October is finally here my friends! We're now into that glorious month where the leaves crackle under your feet, shadows grow larger, cool winds chill our bones, and we all fear the ghouls & goblins of the past coming out to snatch us away into the night. Honestly I shouldn't be this dramatic seeing as this is just an intro for my experiences with a Milton Bradley board game but it's the season of Halloween and we're all allowed a little embellishment.
Ghosts! Is a nifty little item I stumbled upon just a few months back. It's a simple little two player chess/checkers game with a lot of bluffing. The first version was apparently published in Europe in 1980 with Milton Bradley stepping up to bring it stateside in the year of my birth (1985 woot! Woot!) The game was designed by a guy named Alex Randolph who seems to be a little legend in the tabletop game world. After a little study, I can see why. Plenty of his games look very fun. I'm especially interested in one he created called Casablanca. Of course if you're still reading this I assume you want to wrap up the history lesson and move on to the important stuff. Then let's move on shall we?
Look at that beauty. Possibly the biggest thing that lured me to this game was how it just screams Halloween. The theme, cover art, board art, etc is all soaking in the things we love about this season. You might not be able to make them out but there's snakes and bats moving about the castle just for additional flair. Oh Christ, I was hoping to have explained the gameplay by now but who can really blame me for getting lost in something this cool looking.
Ok so gameplay is quite simple. Each player set up their 8 ghosts (you can choose your own starting layout) on their side of the board with the little colored marks facing them. You see the blue ghosts are good spirits while the orange ones are pure evil. Each turn, you move one ghost a total of one space up, down, left, or right (no diagonal shenanigans here.) Naturally you can knock off your opponents ghosts which finally allows you to see whether you took out a good natured spook or a demon from the depths of hell. This is important for how you win the game. You see one way to win is to get one of your good ghosts to one of your opponents corners so that little guy can escape the castle. The other way to win the game is to capture all of the opposing good ghosts. However; if you capture all of the opposing evil spirits you lose it all. Thous bluffing becomes a major element of the game as you taunt your enemy by sending a ghost into danger while they decide wether to take the risk of capturing it. It's a brilliant little system that provides for a lot of different strategies.
So far I've only had the chance to play this three times. First I won by sneaking a good guy out. Second I lost by not noticing a good one slip past my defense until it was too late. Third I lost by getting greedy and slaughtering all my foes evil spirits. Each playthrough has been quick fun. I know I'm going to pull this out more than a few times before the month is over. In fact I'm thinking of keeping it nearby on Halloween night to fill those gaps between large groups of trick-or-treaters.
If you're at all interested in getting a copy for yourself it shouldn't be too hard to get your paws on it as several version have been produced over the years. Apparently there was even a Jekyll and Hyde variant at some point. The current version is called Phantoms vs Phantoms but I can't say as I like the looks of it very much as it doesn't have the great packaging or board that my old MB copy does. Of Course you could always just get some dollar store ghosts and lay out a 6X6 grid of Halloween napkins as well.
Well I'm gonna get back to work. I've been decorating for the past two days and I haven't even started working on the outside. So far the holiday season is off to a good start folks. Get out there and enjoy those dead leaves.