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Game Review

The Harbingers

Ages 12 and up
Distibuted by Mattel
Game ©1995 A Couple 'A Cowboys Pty Limited
game start

3-6 Players60 minutes


In the sequel to Nightmare, Players are vying to take over the Gatekeeper's job as ruler of the Underworld. To do so, they must first become one of the Harbingers and brave the pit of fear.


Before the game starts, players determine who will be "the chosen one." The chosen one sets up the board, arbitrates disputes and gets special attention from the Gatekeeper.

To start, each player writes down their "greatest fear." These slips of paper are placed in a container at the center of the board. Players are given a skull marker with a number, and a "slab" with the same number (the slab is to hold keys and the character cards later.

The video tape is started. The rules are recapped by the tape. Then the game begins!

Players roll 1 die to move their skull around the board. For the first 10 minutes, the goal it to get to a "headstone" by an exact roll and become one of the harbingers: Vampire, Mummy, Witch, Poltergeist, Werewolf, or Zombie. When the Gatekeeper appears on the television, all play stops and he must be obeyed.

When a player becomes a harbinger, they pick up the character card and place it in the slab. any other player attempting to be the same harbinger must move on to another headstone. The new harbinger replaces his/her skull piece with the harbinger's piece -- a bat, tooth, hat, cauldron, etc.

Once the 10 minutes have expired, players who are NOT harbingers are given cards for "Soul Rangers." Sections of the board that belong to unclaimed harbingers are turned over to reveal sewer maps. Soul Rangers cannot leave the sewers except on special occasions.

If after 10 minutes, more than half of the players have NOT become a harbinger...i.e. Soul Rangers... the game ends, and the players lose.

Once players are a harbinger -- or a Soul Ranger -- their goal changes. Now they must collect at least one of each colored keys around the board. Each key grants a player special powers. For a harbinger -- players gain the ability to Duel, fly, escape the "black hole", move through gates, use double dice, and steal a square from another player. Soul Rangers gain abilities to Duel and escape from the sewers. To get a key, a player must land on the key location by exact count.

Of the obstacles in the game, the black hole is the worst -- unless you have a key, if you land on a black hole or get banished by the Gatekeeper, you cannot leave the spot until you are released.

If a player lands on a special space marked by a lightning bolt, they may duel with another player -- assuming they have the key that allows them to duel. To duel, the lay a card with a number from 1-7 face down and the opponent does the same... the highest number wins -- except a 1 beats a 7! Soul Rangers don't have cards, so they duel by rolling dice -- highest number wins! The winner of the duel steals a key from the loser.

Once a player captures all 6 colors of keys, they race to the center of the board to their starting position. Once there -- by exact roll -- they draw one of the fears from the game's start. If they drew their own fear, they must return to the harbinger's headstone and try again. If it was Not their fear -- they yell "NOT!" and stop the video tape, and win the game.

A Harbinger...Elizabeth Bathory, the Vampire

game in play

Winning Conditions:

  • Collect all 6 colored keys, and reach the middle of the board, and don't draw your fear

  • or

  • The Gatekeeper wins if time runs out on the tape, or if more than half of the players are Soul Rangers after the first 10 minutes.

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!If you noticed that I skipped some of the player's powers in the gameplay section... that was because they weren't often used. If you've played Nightmare, then most of this is the same as what you've played before. Overall there were a few changes here and there, mostly for the better.

In the original game, players collected 6 keys and raced to the center of the board -- all the while the Gatekeeper taunts them to keep them off balance. In this version, the Gatekeeper is mellower when he appears -- but the players thwart each other more than the Gatekeeper. The ability to Duel greatly improved this game -- it's no longer players versus the Gatekeeper, it's everyone for themselves! Strategies of collecting extra keys are not unheard of to prevent opponents from winning.

Atmosfear also improved it's presentation from the original. This game is pretty. The pieces are nice... Baron Samedi's top hat would make any Monopoly player jealous. These pieces are cool!

This game has some of the same problems as the original... the replay is limited, but the players dueling improved that. You also need more than 3 players to enjoy this game. Our 3 player game ended in just over 35 minutes. Players who have tried the original will naturally play much faster than someone who has never played this style of game before, so be careful of who is playing against you.

We liked this better than the original. It's presentation and dueling made it much more fun. If you liked Nightmare enough to look for an used copy on e-bay...look for this one instead!

Where to buy:

This game disappeared before most people knew about it. We found it on clearance in a Target in 1996 AFTER Halloween. We've never seen another copy. Check e-bay, Mattel, or special order it.

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