One Board Family: Ghosts of the Moor Review
Ideally, I tend to avoid swamps. They’re wet, mucky, and full of creatures I’d rather not have a face to face encounter with, including ghosts in this case. Throw in some treasure, however, and I am bound to change my mind. Who doesn’t like collecting treasure? So let’s strap up our swamp boots, maybe some hip waders, and definitely our ghost tracking tools and let’s run through this swamp filled with shiny objects and scary ghosts.
Ghosts of the Moor was released by Tasty Minstrel Games and designed by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer. Michael and Wolfgang have worked together designing games for years with notable releases in Tikal and The Palaces of Carrara. They also have some other phenomenal designs by themselves as well as with Azul, Riverboat, and 6 Nimmit. Their design resume is very long and I’m sure I could fill pages and pages with just the games they have collaborated on and designed, but let’s talk treasures, swamps, and ghosts.
How to Play
Ghosts of the Moor is a 2-5 player roll and move set collection game. This is a thematic re-implementation of a previous game by the same two designers called That’s Life. In Ghosts of the Moor you will be rolling a die to move a set of explorers through a swamp to collect as many treasures as possible. You will try your best to avoid dropping those treasures. Depending on the number of players in the game, you will get a fixed number of explorers that you must move to the end and out of the swamp (which is a small board with about 30 spaces along it). The first 20 of those spaces will contain two randomly placed tokens.
On your turn you will roll the die and chose one of your explorers to move the amount of spaces shown by the number on the rolled die. If you stop on a space, you do not immediately pick up treasure that is there. You will instead pick up the top most treasure once you move from that spot on an ensuing turn. However, you will only pick up a token from that spot if you are the only explorer present when you leave that spot. This can come in handy for other explorers to potentially, with the correct die roll, block other explorers from obtaining valuable treasures by landing on the same spot.
Should you ever move onto an empty spot where all treasures have been removed you will have to drop a treasure in that spot. Every player starts with a plank token and may drop that in an empty spot instead of dropping treasure. You may also instead drop any ghosts that you have collected. This is good because any ghosts that you are forced to pick up will count as negative victory points at the end of the game. Other players may stop and pick up planks to use later in the round as well. Any spot that is empty in the swamp will show a printed treasure type on the board. If you land there, the swamp is asking for that type of treasure to be dropped. If you cannot provide that type of treasure, you will be forced to drop two treasure into the water towards the end of the board.
Out Run the Ghosts
This is ultimately a race to the finish by moving all of your explorers through and out of the swamp while retaining as much treasure as you possibly can. You will score points based off of collecting like treasures. There are also bonuses for the first few explorers out of the swamp and it is quite possible to collect more than one of the bonus end race tokens. This is a fun, light weight, gateway roll and move game that can be enjoyed by all, though I would say that this would be geared mostly toward family play and their children. It’s very easy to learn as well as teach. If you love scary creatures, rolling dice, and the possibility of grabbing shiny treasure, then I recommend visiting the swamp in Ghosts of the Moor.
Another Look from Ryan Gutowski
I had a chance to check out Ghosts of the Moor with Erin and our son one night. The game is really easy to grasp and can get pretty competitive with the right players. I really enjoyed the fact that getting stuck with ghost tokens didn’t mean a death sentence for your score. In fact, grabbing a couple ghosts and dropping them in the empty swamp locations is a fantastic strategy. It can be painful when you are forced to drop a treasure that you’ve worked so hard to collect as part of a set. Collecting what I refer to as “trash tokens” as you go will help you save the important treasure for scoring at the end of the game. This game will be a great fit for casual gamers and as a filler on game night. Players will plan every move and scrutinize every die roll as the treasure becomes more scarce and more of the swamp is revealed.
A quick game to teach and understand
Small and portable filler game
Great option for family gaming
Bad die rolls prove frustrating toward the end of the game
Some may find the gameplay too simple