Polter-Heist


Polter-Heist
Development Period: May 2014 - June 2014
Status: Completed, Seeking Publisher
Board Game Geek: View Game
UnPub Links: View Game | Provide Feedback

Every town has one.  Everyone in town avoids it.  Stories have been told; sleepless nights have resulted.  Haunted houses terrify everyone, young and old alike.  In your town the local haunted house has a legend associated with it.  The mansion was once owned by an eccentric recluse who has long since passed away.  While he was alive there were rumors of dark magic, murder, ancient mysteries, and odd habits.  Was the inhabitant a vampire?  Or a scientist who had finally cracked?  Maybe he was a paranoid conspiracy nut, afraid of… well, everything.  But one thing was common among all the legends.  The crazy old man who lived there was fantastically wealthy and had hidden a Treasure in the abandoned mansion.  Since the man’s demise several have braved the ominous mansion on the outskirts of town, only to return frightened, mad, or never to return at all.  With each visitation occurrences around the house become more and more bizarre.  Lights are seen in the windows, despite the electricity to the building being turned off for years.  Strange sounds, screams, thumps, and groans can be heard from the building nightly.  Birds, squirrels, and other creatures are never anywhere around.  On some nights you can hear classical music, or cackling laughter, even though the house is dark.  Most are content to experience the house’s haunts from well beyond the property line, but a few have been brave enough to enter the house as far as its grand foyer.  Those that have entered are never the same again.  But that legend of a great treasure is calling, taunting you even.  You and several friends have decided to take as many precautions as you can, prepare a base camp protected by the latest paranormal investigation equipment, and explore the mansion to find the Treasure rumored to be hidden somewhere in one of its peculiar rooms.  So one evening you set up a small camp in the large foyer of the house and set off in search of adventure and Treasure.  But beware!  The house is protected by more ghosts and spirits than you realized.  While you hunt for their Treasure, they will hunt you down and attempt to scare you away or even attack you outright.  If you stay too long you may just meet your demise, but you are determined not to leave without the Treasure.  But remember the old saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  With the last of your sanity gone, you may get scared to death.  Should you perish you’ll be doomed to join the ranks of the spirits cursed to protect the house and its secrets. You’ll then be cursed to work against your former friends to make them share the same fate as you.

Object
Polter-Heist is for 2-4 players, ages 6+, with a playtime of 45-60 minutes or more. The object of the game is to explore the haunted mansion, uncovering rooms and searching for the hidden Treasure. Along the way you’ll make discoveries that can help you out and encounter ghosts that will deplete your courage or hinder your search. Occasionally you may encounter a benevolent spirit that will help you along the way. Be careful though, because if you get scared to death you’ll become a ghost that can chase down your former friends! You win the game by acquiring the Treasure and getting it out of the house. The ghosts win if everyone in the house gets turned to a ghost. You lose if you are a ghost and one or more players are able to make it out of the house with the Treasure.



Quick Start Rules Overview
After the game is set up players take turns exploring the mansion.

A player begins his turn by rolling two dice.  If the dice count is a number indicated on the Ghost Activity Timeline for Ghost Encounters then the player encounters a ghost and must draw a Ghost card.  Follow the instructions on the card.  Otherwise, the player moves up to the number of spaces rolled.  If the player lands on a ? space he has made a Discovery.  Draw a Discovery card and follow the instructions.  Some Discoveries may be Ghost Encounters, in which case the player should draw a Ghost card and follow those instructions.  If the Discovery was not a Ghost Encounter (or Increase Ghost Activity) card then cover the ? space with a Discovery Marker so the space cannot be used for future discoveries.  M spaces are Secret Passages and may be used to travel quickly throughout the house.  As players move into rooms (movement is allowed only through open foyers, rooms, stairs, hallways, and doorways; players cannot move through walls or banisters) the room tiles are flipped upright so players can see what  room they have discovered.  If a player’s courage is low she may return to the Base Camp to regain some courage.  If a player loses all his courage he is scared to death and becomes a Ghost Player, now playing against and attacking his former friends.  Play continues until a player finds the Treasure and escapes the house alive.  Once the Treasure is discovered players must attempt to escape the mansion before the ghosts scare them to death.

Polter-Heist Game Description
Polter-Heist is a game developed by George Jaros, from DeKalb, IL, USA.  The idea for the game was conceived in early May, 2014 and the game started playtesting later that month.  But mid-June the game mechanics, rules, good/bad card ratios, and prototype components were finalized and no longer changing.  The game is stable, easy to learn, and fun for all ages.  George’s 4 year old son loves to play and so does his wife and adult friends.

Polter-Heist is for 2-4 players, ages 6+, with a playtime of 45-60 minutes or possibly more.  The object of the game is to explore the haunted mansion, uncovering rooms and searching for the hidden Treasure.  Along the way you’ll make discoveries that can help you out and encounter ghosts that will deplete your courage or hinder your search.  Occasionally you may encounter a benevolent spirit that will help you along the way.  Be careful though, because if you get scared to death you’ll become a ghost that can chase down your former friends!  You win the game by acquiring the Treasure and getting it out of the house.  The ghosts win if everyone in the house gets turned to a ghost.  You lose if you are a ghost and one or more players are able to make it out of the house with the Treasure.

The game components consist of two decks of cards, a Discoveries Deck and a Ghosts Deck, each with 72 cards.  There are also 4 player cards with sliding markers so players can track their courage levels.  There are 8 player pawns, two for each player – one main pawn and one ghost pawn that replaces the main pawn if the player is scared to death and becomes a ghost.  80 small round tokens are used to indicate where discoveries were made and a small treasure token can be used to show the current location of the treasure after it has been discovered.  There is also a time indicator card and pawn to track the time of night in the game (ghosts are more active as it gets later).

The game board consists of a main board that is at least 20 inches by 23 inches.  The main playing area is 18 inches by 21 inches and there is approximately a 1 inch border around the playing area that could be filled with the name of the game and some artwork.  An 18 inch by 15 inch section of the board is recessed slightly (so the room tiles don’t slide) and a 18 inch by 6 inch section of the board is not recessed (this is for the house foyer and floor landings).  

The recessed area of the board gets filled with randomized room tiles so that each game is played with a slightly different layout.  The recessed are is divided into four floors – cellar, first floor, second floor, and attic.  The cellar and attic are each 3 inch by 15 inch areas and are each composed of five 3 inch by 3 inch tiles.  The first and second floors are each 6 inch by 15 inch areas and are each composed of five 3 inch by 6 inch tiles.  Each floor has eight tiles to choose from for each game, except the first floor, which has 11 tiles.  The tiles can be trimmed just a little smaller than the stated dimensions or the recessed area can be just a bit larger so that the tiles fit easily, not tightly.

Each tile is printed on both sides.  One side only has ¾ inch gridlines to indicate spaces, some thicker or thinner to indicate where the main walls and doors are, and shading in some spaces to indicate which spaces are hallways or rooms.  The other side of the tiles shows the rooms in more detail and includes some special marks on spaces to indicate Discovery Spaces and Secret Passageways.

During playtesting the game has gotten rave reviews.  Everyone that has played it has enjoyed it and I think it would be a great family game.  Comments have included “The ability to play cooperative or competitively and the fact that if you get out you can still play on as a ghost - it's like 2 games in one!” and “I like how you stay in the game when you lose all your courage and become a ghost.”

Considering the response I’ve gotten, I’ve also developed an expansion to the game that can accommodate up to 8 players, or still be played with fewer players (although the game takes longer).  This expansion introduces some new mechanics (nothing drastically different though), new discoveries, and an additional game board and tiles.

Credits
Game design by: George Jaros
Special Thanks: Julie Zaborac, Mike Jaros, Sam Jaros

Copyright © 2014

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.
 

4 comments:

  1. It's a fun and different game. It plays well for all ages. You may want to jetison some of the minor rules to make it simpler for younger players and to make it easier to learn.

    Even if you get 'ghosted', it's still fun to continue to play. So everyone will be occupied, even if they don't have the opportunity to win the treasure chest.

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  2. Fun game to play. Easy to learn and fast moving.

    It would be cool if somehow a ghost could come back to a normal player.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! Those would be zombies =) Maybe in a future expansion Dan!

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