Theme: In Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters you and your friends infiltrate a haunted house in search of treasure and some good old fashion cooperative ghost fighting.
How to Win: Your group of adventurers needs to remove all eight pieces of treasure from the house and escape it before it becomes overrun by ghosts.
Components: High-quality ghost figures – this includes green ghosts and red mega-ghosts. Diverse player figures and cardboard treasure pieces. Cards are okay quality, but I would strongly recommend sleeving them as they seem to wear quickly
How to Play: During your turn, you will roll the movement die. If you roll a one through five you must flip over and place a ghost in the corresponding room before you move. If you roll a six, no ghosts enter the house. If you moved into a room with a ghost you can fight the ghost by rolling the ghost die. If you roll a ghost matching the ghost in the room, remove the ghost. If there is a treasure in the room, add it to your backpack and get the heck out there. Players take turns doing this until all the players and treasure is out of the house or the house has spawned five ‘super’ ghosts.
Thoughts: I had a long-held belief that games marketed for children were easy, have no real weight and required little to no thought process other than ‘when is this going to be over?’ (Candy Land is a great example of this). Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters proved me wrong in all three of these aspects. This game is hard. We have gone through 15 plays of this game and have only won three times and that’s just playing the ‘basic game’. At one point, my wife and I played three times in a row in order to pull off our first victory and it came down to one last card draw. Secondly, each time the ghosts start the out-of-control spawning you start sweating and counting down the turns until you can escape.
In the ‘basic game’, you follow the instructions in the ‘How to Play’ section, but if you and your group didn’t find that challenging enough (What is your secret?) there is another variation. The treasure pieces are numbered one through eight. In the advanced game, you must grab and remove the treasure pieces in order. Also, there are added cards that lock certain doors and extra ghost cards that force you to draw two or three ghosts, because spawning one ghost every one wasn’t bad enough. I have not tried the advanced game, not because I dislike the idea, but because I still haven’t cracked the code on the original.
My kids love the game and repeatedly ask to play it, which is good because it’s a great way to show them there is no reason to throw a tantrum after losing since we all lost together. It is definitely a game both kids and adults can enjoy together or separately and if I want to stretch it a little more, can be used to teach risk/reward and help with decision-making skills. These are some of the questions that have popped up in all of our games: Should I travel to the back of the house first and grab the hard to reach treasures or clean up the front of the house first and save the back of the house for later in the game? What is everyone else’s plan? Is anyone else paying attention to all the ghosts that seem to be popping out of nowhere?
Overall, I love this game (I wouldn’t write a review about it if I didn’t). Even though we lose almost every time we bring it to the table, it is one of those ‘it’s not about the destination, but the journey’ games. The ending doesn’t matter, though winning is always satisfying. The exhilaration of rolling multiple sixes in a row and narrowly escaping a ghostly fate, the depression as your friend rolls their third one in a row and the shocked expression of all involved when you tell them there are no more ‘super’ ghosts and the game is over with one more treasure to go are all equally exciting. There has not been a single game where we felt super confident or super overwhelmed the entire time. On one turn the house is completely empty and you are on easy street, the next time around there are ghosts in ten different rooms and three pieces of treasure to go. Long story short: if you have kids this game is a must.