Dark clouds swirl over your town as the crackle of lightning fills the air. You and your friends have somehow managed to sneak into the lair of the dreaded Sanderson Sisters. Sarah, Winifred, and Mary Sanderson are all back from the dead and trying to brew a cruel potion to drain the life from all the children of Salem. You try to shout out to your friends, but the Sisters must have put a hex on you, as you find you can't speak. Can you and your friends work together to ruin the witches' brew before it's too late? That's the task ahead of you in Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game published by Ravensburger.
In Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game, based on the live-action Disney classic from 1993, players place cards on a mat representing the witches' cauldron. The goal is to create strings of ingredients in the cauldron that will stun the witches. Ingredients are played either by matching one of 5 ingredient colors (Orange, Purple, Yellow, Green, and Blue) to the previous card, or one of 5 ingredient types (Dead Man's Toe, Dash of Pox, Thine Own Tongue, Newt Saliva, or Oil of Boil). The catch, as mentioned above, is that you can't communicate with your fellow players other than to ask a simple question and reply yes or no.
Along the way, the witches will cast spells to mess up your strategy, including spells that discard ingredients you've played, making players pass their cards randomly, and worse. If players can stun the Sanderson Sisters 3 times, the players win. If the players need to draw a card and none are available, they lose.
The artwork on this game is charming, and it's exciting to see that Ravensburger went for stylized illustrations of the witches, as opposed to stills from the film. This gives the game a storybook feel which is only emphasized by the box, designed to look like a dangerous spellbook.
This is the kind of light, family-friendly gameplay that you'd expect from a board game adaptation of a children's Halloween classic, but it, like the film Hocus Pocus itself, doesn't dumb itself down for its audience. This is a game where you need to pay attention to the board, pay attention to the few clues you're able to discern from your friends, and pay attention to the special abilities you have available to you.
The Bottom Line:
Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game offers a fun, collaborative twist on the classic card matching game. Like Gin Rummy, the trick is to figure out what your teammates have in hand without them being able to disclose it. And there's quite a nice bit of tension that can arise if you're close to making a run you need, only to have your partner play the wrong ingredient (because they have to play an ingredient if its a legal play and there's no other card they can play, whether they want to or not). You wouldn't expect a game where you lay down cards onto a board to feel like a race against the clock, but Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game achieves just that. As the tension mounts and the deck of ingredients runs low, you can almost hear the cackling laughter of the cursed Sanderson Sisters in your parlor.
Get This Game If:
- You're a fan of card-matching games like Gin Rummy
- You're a fan of Hocus Pocus (1993)
- You would die to protect Bix, the cat.
Avoid This Game If:
- You're looking for a more in-depth witch-fight
- You're looking for a game with a longer playtime (this one averages about 30 minutes a game)
The copy of Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game used to produce this review was provided by the publisher.