Isn’t it fascinating how some things that seem to have passed into pop-culture oblivion can suddenly find a new life in a completely different medium?
Take the 1993 Disney live-action movie “Hocus Pocus” starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy for example. It was a typical, middle-of-the-road Disney picture that scored low with the critics – “Harmlessly hokey yet never much more than mediocre.” – but was a hit with audiences.
But that was almost 30 years ago.
There were no musical versions, no action figures, and no sequels. (Actually, Hocus Pocus 2 will premiere exclusively on Disney+ in autumn 2022 apparently…)
Then came July 26, 2020, and the release of Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game ‐ English edition from the German game company Ravensburger AG. Now, the main characters who were pursuing immortality in the original movie have another chance at a long life!
Mastering the Hocus Pocus Game
Disney Hocus Pocus is much more than a kid’s game. While some may consider the Hocus Pocus card game simply that, it is, in fact, more properly categorized as a board game. Disney Hocus Pocus: The Game is a board game for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 30 minutes to play.
It also comes in a box shaped like a book and contains the following ingredients:
- 1 Cauldron game board
- 50 Ingredient cards
- 13 Spell cards
- 1 Sun token
- 1 Stun token
- 1 Witch board
- 4 Trick tokens
- 1 Wooden Binx mover
The Sanderson sisters, the main characters of the Disney film, play a prominent role here, as well, along with the players. The goal of the game is to work together to stun the Sanderson sisters until sunup, when they cannot cast their evil spell.
Setting up the game involves placing the witch board near the cauldron board and placing the Sun token on the lowest space on the Sunrise track, and then placing the Stun token nearby.
Shuffle the spell cards then place the deck face-down.
The Ingredient cards are shuffled separately and 4 cards dealt to each player when playing with 2 to 3 players. Deal 3 cards to each player if playing with 4 to 6 players. Players can look at their hands, but they must keep them secret.
Place the rest of the ingredient cards in a deck facedown near the board and then choose a starting player.
Hocus Pocus: Game On
The starting player begins by asking the other players a single question, either about a specific ingredient type or a specific ingredient color. All the other players answer “yes” or “no” and they cannot say how many ingredients or colors they have.
The first player then plays one ingredient card from their hand onto the cauldron board. The ingredient played must match either the color or the ingredient (or both) that is printed in the space they are playing.
The player then draws a new ingredient card, and play passes to the left, with that player repeating the process by asking a question and then playing a card. However, every player after the first must play a card that matches by color or ingredient to an empty space on the board, or to the top card of an existing pile. This way, the cards that can be played from turn to turn will constantly change.
Binx and Spells and Tricks
When an ingredient card with Binx icon on it is played, that player takes the Binx mover and places it in front of them. As long as they have Binx, they play their hand face up, allowing the other players to see (and plan around) what they have.
Spell cards are associated with one of the three witch sisters. When a player plays a card with a spell icon, they draw the top spell card. As long as the witch casting the spell is not stunned, the player reads the text of the spell out loud and applies its effects. These are never good for the players!
If a player cannot play an ingredient, the player must then draw a spell card and resolve it if the sister isn’t stunned. That player must now discard at least one or more cards from their hand and draw an equal number of ingredients.
The trick tokens provide the players with an extra ability that may be able to stave off disaster. For example, the “Billy Butcherson” token allows a player to skip playing an ingredient for one turn. However, each token can only be played once per game.
Hocus Pocus: The End is Near
The short-term goal players are trying to achieve by playing cards is to be able to “stun” one of the witches. Each witch has a specific way she can be stunned.
Once the players succeed in “stunning” a witch, they place the Stun token on that witch and the round ends. If the card that is played to end the round has a Binx or spell icon on it, it is ignored. The sun token is moved up one space, and any ongoing spell effects end.
All the ingredients in the cauldron are collected and sorted and any without a Binx or spell icon are set aside and removed from the game, while those with the icons are shuffled back into the ingredients deck along with any discards.
Binx is removed from play until another Binx card is played. Players start the round with the cards they still have their hand from the previous round, and the player to the left of the player whose card ended the round goes first.
The witch that was stunned to end the round remains stunned until either a spell removes it or another round ends.
Hocus Pocus: Game Over
The game ends with a winning player when the sun icon reaches the top space, which essentially is after three rounds. Alternatively, if a player needs to draw an ingredient card but the shrinking deck is finally empty, the game ends immediately with a player loss.
However, if the deck is empty, players can choose to not draw cards and can continue to try to play cards, stun the witch, and end the round with the cards in their hand.
But, if they must play a spell that forces them to draw, or can’t play an ingredient, then they would be forced to draw a card and end the game with the loss.
Fundemonium’s Gametopia: Home of Disney Hocus Pocus and Other Great Games
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