Review: Which Witch?
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Tagline: OBJECT: BE THE FIRST TO GET THROUGH THE WITCHES’ HOUSE AND BREAK THE EVIL SPELL.
how we met
This is a story you have heard before, but I always enjoy revisiting it because it was such a fun day. I found Which Witch? in relatively decent shape in the basement of a junk shop. Someday I will perhaps have reviewed every game I purchased that day, and with each one you can glimpse further into the craziness of finding all of those rare, sought-after (at least by me) games in a single location for so cheap.
Anyway Which Witch? is a spooky, oft-desired game that is really lovely to look at. I have never seen it at thrift, but I did see a very nice copy at a flea market once for $25. So I felt very lucky to have found it at this junk shop in a thrift price range, albeit a little worse for wear. And missing the marble, which is not easily replaced but it’s not so hard.
how it plays
Which Witch? is a roll and move game where the object is to be the first child to reach the Charmed Circle at the top of the stairs.
On their turn a player rolls the die and moves that number of spaces. Players can’t share spaces so if you would land on another pawn’s space just go to the next space instead.
After movement the player draws a card and does what it says. There are three types of cards:
- Wanda the Wicked will turn you into a mouse. Replace your pawn with the mouse of the same color. And guess what, you can’t move as a mouse. On future turns you can’t roll and move as long as you are a mouse. You just draw a card.
- Glenda the Good will set you right and break the spell if you are a mouse. This means you get to move again in future turns!
- Ghoulish Gerty causes you to drop the marble into the chimney and see what may come of it.
When Ghoulish Gerty causes you to unleash the marble, a trap will go off in the part of the house where the marble comes out. This may shock you, but the traps don’t really work. So any pawn on a space marked “Danger” is in the Danger zone and any player on a different space is not, regardless of whether the marble is able to actually set off the trap.
I got a request for more info on the traps so I pulled out my copy and took some quick photos of all traps except the stairs, which only have a marble roll down them.
If you are on a Danger space and your trap goes off (ie if the marble emerges through the appropriate hole) then you have to go back to the closest past space marked X.
The staircase is special in two ways:
- Each space is a Danger space, so run like the wind
- You are safe from Wanda the Wicked and can’t become a mouse on the stairs
The first one to the top of the stairs wins Which Witch?!
how it went
I had wanted Which Witch? for a long time before I found it. There is a simplicity to its imagery that is special and haunting. The little pawns evoke an innocence that increases the creep factor of the game. I very much enjoy the design of the game board and different rooms. I was excited to set up the board.
I suspect that Which Witch? setup has always been a challenge. Fast forward 50 years and taking into account I bought this out of a damp basement, setup is even more challenging, like having puzzle pieces made of damp sponge. The soft cardboard definitely lends to the traps not working well and is not unique to my copy. But I never really mind setup (hello, Gloomhaven fan here). So that didn’t bother me.
If you are missing a marble, like I was, make sure you use a nice heavy replacement. That is key to getting the traps to work as much as possible. They still won’t work all the time because the cardboard is heavy.
Once the game is set up, it begs to be photographed. Innocent children pawns marching toward uncertain doom. Marbles causing traps to go off. A haunted mansion. And you have time to photograph it, too. You will not rush through that mansion, and if you are anything like Bill you will spend the majority of your time as a mouse. I think he just got to the second room when the rest of us were in the final room and the game ended. He really doesn’t like this game. But Keri might, because she won our play of Which Witch?!
Now I can appreciate that this is a game for children, but most children I know would probably cry if they had to play it – and not because it is scary. There’s just not much going on. You move. You turn into a mouse. You are a mouse. You are a mouse. You are un-moused! You move. You drop a marble. You move. You get set back. You turn into a mouse. Shit.
I have no idea if my copy is 100% complete but it contains the following: 8 Glenda the Goods, 18 Ghoulish Gertys and 5 Wanda the Wickeds. You might think there are not too many Wanda the Wickeds, but imagine getting turned into a mouse and waiting for a Glenda the Good in that mess. It amounts to player elimination for whole periods during the game.
If you played as a child, enjoy those memories and by all means relive them with Which Witch? But if you have just heard of it and are not sure what to expect, don’t pay more than a few bucks for this. And if you do hunt it down, it’s full of plastic bits that hold the traps together so a complete copy is best. But the traps don’t really work so honestly, it doesn’t matter that much.
play or pass
Pass this one by. Which Witch? has novelty and is pretty, but the gameplay is a chore. And when the answer to the question Which Witch? is Wanda the Wicked then gameplay is downright terrible.
(Regardless of my review, if you see this game at thrift buy it for resale. You can resell it like it’s made of gold.)