Tuesday, September 08, 2009

MIA #8: Ghost Hunters (Geisterjager)

Ghost Hunters (Geisterjager)
  • designer: Andreas, Lukas & Ulei Frei
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2007
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.92
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 3-5
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $35.99 (maukilo.com)
Haba does "mildy creepy" as well as any game company I've seen - and Ghost Hunters is an excellent example of how this works. The atmospheric backdrop to the scoring board (which is a haunted castle, complete with a full moon silouetting bats flying by) is offset by the adorable ghost pieces - evidently in this haunted castle, the ghosts need illumination (a candle), a key (what? they can't float through locked doors?!) and a refreshing beverage (it looks like lemonade). So kids get a little bit of scary with enough comforting things to make it accessible even to the most jittery child in your house. (For comparison, Fantasy Flight Games has a version of Fury of Dracula with real menace... and in the late 80's/early 90's, Games Workshop published nearly every game with an abundance of skulls. Seriously - it was as if the Headhunter from Disneyland's "Jungle Cruise" was following you around & decorating.)

But back to the game itself - the players here are ghost hunters (hence the name), trying to identify which ghosts are haunting the castle. They do this by watching as one of the ghosts (under the control of one of the players) flits past the windows. When one of the hunters thinks they've recognized the ghost, they call for a halt to the haunting. All of the hunters then use their "hunt wheels" to secretly make a guess at which ghost they've seen. (There are 12 ghosts in the game - 8 which you must identify correctly & 4 more which you can simply guess as "haven't seen these".)

The answers are revealed and the hunters advance along the track: 2 spots if they're the only correct hunter & 1 spot if more than one hunter is right. If none of the hunters are correct, the player moving the ghost moves forward.

The ingenious construction of the game is fascinating: the scoreboard actually hides the pieces when you're not playing... and the castle is a hollow stand-up piece that fits into the side of the box. The ghost player manipulates the ghost in question with a magnet. (It's also nice if the ghost player makes spooky noises... but that's not really a design feature of the game.)

The game comes with two sets of ghosts to vary the difficulty of the game. The "easy" set is easy enough that my 4 year old & 8 year old can play together.

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