Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters won Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2014 and that is the reason I bought it. I was browsing on Amazon of all places for some party games to play in the garden during the first lockdown and Amazon recommended this game to me which is odd because it’s a board game and I was looking for something for the kids to throw water into.
Seeing that Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters had won an award made me realise it must be good. I like Kinder Eggs so Kinderspiel has the word Kinder in it, must be good I thought!
Actually, the Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Game of the year) is quite a prestigious award to receive. The game was designed by Brian Yu who brought us Desert Bizarre, Pictionary Mania and a few other titles I have not played although, if his other titles are little gems like this one then I am willing to try them out.
The premise of this game is that there is a mansion filled with treasure and it’s your job, along with three friends or possibly co-workers at a factory where children are forced to produce gems, to head into the mansion and bring the gems out, but there is a catch, for some unknown reason the gems can only be brought out in number order, not only do you have to go and see the gems to find out what their number is but the house is full of GHOSTS!!
Ghost fighting treasure hunters is a family favourite. My children love it and despite the premise and simplicity of play, I really like it too.
In a turn, each player rolls a dice, draws a card and moves. The card is drawn from a community deck that in this game is comprised of either a letter and ghost image, a reshuffle or a penalty card. These penalties could lock/unlock all the green or blue doors, have you draw a number of cards or reshuffle the deck.
If you draw a Ghost card with a room letter you must add a green ghost to that room. This is fine until you have to enter that room or worse still, there are already two ghosts in there. If this is the case the room becomes haunted a Red Ghost is placed inside.
If all six of the red ghosts are placed on the board, its game over and you lose. However, escape with the gems, in order before 6 rooms become haunted and you win.
You cannot pick up a gem when there is a ghost in a room or if the room is haunted so you must fight the ghosts to be able to leave.
The fighting part of the game is handled by two black fighting dice, which have one blank side, one red ghost and 4 green ghosts.
To defeat a ghost you must roll a dice that has the corresponding coloured Ghost on it. If you are in a room alone rolling a green ghost is not too hard but you can only roll one dice which means that the odds of killing a red ghost on your own are 0.16667. If there are two or more characters in the room you can roll two attack dice and your odds increase to 0.30556, moreover, there are more attacks per round so the chances of killing a red ghost increase.
With a simple premise and a game made for children, you would imagine that was all there would be to it however, this game requires teamwork, tactics and a good deal of luck.
Firstly, whilst not defined there are three phases to each game, there is the exploration phase while you move from room to room fighting ghosts and turning over gems to find out the extraction order.
Next, you have the planning phase where your teamwork out who will do what and then you have the panic or execution phase while you desperately race to get the gems out while you are filling the mansion with ghosts each turn, bringing you closer and closer to your ultimate demise.
The phases are not separated in any way and each is merged with the next but what you have is essentially a fun family game that requires tactics and team management in order to win.
Working out who will go where, who will carry what gems, who will fight and how to all escape before there are too many haunted rooms creates a lot of fun and genuine excitement.
There is a lot of fun to be had but the joy for me spending time with the children and hearing their plans, hearing their shrieks of excitement as things go right, or wrong.
Moving on to the components and everything is very well made. The board is bright and colourful, rooms are clearly defined. The ghost models both red and green are very well made and will last a long time. The character models feel a little rubbery and the cardboard components, gems and cards, may fail before everything else. It may have been a better option to have used plastic gems as they are being put into and out of a backpack time and again. So far, after about 20 or so games they are holding up reasonably well but these will be the parts that wear first. I would like to think I will play this game with my grandchildren in the future so I would like it to last.
Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is a really great family game that will have everyone laughing and talking together. The combat is simple but fun, the planning and panicking are real and the concepts are easy to understand. This is a true family favourite that I hope my children and I will play for many years to come.
I may 3D Print some gems to keep things going a little longer and I wish there were an option to have 6 players rather than just four but I think a lot of the fun may be in the fact you cannot be everywhere to handle all the ghosts all the time. A game worthy of your money in my opinion.