My daughter has not always enjoyed playing board games. In fact, it’s only recently that she has developed favorite games and asks to play them. And even with this new desire to play them, often she prefers to play with the pieces and make up her own games.
Now making up her own games is a great use of her creative talents. However, when you’re playing with others who wish to follow game rules, this can be quite the challenge. Often there would be two games going on, the one that followed the rules and a second that meandered with her imagination.
The biggest stumbling block for her was the competition.
It still is. No one enjoys losing. Add to that being the youngest and competing with an older sibling, and games held little attraction. So, where was our turning point? Co-operative games.
We’ve discovered several co-operative games that helped our family all play by the same set of rules.
One of these games is Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters! from Mattel Games. And fortunately, this is a game that continues to be of interest to everyone.
One of the appealing aspects of this game is that it has lots of figures to play with.
To begin with, there are of course the individual players’ pieces, which are actually people shaped. They even have a little backpack molded on them to hold tokens during game play. They have quite a bit of carved detail.
Also, there are cute little ghost figures that players get to move around during game play. The ghosts accumulate on the board during play, and it can get very crowded on the board. This adds to the tension of winning, but it’s also fun to see all of the little ghost figures crammed into the spaces on the board.
The third figure in the game is the Haunting figure. It’s a red, transparent figure. Too many of these figures signal that a loss may be coming for the players.
The game board is the haunted house. Players enter the house and travel through the hallways attempting to reach different rooms in order to carry out a task, either gathering tokens or defeating ghosts.
The goal of the game
is for players to work as a team to collect the eight treasure jewels that are distributed throughout the rooms of the house. However, players also have to make sure that not too many ghosts fill the house before all of the jewels have been collected, otherwise the house may become haunted and the players will lose the game.
There is no reading involved, other than the directions with all their nuances. So, it’s a great game to include your pre-readers. It’s also wonderful for developing strategy. And as you’re strategizing as a group, it’s a useful way of teaching strategy as all players are involved in order to succeed. There are times when players must work together or help each other to complete specific tasks, so developing social skills and character development definitely come into play in this game too.
So, the game itself involves each player having several different tasks to do on each turn.
First, the die is cast.
The die begins things by indicating whether a new ghost needs to be placed on the board. It also indicates the number of spaces that the individual player will be allowed to move this turn.
Second, if a ghost must be placed in the house, a ghost card must be drawn from the pile.
The ghost cards reveal which room the new ghost must be placed in.
Third, the player moves their personal playing piece.
The player chooses whether to use the entire value of the roll or any number less than that rolled. Players may even choose not to move at all, but the die still must be rolled to learn if there’ll be a new ghost in the house!
Fourth, if lucky, the player will end in a room that has one of the eight treasure tokens in it.
If there is not a ghost in the room, the player may pick up the treasure jewel and put it into the backpack on the player’s figure. The player keeps the jewel in the backpack until able to deposit it outside of the house on future moves.
However, if there is a ghost in the room or worse, if it is haunted, the ghosts must be defeated or the room must be “unhaunted” in order to collect the treasure jewel.
To fight a ghost, the player must roll the fighting dice. Rolling a ghost icon means defeat of one ghost, and it is removed from the house.
In order to unhaunt a room, at least two players must join. Both players, on their individual turns, must move the necessary number of spaces to both enter the room. Two fighting dice are rolled. If one shows a haunting icon, then the haunting figure is removed from the board.
The game ends with either a win or a loss for the collective group of players.
If the players are able to remove all eight of the treasure jewels from the house, the players win! (Yea!) But, if the six haunting figures are all located inside the house, the players lose. (Darn.)
Things to Consider
One warning with playing a co-operative game. Be sure everyone you invite to play knows that it’s a co-operative game, especially adults you invite to play. Some people are very adamant about having a player versus player style of game play. There’s definitely a place for that. However, if you’re desire is to enjoy the co-operative game style, you’ll want to be sure that everyone is willing to play the game in that way.
We have a lot of fun playing the game. In fact, the different figures help with that as we make up different voices and interact with the pieces. It sometimes becomes very story like in the playing. If you have a reluctant board game player who enjoys imaginative, interactive play this may be the game that draws them into board game playing.
Does your family enjoy any co-operative games?