignore curses that I could handle. In this way, I built up the characters’ decks with stronger elements.

It wasn’t that easy, though. A few of the loss conditions on the pages were a little hard to deal with. Not impossible!

Little by little, it looked like each character could knock out 1-2 curses per turn. This looked good on the final page, where everything counted. No turning back now.

Fighting Through the Endless Curses in The Big Book of Madness

A Tiny Interruption

As I pondered my last few moves, the pitter-patter of little paws pounded across my table. A-ha! A visit from a surprise Calico Critter, who was interested in this spell.

When my fire student learned it, all it led to was a disaster. Because fire and flowers really don’t mix. Come on, now!

Do you see this slightly snarky look? She took a moment to remind me that this spell should be used to make more dresses like hers. Noted… I think. Excellent tip.

I had to politely nudge her aside as I pointed out the last remaining curses. That certainly sent her rushing off!

A Proper Use of the Flowering Spell with a Calico Critter and The Big Book of Madness

Session Overview

Play Number: 9
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game (Cooperative)
Play Details: Medium Difficulty Level in Normal Mode
Required Play Space: 30″ x 28″
Setup Time: 10 Minutes
Play Time: 50 Minutes
Outcome: Win

Take that, monsters! On the very last turn, the students defeated the final curse and closed the book for good. I had a fantastic time with this new strategy! It worked really well, yet I expect that things will change a lot next time.

Through Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered in The Big Book of Madness


1 Play


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


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Do you have any strategies that work better in The Big Book of Madness? I was surprised by how well this worked out! Are there any times when you unintentionally stumbled across an excellent strategy? Solo board games can be quite unpredictable and educational. I wonder if this approach might help me elsewhere… There’s only one way to find out!


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