Ghosts of Christmas comes in a really small box but packs a lot in so it should not be over looked. I love a Christmas themed game and this currently is my top one. I love the artwork and I think the components look great. The rule book is short but the game itself can be tricky. I love trick taking games and this one has a bit of a twist. It could be hard for people who haven’t played a trick taking game before but I wouldn’t avoid the game because of that.
What makes this unique is you will play three tricks at the same time. They represent the past, present and future. Winning tricks in one time period could help you in another since the winning suit could change. It makes it hard to predict how many tricks you will win and predictions are a huge part of the game. That could frustrate some people because it will make it hard to strategize but I love the idea. The scoring can be rough since predicting wrong means no points in the round making the game a bit challenging. Overall though I like the unpredictability of this game and definitely one I will pull out in December.
Ghosts of Christmas is published by Taiki Shinzawa, with art by Misaho Sugawara and published by boardgametables.com. This is for 3 to 4 players and takes about 40 minutes to play.
- 4 decks of 12 cards
- 16 Ghost Board Pieces
- 4 Era Dials
- 4 Score Cubes
- 1 First Player Marker
- 1 Victory Point Marker
- 16 Purple Door Tokens
- 4 Red Door Tokens
- 12 Wreath Tokens
For a three player game, remove the 1, 2 and 3 cards from each of the suite decks.
Place the players scoring cube on the VP tracker and place the doors, wreath tokens and dials next to the VP tracker. Each player assembles their Ghost Boards.
For your first time playing the rule book recommends skipping the bidding part. I’m going to include it here because I think it’s a really cool addition to the game.
How to Play
Starting with the first player, take a look at your cards and guess how many tricks you will win. Take a purple door for each trick you think you will win. If you’d like to be more cautious one door can be red. At the end of the 4 rounds you will compare your bid to how many tricks you actually won. If you have more wreaths than doors, or a door doesn’t have a wreath you score zero points. It is okay to not have a wreath on the red door.
Beginning with the first player, play one card in front of you in one of the three eras. You can only play cards that match the suit on the dial. If you don’t have a suit that matches that dial you can play any card instead. If the dial is face down when you play your card you can turn it over and set it to the suit you play. That’s the benefit of playing a suit first. Once there’s a card in each era you can score the tricks.
Begin with the past. The start player sets the scoring suit. Whoever has the highest hearts wins the trick, if there’s no hearts it’s the highest card in the scoring suit. The winner will take a wreath for one of their doors and the start player token. The new starting player determines the scoring suit for the present. Score the same way and do the same for the future. The winner of the future round takes the starting player token for the next round.
Once scoring is done discard the cards and turn the dials face down and continue to play the same way.
After four rounds compare how many tricks you’ve won to your doors. Of you have more wreaths than doors, or less wreaths on purple doors, you get zero points. It’s okay to have a red door without a wreath. If you bid with only purple doors correctly, you get 2 points per wreath. If you bid correctly and have a red door, you get 1 point per wreath. I love that the red door does give you some flexibility but it will also effect your points. Bidding on tricks is a challenge because it’s hard to predict how everyone else will play their cards and the starting player moves so the suit you think you are bidding on could be wrong. It’s a really cool way to play the game.
This game is fun and at times frustrating. The way it scores can really catch you by surprise but I think that is what makes it unique. Also with a Christmas theme you aren’t going to get bored of it since you’ll probably only want to play it in December.