An evil wizard, a stolen magical ring, a helpful fairy, talking animals and a band of inquisitive kids with just six hours to find the pilfered ring which happens to be hidden somewhere in the ghost inhabited castle. Sounds like the makings of a great episode of Scooby Doo, or in this case, an award-winning board game for kids aged 7+.
I loved playing board games as a kid (and still do), so much so that my twin brother and I would make a lot of our own board games. So I’m thrilled to see my girls Emily (age 5) and Claire (nearly age 3) seem to share a similar enthusiasm for playing board games. Whoowasit? is the digital adaptation of a 2008 board game from renowned game creator Reiner Knizia. I had never heard of this game before, but I was certainly familiar with Knizia’s work and it looked like a fun title for me to play with my girls on the iPad so I decide to pick it up.
Despite the recommended minimum age being 7, I figured it was worth a blind try even at $4.99. It had fairies (which they love), magical rings (which they love), talking animals (yep love those too) and a ghost (thought this might be an issue). We are talking about two girls who sometimes run out of the room or cover their eyes when Ursula enters a scene in The Little Mermaid. Turns out the ghost is one of their absolute favorite parts of the game (more about him in a bit).
Whoowasit? plays like a combination of Clue and Guess Who?. However, unlike those games, all of the players are working together as a team to try to solve the mystery before time runs out. Ultimately the team must figure out which of the ten servants stole the ring, travel to the room where the servant works and open their wooden chest to see if it contains the ring.
Players take turns rolling a virtual die (really nice effect and perfect use of the touch screen) and moving up to that number of spaces to any room in the castle which is not currently inhabited by the ghost. Each room has a particular name/theme like the armory, or the chapel, or the great dining hall and contains an animal and the wooden chest belonging to the servant that works there. After rolling and moving, the player has a choice of performing one of four actions: talking, searching, using magic or unlocking a chest.
If you choose to talk to the animal inhabiting your current room, they may give you a clue about the identity of the thief, like ‘the thief wears short sleeves’ or ‘the thief was a man’. These usually will help eliminate two of the remaining suspects. However, the first time you talk to an animal, they wont just offer up the info freely, instead they will ask for a specific food item and tell you which room to find it in. If you choose to ‘search’ on your turn you will be tasked with finding a hidden food item in your current room (it is not very difficult) or you might be given a key which can be used to open a chest or to unlock doors within the castle which will create shortcuts between rooms.
In certain rooms, instead of searching or speaking, you can elect to cast a magic spell, in which you have to trace a shape on the screen in one stroke. Players are given an unlimited number of tries and once successful, it may result in something good like an extra turn or free key from the fairy, or something bad like a lost turn, waking the ghost, or falling down a trap door into another room. Finally, on your turn you may just elect to try to open a chest (if you have a key) in which case you may either catch the thief and save the day or have just wasted a key when the chest turns out to be empty.
An now more about that ghost…
If your die lands on the ghost instead of a number, then the ghost moves forward one space, clockwise through the rooms. Should he pass through your room, you are sent back to the nursery (the starting point for all players). My daughters love the ghost and we have had a lot of fun imitating his spooky voice when he says “I am the ghoooost…”. We’ve even all started imitating him outside the game as well, with my daughters wearing the pink and white blankies over their heads as they do so…cutest ghosts ever!
As I mentioned earlier, you only have 6 hours (in the game’s time) to find the ring. After every few turns you’ll hear the clock chime informing you of the remaining hours and there will usually be a taunt from the evil wizard. Every so often the fairy will just magically appear and give out a free turn or a free key.
From all the giggling, there is no doubt that we have all been thoroughly enjoying this game and it has become a fun little daddy/daughters pre-bed activity. Each round takes about 25-30 mins and the girls are constantly asking to play. There are three difficulty settings, we always choose the easiest. I suggest that parents play through the game once on their own first with the tutorial enabled and one or more AI players. This will give you a good understanding of the rules/flow of the game and you’ll be able to help guide younger players. Emily, my 5 year-old, is capable of playing on her own (though she tends to lose), but including an AI player helps. Claire needs a good deal of instruction while playing, but she still has a blast rolling the die, tapping on rooms, listening to the talking to the animals and of course the ghhhhooooosssssttt.
If you have an iPad I’d recommend the iPad-only HD release at $4.99 (launch price), but there is also an iPhone version for $2.99 (launch price) that is still easily playable due to auto and manual zoom in/out capabilities.
Ravensburger Digital, has done an excellent job adding character to this entertaining board game. The voice work, sound effects and animations will captivate your child’s imagination and helps set the scene for an enchanting family game night experience. Whoowasit?’s cooperative game play means fewer fights and more fun, so if you are looking for something new to play on family game night Whoowasit? is a game that the whole family can enjoy together.