Spooks: Escape the Haunted House




Ever felt the need to play a simple card game with friends/family?  You know, a fairly quick and fun game that anyone can learn in a few minutes?  But you are bored of Uno, poker, rummy, Tripoly, etc.  I know a game that you can try: Spooks!  It’s a Steve Jackson Games product from the early 2000s.

Bones, Bats, Goblins, Spooks, Spiders….and a Black Cat

The rules are fairly straightforward.  There are 56 cards.  5 suits from 1 to 10 plus a Master card (which is basically an 11).  Two suits are blue (Spiders and Spooks), 2 suits are red (Bones and Bats) and 1 suit is green (Goblins) plus a single Black Cat card.


The red and blue suits


Master of Bones, Master of Goblins, and the Black Cat

The cards are shuffled and dealt out.  The player with the 1 of Spiders leads.  Play proceeds clockwise.  If the last card is blue, the next player must play a card with the next highest number in any suit (any 2 on the 1 of Spiders for example).   If the last card is red, the next player must play a card of the same suit (bat on bat for example) or play the same card number of any suit  (a 2 of Spooks on a 2 of Bones).  If the last card is green (Goblins) a special round occurs in which each player selects one card.  The cards are revealed and the highest Goblin wins the trick and can lead the next card.

If a player cannot play a card special rules now apply.  If the last card is blue the player is skipped.  If all skip, the player who played the blue card can now lead any card.  If the last card was a Bat, the player who cannot play must receive cards from the other players’ hands!  If the last card was a Bone, the player who played it can lay down a mixed-suit straight with the highest card being the new lead.

The Black Cat is a wild card and can be used to substitute as a legal play or to win a Goblin trick.  The first player to get rid of all their cards wins.

Once everyone knows the rules, the game moves fast!  As you might guess, switching the lead suit back and forth from blue to red to green and hand management are the fundamental strategies.

When one player goes out, the other players add up the point value of the cards in their hand.  If a player gets to 200 or more points, the player with the least number of points wins!

There are variations (such as giving the Master cards special powers) that add further complexity for serious gamers.  There is also the common card game variant of a “silent hand” of discarded cards to keep everyone guessing as to which cards are still in players’ hands.

So give Spooks a try and you will find a nice little game that you can keep on your game shelf for those nights when more social gaming is required.  Oh…and you get to say “Bone” all the time too!

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