#30 Psychic Pizza Deliverers go to the Ghost Town (2018)
Designers: Hayato Kisaragi
Publisher: One Draw
Player Count: 3-4
Time: 25-40 minutes
Psychic Pizza Manager: We got a late night delivery, and you're the only ones here!
Pizza Dude 1: Where to Boss?
Psychic Pizza Manager: Ghost Town!
Pizza Dude 1, 2, & 3: Not Ghost Town!!!
Psychic Pizza Manager: You got 20 minutes to deliver that pizza, or it's coming outta your paycheck! Get going!
At least, that's how I imagine every game of Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town beginning. Say that name out loud! Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to Ghost Town. You can't get more over the top and tongue-in-cheek than Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town!
Despite its over-the-top name, Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town is actually quite a challenging deduction game. One player is the Mayor of Ghost Town (the GM) while the other players are the psychic pizza deliverers. (You know where they're going, right?) Each psychic pizza deliverer has 20 minutes (rounds or turns) to find their lost pizza and deliver it to the correct address. Of course, it doesn't help that they can't see where they're going. The psychic pizza deliverers must blindly find their way through the maze of Ghost Town that the Mayor has constructed. There's no time to talk to monkeys, pigs, or motorcycle gangs. You've only got 20 minutes! Get going!
Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to Ghost Town has been generating some buzz online, so let's take a trip to Ghost Town ourselves and talk with the Mayor. Now, where is City Hall?!?! Get out of here, Monkey!
Psychic Pizza's components and art perfectly capture its playful and silly nature. While it is over-the-top, especially in name, Psychic Pizza is at its heart a deduction game--a potentially brutal deduction game packed with intrigue, adventure, tension, and pigs. I hear ghost bacon is delicious.
On your turn…
you'll take one of three possible actions: (1) move, (2) attack, or (3) use your psychic powers!
Move: Declare your movement in one of the four cardinal directions: North, South, East, or West. The GM will then tell you (1) if your move was successful and (2) what's in the 8 squares surrounding you; however, you won't know in what direction any of those objects are. The GM will inform you if there is a wall to your north, south, east, or west. If there is a ghost in the square you wish to move into, your move will be unsuccessful.
Attack: You may attack in any cardinal direction. If you hit a ghost, the ghost will be removed from Ghost Town, and you will be rewarded with a new psychic card. There is no limit to the number of psychic cards you may have in your hand.
Psychic Power: You may play one of your psychic power cards! Most of these cards include warp movement--moving several squares away from your current location.
After you locate a pizza, the ghost house for your pizza will suddenly appear in Ghost Town--surrounded by ghosts, unfortunately.
Players are given a sheet of graph paper and a pencil. They may take as many notes as they wish and are encouraged to hone their cartography skills. They are NOT permitted to talk to each other at any time, even if they are on the same location in Ghost Town.
If a player finds a pizza and delivers it to the correct house, they win Psychic Pizza!
Below are some of the various ways I’ve seen pizza deliverers map out their quest for pizza.
Psychic Pizza Deliverers go to the Ghost Town is designed by Hayato Kisaragi, who's also known for Grimoire and his Lost Legacy series. In 2010, the number one game to come out of Tokyo Game Market was Grimoire. Its popularity stemmed from its unique gameplay and theme-driven mechanics. Naturally, when I heard he had designed a new game outside of his Lost Legacy series, I was quite excited. I'm proud to report that Psychic Pizza delivers in theme, gameplay, and most importantly, FUN!
Psychic Pizza works, but not in the way you think. Yes, it has deduction. Yes, it has cartography. Yes, it has pick-up and delivery. Yes, it is a puzzle. However, none of these are why it works. Psychic Pizza works because it's a tabletop RPG—a stripped down bare bones RPG, but an RPG none the less. You have a GM (Game Master or in this case, Ghost Mayor) and you have a party of adventurers (pizza deliverers).
This RPG aspect to the game is Psychic Pizza's greatest strength and, unfortunately, its Achilles' heel. Just like any tabletop RPG, any good RPG experience rests mostly on the shoulders of the GM. An outgoing GM can weave a rich epic tale around the players and each of their actions leading to an engrossing climatic conclusion. An introverted or unimaginative GM would have to solely rest on the base mechanics of the game to get the players from point A to point B. This begs the question: Are the base mechanics enough? This is divisive among the groups I've played with, but I would argue YES—by far, YES!
Psychic Pizza goes a long way to hold the GM's hand. You don't have to create the story; the game sets that up for you. You don't have to give the players a goal; the game sets that up for you. You don't have to choose from various monsters; there is only one—the ghost. The players aren't hindered by a multitude of choices; there are only three: move, attack, or psychic power. You don't have to create special rules for random inhabitants of Ghost Town, the rulebook already gives you several suggestions. The rulebook even goes into detail about the do's and don'ts of constructing Ghost Town and also provides several illustrated examples. Despite how anyone may feel about Psychic Pizza, its rule book gets a standing ovation from me.
Psychic Pizza isn't a race. It isn't player versus player or players versus one GM. Each player can win individually or lose individually. Psychic Pizza, like many of the TRPGs before it, isn't about victory points; it's about the epic journey the players weave together. Of course, it doesn't have to be experienced that way. The rules even allow for you to play head-to-head if you'd like, or even all against the GM if you're even more daring. Although the rules give strict rules about constructing a fair Ghost Town, it is still possible for the GM to build an impossible, evil, vicious labyrinth of pain and torment. A vicious GM can ruin a game, a night, and a lifetime if you let it. Elect a Ghost Mayor you trust or beware entering Ghost Town.
Psychic Pizza isn't for everyone and walks that line between board game and tabletop roleplaying game. However, there is something about its charming blend of storytelling and puzzle solving that I can't help but adore. I love sharing this game with my elementary school students and at my language exchange events. Perhaps my favorite moment of the game is when the clock runs out, and the Ghost Mayor finally reveals the map of Ghost Town to all the players. Everyone swarms the map and erupts in laughter and frustration--a perfect way to end any gaming experience.
Welcome to Cardboard East's Ghost Town!
Due to the strong roleplaying element of Psychic Pizza, I wanted to give you a glimpse inside the secret grimoire of my local Psychic Pizza Delivery Service. They have written down descriptions of several Ghost Town inhabitants they have encountered over the last year. Enjoy!
The fog and mist were so thick. We weren’t even allowed to communicate with each other unless we were on the same exact location; however, if I strained my psychic powers, I could sense how my psychic brothers and sisters were trekking through Ghost Town. Occasionally I could even glimpse into their thoughts, and their mental notes of how to navigate through Ghost Town.
Psychic Boost! After we defeated a ghost, we were able to move into the space where the ghost was for free.
Some of these inhabitants were the same from visits to visit; some were different. This has made us quite cautious of each and every encounter. You really never know what to expect when you go to the Ghost Town!
Man on the Motorcycle: He can take you to any corner of Ghost Town!
Ramen: Ghosts love ramen! Take the ramen with you, and a ghost will let you pass (not block you) while it consumes its favorite meal.
Monkey: The monkey points you in the direction of the closest pizza. Of course, we didn’t know that at first.
Pigs: They follow you around Ghost Town. When three pigs follow you, they merge together to form the BIG PIG. If you ride the big pig, he will allow you double movement in the same direction. If you get off the big pig, you lose him forever.
Manhole Covers: They look like pizza, when you arrive on the location you realize its only a manhole cover. Do you go inside? If inside, you may travel to one of the other two manhole covers. Once you find your pizza though, you're not taking it through the sewer.
The Cat: He will say a string of numbers. The numbers will be the most efficient route to a pizza; however, cats have no concept of cardinal directions.
The Candle: The most useful item in all of Ghost Town! It shows you what is north, south, east, and west of you.
Candy: Do you eat the candy? The candy tastes like its matching pizza. It will tell you if you're walking closer or farther away from the matching pizza.
The Cat & Mouse: The cat starts in one corner; the mouse starts on the other. The cat slowly walks on the board towards the mouse. If you encounter the cat, you can follow it to wherever it's going. Once the cat eats the mouse, the cat will transport you two blocks away from the house with your pizza in hand. Of course, we didn’t know that at the time.
The Bee: It buzzes every time someone walks past. It gets angrier and angrier. The third time someone walked past the bee, it stung them. While they gained a free movement, they also lost a turn.
The Bird: The bird always flies to wherever the most ghosts are. You can hear the bird from four blocks away.
The Bird: She looks hungry. Do you feed her? Do you give her any food or a pig you have found to eat? She seems happy. You can talk to her at any time. Do you speak to her now? She responds in a double-digit number. Unknown to the us at the time, it was our current (x,y) location.
The Truck: It's abandoned. Do you inspect it? It looks like you could start the engine, do you? If you do, it moves in a straight line across the map and destroys everything (except pizzas, houses, and warp tunnels) on the map.
Big Pig: Papa Pig has lost his children. Help him find his kids, and he'll help you find your pizza!
Pigs: On our way to Ghost Town, we were jacked by the dreaded Pig Gang. Now that we were in Ghost Town and the clock was ticking, we had to get our pizza no matter the cost. We ran into one of the pigs. He laughed at us and told us to get lost. He wasn’t afraid of us because we were nothing special; just an ordinary human. Did we reveal our psychic powers? You sacrificed a psychic card to mentally attack the pig. He became frightened, revealed the location of the nearest pizza, apologized, and ran away looking for his gang. We grabbed our pizza and got out of Ghost Town before his gang found us! If they had, we may not have escaped Ghost Town at all.
What adventures await in your Ghost Town?
EXCELLENT! BGG 9.0
Cardboard East recommends Psychic Pizza Deliverers go to the Ghost Town. Psychic Pizza is a charming blend of puzzle solving, deduction, and storytelling. It's essentially a stripped-down bare-bones version of DnD with charm, pizzaz, and pizza. I strongly recommend this for family night and even the party environment with team play.