Frightening and terrorizing has always been fun, but now it's also very strategic!
Reviewer Vote: 8
Designer: Angelo De Maio
Halloween is a game currently being funded on the well-known crowdfunding platform Kickstarter by Quined Games.
I just want to point out that the author lives near my place and so we could organize a game in absolute preview.
I would like to thank him for the opportunity and availability. Please notice that I could only play the title once, so my judgment must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Let’s talk about the game.
Halloween is a game for 2 to 4 people and can be played within 45-90 minutes. For the particular nature of the game, I feel that the maximum duration could hardly exceed that limit, according to the experience and typology of players; however, the minimum duration could be 20-25 minutes in the case of a flash closure strategy implemented by a player.
Unfortunately, as they were not yet produced, I could not see the definitive materials, although images of ghosts are already available: we can see psychedelic and well-made figures, as well as a very fascinating artwork.
The rulebook is well written and quite clear. The rules are not so extended, since it's a classic title easy to learn but hard to play well. Many images and a good number of examples make it even clearer and easier to assimilate them. Graphics and layout are great, as we’re used by Quined Games for a long time.
In Halloween we run ghosts that infest the city during the infamous horror day. Players will have to collect as many points as possible (victory points) by the end of the game. Gamers' materials and player board (tombstones) contribute to the setting of a title that still remains essentially an abstract.
THE GAME BRIEFLY:
The first feature of the game is that players will alternate with performing actions by moving and using the ghosts that infest the six areas of the city board (church, hospital, police station, etc.), without however having their own ghosts. The ectoplasmic friends, in fact, will be available to everyone and will "evolve" starting from little ghosts of the first level (Blue) and gradually becoming terrifying Fifth-Level (Red) ghosts.
Players each turn will have three actions to choose from on their own player board.
As you can see in the image, player board have three areas for each of the three actions available. In these areas, players will have to put their action marker on one of the six actions shown, covering it until they release it in a subsequent turn. In addition to the six actions available, a special marker will keep track of the maximum ghost level you can use for that action-area.
Turn by turn, therefore, the actions available on each of the three areas will decrease until you decide to perform the action “Rest”, in order to release all actions discs for the next turn (beware! With one rest action you can release the discs from a single action-area, not all three!).
Timing of performing is crucial and is one of the key strategic elements of the game.
Let’s talk about the six available actions:
First of all, I want to remark that these actions will be performed on ghosts on the board and that they can only be carried out with ghosts of a level equal to or lower than the one indicated at that time by the track on the action area you are using.
Summon: This action allows you to place a new ghost on a play area where there are at least two ghosts of the level you want to summon (every ghost has five thumbnails per level and that action is not allowed if all five are already on the map). The player also gets a ghost-token of the same color of the ghost evoked.
Scaring: This action makes you frighten with a ghost and allows you to get a number of scare tokens commensurate with the ghost level used.
Upgrade: By upgrading you can replace a ghost with another of the immediately higher level (if available), simply paying the appropriate cost in scare tokens. Additionally, the player can move forward, up to the level of the ghost just updated, one of the action tracks that indicates the level of ghosts that can be activated for those actions. The player also gets a ghost-token of the same color of the new ghost.
Moving: This action allows you to move a ghost orthogonally a ghost across areas and obtain any bonus marker there (if available).
Fight: Through this action, you can start a fight between two ghosts. The attacker chooses which ghost to attack with and obviously another ghost in the same area; then, two dice of the respective type are rolled (according to the level of ghosts involved). If the attacker obtain a number greater than the one rolled by the defender, he removes the defeated ghost and obtains a token of its color. Each level of ghost has a different die (Liv. 1 4-sided die, Liv 2 6-sided die, 3 8-sided die, 4- 10-sided die, 5 12-sided die).
Haunting: A key action that allows to haunt the place with a phantom and obtain a number of variable points according to the level of the ghost (two points with a level one ghost, four with one level two, six with one level three , and so on…). Each player can haunt a place once and every place can be haunted with just one ghost for each level.
Moreover, there are some "bonus" actions that you can always perform during your turn. The first is to use one of the bonus tokens collected by moving the ghosts on the gameboard. Another one is to buy the chance to use one of the 8 power cards placed at the start of the game on the board. These cards change the game play and give variability to the game. In fact, these are permanent powers that are obtained once you have acquired the cards and change the style of play. To buy them, you will need to spend the ghostcounts collected upon evoking an ectoplasm or defeating one in combat. Each card purchased also gives
you three victory points.
The game ends at the end of the round in progress when a player has used all his six hunting tokens on the gameboard or when he has acquired at least his fifth card.
It is difficult to judge by having only one game in three players, but I would say that the game is well balanced with all configurations. In two it will be a really strategic and controllable game, whereas in 4 of course it will be harder to understand how the other players will interact.
High. Power cards (you only use 8, pulled out from the 42 cards available) and bonus tokens, in addition to dice rolling and how the players play the game, give a lot of differentiation. Different approaches (so many small infestations and power cards or a few "powerful" infests at the end) allow you to win but drastically change the course of the game. Though less variable, even the game "for experts" seems to allow different strategies (do I get dirty soon or do I have to concentrate on boosting the ghosts?). Finally, the strong interaction will always give different matches.
Common ghosts and places to infest, as well as fighting, make the interaction very high. Often you will be thinking about what to do in terms of benefits or disadvantages that such actions will give to players. For instance, moving a very powerful ghost in an area where the next player could perform the infestation getting several points should be avoided, unless one obtains an equally great advantage.
This game has a really unique flavour: it reminds me of no other games. It wisely manages to mix different dynamics, still keeping a specific and clear soul.
DEPTH, STRATEGY AND TACTICS:
This game is part of a category that I particularly love. Those games with a few, simple rules but that are really deep and complex to master. Though it is always important to have a tactical approach that can take
advantage of the opportunities created by other players' moves, Halloween is a game that rewards a medium to long term strategy and a wise management of various actions and timing. Mechanics of exhausting and resting, as well as enhancing actions that allow to move ever-stronger ghosts, match well.
There are many variables to consider and some strategic elements that I have not mentioned, in order to avoid rewriting the whole rules.
ELEGANCE AND FLUIDITY:
The game is very fluid and elegant. Turns flow well and there are no particular slowdowns or tortuous mechanics. Everything is clear right away and the only thing that could slow down the gameplay is the management of the single action. Iconography and good materials also contribute to make everything very fluid.
If you are looking for a smart, fast, easy game to play, at the same time very deep and satisfying, Halloween is your case. Despite of the theme and the beautiful miniatures we are in a strategic game with a "eurogame" soul. On the other hand, if you look for a title that makes your setting strong, or if you're attracted by ghosts and dice fighting, you're looking for an "american" title, then pass this because it's not your cup of tea.
Direct and indirect interaction is strong, though it is never destructive. Killing a ghost does not create particular discomfort to others, but a superficial move can benefit the next player.
In my opinion, it is a title that can please those who have enjoyed simple and deep games. Obviously, only the passing of time will allow us to decree the goodness of this game, but I hope the Kickstarter will be successful in seeing Halloween played on the tables in the future.
- Last edited Mon Jun 5, 2017 2:15 pm (Total Number of Edits: 5)
- Posted Fri Jun 2, 2017 10:50 pm