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Board Game Review: Ghost Castle

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Ghost Castle from Goliath Games is a game for those who love dynamic board games in which figures move. Kids will love the cartoony springing of traps, while adults will enjoy the excellent production value.

Ghost Castle is reminiscent of the older game Mousetrap in that it has a string of spaces upon which pieces move and may be caught in traps. While children of that bygone era may remember how hard it was to have someone actually in the space for the trap, Ghost Castle has seven traps, and one of them will go off just about every turn. Pieces might get caught by a haunted tree, impaled by a portcullis, attacked by a bear rug, or beheaded by a suit of armor.

Gameplay in Ghost Castle is very straightforward. Players roll a die to move their pieces ahead a few spaces and then flick a spinner that determines the rest of their turn. Footprints mean the player only moves; a die means a bonus move, and a Ghost Mask means the player loses turns until a footprint is spun again. There are also the Skulls, which make up fully half of the spinner. Whenever the Skull comes up (statistically half the time), the player must drop the plastic skull into the coffin atop the tower. It bounces down a track, popping out one of the holes to spring one of the traps. If a player’s piece is near that trap, it could get bumped and moved all the way back to the last “safe” blue footprint. The game continues until a player reaches the end and closes the coffin, laying the vicious ghost to rest.

The game is largely luck, making it suitable for younger players. Older players might want more skill in their gaming. There is some skill to be had in dropping the skull, seeing if one can aim for a particular trap, which is tricky and practically luck in itself. Much of the playing might skip out on the rules themselves to see how all the traps go and what kids could knock down with them.

While the spinner and traps have more kid-appeal, the exquisite details in the art are enjoyable on an adult level. The backgrounds are colorful and contain great touches such as fluttering bats, tentacles in the bookcases, and dungeons with the skeletal remains of last victims still reaching out for help. They are not enough to haunt nightmares, just provoke an eerie sensation for anyone studying the details and noting a monstrous face in the library rug.

Ghost Castle is a game for two to four players, ages six and up. It is relatively short, taking twenty to forty minutes to play in addition to ten or so minutes of set up. The traps are finicky or even frustrating, but for gamers who love intricate trap-dodging games such as 1313 Dead End Drive, Ghost Castle is a must.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.