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Subject: Stratego for the brainless rss

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Ghosts is a light bluffing/deduction game in which players attempt to eliminate their opponent's good ghosts while keeping all their own. This game is reminiscent of an over-simplified Stratego. Ghosts! uses the exact same capture system and adds one small win condition variant.


Rules

Each player has 8 ghosts, 4 of which are good and 4 of which are bad. Gameplay takes place on a 6X6 grid. Each of the corner spaces contains a door. Players win by either having their opponent remove all their bad ghosts and leaving at least 1 good one, or by having one of their good ghosts exit through one of the doors on their opponents side of the board.


Components

This game has been published by several different companies and in several different languages. Therefore, there is going to be a substantial difference in the aesthetic quality of each version. The visual aspect of this game has no effect whatsoever on the gameplay. This game could easily be played with wooden discs or cubes marked on the bottom. Ghosts! is basically an abstract bluffing/deduction game with a cute theme.

My version is an older Milton Bradly edition from the mid-80's. The board is made to look like a haunted castle with rough rock walls delineating the 6X6 grid. The ghosts are actually kind of neat looking and apparently glow in the dark. Good ghosts are marked by a blue dot on their backs and bad ghosts are marked with a yellow dot. There's definatly a more attractive way to do this, but its functionally efficient.


Gameplay

On a player's turn, he gets to move one of his ghosts 1 space orthoganally. If there is a ghost in one of these adjacent spaces, the player may capture the ghost. When a ghost is captured, only the captured ghost's color is revealed; the capturer remains unidentified. This is a significant departure from Stratego in which both pieces need to be revealed to identify their respective ranks. The general goal is to either eliminate all your opponents blue (good) ghosts or to get one of your ghosts to your opponent's door and escape, thus ending the game.

A player's turn should not take very long. The options are incredibly limited and should only require a small amount of thought making this a game that can be played several time in a row or even act as a filler while waiting for longer games to finish.


Compare it to...

Stratego. The way pieces move and capture is identical to the classic boardgame. One key difference, as noted above, is the identification of the captured piece only. This allows you to bluff much longer. Another key difference is the endgame. Stratego requires a player to find the opponent's flag to win. Ghosts! provides two different win conditions as described above.


Overall

While I compare this game to Stratego, I find it inferior in every way except the win conditions. There are only 8 pieces on each side which means far fewer tactical decisions. Additionally, pieces only have 2 ranks, good or bad, and are only revealed when captured meaning that a player has no idea what rank his opponent's piece may be. I find this limits the tactics far too greatly. The additional win condition of escaping your ghost through the opponent's side is intriguing and can be difficult to accomplish. Such a maneuver would also be difficult in Stratego and should be rewarded as such.

Since these two games are so similar, I think it is safe to say that Stratego will be chosen over Ghosts! every time in my house. There are simply not enough strategic and tactical decisions to be made in a game of Ghosts! to make it worthwhile. I rate Statego a 6 and Ghosts! a 4.5 clearly indicating how I feel about both titles.

In a side note, I feel that Ghosts may be a good children's game, probably suitable for kids up to 11 or 12. There is a deduction element here, but it seems too light for the adult mind. If I were to review this as a children's game, I could probably increase the ranking to somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5.
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W M Shubert
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It's really very different from stratego:

* Capturing is NOT the same; instead of comparing ranks, it is always the attacker who "wins"
* The goal is NOT the same; stratego has one (capture the flag), ghosts has 3 ways to win (capture all enemy blues, lose all your own reds, or get one of your blues out the door).

About all that is similar is the movement and the fact that each piece has hidden information. In fact, it's about as close to Hammer of the Scots as it is to Stratego.

That being said, I agree that Stratego has more depth if you are looking for a hidden pieces battle game. And you are right to point out that it works well with children; the decisions are simple, the win/loss conditions are simple, and it's fun to try to encourage kids to figure out which of your ghosts are blue. After that, they ought to start faking you out on their own...
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Drew
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What I really dislike about Ghosts is that there's absolutely no way to gain any information about your opponent's ghosts except to watch how he's moving them. Hey, Joe's moving that ghost toward the exit. So is it a blue ghost he's trying to get out, or is he hoping to lure me into attacking a yellow ghost? It's all blind guessing. I suppose if you play against the same player several times, you might be able to figure out, based on prior games, whether he's bluffing or not. Otherwise, every capture is a shot in the dark. Might as well just roll a die.
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W M Shubert
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Drew1365 wrote:
What I really dislike about Ghosts is that there's absolutely no way to gain any information about your opponent's ghosts except to watch how he's moving them.
Which just gave me an idea for a variant: When you attack, you show the color of your attacking ghost! This would make it more like stratego, but would also mean that if you can entice your opponent into capturing one of your ghosts, you get some useful information out of it...neat!

Although the problem is that this could lead to a stalemate easily. Playing with colors completely revealed will easily stalemate; this variant will become that eventually, so either you win before your opponent finds out who is who, or you will never win. Sigh.
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Michael Kröhnert
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Drew1365 wrote:
What I really dislike about Ghosts is that there's absolutely no way to gain any information about your opponent's ghosts except to watch how he's moving them. Hey, Joe's moving that ghost toward the exit. So is it a blue ghost he's trying to get out, or is he hoping to lure me into attacking a yellow ghost? It's all blind guessing. I suppose if you play against the same player several times, you might be able to figure out, based on prior games, whether he's bluffing or not. Otherwise, every capture is a shot in the dark. Might as well just roll a die.


Could you please tell me your thoughts about Poker?
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Drew
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Michel wrote:
Could you please tell me your thoughts about Poker?


Horrible pile of randomness.
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Howell
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Drew: I don't know how serious your "Horrible pile of randomness" comment was, but if it was serious, I agree wholeheartedly about both of your comments.

William: I'm gonna try your variant. I can't stand the fact that you don't know what piece your opponent captured with, but if you could gain that info, the game could be much better. Even at that, its still not as good as Stratego.
 
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ronaldinho @boardspace.net
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I am not so sure your assessment of the game (and poker) is quite fair or accurate. My win-loss record at BSW is 6-11, which would suggest that there is skill involved. It's nothing terribly deep, but it's there.
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fer moros
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The game of ghost is a very fine game as it is.

I only have it on its Jekyll and hyde version. I bought about 3 or 4 copies for cheap on ebay, to give out some or have them both at work and at home. It is a quick game that my students love to play.

I used to play it with another teacher who really liked playing poker and he loved that game. Whenever we had 5 minutes to kill we would challenge to game.

The similarity to stratego is only on the movement. But the game is very different. The alternative way of winning (by scaping a ghost) must be there, in order for the oponent to be forced to kill pieces, but by killing the wrong pieces the oponent my lose the game, therefore making you the winner.

It is a good game.
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Drew
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stormseeker75 wrote:
Drew: I don't know how serious your "Horrible pile of randomness" comment was, but if it was serious, I agree wholeheartedly about both of your comments.


I was serious. cool

 
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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Then I agree. You are now my geekbuddy.
 
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Caleb
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You forgot one other important difference to Stratego: Stratego can last up to an hour, but Ghosts is almost always over in 5-8 minutes. I've just started playing with my 3yo daughter and it's a blast. My wife and I will sometimes play too, and I have a HUGE win/loss advantage against her...suggesting there is some skill there somewhere!
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Linda Baldwin
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Y'know, all this anti-poker stuff has just convinced me I must like Ghosts more than I thought.

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Steve Hope
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This game seems like a much BETTER version of Stratego to me. Most of a game of Stratego is just dross covering the 1-2-S interactions that determine who can get an unbeatable unit in play, with the occasional outlier of a flag victory by the weaker side when the stronger side is caught out of position or with a bad flag deployment. But basically half your army in Stratego is useless filler.

This game provides much more strategic meat in much less time. I drive a unit towards your corner, you can either try to block with your bad ghosts or capture it. If you block, maybe I drive through your guy then you have to capture to trade or risk losing. Or we get blocked up across the sides with presumably bad ghosts blocking the way and additional backup behind them. Then we start trying to figure out who we can capture in the middle ground and send our remaining bad ghosts there, etc.

Now of course all the game is bluffing set around that basic strategic dynamic, but the smaller board and focused strategic choices make it at least the game Stratego is in a fraction of the time.
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Ralph T
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Did you miss the condition that you win if your four evil ghosts are eliminated? It's not mentioned in your rules overview.
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Tim
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Drew1365 wrote:
What I really dislike about Ghosts is that there's absolutely no way to gain any information about your opponent's ghosts except to watch how he's moving them. Hey, Joe's moving that ghost toward the exit. So is it a blue ghost he's trying to get out, or is he hoping to lure me into attacking a yellow ghost? It's all blind guessing. I suppose if you play against the same player several times, you might be able to figure out, based on prior games, whether he's bluffing or not. Otherwise, every capture is a shot in the dark. Might as well just roll a die.


I think it is great that you dislike that element, and I can understand that.

For me that is what makes the game fun. Given the way you move your ghost I am guessing that this is a blue ghost. Lets find out shall we
It is a double think. It plays in 5 minutes and we usually play best of 5. I love it.
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