Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Haunt the House (KTBG)

My son's favorite time of the year is Fall. It's not because of the temperature dropping or the leaves changing colors. No, it's because of Halloween. For the life of me, I can't figure out where he developed this love of Halloween, but he loves it and all things "spooky." No matter what store we shop in, he wants to go down the Halloween aisle. His favorite movie right now? Toy Story of Terror! I just don't get it... Recently, I learned of a "spooky" game called Haunt the House from Kids Table Board Gaming (KTBG for short). Haunt the House is a game for 2-4 ghouls ages 8+. It takes approximately 30-40 minutes to play and is currently on Kickstarter for a pledge of $31.
Setup
1. Shuffle the Room Tiles face down, creating a draw pile. Lay out four Room Tiles face-up (three in a 2-player game).
2. Shuffle the Ghost Hunters cards face-down, creating a draw pile. Draw one Ghost Hunter and place it face-up on each in Room Tile.
3. Make a pile of the Skull Tokens, placing them within reach of all.
4. Have each player choose a color and give them a Ghost Marker and Scare Deck in their color. Have each player shuffle their deck face-down and draw the top three Scares.
5. Shuffle the Trophy Tiles face-down, and give each player one red and one blue trophy tile. You may look at your own Trophy Tiles, but keep them secret.
6. Pick a starting player and begin!
Game Play - The game is played in turns with the end of the game triggering when a player scares their fourth Ghost Hunter (fifth in a 2-player game). On your turn you may take two actions of Yell Boo! You can take the actions in any order or the same one twice. Possible Actions are:
1. Draw to three Scares - If you have 0 or 1 Scares in your hand, you may use your first action to draw up to three Scares.
2. Play a face-down Scare - Play any one Scare from your hand face-down on a Room Tile. (Note: The Scare doesn't have to match the Scares shown on the Ghost Hunter in the Room Tile.)
3. Play a face-up Scare - Play any one Scare from your hand face-up on a Room Tile. (Note: The Scare must be one that is needed to frighten the Ghost Hunter.) Playing face-up allows you to immediately trigger the power of the Room Tile.

Yell Boo! - If you think you have the right combination of symbols on the face-up Scares, face-down Scares, and Scares in your hand, you yell BOO! Flip over the face-down Scares and discard non-matching Scares. Reward the owners of matching face-down Scares with one Skull Token. If you are not able to successfully scare the Ghost Hunter, all face-down Scares that were revealed are discarded and your turn ends. If you are able to scare the Ghost Hunter, claim them face-up in front of you. Discard the Room Tile and place a new Room Tile and Ghost Hunter on that Room Tile.

Advanced version: Add the deck of Phantom Cards to the game, shuffling them face-down. Now, instead of merely claiming a Skull Token, you can claim a Phantom, which gives you a special unique action to use in a future turn.
Review
If you decide to pledge for Haunt the House, it's like you are getting two games in one - 1. a family game suitable for playing with children and 2. a more challenging game to play with seasoned gamers. The beginner's version of this game is simple in the actions you can take, but still provides meaningful decisions. Do I play a card face-up for a beneficial action but potentially set up my opponent(s) to scare a ghost hunter? Do I play a card face-down and do some light bluffing in hopes that I can trick my opponent into doing a false Boo? With scoring tokens being squared, you also have to decide carefully which ghost hunters to maximize your opponents.

The advanced version of this game provides you with a new choice to make when rewards are earned. Are you going to take a skull token for points or are you going to draw a phantom card and get some special ability? I've noticed most of the time, you'll take the phantom unless the game is near over and you want points. These two modes of game play means you have a game that will grow with your children. As they age and grasp advanced gaming concepts, the game will scale with them.

What I like best about the game is the art, of course! The art by Apolline Etienne and Josh Cappel is eye-popping! I remember the first time I saw Cappel's art in Scoville. I was instantly a fan. Ever since purchasing that game, I now actively seek out games he illustrates. It's one of the main reasons I bought KTBG's other two games - Foodfighters and Problem Picnic. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Josh Cappel is the Leonardo da Vinci of board games, because he not only illustrates games, but designs them as well. With his talented wife Helaina, the Cappels are creating a beautiful empire made up of the next generation of family games! If I had one negative to levy against this game, I would say that it only plays four. I only have a family of three, but as a Catholic, I know many families well over the four player limit who wish this game could accommodate more. That quibble aside, I have thoroughly enjoyed this game and I can't wait to see the success this Kickstarter will experience.