Title: Ghosts of Christmas
Designed By: Taiki Shinzawa
Art By: Maria Surducan
Published By: All Play (Formally Board Game Tables .com)
Player Count: 3-4
Time to Play: 40 Minutes
As spooky season approaches, which is quickly followed by the most wonderful time of the year, now seems like a good time to show you a great game you will want to check out for the latter half of the year. Ghosts of Christmas is a delightful trick-taking game about the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Players compete to earn the most points by guessing how many tricks they will win and then correctly winning that many tricks.
What's purr-ty cool:
I love how the trick-taking mechanic works in Ghosts of Christmas. Three different tricks are played per round, and if you win the first trick, you have the ability to manipulate the following tricks in order to win even more tricks. Whoever wins the past trick, sets the color for the present trick based on their color meaning that the color might change, and thus who wins that trick might not be who it initially looked like would win. Whoever wins the present trick, then sets the color for the future trick. I love the added layer of complexity this mixes in. Also having to decide which of your three spaces to play a card on each round is interesting because you have to plan which tricks to lose too. If you win too many tricks you will bust.
To help with managing how many tricks you can win, the game introduces a "red door". At the beginning of each round you take X amount of doors based on the number of tricks you think you will win with your current hand. You can choose to pick an exact number of tricks to win (let's say 5) and select 5 purple doors at the beginning of the round, or you can add a red door and say you will win 5 or 6 tricks. if you use the red door, you score half the number of points for getting it correct, but half of 6 is still more than 0 for failing to win the correct amount of tricks. I like the ability to play it more safely or risk it if I am falling behind or want to jump ahead on points.
If you like trick-taking, you should definitely try out Ghosts of Christmas because it does it in such an interesting manner.
Ghosts of Christmas also has two variants to make the game simpler or more complex depending on your play style. The Tiny Tim variant removes the need to declare how many tricks you think you will win each hand and instead just awards points based on if you win or not. This is great for playing with younger gamers.
The Beyond variant adds an additional trick to each hand that happens following the future trick. It extends to many cards you must play each turn and adds more opportunity to manipulate future tricks by winning earlier ones. This is nice for gamers who want to step up the complexity a bit.
Aesthetics and Components
I love the art style of Ghosts of Christmas. The colors remind me of winter and are visually appealing. I also love a game where the box is small enough to bring just about anywhere. Ghosts of Christmas is a solid, fun trick-taking game that is so easy to bring on the go. It doe not require a ton of table space, but does still have a nice table presence despite how small its box is. It is one of those games that when you see it set up, you are impressed that it all came from a tiny box. The chipboard used for the pieces is nice and thick and helps the pieces feel high quality. It is a great game in a little package.
Overall if you are looking for a fun holiday-themed game that you could enjoy playing year-round, Ghosts of Christmas is a great choice.
The cat's meow:
"This game needs a jumbo version so I can fit in the box. Right now, maybe my tail would fit...maybe." - Solo the Spokescat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.