Ghostbusters: Blackout Review

Ghostbusters Blackout review - cover

Year: 2019 | Players: 1-4 | Minutes: 30-45

This Ghostbusters: Blackout review was made after playing the game seven times. We were sent a copy of this game by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


What is Ghostbusters: Blackout?

Ghostbusters: Blackout is a cooperative dice allocation game in which you’re attempting to capture ghosts before they cause too much chaos around New York. There are some characters from the first two Ghostbusters films as well as some that were created for the IDW comic book series.

Ghostbusters: Blackout was designed by Jon Cohn and is published by IDW Games.


Ghostbusters: Blackout Gameplay

Ghostbusters Blackout review - setup

In Ghostbusters: Blackout, you and your teammates play as four Ghostbusters (always four, regardless of player count) who are trying to capture 15 ghosts before they cause too much chaos around the city. All of the Ghostbusters have a set of five dice in their own colors and their own special abilities.

Each round has four phases:

  1. Spawn Ghosts – If any of the five boroughs are empty, you’ll add new ghost cards to them (one per borough). Some ghosts activate during this phase, like the one that forces everyone to discard a die before rolling in the next phase.
  2. Roll Dice – Everyone rolls all of their dice at the same time. Then you’ll want to check the board state and figure out what everyone is going to do during the next phase.
  3. Activate Ghostbusters – Each Ghostbuster activates one at a time in any order by allocating their dice. When you activate, you have to use all of your dice before the next Ghostbuster can activate. If you don’t like what you rolled, you can discard a die to re-roll the rest of your dice. Most of your dice will be used to cover up the matching icons on ghosts’ cards, but you can use some dice to move, reduce the chaos in the city, and to buy powerful equipment cards. You can also pass one die to someone in your space.
  4. Clean Up – If you’ve captured any ghosts (covered all of their icons), they’re removed from the board and you advance on the Captured Ghosts track. If any of the remaining ghosts have end-of-round abilities, such as causing chaos, those activate during this phase. Also, any borough that has a ghost but no Ghostbuster will raise the Chaos level by one.

Ghostbusters Blackout review - character card, equipment, and dice

A couple of the ghosts can possess the Ghostbusters. When your Ghostbuster is possessed, you can’t place dice on ghost cards until you remove the Possession token. This is done by spending a “No Ghosts” die (either yours or one passed to you by another Ghostbuster).

When you reach the 5 and 10 spaces on the Captured Ghosts track, you’ll reveal the Mass Hysteria tiles on those spaces. Each of these tiles either has a one-time immediate effect or it’ll introduce a rule that affects the next round.

The key to beating Ghostbusters: Blackout is figuring out the order in which the Ghostbusters should activate each round because you’ll usually need one or more Ghostbusters to help the others. For example, if someone needs an icon to buy an equipment card or for any other reason, they’re going to need another Ghostbuster to activate before them to give them the die they need.

You’ll win if you’re able to capture 15 ghosts. You’ll lose if the Chaos level ever reaches 20.

That’s just a basic overview of how the game plays. For more info, check out the Ghostbusters: Blackout rulebook at BGG.



Pros

  • Ghostbusters: Blackout definitely encourages a lot of cooperation. Before you start allocating dice, you have to work out the puzzle on the board, factoring in the icons you rolled, your Ghostbusters’ abilities, the ghosts’ abilities, and the icons on the ghost cards. The way my group does it is we look at our own dice and what we can do with them and then we adjust based on what everyone else rolled. It then turns into a back and forth conversation until we think we’ve figured out the best way to deal with the ghosts on the board. It’s a fun co-op process.
  • This seems like a perfectly challenging game at the standard difficulty level. Six of the seven games I played went down to the wire, either ending in close wins or close losses.
  • There is plenty of replay value here. The dice, the randomized ghost cards, and the Mass Hysteria tiles ensure that the game plays out differently every time it hits the table.
  • It takes no time at all to learn how to play Ghostbusters: Blackout, making it a great choice as a gateway and/or family game.
  • Setup is a breeze. All of the ghost and equipment cards are used in every game, so pretty much all you have to do is get your characters, shuffle those two decks, and you’re ready to go.
  • The card and standee art is very nice.

Cons

  • I don’t like that you have to use four Ghostbusters regardless of player count. It’s not so bad in a two-player game since both players get to control two characters, but in the three-player game you either have to share one character or have one player control two. I’ll probably never play this as a three-player game again.
  • I wish the Ghostbusters had more abilities to make each one stand out a bit more. Maybe one basic ability and one super-strong ability that cost dice to use.
  • The board is a bit bland. They could have done a bit more with the art to pull players into the Ghostbusters world.
  • If the dice don’t like you, you can have some feel-bad turns. For example, you could be possessed, have one less die to start your turn, and then roll four icons that you don’t need. In that scenario you’ll usually try to re-roll so you can remove the Possession token, but if you fail at that multiple times you end up doing nothing on your turn and feeling like you let down the team even though you really just got unlucky.

Final Thoughts

I’ve had a lot of fun playing Ghostbusters: Blackout. It’s a quick and challenging co-op that has a cool theme and requires good teamwork. I do prefer another one of IDW’s dice allocation games, Batman: The Animated Series, over this one, but I’d definitely choose to play this over a game like Thanos Rising. Ghostbusters: Blackout could actually hit the table more often than Batman: The Animated Series, though, since it’s quicker to set up and play and because it’s a game that gamers of all experience levels can easily get into.

If you’re looking for a family-weight Ghostbusters game and you like dice games, this might just be the perfect game for you.


Ghostbusters: Blackout Links

BoardGameGeek | Amazon | Game Nerdz


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