Chain Reaction – Geistesblitz review

I don’t mind admitting it. I’m getting old. My reactions are growing duller by the day. Where a few years ago I could happily rack up a decent killstreak on Halo, now I’m lucky if I can remember where I put the 360 controller. This is probably the reason I play more boardgames than ever… well, that and the fact I grow tired of wunderkinder sniping me from halfway across the map… Anyway, I digress. As always.

Retreating to my table is always entertaining and even though I’m slower than I used to be, I still have the speed to play something like Geistesblitz. Yes, it’s a game for children but if you worry about that kind of thing go and read some other review. Real Men Play Kids Games. I should put that on a shirt.

Anyway, it’s a game of quick reaction… but not too quick, for that could screw you over. The teeny boxy comes with a stack of cards and five wooden items – a grey mouse, a red chair, a green bottle, a blue book and a deranged looking white ghost.

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These get put in the middle of the play area within reach of all the players, who are then also given an even(ish) share of the cards. Then the fun (and often the cursing) begins.

The loveliest, chunkiest bits in the world

One by one, the cards are flipped over. Each one depicts a scene involving two or more of the items on the table – kind of. For example, the grey mouse may be holding a blue bottle, which means that each player must immediately go to grab the mouse. Basically, anything that is depicted correctly on a card is a target. Grab that item first and you’ll take the card, scoring a point while it remains in front of you.

Something else that may happen is that nothing on the revealed card is correct. Take the mouse and bottle combination again. If the mouse is blue and it’s carrying a red bottle, you need to grab the item that isn’t represented; in this case, it’s the white ghost. Anyone who grabs an incorrect item must give up one of their precious scoring cards to the player who took the right one, which is basically the game rubbing your nose in the fact that you’re an idiot.

OK. As the card on the left has the White Ghost, you’d need to grab that. The card on the right would need you to go for the Green Bottle. See?

Confused? You will be, but only for a few minutes. It just takes a couple of turns to get your brain into the correct mindset to play this uproarious little game. You can pretty much guarantee that at least one person will declare Geistesblitz stupid, but eventually everyone warms to it as they slowly get exactly what’s expected of them. Games take no time at all and can be played with anything from two to… well, I’ve played with ten, but it got violent pretty quickly.

Production is of a high quality; the cardstock is nice and thick, the cartoony images throughout bright and appealing, but the most charming part of the game are those amazing chunky wooden bits. Whether you’re a kid or a grown up, you get a spectacularly satisfying feeling when you have one of them in your hand; even more so when it’s the right one and everyone else has to hand over their own hard earned cards.

It’s not a hard game by any stretch of the imagination, but by god it’s a laugh. Just be sure that everyone you’re playing with has clipped their fingernails – there’s not much worse than going for a piece and having a chunk of flesh gouged out of the back of your hand by someone else. Geistesblitz should probably come with a health warning of some kind, but that just wouldn’t be fun, would it?

Geistesblitz was originally released in 2010 and designed by Jacques Zeimet. Produced by many companies, my copy is by Zoch Verlag and can be picked up for around £10. Games take only a few minutes and can easily accommodate between 2 and 10 players, though I reckon it’s best with five of six. Anything more than that and blood will be spilt.