GHOST STORIES Antoine Bauza
REPOS PRODUCTION 1-4 Players Aged 12+
Everything about this game screams quality. The box cover art is eye catching, the miniatures are excellent, the card stock - for the tiles, cards and counters - is solid and hard wearing and the colouring is spookily atmospheric.
Wu-Feng, Lord of the Nine Hells, was cremated and his ashes buried in an urn in a Middle Empire village cemetery. Wu-Feng now resides in Hell plotting his return. The Taoist Priests (Fat-Si) watch and wait at the border between life and death, ready to send the reincarnation of Wu-Feng straight back where he comes from.
The players cooperate win or lose as a team - the rules are adjusted depending on the number of players. There are four levels of difficulty, as in a video game, and it is advised that you play them in the given order as each adds complexities and pieces that increase each challenge.
Wu-Feng sends his Ghosts to haunt the village and the villagers whilst the players use the Taoists, some mystical components and the villagers to exorcise the ghosts. They also use colour-spot Tao dice, needing to roll the colours matching the exorcism. Sometimes Wu-Feng uses Curses (a die roll) that have negative effects on the players.
Each player (Taoist) has a one-shot Yin-Yang token that can e of great advantage if used at the right time. There is a slim chance of getting the Yin-Yang token back.
At some point during the game the incarnation of Wu-Feng will make an appearance. When he does the players have to defeat (exorcise) him or lose. In advanced games several Wu-Feng incarnations may be in play at once. Each incarnation has an ability and a win condition.
Players can only win if they plan and work together. It is expected, even when playing the easy difficulty level that you will lose the first few games.
The mechanics are actually quite simple once you have worked through the rules and there are plenty of illustrated examples, though in some cases these are not as clear (pictorially) as I would have liked. It is imperative that the players discuss what they should do and unlike many other cooperative games there is nothing to be gained by cavalier or soloist play.
There is an element of regularity about each player’s turn, though the random layout of the tiles and the drawing of the cards ensures each game doesn’t follow the same path. There is also a feeling of elation when the players get together to banish a ghost, even though it may only depend on the luck of the dice the buzz is still there.
It is easy to say a game is interesting, unusual or unique but in this case it is justified.