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On today’s Short Bite episode we’re kicking off a series of game reviews to celebrate Halloween! First up is Hocus Pocus by Ravensburger. In this game, players work cooperatively to relive the 90’s and defeat the Sanderson sisters!

πŸŽ‚ Age 8+
πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦ 2-6 players
βŒ› 30 min
πŸ“ Skills: cooperation, strategy, communication

The goal of Hocus Pocus is to stun the Sanderson Sisters three times before the sun rises to defeat them. Witches are stunned when all five ingredient piles in the cauldron satisfy the stun conditions (all the same color, all the same ingredient, or all the same ingredient and each of the five colors). In order to stun a witch, each turn players will add an ingredient card from their hand to the cauldron. The ingredient must match either the type or color on one of the existing piles. The trick is that players cannot talk freely during the game to strategize. On a player’s turn, they may ask one question of the team about who has either a specific color or ingredient. Other players can answer yes or no, but cannot give further information about the cards they have. Once a witch is stunned, the ingredient cards are removed from the board, a portion is discarded into the box, and a portion is reshuffled into the draw deck to start the next round.

There are several special elements to the game including the cat Binx who comes to players when they play an ingredient card with his symbol. Whoever has Binx keeps their cards face-up on the table. There are other helpful trick tokens that may be invoked once per game to aid your group. On the other side, the Sanderson Sisters aren’t going down without a fight. Some ingredients contain a spellbook symbol which will cause players to draw a spell and resolve its effects. The only reprieve from these spells is if they are cast by a witch who is currently stunned. Then the spell misses and you’re saved to fight another day! If you fail to stun the witches by the time the last ingredient card is drawn from the deck you all lose and the Sanderson Sisters complete their potion to steal the life from all the children of Salem. So, no pressure!

This is a fun and surprisingly strategic Halloween game. While its source material requires no skill to enjoy, this game does need a healthy bit of strategy and luck for players to succeed. In the games we’ve played so far we have narrowly lost, but it’s always fun and we look forward to playing again. To adapt this game for younger players, you can remove the trick tokens (so there’s no reading required) and play with your hand face-up on the table.

Overall, this is a great game to get you in the Halloween spirit. Play it with the soundtrack on YouTube and you’re all set for a spookily good time!

Hocus Pocus –

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