Our family has been trying to play games that match the current mood and time of the year. Lauren took the kids to the public library where they brought home tons of Halloween books, and were excited to also play our spooky board games. October flew by, but we made sure to get some of our Halloween favorites to the table. We also challenged ourselves to learn Goblin Vaults, a new game that was sent to us by Thunderworks Games.
Thunderworks Games might be one of the best publishers for Halloween appropriate games. They have a large library of games, and many with a fantasy theme. Goblin Vaults is a strategy card game that plays from 1-5 players. Thunderworks describes this game by players needing to be cunning and form clever schemes. Players bid to be feared amongst others. The game requires wits and luck, as players need to play their cards correctly to fill their own vault and influence the warden in their own favor.
The game is quick to setup. You will have a total of 3 goals cards for the game. You will use a number of suits in the loot cards according to the number of players in the game. Shuffle the loot cards together and deal 10 cards to each player. Set three out to form the block, and one out as the warden’s card. Give each player one random faction card, the matching faction token and three gears. Create a general supply with the remaining gear tokens. A player aid card is provided to each player, and helps players to know each step in the game.
During the game players will make their own vault that consists for 4 vertical chambers with no more than 3 cards in each. You start with one card in your vault but will always end the game with 10 cards in your vault. When adding cards you will always fill in tier 1, tier 2, then tier 3 when choosing to place a card in that column.
Each card shows which tier it would like to be in to score points on the top right, but you can ultimately put any card anywhere. A card in tier 1 will score 1 point, a card that wants to be in tier 2 and is in tier 2, scores 2 points. A card in tier 3 that wants to be in tier 3, scores 3 points.
You will also get 2 points for each card the matches your faction icon. You will score the goal card, and the two suit goal cards depending on what described on those cards.
The game is played over 9 total rounds. Players will choose a card in their hand to bid with, placing their token on top of their card. If you match the icon on the warden card you gain an optional warden action. If you play the same suit as the warden card, your card trumps any other to win the bid. The player with the highest card for a bid, wins the top block card, and the card used to bid with is the new block card. If you lose a bid with another player, you gain the card you bid with. Players add these cards to their individual vaults.
After placing cards in the vault, the first player can choose to switch the warden card with any cards in the block. The first player token is passed and players will bid again to place another card in their vault. This occurs until 10 cards are placed inside the vault, and final scoring is performed.
The kids were so surprised with how this game works. Ev is all about playing tricks and he thought it was great to purposely underbid and play a “trick” on the other player. Although they still like the game, they really aren’t old enough to form a solid strategy because even with only 10 cards, there are a lot of choices to make to score points. You are balancing between goal cards, what location you put each card in to score some points, trying to get your own faction cards, and on top of that, you aren’t just picking a card to do that with. You are bidding on cards, and sometimes you try to win a card, sometimes you try to lose a bid to gain your chosen card. But it’s not a guaranteed thing. Other players will always surprise you with what they choose to do as well. And really, that adds to the complexity of the game.
I really appreciate the layers of strategy used in Goblin Vault, available online or from your local game store. (The playmat is available direct from Thunderworks Games.) This is not a kids game by any means, and if you want to be competitive, this is a game for 14 year olds and up. Being older than 14, I do think the game offers some great choices. Goblin Vault requires you to use lots of brain energy, which to me is the best part of this game. Also, the game plays up to five players, which helps to get this game to the table when we have that awkward choice of choosing a game when we have more than four people.
What is your favorite Halloween themed game?