Ever since My Happy Farm hit the streets I’ve been a huge fan of 5th Street Games. They make surprisingly strategic games that I can play with my 8 year old and actually have a ton of fun. They’re really the exact opposite of Candyland or Random-Theme-Monopoly, fast, fun, great to look at and they won’t bore me to tears. Ghosts Love Candy, the second 5th Street Games release by Danny Devine is no exception!
Ghost Love Candy works on many levels. First, it looks great – the artwork (also by Devine) is wonderfully cartoony and a perfect match for the game. Game play is robust for a30 minute game, with a bidding mechanic and special abilities that come into play. The fun comes not only from bidding, but each player has something of a hidden objective in that their ghosts will prefer (and get a higher score) certain types of the six available candy tokens over others – and it’s different for every player.
Ghosts Love Candy is one of those games that is immediately attractive to look at, is a ton of fun for both kids and adults, offers some real strategy and plays in a quick 30 minutes. For gamers who often play with kids, this is a win!
Ghosts Love Candy is currently on Kickstarter and will be available to fund through early July. $25 gets you a copy of the game, with free worldwide shipping. It’s hard to argue with that.
The Game Components
Of note in this review, I’m playing a preview copy. Components and packaging do not reflect the final game. Having said that, they shipped me the game in one of those old, plastic VHS cases you’d find at video rental stores and I kind of fell in love with that before I even looked at the game.
The game is for ages 8+, plays 2-6 players and lasts 30 minutes.
Here’s what you get:
- 24 Unique Kid cards
- 6 Candy Craving cards
- 54 Ghost cards
- 48 cardboard Candy tokens
- A drawstring bag
- Rule book
I can’t really speak to the quality of the components of the finished game (although I can say 5th Street has never let me down in this area) but I can speak to the artwork. It’s fantastic. Danny’s style is a perfect fit for the game. The ghosts are fun to look at and the kids and their costumes equally so. The iconography that’s needed is big and right where it needs to be. Everything fits well with the game and really makes the theme shine.
Each player gets 9 ghost cards of their chosen ghost, numbered 1-9. This is where the bidding mechanic of the game will come in. Depending on how many players there will be you’ll randomly select 4-8 kids in their costumes and line them up. These kids are going to do the grunt work of collecting the candy for you, so that you can do a little selective ghostly possession and enjoy the corporeal experience eating the candy, as every ghost should.
You’ll draw 1 candy token from the bag for each kid out on the table and place that token on the kid cards. There are six types of candy – lollipops, chocolate, candy corn, licorice, peppermint and gummies. My daughter has already suggested, several times, that we replace the tokens with actual candy. I’m seriously entertaining this idea.
Each player will also get one of six Candy Craving cards – which has the six types of candy arranged by how many points their worth. 5 points at the top, 0 points at the bottom with each Candy Craving card being unique in its order.
Every Kid card has a kid in a different costume, which grants them a unique ability. Some may allow you to take candy from other kids, others affect you or other players in positive or adverse ways.
Playing Ghosts Love Candy
The object of the game is to score the most points by eating the most candy, preferably of the type you like best (which scores you 5 points a pop). There are a few things that can trip you up however, starting with the other players and moving on to the Kid cards and their special abilities. Plus you can get those kids to eat just a bit too much candy, in which case they get sick and you’ll have to take care of them for the rest of the night. This costs you 2 points per sick kid at the end of the game. Every kid card has a number in the center left (you’ll see it in that white circle above) which will determine when or if that particular kid gets sick.
In a 2 player game, 4 kids will be dealt. with 2-4 players you’ll get 6 and with 5-6 players you’ll get 8. Each kid gets a random piece of candy drawn out of the bag and placed on them and then the person who last ate candy in real life (almost always my daughter I should add) gets to go first. They take the King Ghost token to signify that they’re the starting player and the game is on!
Every round new candy tokens are placed on the kids, each player gets to play one of their Ghost cards (numbered 1-9) and then the candy is taken and card abilities resolved.
Each player chooses a ghost out of their hand and places it face down on the table. When everyone’s got their ghost, the cards are flipped over and the numbers revealed (here’s the bidding portion of the game). All the players then place their ghosts under a Kid card in descending order. That means the highest bidder gets first choice at the available candy (and the effects on the kid cards). Be careful though, once you use a Ghost card, that stays under their kid of choice, meaning it’s not in your hand!
It’s important to note that the first action each player does when it’s their turn is take all of the candy on the Kid card their ghost is under. Then they resolve the ability on the Kid card (which may allow them to take candy from other kids). Then they check to see if that kid is sick. If the total numbers from all the Ghost cards under the Kid card meet or exceed their sick number, well it’s messy. That kid is sick and goes down to the player’s portion of the table where they’ll sit in misery until the end of the game. Once that happens a new Kid card is drawn and replaces the sick kid – changing the dynamic of the game.
When all of the players have taken what candy they can, resolved special abilities and seen if their kids are sick, a new round begins with the placing of more Candy tokens. The King Ghost token (used to resolve ties) passes to clockwise around the table and bidding starts again.
After a set amount of rounds, the game ends. Players then reveal their Candy Craving cards to the others, total up their points earned for their Candy tokens, subtract 2 points per sick kid and compare scores to see who wins.
Ghosts Love Candy was certainly a hit in my house. The game offers enough strategy to be enticing for adults without overwhelming kids. My 8 and 11 year olds were on about equal footing playing this game (with my 8 year old winning the majority of ’em) and I didn’t feel like I could run away with a win after a few plays when they both got the hang of the bidding mechanic.
They really enjoyed the game presentation, liked the fast paced play and loved the fact that they were collecting candy tokens. I enjoyed the hidden objective presented by the Candy Craving card and we all liked that the abilities on the Kid cards changed the game each time, giving it a lot of replayability. 5th Street Games have never disappointed me before. Here they have another solid title that offers quite a lot of game play for the price point of $25 (on Kickstarter). If you play games with kids or are looking for a light filler game that offers bidding and a little hidden info, I’d very much recommend Ghosts Love Candy.
As an aside, I spoke to both Phil of 5th Street Games and Danny, designer of Mob Town and Ghosts Love Candy recently on my podcast, Indie Talks. They offered a lot of insight into designing games for all ages, publishing games and we talked a bit about Mob Town.