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Ghost Stories Board Game
Board Games 1768
Six-Demon Bag or Hell of Upside-Down Sinners?
Rough trade in the form of cardboard and plastic. A crazy, ever-shifting puzzle that actually prevents immersion in the rich theme. If you let the mechanical aspects of the game fuzz into the background in order to provide a foundation for the experience of being a Taoist monk desperately fighting the legions of Hell, you will lose.

The game begs you to do so, with gorgeous art and super production values, but ultimately you have to look past the theme and see the grinding gears of the puzzle box if you have any hope of ever winning. Also, there's an enormous luck component (repeat die rolls to exorcise the ghosts), meaning that even optimal play can be fatally hosed with gallons of demon-tentacle spew. And the 2008 rulebook is... nigh impenetrable. I'm still not completely sure how some parts of the game work.

For all that, it's 4 stars? Yeah—it's stuck with me, I've been thinking about it, and I want to play it again until I beat it to death.

UPDATE: Dropped to 3.5 stars. Suffers from the same problem most co-op games do, but to a degree I just can't get over: one person masterminding everyone else's turn. Perhaps it's better suited to solo play instead of "one guy solves the puzzle while directing three chit-pushers".

*Seven years later.* Resurrecting this (heh) now that the kids are of age, and whaddya know, the game's pretty good with truly respectful co-op players. The X-Men-like teamwork from those who value the sanctity of the individual turn (i.e., we all have something to offer, but your turn is yours, and yours alone) makes the game shine, and allowed us to win for the first time in 6 plays. And I can see how we might need to actually increase the difficulty... and my rating.

Also: my mechanic/thematic grumblings above? Utterly nullified with good players. With the right people the game feels like it looks, spooky-beautiful.
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