First Licensed ‘Ghostbusters’ Game In 30 Years On KickstarterFiled inside: Games
Hot off the announcement of the casting choices for the new all-female reboot of Ghostbusters, Cryptozoic games has launched the Kickstarter for a board game adaptation of the original films, and the first licensed Ghostbusters board game in over three decades.
Things have been a bit rocky in the Ghostbusters camp for a while now. Wild rumors about a new film entry in the series have been flung about, questions about Bill Murray’s involvement in the project were raised, there was even a video game released about it that was…okay (play it on the Wii, you’ll be doing yourself a favor there), but for the most part the franchise has coasted by on the relatively comfortable laurels of its original release—but that may just change soon.
Enter Cryptozoic, a well-versed game company that focuses on board-and-card games, and has a number of impressive credits to their name—among them are adaptations of Assassin’s Creed, The Walking Dead, The Lord of the Rings, and a boatload of comic book games, as well. This isn’t their first rodeo, to be sure, and from that we can draw hope that maybe this will be a good way to breathe some life in the Ghostbusters franchise ahead of the somewhat controversial film reboot.
This isn’t your typical family board game, definitely adopting the more modern scenario-based approach to game sessions. That’s not to say that the game isn’t easy to pick up and understand, however, and there’s no dearth of content to be had, either. The game will feature three campaigns, each of which is comprised of four scenarios, with each scenario said to take about thirty minutes to complete.
You take on the role of one of the four Ghostbusters of old: Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, or Zeddemore. Each Ghostbuster has his own unique role in gameplay, and all four work together to fight, trap, and deposit the ghosts around them, eventually culminating in a large battle against one of the iconic ghosts from the films.
Venkman is the risky glass cannon, able to deal high damage at close range, and is eventually able to take additional combat actions on his turn. Stantz is the medic, specializing in removing slime from his compatriots. Spengler is about mitigating failed die rolls, reducing danger for the team overall. Zeddemore can more easily deposit ghosts than his comrades, supporting the team by moving quickly and removing enemies from the board and back into the Spirit World.
It’s a cooperative game, obviously, in the vein of games like Pandemic, where each player needs to understand their role and maximize their contributions to the team as a whole in order to guarantee success. This means the entire board is essentially working against you: the Ghostbusters have to navigate the space while avoiding or attacking ghosts in order to meet specific win conditions unique to each scenario. Scenarios will also dictate the board layout and the starting location of Gates, ghosts, and Ghostbusters.
As an example, a scenario might task the team with closing a number of Gates around the map. They can only claim victory when all the Gates are closed at once. If one Gate opens, they all reopen, so the team will have to coordinate their actions and hope for a little luck to get the job done. If circumstances dictate that a ghost needs to be summoned from the Spirit world, and none remain, it’s game over.
Each Ghostbuster gets two “standard” actions and one “free” action per turn. You can spend a standard action to move two spaces (unless you’re in the Ecto-1, then move six spaces), attack a ghost or Gate within range, deposit a ghost trap, remove slime from a Ghostbuster in range (yourself included, also ends your turn), or take an additional free action. Free actions are less dramatic: give or take filled traps with an adjacent Ghistbuster, or get into or out of the Ecto-1.
Much of the action in the game is dictated through die rolls—you roll dice to attack a ghost, and the ghost’s type determines the necessary value to hit. Each ghost reacts to combat in unique ways, as well. Hitting a Galloping Ghoul will slime all adjacent Ghostbusters, for instance, while a miss will send it running two spaces in a random direction (determines with an 8-sided die roll). An event die rolled at the beginning of each turn will also determine how ghosts move, the behavior of Gates, or if new ones are summoned on a turn.
To win in this scenario would likely have Venkman aggressively stemming the flow of ghosts while Stantz keeps him slime-free (getting slimed reduces the number of actions you’re able to take in a turn). Spengler would primarily attack Gates, with Venkman assisting when the board is otherwise generally ghost-free, while Zeddemore ensures that there is a ready supply of ghosts in the Spirit World to avoid meeting the loss condition.
The game features a stylized cartoon art style, and a modular board with plenty of miniatures to keep it populated without too many confusing tokens that are too similar.
The game cruised past its funding goal in a day without too many problems, but still has some stretch goals to reach. As Cryptozoic isn’t some independent studio struggling to get their project some grip, this project isn’t quite so rife with small donations and rewards—the lowest pledge you can give is $80, which is enough to net you a copy of the base game.
To be honest, it seems a little unusual for the campaign to be hosted in such a way. I have little doubt that the game would have released regardless of whether the Kickstarter was successful—rather this seems like Cryptozoic leveraging an existing system as a sort of pre-order system that’s a tad more shareable. It’s no inherently unethical or anything…it just feels a touch off. Regardless, the game looks like it might be good for that mid-to-late twenties group of friends that love the old films and board gaming alike—but I don’t doubt that it’d be enjoyable for the more nuclear family, as well.
You can see the game in action a bit more on the Kickstarter page. Kick in a pledge if you want to get it as close to the projected October release date as possible. Otherwise, ask yourself: Who ya gonna call?