Ghosts of the Moor feels like an experiment discussed in a boardroom that somehow took on an actual existence. A light weight children’s game that exists as a filler and gateway game for adults. It’s easy enough for younger kids to grok while also being a good opener for game night. It does all this by being a strategic roll and move.
No, wait, come back!
Yep, Ghosts of the Moor is a game of rolling dice and moving pawns. You and your small band of explorers are trying to escape a haunted swamp while also grabbing more relics than other players’ groups. Because shiny objects trump personal safety every time!
On your turn you’ll roll a die and choose one of your pawns to move forward along a track of tiles. If you were alone on a tile when you left it, you pick it up. If you were on an empty tile, you add something back. There are negative pieces in the form of ghosts and deescalating bonus points awarded to those that reach the end of the track.
The game plays in about 20 minutes and is definitely targeted at families with young children. The cartoonish art style, simple mechanics and ease of play work great for a 6+ audience. The player count is going to be best at 2-3.
From a strategic standpoint this game has flaws. The relics are scored via set collection but there is no way to move backwards on the track nor a way to steal them from an opponent. The collecting aspect of the game is hampered by lucky die rolls from both you and your opponents.
Most of the strategy of the game is knowing when to move which pawn, often being a fight against loss aversion. I consistently lose for this reason. Why won’t the other explorers just let me have my things and leave me alone?
But these flaws are excused if you think of the target audience. Ghosts of the Moor should be considered a children’s game, albeit with a scoring system that could be a little easier. The laughter when you block an opponent’s tile, the fight to see who runs first, the lucky 6s and the mocking 1s, all aspects of the simple but fun.
Roll and move often gets a bad reputation as a mechanic. This is mostly deserved. It’s almost entirely luck driven and when you try and fix it there is often a better mechanic to use anyway. But what it does well is help with accessibility. Since everyone in the world knows how it works, games that use it will always be easier to teach.
The problems that Ghosts of the Moor has all stem from the roll and move mechanic. But it’s because of this that it is easily accessible for younger children. It’s a nice gateway between Candyland and something a bit harder, and I’m keeping my copy for the time when my children will make that transition.
Ghosts of the Moor is play for the sake of play. It doesn’t try to be more complicated than a simple game of moving pawns and blocking players. Highly interactive and easy to digest, a perfect game for families that want something to play together.
Review copy provided by publisher. Thank you Tasty Minstrel Games.