Jan 02, 2018

Waldschattenspiel is one of the best board games I've ever played.

The gist of the game is you place wooden trees on the board, then one player hunts the other players (dwarves) using a tea candle. The candle cast light that creates deep shadows behind the trees, which is where the other players hide. It's surprisingly effective, spooky and even (actually) scary.

The game is a little unbalanced in favor of the dwarves (the hiders), but I don't think that distracts at all. Originally it was designed as a kids game, with the parent playing the hunter with the candle, so that makes a little sense.

If you play it, make sure the room is very dark. While playing one of the dwarves, I could feel my heart rate rise as the candle moves around threatening to reveal my position. If the room is pitch black, the player playing the hunter can't see the dwarves at all, so becomes much more than a game where you're arguing the technicality of if the dwarf was in shadow or not.

Lugi Jan 02, 2018
Word. I'm actually in the process of making my own board with the candle's circles inlaid, hand-craved gnomes of differing height (for differing difficulties), and optional larger "hiders" like bears.

Big Red Button Jan 02, 2018
Interesting game! It somehow seems like an inverted version of Scotland Yard, in which the hunter is mostly invisible. Of course, playing with light and shadow makes it more spectacular.

Anonymous Jan 02, 2018
The title is in German and it literally translates to "forest shadow play".

Nor Treblig Jan 03, 2018
Oh this looks interesting, I think I'm going to get this one!

Big Red Button Jan 03, 2018
I have to correct my comment above: Both in Waldschattenspiel and in Scotland Yard the hiders are the ones who are mostly invisible, not the hunters. I haven't played Scotland Yard for approx. 10 years. Sorry!

Felix Jan 03, 2018
omg what this is so good, maybe I'll print off little grickle hidden people for it !!!!

Pete Jan 03, 2018
Using a physical light source as an essential game mechanic is a really nifty idea! There's something really pleasing about its simplicity.

This is clearly how anyone would hunt gnomes in the woods, it's obvious! Yet genius at the same time, how it turns a 2D game into a 3D experience.

I can't help wondering how many sets have gone up in smoke though... I think I want one.

Perhaps a scented candle would increase the joy if the game. Do the Confederate Candle company do a 'Scent 'o' Danger?

Tim Jan 03, 2018
That looks realy cool.

Big Red Button Jan 03, 2018
I can't help wondering how many sets have gone up in smoke though... I think I want one.
I would probably use an LED tea candle. Not only because of the fire hazard, but also because it is more eye-friendly (I generally dislike free-standing candles on tables for this reason):

Ron Gilbert Jan 03, 2018
It's the flaming candle that makes it cool (or is it hot).

Big Red Button Jan 03, 2018
Yes, it makes it cool indeed. I actually love flames. Having said that, it is very hot on the retinas, especially if the room is so dark that the pupils are fully opened. That's why I typically prefer candles within decorative glass lamps. Though, glass lamps would probably make the shadows too diffuse for this game.
If there are small children, an LED is more safe anyway.

Jonas Jan 04, 2018
That's a really cool concept, i'm going to have to give that a try!

Lindsey Jan 04, 2018
Oh wow! I remember a friend describing this game to me some 20 years ago, and I've looked for it ever since. It exists! Hooray!

Eddy Dec 06, 2020
I have been wanting to play this game since you wrote about it. My son is almost 5 now and I bought it yesterday and we are really happy with it.
Thanks for writing about it, otherwise I would probably never have known of its existence.

Dr Duus Mar 11, 2022
I totally agree. This game is the only one I've seen that uses ambient light as a game mechanic! Amazing