Druid City Games
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Board Game Spotlight

 

Haunt the House - A Kickstarter Preview!

PUBLISHER: Kids Table Board Gaming (KTBG)
DESIGNER: Josh and Helaina Cappel
PLAYERS: 2 - 4
TIME: 30 min

Introduction to Haunt the House

In Haunt the House, players will take on the role of apparitions and phantoms to scare Ghost Hunters who are sneaking around your cozy mansion! Hunters will carry a variety of gear from candles, to flashlights, lanterns, torches, crowbars, maps, keys and lanterns! Each player will have an identical deck of scare cards; 4 Bumps, 4 Chills, 4 Creaks and 4 Moans. Players will need to utilize these in order to scare away Ghost Hunters in various locations around the house. Each room has a special power that can be activated by players on their turn and there’s even a Phantom deck that adds variety and more strategy to the base game! As you play scares from your hand, beware! Each Ghost Hunter is only frightened by a specific scare combination. Do you have what it takes to become the champion spookster? Find out in Haunt the House!

I received a prototype version of Haunt the House and all art and components are not final.

OVERALL GAMEPLAY

Haunt the House is played in turns. When your turn is over, play continues clockwise. The game ends when a player frightens their 4th Ghost Hunter in a 3-4 player game and 5th Ghost Hunter in a 2 player game.

There are two choices to make on your turn: Take 2 Actions or Yell BOO!

Take Actions

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If you choose to take 2 actions, there are 3 specific actions you may take and unless otherwise noted, you may take them in any order and you may take the same action twice if applicable.

  1. Draw to Three Scares: If you start your turn with 0-1 scares, you may use your first action to draw scares until you have 3.
  2. Play a Face-down Scare: Play any Scare from your hand face-down to a room. Your scare does not have to match the symbols of the Ghost Hunter in that room.
  3. Play a Face-up Scare: Play any Scare from your hand face-up to a room, adding to any other face-up scares already there. The Scare must be needed to frighten the Ghost Hunter and it must be a type that has not already been satisfied by other face-up scares on this room. When you place a Scare face-up, you may immediately trigger the special ability of the room.

 

Yell Boo!

On your turn, if you think that any combination involving the face-up, face-down and scares in your hand are enough to scare the Ghost Hunter in a room of your choice, you may yell “BOO!” and point to that Ghost Hunter. Boo’s are resolved step by step:

  1. If there are any face-down Scares, flip them face-up! Any revealed scares that were bluffed and do not meet the Ghost Hunter icons are immediately discarded to their owners’ discard pile. If any scares were correct, each player who played at least one correct scare immediately gains 1 skull.
  2. Adding together the face-up and newly revealed face-down scares, are there enough to frighten the Ghost Hunter? If yes, proceed to step 4. If no, proceed with step 3.
  3. Do you have the needed scares in your hand to finish off the Ghost Hunter? If yes, play the scares now and finish with step 4. If no, you made a bad BOO! All scares on the room are discarded to their owners’ discard pile and your turn is over.
  4. Spooktacular! You frightened the Ghost Hunter! Collect the card and place it in front of you. All scares are discarded to their owners’ discard pile. Discard the room tile and add a new room in its place; then add a new Ghost Hunter to the room and your turn is over.

End of Your Turn

If you took actions, or you made a bad BOO!, you may discard any number of scares from your hand to your discard pile and draw scares until you have 3 in your hand. 

In this example the player would score 9 points for torches, 4 points for crowbars, and 1 point each for one key and one rope. He would also score a total of 9 points from skull values for a total score of 22 points! 

In this example the player would score 9 points for torches, 4 points for crowbars, and 1 point each for one key and one rope. He would also score a total of 9 points from skull values for a total score of 22 points! 

End of the Game & Scoring

The game ends when a player frightens their 4th Ghost Hunter (5 in a 2 player game). Continuing clockwise, all other players get one last chance to yell BOO!

Each player then scores their skull tokens, any skulls on their Ghost Hunters, plus the value of their gear collections. Each piece of gear in your collection is worth points equal to the number of that gear type you’ve collected. Example: You’ve collected 3 torches, so each torch icon is worth 3 points for a total of 9 points.

Optional Phantom Deck

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When you’re comfortable playing the base game of Haunt the House, you can add in the Phantom deck for increased strategy and player interaction. Here’s how it works!

When any correct face-down scare is revealed during a BOO!, instead of taking a skull, each player who played at least one correct scare places their ghost meeple on the Phantom deck. After the BOO! is resolved, each player with their Ghost meeple on the Phantom deck takes their Ghost back and either:

  • Takes 1 Skull Token OR
  • Draws 2 Phantoms, keeping 1 and returning the other to the bottom of the deck.

Phantoms are action cards that give you powerful abilities! Phantoms do not cost actions to play (unless otherwise stated) and they do not count towards your hand limit. When you play a Phantom, place it face-up on the table in front of you and resolve its text. Some Phantoms alter the way you score at the end of the game, so be mindful of these powerful beings!


WHAT MIGHT YOU LIKE?
 

One of the main draws to Haunt the House is accessibility. It plays well at all player counts and is light enough for families with children to enjoy while also adding strategy for older gamers. The mechanics work very well and it’s an easy game to learn. The mechanics specifically allow younger gamers to pick up and play easily and the variable room powers, slight bluffing, and Phantoms deck allow the game to accommodate a more serious crowd.

One of my favorite inclusions is The Phantoms deck. This allows the game to add increased player interaction! I highly recommend playing with it, but it’s not 100% necessary. Both versions of the game play well, and depending on the audience, you can cater the game to their experience level. 

The unique theme behind Haunt the House is not only eye-catching but also fun! Many of today’s games allow players to hunt or capture ghosts, but not many allow you to BE the ghost. The theme works very well in relation to the overall design and before long, you’ll be yelling BOO! like a champion spookster.

The art in Haunt the House is fantastic and helps immerse the player in the world of other-worldly beings. The iconography and design layout are both aesthetically appealing and easy to read. Young gamers may need help reading the rooms but the rest of the game is just matching icons. 


WHAT MIGHT YOU DISLIKE?

While Haunt the House includes an optional deck to increase the game’s difficulty, the game is still very light. It falls within a 30 minute filler category and if you're looking for a heavier game, you're going to have to haunt another house. 

The base game lacks player interaction outside of slight bluffing but this can be solved by adding the Phantoms deck to the game.

The card drawing action feels sub-optimal and a bit clunky at times and occasionally, you will be forced to bluff cards from your hand because they do not match any of the available Ghost Hunters for that turn.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Haunt the House is a fun, family game that incorporates a very unique theme into a well-executed light, card game. The option of adding or removing the Phantom deck, based on player level and/or age is a wonderful addition. The Phantoms not only add whimsical art but strategic card play and light “take that” abilities. Because of its theme, weight and time investment, Haunt the House will be a family favorite for years to come, especially around the Halloween season.

Overall, Haunt the House is one of the most thematic family games I've played and will deliver an eerily great time as you try to out-wit, out-play and out-scare your opponents!

 

You will like this game if: you enjoy light bluffing, hand management, set collection, variable powers, Halloween, and spending family ghost time scaring off nosy, no good Ghost Hunters!

Haunt the House trespasses onto Kickstarter October 10th!

Dont miss your chance to scare the competition! 

Druid City Games and the Board Game Spotlight were paid to advertise, market and preview this game. Our opinions are our own and we remain objective as we play and preview our games for the board game community.  We reserve all rights to reject games that do not meet our standards.