Ghost hunters from around the world are gathered to track down the paranormal. Take on the role of 5 different ghosts and scare these ghost hunters from your spooky home. Collect their gear to add to your collection and compare your loot to determine the winner. Are you ready to scare some ghost hunters?
Haunt the House is a gorgeous and fun family game from Kids Table Board Gaming. The game accomplishes something that few in this space do. It’s slightly creepy while still having bright, playful artwork that is very inviting to kids and adults.
To start the game, set out a number of rooms based on the number of players at the table. This is covered in the rulebook. Shuffle the deck of ghost hunters and place one hunter in each of the rooms on the table. Each player will get a deck of cards that match the color of the ghost meeple they picked at the beginning of the game. By the way, these ghost meeples are pretty amazing!
Each deck will have 16 cards with 4 different types of scares. You have bumps, creaks, moans and chills. The different ghost hunters can be scared using a combination of these cards. One ghost hunter may be frightened by 2 chills and 2 moans while another is scared by 1 creak and 3 bumps. On your turn you can play scares face up (visible) above the room or face down (invisible) below the room. Playing a card face up will give you the special ability for that room. Playing a card face down will keep this scare secret from the other ghosts.
Haunt the House does a good job of encouraging bluffing but also awards players who submit cards that match the ghost hunters in the room. The cards that are played face down contribute toward scaring away the ghost hunter but you never know if those cards match the icons needed to complete a scare.
In order to nab the gear of the ghost hunters, you can say “Boo!” on your turn and choose a hunter to scare. You want to match all 4 of the required icons associated with the ghost hunter in order to complete the scare. Cards played face up and face down are used to meet the requirement along with any cards from the player’s hand. If you played a card face down that matches the ghost hunters icons, then you’ll earn a skull token which is 1 victory point at the end of the game. If you didn’t meet the requirement of scaring the ghost hunter, the progress is lost and your turn is over.
Scare 4 ghost hunters to bring the game to an end. Players will count all the gear icons on the ghost hunter cards along with any skull tokens collected during the game. Players who collect matching gear icons will get bonuses which can be huge when calculating your final score.
Hauntingly Fun for All Ages
Haunt the House is a huge win for our family because of how accessible the game is. The mechanics are simple enough for kids to understand without the game feeling childish. I’ve been impressed with how bluffing plays into the game to give players a false sense of hope in scaring the hunters. It’s easy to see a ghost hunter with 5 cards in the room and assume that you have what you need to make the scare on your turn. It’s so much fun to see a player fail a scare on their turn.
The different abilities that the rooms give are really diverse and offer enough options to keep the turns from becoming monotonous. The game comes with 9 different rooms so chances are that you’ll have a different set of 4 or 5 each time you play. This really adds to the replay-ability of the game and I get really excited when I see one of my favorite rooms on the table while setting up Haunt the House.
The artwork in Haunt the House was done by Apolline Etienne and Josh Cappel. Every icon and illustration has a crisp style and the colors are perfect for the haunted house setting. The rooms and the backs of the cards have an unsettling eeriness without being scary for younger gamers. I’m so thankful when publishers think about diversity when creating characters in their game. This is apparent as you look at the different ghost hunters that appear throughout the game.
Every component in this game has a level of polish that our family has come to expect from Helaina Cappel and her team. It’s really impressive to see how much care they took in making Haunt the House something special for families to enjoy. Plus, the skull tokens along with the text on the box glow in the dark which is such a great little touch that impresses me every time to turn the lights out in our game/dining room.
Taking It To the Next Level
Haunt the House comes with another deck of cards called Phantoms. These ghosts range from incredibly cute to the things of nightmares. Players can choose to take a Phantom card instead of a skull when they play a facedown card that matches the ghost hunter in a room. Introducing these cards adds an additional layer that gives you game-changing abilities that are usable on your turn. After playing the basic game a couple times, introducing the phantoms just added more depth to this great game.
Haunt the House has been a really special addition to our family game shelf. While this game probably won’t be a go-to choice for an adult game night, I’m confident that it will show up when new gamers and multiple generations are around the table. Now, I must be on my way. I’ve got some ghost hunters that need to be frightened!
You can pick up a copy of Haunt the House from your local Barnes & Noble store or online at BarnesandNobles.com.
- Unique gameplay with support for up to 5 players
- Beautiful artwork and top notch components
- 9 different rooms and optional phantom cards add more replay-ability
- Not the first choice for adult game nights
- Sad that the ghost meeples aren’t really part of the gameplay