Let me start with this: Ghost Stories is hard.
My wife and I sat down to play Ghost Stories by Antoine Bauza while our children napped upstairs. I set up the game while as I read through the rule book. I got about a third of the way in when, while completely lost, I went to my computer and watched an old Dice Tower video by Tom Vasel. Armed with an overview of the game, I returned to the rule book and things began to fall into place (or so I thought).
Without going into all of the rules, here’s a quick overview. Each turn consists of two parts:
- Activate ghost abilities on current players turn
- I player board has three ghosts, lose one Qi
- If player board does not have three ghosts, draw a ghost
- Current player may move to one adjacent space
- Current player may activate the tile s/he is on OR Attempt exorcism
- Play a Buddha acquired on a previous turn.
In a two player game, which is what we were playing, the two Taoists that are not played still get a Yin phase, just not a Yang phase.
Players win when they defeat Wu-Feng, who is a ghost card added 11 cards from the bottom of the deck.
Players lose if:
- All no ghosts remain in the deck
- Three village tiles are Haunted (certain ghosts haunt village tile every other turn)
- All Taoists are dead
I was the Green Taoist with an extra die and immunity to the cursed die, Cortnie played the Blue Taoist able to perform both a request for help, and exorcise a ghost on every turn.
The game started off and I felt pretty good. That feeling was quickly squashed. Ghosts were coming out so fast, with Yin phases for every Yang phase, we were defeated quickly, by the ghosts haunting the Village.
After the game Cortnie immediately wanted to play again, so we did. Nothing changed. We quickly lost, and she wanted a third game. It was getting late and the kids would be up soon, so I postponed the next game until after dinner – while I re-read the rule book. There’s something to be said for a game that beats you handily twice, but calls you back. There’s also something to be said for reading a rule book after having all the context of the game. There were two big things we got wrong in the first two games.
- Corners: When a Taoists in on a corner tiles, with the right rolls, that Taoist may exorcise both adjacent ghosts. I had misread that rule and thought the player had to choose only one.
- Circle of Prayer: When you activate the Circle of Prayer you choose one of the colored tokens to place on that village tile. All the ghosts in play have reduced resistance by one of that color. We had been playing so that it only affected ghost that were adjacent to the tile.
We played the third game correctly this time (I hope!). The out come was much the same. We saw many haunter ghosts, which was our downfall for the third time. It went better, we felt that had things been a little different we might have had a chance. Still Cortnie wanted to play again. This time I suggested we play the four player game, each of us controlling two Taoists. This fourth game came down to the wire. Ghosts were seeming to come out in an order that helped us. The black widow, that makes you unable to use your tokens to exorcise ghosts was still annoyingly harsh. But the big difference is we only had one haunter on the board at a time. I think this was a combination of extreme luck, and the ability to be in four different places. Finally, we got to see a Wu-Feng card player. Hope Killer.
We spent a round collecting as many tokens as we could, then tried to meet up as quickly as we could so we could all share tokens. The same turn that the forth Taoist could move adjacent to Wu-Feng was the turn a ghost came out an stole one of the three available dice we had to roll. Curses! We only had a few cards left in the deck, there was no way someone could go exorcise it, and make it back before the end of the game. So we moved forward with the plan, short one die.
We needed two of each color (not black) to defeat him. We had two green tokens, one yellow, one red, a blue token on circle of prayer, and an enfeeblement token on Wu Feng. On our third attack the Cortnie as the Blue Taoist rolls a yellow, and a white. For those who are following along at home, that means…WE WON! With two cards left in the deck, we won Ghost Stories.
Our final Score was 21, and we can’t wait to play it again. After playing all four Taoists, and understanding each of their abilities a little better, I think we’re going to try the two player version again.