Once he discovered that Cryptozoic Entertainment was releasing a Kickstarter board game, my friend was, as all my current co-workers would say, "All In!". The Kickstarter for the game was fully funded on March 12, 2015 by raising $1,546,270 USD with 8,396 backers. I am not very familiar with Kickstarter projects but that appears to me as very successful!
I followed the entire process via my friends fevered updates. I know about the shipping woes that Cryptozoic encountered and how they may have over done the different options that were available to purchase/support. Then the day came last fall when my friend called to tell me his copy of the game had arrived and was on his porch...3 hours away, since he was out of town for work. We are good friends but I still chuckled at his plight.
Recently my friend came to visit and brought his copy of the Ghostbusters Board Game, along with all of his Kickstarter options that he purchased. We sat down to play and he opened up the black box with its yellow caution striping. My first visual impression was that it was a clean, neat, and very evocative of Ghostbusters. I poured through his collection of painted mini's and translucent ghosts. I also noticed that the game was very well organized by a pre-made divider system.
I was informed that the divider system was something he purchased after receiving the game it was a huge help is organizing all the game pieces. He also stated that he bought the extra set of the four basic Ghostbusters and the Ecto-1 so that he could paint them to look a bit more realistic. I felt that the painted minis added alot to the feel of the pieces.
A lot of comparisons have been made to Zombicide by Guillotine Games, I have played a lot of Zombicide and I do some some similarities in style, game set up, and a couple of the game mechanics but over all I would say that Ghostbusters is a spiritual counterpart and not a sequel or simply a copy of Zombicide. For example it is a tile based game with several scenarios available to play for replay ability but the actual game play is different.
You start play by choosing a scenario and your team of four Ghostbusters, Since I was playing the deluxe edition for the Kickstarter we had the tradtional four Ghostbusters from the movie; Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddmore available plus some of the characters from the recent video game, cartoons, and comic books. I learned that you only receive the original four Ghostbusters with the basic retail version of the game.
We selected the first scenario, which was all about chasing down Slimer. You know the green ghost the Ghostbusters first encountered in hotel, the little guy that slimed Peter Venkman (Bill Murry). the over all scenario consisted of 4 separate session of game play. We had toddler agro a few times during play so my report of about 1.5 hours for each sessions may not truly reflect how long a session may/should take to play out. The mechanics are straight forward, you can move around the map and even drive the Ecto-1 around if you like. Then you shoot a Ghost and if you hit you mark them with a proton stream and depending on the level of the ghost it may take several streams to "trap" a Ghost.
The driving mechanics are how many actions you have available to complete the goals of the session and since when you get slimed it takes away actions, they are very precious and to be used concisely to get done what the team needs. We frequently found our selves out of actions for ourselves and having to use the few actions we had remaining to de-slime our team mates so that we could actually do something
The spirit realm is where all the ghosts hang out when not on the map causing you problems. If you run out of ghosts in the spirit realm and can't place anymore in to play then you loose. This creates a delicate balance between chasing objectives for the session and "Busting Ghosts" to keep the game alive. We had a session where we had all the time in the world to complete the goals and then we had another session where is seemed all we did was bust Ghosts to keep the game going and we didn't have any time to chase the session goals. Over all I thought it was a good mechanic to drive game play.
During play you earn Xp for your character and will advance in level as the session progress. This Xp gain translates into ability increases, special abilities you can use, and most importantly - additional actions each turn! We did find that several of the character had strong synergistic abilities with other characters. Such as Peter Venkman ability to gain Xp by being slimed and Ray Stantz abilities to gain Xp by de-sliming teammates. One difficulty we did encounter was that it was still just as difficult "to hit" the low to mid level Ghosts at higher character levels as it was during the low levels. I would like to see some mechanic to assist with this lack of a "to hit" difficultly.
So to summarize for you
Pros (Things I like)
- Different Characters from non-movie sources available to play
- Character levels and gained abilities as the game progresses
- Very detailed minis
- Lots of options available for play (scenarios and characters)
- Approximately $60 USD for retail version
Cons (Things I don't like)
- Length of session play was a bit long
- Difficulty taking out simple spirits with experienced characters
- Difficulty completing final confrontation with Slimer
- A lot of the options were only available via Kickstarter or via Ebay for crazy amounts of money
- Random movement of spirits when missed or even when you hit them
Overall I enjoyed the game and nostalgia it created from my childhood was amazing. It brought back memories of running round the neighborhood busting ghosts with my friends. I also wish that I had gotten in on the Kickstarter as well. Perhaps I will bite the bullet and jump in on the New Kickstarter for the Ghostbusters II Board Game, if you are interested head over to Kickstarter and check it out.