Review: Goosebumps: The Board Game
Publisher: Outset Media
Year: 2015
Tagline: (none)

Game cover showing open book with monsters coming out of it

how we met

This is one that Bill brought home from a trip somewhere between here and Minneapolis, probably near Madison – which just so happens to be where the game itself is set. He didn’t look closely and thought it might have been older and worth some money (it’s not). But I insisted on keeping it and playing it because I love spooky-themed games. Fortunately we had seen the movie, so my expectations were tempered.

how it plays

In Goosebumps: The Board Game you take on the role of a monster trying to escape by getting to the typewriter before you are trapped back in a manuscript. The trail you follow is made up of manuscript pages with certain landmarks in between, like RL Stine’s House, Madison Police Station, the Graveyard and such. (Note: The End is not considered a landmark).

Overview of game board showing manuscript pages between landmarks

The board, with start at the bottom right and the end at the top right. The circle bits are landmarks

The game is played with cards in your hand. On a player’s turn they draw as many cards as needed to get to a hand of five. Then they can play a numbered card from their hand to move that many spaces. OR they can play three of a kind. By playing three cards of the same number that monster gets to move directly to the next landmark! OR they can play a MONSTER MAYHEM card which generally helps that player (though not always) and punishes at least one other player. “Take that” is a huge part of gameplay in Goosebumps: The Board Game.

Cards showing numbers between 1 and 6 with monsters on them

The number cards go up to six, appropriately ending with a Nosferatu-looking character

Landmarks are awesome for a couple of reasons. One is that if another player lands on your space, you must move back to the last landmark. So passing landmarks is the only real progress you can kind of trust – I say kind of because some “take that” cards can send you back five spaces which may send you past a landmark you had passed. Boo.

If a player is on a landmark they are safe from MONSTER MAYHEM cards (except one) and can share their space with another monster that lands there. Two of the MONSTER MAYHEM cards are for playing during another player’s turn in order to mess with them or cancel their own MONSTER MAYHEM play.

There are STEAL spaces on the board that will allow you to steal a random card from a player you choose. But you must play that card immediately, so be careful!

That’s pretty much it. It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight to the end. The first player to reach the typewriter by playing a number card of equal or more value to move that many spaces wins!

how it went

In the movie version of Goosebumps, all hell has broken loose when monsters have escaped from the pages of the Goosebumps books! I like that the board game puts you in the shoes of the monsters, which is a lot more fun of a premise than the alternative. It would have been cool if it was a slightly more complex game, even semi-cooperative so that not only the first monster to the end wins.

Pawn monsters like Abominable Snowman and Ventriloquist dummy

I’m the pretty one in front. With the blue background

We played with four, as usual, and boy oh boy it took us probably ten to fifteen minutes to even get one monster past the first landmark. You all begin at the start and send each other back to the start if you land on the same space. And that is not rolling a die, it is within your evil control because you play cards to move your monster. Within about five minutes of game play we were all standing up instead of sitting down. Why? All the better to fuck with each other, my dears.

It was definitely reminiscent of Super Spy when we were shoulder to shoulder bumping into each other at the beginning room for a few minutes. Trench coat to trench coat. Briefcase to briefcase. Spy hat to spy hat. Which still cracks me up when I think of it.

I feel like a lot of decisions in the game design were to make the game play last longer. For example, you might save up your three same numbers and play it at the beginning of one landmark to hop straight forward, all ready to whoop it up. But people are sitting on five cards in hand, usually playing only one! A lot of those people are sitting on cards to dismiss all of your hard work. I am fine with that if it happens to work out that way, but a five card hand is not setting anyone up for success. Three or even four would have been more interesting. This would force players to choose between collecting numbers or keeping “take that” cards. A five card hand makes both of those decisions no-brainers.

Sample monster mayhem cards

A few of the MONSTER MAYHEM cards

In the end Bill won, and by a margin of over one landmark. If you can escape the pack and get lucky for a turn or two, you can really make a run for it.

Inside of box showing plaid design with gnomes on it

BTW the inside of the box is adorbs

play or pass

Pass on this one. With endless “take that” mechanics, Goosebumps: The Board Game will definitely make a monster out of you. But it will also make a monster out of your terrible friends. And the clock. And numbers.