I defy you to play this game and not get the haunting vocals of Sarah Jessica Parker stuck in your head. Funnily enough, we played Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game with our eleven year old son before we let him watch the movie. He was a bit confused about them wanting to eat children, but ran with it, he’s a good sport like that.
Fans of the 1993 Disney movie Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, will recognize the premise of the game. It is Halloween, you have entered the Sanderson house and lit the candle. The Sanderson sisters are now awake and eager to eat all the children! You have until sunrise to defeat the sisters, or be eaten. Working together you will need to collect ingredients to thwart the sisters and protect the children of Salem.
The Black Flame Candle has been lit.
Now the Sanderson witches you must outwit;
Or with a wretched evil potion,
A foul spell they’ll set in motion.
Stun the witches and ruin the brew
Before the sun can rise anew!
50 Ingredient cards
13 Spell cards
4 Trick tokens
The game comes in a box that looks like a book when standing up, which I have always been a big fan of. The cards and pieces are well made, with sturdy card stock, and a nice wooden Binx. Inner storage is simple but organized, and my inner control freak enjoys the notched insert that holds the circular board.
The artwork is an homage to the original movie, but with a few more flourishes. Drawn by Ann Marcellino, it is reminiscent of her other work, most notably her rendition of Black Widow for Little Golden Books. It is worth mentioning here that Ann was in a terrible car accident this May which damaged her drawing hand, a gofundme page was set up to help her, and Ravensburger made a generous donation.
In the center of your game space, place the Cauldron board adjacent to the witch board. Spell cards and ingredient cards should be shuffled into their own facedown piles. Place the sun token on the starting position for sun rise, and keep the trick tokens, stun tokens, and Binx figure nearby. In a two or three player game everyone starts with four Ingredient cards, more than four players and everyone gets three.
Although you are working together to defeat the witches, you will not show your hands to each other unless the game specifically calls for it. Whoever last lit a candle takes the first turn.
Before getting into the mechanics of game play it is important to know how to win the game, or anything that follows will make no sense. To win the game you must defeat the witches before the sun rises. You will need to stun the witches three times in order to defeat them. You may stun the same witch three times, or any combination of witches.
Note – do not make the mistake I made the first time I played. I spent most of our cards very early on trying to get one of each type. This is not a way to stun a witch, but it’s a great way to lose the game very quickly.
Each round lasts until you can stun one of the witches as outlined above, or until you run out of ingredient cards.
You may start by asking a question about the ingredients that other players hold. You can only ask specific questions about type and color, in the style of Go Fish. These can only be yes or no questions. Facial distortions and tone of voice are not expressly forbidden, but I would defer to the peculiarities of your family to determine what is possible.
Next you play one of your ingredient cards on to one of the five piles in the cauldron. It must match the color type or the ingredient of the top card. So an orange Dash of Pox can be played on a Yellow Dash of Pox or an Orange Thine Own Tongue. You have to play a card if you are able to, even if this means you have to break the pattern you are working on to do so. If you can’t play a card you must discard one or more ingredients from your hand, and redraw back to the correct number of cards. If you are in this position the sisters get to cast a spell, and you must do what it says on their spell card.
To end your turn you draw a new card.
You keep taking turns until you stun a witch and the round ends.
Once the player who ended the round has drawn their replacement card, you need to reset the game for the next round, though you maintain the same hand for the next round.
Binx is really an item not a card, but any time you play an Ingredient card that also has a picture of Binx, he comes to sit with you, and you lay your hand down so that your teammates can see what you have. He travels based on who plays a Binx card, and stays with you if you play a second Binx card.
There are four Trick Tokens that you can play at any time in the game if you need an out or an advantage, these may only be used once per game:
If you need to draw a card because of a spell, or you cannot legally play an ingredient, but the deck is empty preventing you from drawing a new ingredient card, then the sisters automatically complete their potion and everyone loses. The children of Salem are eaten. Most of my American relatives live there, so please play with care.
Even if you didn’t like, or don’t know the movie, this is a fun game. It takes a few rounds to get your strategy going with your teammates, as the limit of one question gives it a tricky mechanism for a co-operative game. Once you’ve got the hang of it however, it is a lot of fun, and holds its own through many replays. If you enjoy the movie you will enjoy the game. It’s very nostalgic for those of us who grew up when the movie was out, and several of you will break out into song during their game, there is simply no avoiding it. For any nights in you might have planned for October, this is a must play game.
GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.
This post was last modified on September 21, 2020 10:58 pm
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