It was about this time every year that our favorite activity as kids was to go outside and play hide and seek in the dark. We lived in a rural neighborhood, so we didn’t have to worry about traffic. And street lights hadn’t made it out that far, which made for a nice dark evening. The subdivision had gullies to handle the storm water, and if dry, made for perfect hiding places below street level.
Sadly my girls never got to experience this type of fun since today we have a well-lit neighborhood and their evenings are full of homework and after school activities. There’s a brand new board game by ThinkFun, Shadows in the Forest, that tries to capture some of those vintage memories using new technology!
Shadows in the Forest is a board game that mixes hide and seek with another childhood favorite, freeze tag. It also is the first board game we’ve ever played which requires you to turn off all the lights and play in the dark! Don’t worry – even though darkness is required, players are working together as a team. This means although the age recommendation is 8+, it can easily be enjoyed by younger kids when they have older siblings on their side.
One play takes on the role of the Seeker who is trying to find all of the Shadowlings (hiders) and freeze them in the light. At the same time the Shadowlings are simply trying to get to one hiding place while avoiding the light from the Seeker’s lantern. This included lantern is a battery-powered LED lantern that is small enough to act as the Seeker’s pawn on the board! Conversely, the Shadowlings are cutely represented by black plastic blob-like characters with unique white masks.
At the beginning of the game, the Seeker places his lantern on any of the red stones on the edge of the board. Next, the Shadowlings players place all of the three-dimensional objects (hiding places) in designated spaces between the paths. The room is darkened enough to ensure the lantern casts a definitive shadow across the board when it shines on the hiding places. While the Seeker has their eyes covered, all other players choose the best hiding places for each of the Shadowlings, remember to put them all in different places. You may use as few as three Shadowlings or all six, depending on how difficult you wish the game to be. The arrangement of the hiding places (of different heights) will also play into how difficult a time either side has trying to accomplish their goal.
The Seeker goes first and rolls the included glow-in-the-dark die and moves that many spaces in any direction along the paths. The Seeker may only change direction at one of the moss-covered rocks, otherwise it must continue in the same direction. A convenient arrow on the top of the lantern helps keep track of the direction of movement.
As the Seeker moves their lantern, if any part of a Shadowling is touched by the light, that Shadowling is frozen and has its mask removed. Its mask is given to the Seeker who keeps them in a pile in front of them. After the Seeker has finished their movement, they must again close their eyes while the Shadowlings move.
All un-frozen Shadowlings may move to a new hiding place or stay in their current spot. The Shadowlings only move within the shadows. If any part of the pawn is touched by the light, that Shadowling is also frozen and its mask removed. Otherwise, the Shadowling may move freely to any place on the board.
If a Shadowling becomes frozen, one of the other Shadowlings can unfreeze it by traveling to its location. After the Seeker finishes their next turn, that Shadowling then becomes unfrozen and may move again. If all the Shadowlings are able to meet together in the same hiding place with their masks on, then the team wins! If the Seeker can freeze all of them with the lantern, then they win Shadows in the Forest!
Shadows in the Forest is a perfect game to play with one adult as the Seeker and the rest of the kids as the Shadowlings. Just like in real hide and seek, the adult can decide how easy they want to go on the kids as they try to find them. It’ll be difficult to play in perfect darkness, so there’s no doubt that the Seeker will eventually be able to see the locations of the Shadowlings, either on purpose or by accident. A non-competitive adult will have more fun chasing them around the board than actually capturing them!
You can already find Shadows in the Forest on the Shelves of your favorite local game store, big box retailers and on Amazon. At a $25 MSRP, you’ll get quite a few game plays out of it before the battery runs out. If you’ve having trouble locating a copy locally, try to win one for your family by entering our giveaway below! We promise that batteries are included!