Ville Hankipohja


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Remembering that Jussi Autio from TUONELA had brought several interesting looking cardgames with him to the SPIEL 09, I spent some time of playtesting at the TUONELA booth. I saw that TUONELA had done quite well during the show, since their cardgame Inquisitio actually was sold out. The game I wanted to have a look at was Soul Hunters, and I was quickly drawn in the mystical business of acquiring poor human souls.

At the beginning of the game a deck of soul cards is shuffled, with their number depending on the number of participating players. Five of these soul cards are revealed, and since a soul is a human's most valuable possession the player who will control most souls by the end of the game will be declared to be the ruler of all. The revealed soul cards are arranged in ascending order, and each of the players will try to use soul hunter cards of different alignments to take possession of the souls.

All a player possesses at the beginning of the game is a track on which positive or negative influence is recorded, but for playing reasons it is not important whether influence is positive or negative since during an evaluation it will be the player with the highest numeric value who will receive a soul. Thus, the plus or minus is left aside, since it just represents whether a player will use the forces of darkness or light to lure a soul into his possession.

As indicated, the soul hunters belong to six different alignments, and whereas Heaven, Government and Monarchy all stand for the forces of light, Hell, the Cult and Aliens stand for the darker side in the game. During his turn, a player is allowed to draw one card from the soul hunter deck, and afterwards he may play one card from his hand and use one of the cards which he had placed in front of him on the table. Most commonly found in this deck of cards are the soul hunters, and once they are placed on the table it is their foremost function to generate either positive or negative influence points for the player. The nature of the influence points (positive or negative) just represents whether a soul hunter belongs to the light or darkness faction, and the player will note the influence he has generated on his track. A player actually is not required to stick to soul hunter cards of just one alignment in his display, but it is generally helpful to stick to cards of one alignment if the hand of cards available to the player allows it, since this allows the player to generate bonus points of influence.

However, in the generation of influence or the using of a soul hunter's special power takes up one of a soul hunter's limited number of uses, and to represent that the card has been used it is turned 90 degrees clockwise. If it has even more uses, it is turned again whenever it has been used, and the soul hunter finally will be discarded if he has no uses left.

To keep track of time progressing in the game, one soul card is turned for 90 degrees after all players had taken a turn. When all soul cards on the table has been turned, an evaluation takes place and the lowest available soul will be collected by the player with the highest numeric influence value. The player must reset his influence to zero, giving other participants a headstart when competing for the next soul, but he gets to keep the soul card as victory points. The mechanism of turning souls to measure when the next evaluation takes place results in the fact that the number of turns between the evaluations is reduced by one after each evaluation since the soul cards are not instantly replaced but only when the whole display of soul cards has been played through. However, with three or less souls available the number of turns between the evaluations remains at three in order to give players a chance to catch up again.

So far the game would have been pretty dependent on the drawing luck of each player, but an interesting playing depth comes into the game both though event cards included in the soul hunter deck and soul hunter special abilities. Such cards or abilities may be used to generate negative effects for other players, or they might help in getting new cards or offer other kind of advantageous action. If played in good succession, a player can generate nice effects through clever card combinations, and this in turn will generate a good harvest of souls.

The use of these events and abilities also guarantees quite a bit of player interaction in the game, but this also serves to keep the competitive spirit of all players high. To my mind especially the decreasing number of rounds between the evaluations and the fact that all souls have been arranged in an ascending order have been clever ideas to create a rising level of tension, since player will try to position themselves in a way as to have many influence available when the higher souls are available. This means that the players sometimes will refrain from taking an earlier soul, but here the risks must be assessed since soul hunter cards on the table can be lost, whereas soul hunters kept on a player's hand first must be placed on the table before they are of any use.

Overall, Soul Hunters is quick and fun to play, and it offers a refreshingly new topic which is implemented quite well. After seeing Modern Times shortly ahead of the SPIEL 09, this new cardgame now is another nice add to their growing choice of interesting cardgames.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany