A little while ago, I posted my thoughts on a few zombie boardgames. This time, I’d like to share a few ghost-themed board games that are haunting my gaming closet.
The Haunting House
The Haunting House is a game in which the goal is to be the first to successfully navigate a haunted house. Sounds simple, right? Of course, the interior of the house is a random maze. Still no problem, right? I forgot to mention that the maze is constantly revising itself.
The tiles making up the maze are manipulated by card play. Card play happens in two phases. There is a normal phase, in which players strategically choose cards and play them in a particular order. Then there is a random phase in which cards are played at random, to make it feel as though the house really were haunted and malevolent.
It is easy to learn and entertaining. Those wishing a strategic game may be disappointed, as the chaos of the random phase will often foil any attempts to plan ahead and outmaneuver opponents.
Ghost Stories could be thought of as Ghostbusters with an Asian theme. Players must work together to save a village from an invasion of ghosts (or, more accurately, evil spirits) and defeat their leader, Wu-Feng. Unlike The Haunting House, in Ghost Stories, having a proper strategy is a necessity to win.
The board consists of nine village tiles. Each tile is occupied by a villager, which can provide help to the players, such as by dispensing supplies, transporting ghosts and players to new locations, performing exorcisms, or delaying hauntings.
The board also consists of four player boards, each of which has three ghost slots. When a ghost comes into play, it will occupy one of these slots. Most of these ghosts will also attempt to haunt adjacent village tiles. When this happens, the players lose the help of its associated villager. If any three village tiles become haunted, the game is over.
It is therefore up to the players to banish the ghosts as quickly as possible. This is done by rolling dice and using tokens to match a combination shown on the ghost’s card. Because multiple ghosts can come into play each turn, and players are penalized when their boards are full, teamwork is vital.
My main complaint with this game is that the rulebook is somewhat cryptic, as much information is conveyed as icons.
Monsters 4 is a board game produced by LEGO. The game comes as a box of plastic bricks to be assembled, along with a book of simple rules. The scenario is that gangs of werewolves, goblins, devils, and pumpkins are trying to take control of a haunted graveyard.
The reality is that the game is basically tic-tac-toe on a 4×4 grid, with the addition of skeletons that serve as wildcards, a spider that can clear a quadrant of the board, and a big rubberized LEGO die to roll.
This isn’t a subtle and nuanced game of misdirection and countermoves. It is, after all, meant to be enjoyed by little children. I didn’t buy it to play it, though, I bought it to collect the adorable monster heads.