With another week off from our regularly-scheduled programming of the Save Point Game Night live-stream (done in conjunction with our friends from GameTyrant), I decided to feature a more “all-ages” game this week. With a six-year-old of my own running around the house, having games that she can partake in right along with me is a great thing; she’s a very smart young girl and actually plays several games from my collection with me, some of which are well about her “suggested age range” … this must be why she beats me so much!
My wife found ‘Spookies’ in the game store and thought it looked fun; it has a bit of a “haunted house” vibe, but presented in a very cartoonish, Scooby-Doo-type of way. It’s designed to be an all-ages game, with the box proclaiming it’s intended age range “from 8 – 99 years old.” Again, my six-year-old has an excellent grip on this game and picked up the basic strategy during our first play-through, so I’d say even 5-6 years old would be an appropriate age for this game. It is from Germany, but it features both German and English on the box, along with a full set of English instructions. There is no writing of any kind on the components of the game, so no worries of any potential language issues there.
The gameplay features a healthy combination of risk and luck, with dice-rolling a key part of your strategy. The game board features a cutaway view of a haunted house that is split into six floors, plus a garden area and a “starting” area outside the creaky front gate. There are five character pieces – a girl, a dog, and three different boys – that begin the game outside the gate; the goal is for each player to move characters inside the house and try to get them to go as many floors high as they can, thus earning the chance to collect more “spookies” (coins with a ghost on one side and a number 1-5 on the back side). Once all the spookies have been collected, each player counts up the total of the numbers on the backs of their coins, and whomever has the highest amount wins the game!
The movement mechanic is where the game gets interesting, from a risk and strategy standpoint. To begin a turn, a player rolls a special die to see which character they will be moving this turn. Once you’ve determined who will be moving, it’s now up to you to decide how brave you’re feeling in order to get the character to move. The garden area and all levels in the house have increasing numerical values – the garden is 5, the first floor is six, increasing sequentially up through the attic at 11. In order to move a character, you have to roll either two, three, or four six-sided dice, and the combined total of the two highest dice is your end result; if you’ve rolled higher than the number of the next level in front of your character, then you move up one, but if your total is a number that corresponds with a level lower than where the character is currently at, you move down that many levels. You choose how many dice you want to roll (always 2, 3, or 4) – the more you roll, the better chance you have to get higher numbers and move up, but if you can do it with less dice, you are rewarded with acquiring more spookies.
To give an example, let’s say you rolled the dog to move this turn, and the dog is currently in the house on level 8. No matter, how many dice you roll, you’ll have to get a combined number of 9 or higher from your top two dice in order to move up another level; if you roll a 7, then you’ll move down one level and give one spookie back to the community pool (if you roll a 6, you’d move down two levels and give back 2 spookies, and so forth). If you roll an 8, then you stay put on your current level and neither gain nor lose spookies. If you successfully move up, you get the amount of spookies that corresponds to how many dice you rolled, as indicated on the easy-to-read chart that’s on the right side of the board; in our example, moving from level 8 to level 9 would get you 2 spookies if you used all 4 dice, 3 spookies if you used three dice, and a whopping six spookies if you bravely only used two dice.
If you do successfully move a character up one level, you are rewarded with the option of trying to move that same character up to the next level, with as many dice as you so choose. The standard rules continue to apply, so if you’re successful again, you get even more spookies, but you can also lose coins if your roll is poor and the character moves downward. Should you manage to get a character all the way to the attic (by rolling an 11, a feat not easily done), if that character is selected to move again, all future rolls must maintain the character in the attic by continuing to roll 11s. In our games, we have found that characters rarely make it to the attic, and even more rarely stay put in the attic for any extended period of time – whatever they see up there must be really scary!
All in all, ‘Spookies’ is a very entertaining game, and a fun one to play as an easy social game or with younger players. The amount of heavy strategy is very low, and once players have grasped the basics of the rules, play flows very quickly and very smoothly. Replayability is high with ‘Spookies,’ since no two games will ever see the same characters moving in and out of the house in the same way, and how bold you are in your dice rolling is almost as nerve-wracking as how fickle the dice themselves can be sometimes.
CONTINUE: a game you enjoy so much, you’d opt to keep playing more right away if you could!
The highest rating for a game.
As mentioned above, normally we have a live-stream of us playing this game, done in conjunction with the fine folks at GameTyrant.com, but this week was a week off for the stream – we’ll be back next week, however! We’ll be live-streaming with them every Thursday night around 6:30pm EDT and, of course, keep visiting our site for written reviews of the games we play and much more!
Tony Schaab mixed up all this fake puke at home and then he went to this movie theater, hid the puke in his jacket, climbed up to the balcony, and then he made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa… and then he dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then – this was horrible – all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other… and he never felt so bad in his entire life! A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Facebook and Twitter to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.