Dark Horse Comics taps into both Joss Whedon’s mythology for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the interest in Ouija-type boards as it introduces the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Conversations with Dead People" board. The board is attractive, and the box and small instruction page carry the Buffy theme — but that’s the extent of the Buffy tie in, so the game will probably appeal more to Ouija enthusiasts than Buffy fans, though the true collector will no doubt want to have it.
The first Ouija board came out in 1890, part of that period’s Spiritualism craze. According to the Museum of Talking Boards website, legend has it that the name came from the board itself and was supposed to be Egyptian for good luck. In fact, Ouija does not mean that in Egyptian and more likely came from the Moroccan city of Oujda. A later manufacturer put it about that the name was a combination of the French “oui” and the German “ja,” both meaning yes. The boards were also marketed as talking boards and witch boards, and under any name, were an instant success, continuing to this day. Their draw is that they allow anyone, even those without any claim to medium talent, to try and talk to spirits.
Today the board is usually sold as a game, and Dark Horse’s entry on the market is a solid one. The box and board are attractive, with magical looking symbols replacing the usual sun and moon, and gold lettering spelling out the usual alphabet, “hello,” “goodbye,” “Yes,” and “No.” The board and planchette (a triangular pointer) are well constructed, with the planchette made of hard wood and decorated with symbols. The box cover has the Buffy the Vampire Slayer logo and the title (“Conversations with Dead People” board — taken from an award-winning season seven Buffy episode). Inside, there is a small comic insert with instructions, with the added bonus of being drawn by Buffy season eight guest illustrator Paul Lee. In eight black and white panels, characters Xander, Dawn, and Willow explain how to use the game, and there is a typical Xander-style joke embedded in the directions. However, the purpose of the comic panels is so pragmatic —directions just aren’t that exciting and better not be mysterious— that despite the pedigree, the insert doesn’t raise the interest value much.
The tie-in to Buffy was the only part of the game about which I felt a little let down. The board has no particular Buffy connection in art or game layout. Yes, the witch board just in itself fits very well into the Buffy mythology, but nothing specifically recalls the television show or characters other than the title and insert. However, as an Ouija-type board, the game holds its own against other best selling boards and is good value. Buffy fans who appreciate witch boards and witch board fans who appreciate Buffy will like "Conversations with Dead People." More general Buffy fans won’t find much to draw them to the game.Powered by Sidelines