With Halloween coming up, now is a great time to check out some of the very best ghost games on the market today. Here are the board games which made my top five.
1 – Ghost Stories
This is a fiendishly difficult co-op game where one to four players play as Taoist monks battling to stop the evil, long dead, Wu-Feng finding his body and returning to Earth.
Each turn a new ghost will appear with various powers, including summoning more ghosts, haunting tiles (making them unusable and losing you the game if three tiles are haunted at any one time), stealing your dice (which are used for exorcisms) or blocking you from using your special powers. As if that’s not bad enough, if your player board is overrun with ghosts then you lost a chi (your life force) each turn.
On your turn, you can move one tile, and then either exorcise these ghosts by rolling dice and matching colours to the ghosts’ type and strength, or by using the power of the village tile you\'re on to do various things including un-haunting a tile, sending a ghost back to hell and other useful actions.
Ghost Stories is a game where you’re constantly battling to survive and avoid defeat against overwhelming odds, until the Wu-Feng card is drawn near the end of the game and your focus shifts to defeating him for victory. Featuring great components, this is a tough game but hugely satisfying when you beat it (then you can try hell mode!).
2 – Mysterium
Imagine Cluedo mixed with Dixit and you have Mysterium. There’s been a murder!! The victim has returned as ghost on Halloween and several psychics have gathered to try and piece together what happened on that fateful night – through the interpretation of abstract pictures!
You have seven hours (turns) for the psychics to work out who killed the ghost, where, and with what weapon. The ghost (naturally) can't speak and will try to influence them by giving each player between one and seven of the seven picture cards they have drawn from a big stack. These are all beautifully illustrated cards, but very abstract.
So, the ghost may pass over several cards of the same colour, or with sharp or metal things to illustrate a sword, or cards showing rain or the sea to try and indicate the bathroom. Because each card has so much going on though, trying to decipher these can be challenging.
It's another co-op game, which is both fun and frustrating in equal measure as the ghost hears a player correctly say “it's blatantly this ….” only to be talked out of it by another player arguing “no, look they both have wood in them – it's going to be that person holding a book."
A great, beautiful game and it's always fun to see which players are on the same wavelength.
3 – Betrayal at House on the Hill
Now, admittedly only some of the scenarios in this game include a ghost, but as the second half of the game is known as “the haunt” – we'll let this one qualify!
Ever wanted to play through a typical horror b-movie? Well now you can! Players pick from a variety of characters, and slowly explore a haunted house by uncovering random tiles each turn to build a house with a different layout each time. Each room may contain events (where you invariably roll against one of your traits such as speed, agility etc) with good or bad outcomes. You may find an item which will provide you buffs, or may be needed for a quest later, or omens. Each omen found results in a rolling of the dice, with the haunt increasingly likely to begin as more omens are found.
Once the haunt starts, you refer to a chart in the book which will dictate which of the 50 haunts you will be playing, and which player(s) are the traitor. These scenarios range from the typical tropes (giant spiders, zombies, aliens) to the ridiculous (a giant bird carrying off the house and you needing to find parachutes).
Betrayal at House on the Hull is an enjoyable game, with enormous replay-ability. The only downside is that it can be incredibly unbalanced depending on the scenario, when the haunt starts and how strong and equipped the traitor is, but you'll have fun nonetheless.
4 – Ghostel
In the reverse of most of the other games here, in Ghostel you play as the ghosts! In ghostly fashion, you score points by trying to scare guests out of the hotel you reside in. The scaring of the guests element takes part in the night phase, as you'd expect from any self-respecting ghost, and this is achieved by rolling dice which can be boosted by using scare tactics and terror dice cards.
The day phase is where you plan for the night and can buy the various cards to boost their scariness. Whilst a competitive game, the interesting part of Ghostel comes from being able to work together to scare guests (especially those brave souls who are hard to frighten) where both of you can score points.
Overall this is a fairly light, fun game with amusing artwork. It has enough depth to play outside of Halloween but is simple enough to be enjoyed by all, including kids.
5 – Ghostbusters
Based on the hit film (the superior original of course), in this miniatures game you play as one of the four iconic ghostbusters, doing all the things you\'d expect; driving Ecto 1, capturing ghosts and battling iconic enemies such as Slimer and the Stay Puft giant marshmallow man.
A turn will consist of a number of actions you can take, including moving, driving the car, attacking ghosts, depositing captured ghosts or using your characters special power.
There are 15 different scenarios included, which affect the way the 10 double-sided tiles are laid out to form the game board, and have different stories and aims, from closing demonic portals, to defeating one of the bosses mentioned above.
Characters can level up as they progress, granting them more action points or specific powers and the scenarios are varied in nature, requiring different strategies from the group who are working together.
The Ghostbusters Board Game is a great representation of the film. The only downside is that a lot of the ghost miniatures look similar and are hard to differentiate at a glance.