My game of the month today is one of the most unusual and innovative board games we've ever played. We have a closet full of board games, card games, dice games, you name it, but until now we have never had a board game that is played in the dark. Yep, that's right. Thinkfun's Shadows in the Forest is played in the dark!
(Note: Think Fun sent us a game to play, links below are affiliate links.)
I was curious if there are any other play in the dark board games and in my research I discovered that Shadows in the Forest is based on a German game, Waldschattenspiel, which is played with a tea candle. I'm happy to report that there is no such fire hazard in Shadows in the Forest.
What's in the game, and how do you play?
Shadows in the Forest consists of a board designed with stone paths and clearings where you place boulders and trees of various sizes. One player is the "Seeker," and it is he who is in charge of the little (non-flammable!) LED lantern, seeking out the "Shadowlings." The other players cooperate to keep the Shadowlings from being revealed by the lantern's light.
To begin the game, the Seeker places the lantern in the designated spot and, while the Seeker averts his eyes, the players on the Shadowling team hide the whimsical little creatures behind the trees and rocks.
The goal of the Seeker is reveal the Shadowlings. He rolls the glow in the dark die and moves along the path in the hopes that when he hits his landing place, his light will illuminate the hiding place of one or more Shadowlings, thus freezing them in place. Between rolls, the Seeker closes his eyes while the Shadowlings move. Their goal is to gather together in one hiding place–but they can only move according to a set of strict rules.
(oops, the lantern has strayed from the path!)
Ending the game:
If the Seeker freezes all the Shadowlings he wins; if the Shadowlings meet together in the same hiding place, the Shadowlings win.
Notes on playing Shadows in the Forest with kids:
First of all, kids love this game. I mean, how fun is it to play a mysterious game in the dark! We ended up having to play in the closet because in the summer the day stays light for too long!
I suggest an adult play the Seeker at least for the first few times. The adult will not be tempted to cheat by sneaking a peek during the Shadowlings' moves, nor will she use any accidental Shadowling sightings to her unfair advantage.
You cannot play this game on the floor because the Seeker cannot have a bird's eye view of the game board!
You can use more or fewer of the Shadowlings and/or the trees in order to customize how long you want the game to last.
Tip: charge the glow in the dark die by placing it under a light for a few minutes before the game!
You can see from the photo above, my in-the-dark photography skills leave a lot to be desired. But below is a pro-promo photo so you can get a better view. See the little Shadowlings huddled together in the foreground?
Why play Shadows in the Forest?
I love that this is a semi-cooperative game. Cooperative games are excellent for families in which one or more kids have trouble with losing. And Shadows in the Forest is a useful transitional game between cooperative and competitive games. Since Shadows in the Forest pits one person against the others, kids must practice working together.
In addition to the cooperative aspect of Shadows in the Forest, the game play promotes strategic thinking and also a tiny bit of physics. After all, kids have to understand how the light might hit the objects on the board!
But most of all, it's simply fun to play a game in the dark, don't you think?
More unique games of the month: