As everyone knows, ghosts love candy. But, alas, being incorporeal has its downsides—like the inability to actually eat anything. So on Halloween, these candy-craving ghosts possess trick-or-treating kids and make them eat candy, getting a taste of that sweet goodness for themselves. That’s the theme behind this kid-friendly card game coming from 5th Street Games, designed by Danny Devine.
At a glance: Ghosts Love Candy is for 2 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about half an hour to play. The pledge level for a copy of the game is $25, with higher pledge levels to design custom ghosts or kids’ costumes to be included in the game. I’ve played this with kids a little younger than 8, and it’s fine for the most part, but there are a couple of kids with more complex powers that require a bit more reading and strategy.
- 24 Kid cards
- 6 sets of ghost cards (9 cards each)
- 6 Candy Craving cards
- 48 Candy tokens (8 each of 6 candy types)
- 1 draw bag
- 1 King Ghost token
I’ve played a preview prototype of Ghosts Love Candy, so the component quality isn’t final. The artwork, at least, is fantastic: great cartoony style with a lot of personality, and a mix of boys and girls, which is always a nice touch. In addition to the different colors and names, each ghost also has its own look, so the game would be fine for color blind players, too.
How to Play
The goal is to get the most points by eating the types of candy you like, while trying not to make kids sick because they ate too much candy.
To set up, each player takes a set of ghost cards, and gets one Candy Craving card. The Candy Craving card shows you how many points each type of candy is worth. So you might really like licorice (5 points) but another ghost might not really care for it (1 point). Whoever most recently ate a piece of candy gets the King Ghost token.
Shuffle all of the kid cards and deal some out in a row in the center of the table, and place the rest of the deck nearby. For a 2-player game, you’ll use 4 kids and play 12 rounds (and there’s an extra step for getting some of your ghost cards back). For 3 or 4 players, you’ll use 6 kids and the game will last 8 rounds. For a 5- or 6-player game, you’ll use 8 kids and play 6 rounds.
For each round, you’ll Place Candy, Choose Ghosts, and Play Ghosts.
Place Candy: randomly draw one candy from the bag for each kid in play, and place the candy on the kid’s card.
Choose Ghosts: Each player chooses a ghost from their hand and places it face-down on the table.
Play Ghosts: Everyone reveals their ghosts. You’ll get to use your ghost cards in descending order; in the case of ties, you go clockwise starting with the player with the King Ghost token.
You put your ghost card below any kid, and then take all of that kid’s candy. Then, you resolve its ability—it might let you take candy from adjacent kids, or force you to give some candy back, or something else. (Some abilities are more like a reaction ability and don’t do anything right at this stage.)
Finally, you check to see if the kid is sick: if the total value of ghosts below the kid adds up to equal or more than the kid’s “sick point” (the number on the Kid card), then the kid ate too much candy and got sick. you take the kid, put them in your stash (along with your candy) and then draw a new kid to replace the sick kid.
Once each player has played a ghost card and resolved abilities and sick kids, the round is over. The King Ghost token is passed clockwise and the next round begins.
At the end of the set number of rounds, you reveal your Candy Craving card, add up all of your candy points and subtract 2 points for each sick kid in your stash. The player with the most points wins, with ties going to the player with the fewest sick kids.
Ghosts Love Candy is a hit at my house, both with kids and adults. The basic mechanic is bidding, a little bit like Eggs & Empires (another favorite of mine), except in this case the special abilities are on the kids rather than the cards in your hand. Also, the fact that everyone has their own Candy Craving card means that you’re not all going for the same types of candy. In theory, you could try to conceal your favorite, but in practice most people just end up collecting a lot of the 4 and 5 point candies from their cards.
The variety of abilities on the kids is great, particularly the kids that interact with each other. The Knight, for instance, protects kids next to him—so if you take candy from an adjacent kid, you have to give the Knight one. There are a few that have special abilities related to getting sick—the Hobo is really easy to get sick, but then you get to pass him along to the next player who makes anyone sick. The Zombie is also easy to get sick, but the next time you make somebody sick, you put the Zombie back.
There are 24 kids included in the base game, which makes for great variety, and stretch goals on the Kickstarter will unlock even more packs of kids to play with. You generally won’t get through all of the kids in a single game, so there’s a lot of replay value. I’ve already mentioned the art, but I’ll say it again here: the artwork is great. I appreciate that there are boys and girls, and a lot of different skin and hair colors, too.
Phil Kilcrease of 5th Street Games, the publisher of Ghosts Love Candy, has run several Kickstarter board game projects in the past and he seems to know what he’s doing, so I’m pretty confident that if the project hits its funding goal that he’ll be able to produce the game and get it to you in a reasonable amount of time. The one disappointment is that the game isn’t slated to be ready by Halloween this year—the estimated delivery date is February 2015.
Ghosts Love Candy is a solid title that will work well with both kids and adults. There’s a bit of strategy involved but it’s not really heavy, and the short play time and easy rules mean you can get a game started (and finished) pretty quickly. It’s not incredibly deep, but it’s still fun and I’m sure my kids will be requesting this one often.
For more information and to pledge for a copy, visit the Ghosts Love Candy Kickstarter page.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a preview prototype of this game for review.