Game Length: 60 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 4 players up for a relentless co-operative game pushing back hordes of monsters!
Ghost Stories is a co-operative game set in a medieval Chinese village, where the remains of the malevolent sorcerer Wu Feng are buried. His undead servants are stirring, and they wish to drive out the inhabitants so they can raise their master undisturbed. However, four Taoist monks stand in their way. It’s up to these monks to use their mystical powers to stop Wu Feng, and prevent the coming of a new dark age!
Ghost Stories can take 1-4 players, but it plays best if you have a full complement of four. The players each control a Taoist monk with a unique power. On each turn, an undead creature will be added to one of the four edges of the board, representing the outskirts of the town – unless there is no space for it, then a monk will take damage instead!
Creatures can be banished with Tao tokens of the same colour. Players will need to gather these tokens and use them to banish creatures, or take their chances and hope for a lucky roll of the dice. They’ll need to watch out for Haunters, who drive out the town’s inhabitants – lose three inhabitants and the game is lost! Naturally, if all the monks die, they’ll also lose the game. If they can survive long enough, they’ll come up against an incarnation of Wu Feng himself – upon his defeat, the players win!
Ghost Stories is relentless in its pace. Each turn you’ll feel like you are on the brink of defeat, and in many cases you are! You’ll be constantly beating back the hordes, only for more to step in. When you do fight the incarnation of Wu Feng (of which there are 10 different varieties), it will probably be when the board is otherwise packed to the gills with encroaching monsters. This makes playing a game quite exhilarating, and all the more satisfying when you win – Ghost Stories has a reputation for being a very difficult game.
Due to its difficulty, Ghost Stories runs the risk of being heavily quarterbacked – where the most experienced (or loudest) player runs the game. This can be avoided if all players work collaboratively and treat the game as a puzzle to be solved, as players will definitely need to co-operate if they are to win. The game can thrilling to play, as the next revealed creature could throw a spanner in the works and victory can hinge on the result of the dice – but usually only if already in dire straits!
Ghost Stories has beautiful Chinese-inspired art, with stylised renderings of the monsters and inhabitants, as well as detailed backdrops. Its unique setting makes a refreshing change – it could have just as easily have had a generic zombie or fantasy theme. Ghost Stories makes a great game for those who have played the likes of Pandemic or Forbidden Desert, and want something a little more challenging and with more variety in play.