Ghosts of the Moor
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
We don't very often review roll and move games on Board's Eye View. This isn't down to snobbery on our part; it's just that rolling a die and moving the indicated number of squares is such a dated board game mechanic that it is mostly now just found in very basic children's games or in dull games like Monopoly that appeal to people who have yet to discover anything better.
Roll and move games are often uninteresting because they offer players few choices. Take, for example, Snakes & Ladders: you roll a die and you move the indicated number of squares and follow any instructions you encounter on the square on which you land (go up a ladder or down a snake). The game is entirely automatic: there are no choices to make and no opportunities to exercise any judgement. Monopoly offers some limited choices (in the early part of the game, the purely binary choice: buy or don't buy). To be sure, there are some optimal places to buy because the properties have a higher probability of a player landing on them (for example, those more likely to be encountered on a roll of two dice by a player emerging from jail) but there is otherwise little scope to apply any skill or judgement.
Designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, Ghosts of the Moor takes the very basic roll and move mechanic, adds in the incremental scoring for set collection, and delivers a game that's easy enough for a 7-year-old child to play but which offers enough challenge to keep adults interested and involved.
The game is a race to move your meeples along a track, with bonus points for those that finish ahead of the others. Players each have a multiple of meeples (five with two players, just two with five players), and that of itself gives the player some agency over their actions: players roll a die and choose which of their meeples to move. There are tokens along the path and a player picks up a token from a square provided theirs is the only meeple on that square when they leave it. The more matching tokens you have, the more they are worth. Some of the tokens are ghosts, however, and these score negative points at the end of the game. If a meeple leaves an empty square (one with no token on it) then the player has to abandon there one of the tokens they've already collected; which means you can use these empty squares as a way of dumping any ghost you have picked up en route.
Ghosts of the Moor is a simple but fun game that can be played by all the family. It offers some meaningful choices, especially when played with three or four players, which is when the game is at its best, but it plays quickly. You'll have rather more fun gathered around the table playing this after Christmas dinner than labouring over that tired old Monopoly set.
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