Favorite Fridays – Geister Geister Schatzumeister

geisterWhen I think children’s games I traditionally think of games such as Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry O, and Don’t Break the Ice. This is because those are the games I grew up playing, granted this was subsidized by games such as Scotland Yard and Crossbows and Catapults. I’m sure these list would alter greatly based upon each of our families involvement in the gaming hobby as we were growing up, but I have found in general children of gamers often played games that their parents enjoyed as well. I am excited to see what future children’s games look like; especially after this year’s children game of the year went to Geister Geister Scharzsumeister! NOTE the game ships with rules for a basic and for an advanced game; I am more experienced with the advance play mode which is what I will be looking at here.

Released: 2013
Designer: Bryan Yu
Plays: 2-4
EPT: 30 minutes

Geister Geister Schatzuchmeister is a game designed for the ages 8 and up. The rules are thus fairly simple and essentially come down to roll and move. While I am no proponent to the roll and move mechanic I must say it worked in this scenario due to the supporting mechanics.

The goal of the game is for the players, who take on the roll of children seeking treasure in a haunted house, to gather the treasure in a preset order before the ghosts can completely overrun the house. For a detailed animated rule explanation I will embed our video review of the game below. In short; players roll the die to dictate how far they can move then move that many spaces. As players end their turns on jeweled spaces they can flip the jewel over and add it to their pack; players can only carry one jewel at a time and must remove them in ascending order; taking out first the jewel marked one and lastly the jewel marked 8.

Complexity is added to the game in two ways. First the house is haunted and as players move about the house they will find more ghost appearing. this happens as players must draw a card if they roll a number other than 6; the card will show which room the ghost appeared in as well as if the deck needs reshuffling or if doors will lock. lockable doors come in two colors; blue and green, as one color locks the other unlocks, this changing in available routes, however, can greatly aid or hinder the player’s plans. When too many ghosts gather in one room the room is declared haunted and the ghost pawns replaced with a larger haunting. Players can fight the ghosts and haunting on their turn, however, to try to keep the specters under control, but if there are ever 6 haunting on the board at once players are defeated. If they can get all 8 jewels out of the house before that happens, however, they are declared Master Treasure Hunters!

The games basic game is much simpler and great for the younger players introduction to the game; though the advanced game is more complex yet still playable by the younger players once they have grasped the core mechanics of moving and treasure hunting. Each players turn is paced quite well so there is minimal downtime so younger player’s will remain engaged as will the older players who are still prone to distraction. Decisions seem minimal as you can only do a certain number of things on a given turn and the best option is almost always clear from the outset; in reality there are plenty of options at the start of the game from which room to enter to which ghosts to fight.

The art on the game fits the theme well as the play area is a nice representation of a house with typical house amenities. The ghosts, haunting, and player pawns meanwhile are fantastic minis that add a great visual element to the game; the player pawns are even designed to carry the jewels on the player’s back. The game is fairly well balanced between the luck and strategy as players will over time find better ways to move about the house so as to not make each trip longer and longer before finding jewels while also avoiding blocking each other in hallways and entryways.

This game is sadly not available yet in most american game stores as, despite being made by Mattel they have yet to print in in English. Some online retailers do carry the game, however, and there are fantastic rule translations on BGG that will direct players properly.

When Sean told me about the game I was intrigued but was not expecting much as it was a children’s game and a majority of my recent experience with the genre had been disappointing; as of late, however, I have found the hobby children’s game market to provide experience above and beyond that which I was used to and thus have been lead to find hope and excitement for the future generations of child gamers!

As Sean took out the game and set it up for us I was instantly excited; As it has been well revealed I love anything with nice miniatures and clean art; this game excelled in that regard and the learning curve was nearly non-existent. We went from setup to play in minutes without a long rules explanation or midgame confusion.

I would highly recommend seeking the game out; it is highly worth it. The fun theme, mechanics that work well together, great art, and in game thrill lead to Geister scoring a grand 8.5 out of 10. I hope to see Mattel print this stateside soon.
Visuals – 2 // 2
Skill/Luck – .75 // 1
Pacing – 1.75 // 2
Theme/Immersion – 1.5 // 2
Mechanics – .5 // 1
Fun Factor 2 // 2

Come back Monday where we look at another mechanic; this time Bluffing!
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