Halloween is just around the corner, and many people are beginning to plan get togethers for the holiday. If you are anything like me, no social gathering is complete without at least one board game played. I figured I would share a variety of horror or Halloween themed games that could be played in any situation!
- Shaky Manor: If you are looking for a great game to share with your little ones, Shaky Manor by Blue Orange Games is a great option. It can be played with children as young as 4-5 because it is a simple dexterity and matching game. However, it can be made more difficult for your older children. With all the spooky spiders and ghost meeples it is perfect to pull out on Halloween.
- Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters: If competitive play is not for your family, maybe try Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters by Mattel Games. This cooperative game challenges players to use 4 investigators to gather all 8 pieces of treasure before the board is over run by ghosts. It is another game that can be played with younger children, though I would suggest waiting until 6 or 7 to start this one. The game is easy to understand, but provides tension throughout. Plus the components in this one really stand out, but are still child friendly and will hold up to rough handling by younger children.
- Witch Slapped!: If you have a household of slightly older children, and are looking for a quick game that plays up to six, I would suggest Witch Slapped! by Prolific Games. In this game each player takes on the roll of a witch trying to cast a spell. It is a set collection/ card drafting game with a dexterity element. Players are trying to get 4 or 5 cards in a set to create a spell as quickly as possible. Once one player has reached this goal, they slap a card in the center and the other players have to quickly slap a card matching or less than the number of cards they would have in a spell. Players then do direct combat and the last witch standing wins the game. It is great with older children who don’t mind being eliminated. The game plays quickly, so being eliminated won’t take a player out of game night for too long. The dexterity element adds a lot of laughs to the game.
Games for Two Players:
- Dark Gothic: This deck builder based off A Touch of Evil (seen later in this post) feels both creepy and campy in all the right ways. Both games are published by Flying Frog Productions. If you are a fan of games like Ascension or Dominion, and are looking for a more Halloween themed feel I would suggest taking a closer look at Dark Gothic. Its also great if you spend Halloween with just one other person, because it plays well at two players.
- Letters from Whitechapel: Letters from Whitechapel by Fantasy Flight Games gives players a feel of cat and mouse as the serial killer tries to outwit the detective while taking his victims. While the game can be played with higher player counts, it plays especially well with two. The tension built as the players interact fits perfectly with the Halloween theme. It becomes even creepier when you realize it is based off a real life horror story.
Great Games Under a Hour:
- Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu: While similar to other Pandemic games, Reign of Cthulhu is by far the best bet for a Halloween themed event. In addition to the more ominous theme, I also find that it is easier to teach than some other variations of the game. This is especially helpful if teaching the game to non-gamers. Another benefit is that this game rarely plays longer than 45 minutes, and often players are able to play in an even shorter time than that. The game can be rather unforgiving though, so I do suggest playing this one with ten years old or older.
- Betrayal at House on the Hill: I debated putting this one on under a hour. Most of the time Betrayal at House on the Hill is a fairly quick game that plays right around a hour long. However, the length of this game has a lot to do with luck and the scenario drawn. Regardless of time though, Betrayal at House on the Hill by Avalon Hill Games is easy to teach and thematically fun. There is tension and suspense as players explore this haunted house and unveil its secrets.
Games over an Hour:
- Eldritch Horror/ Arkham Horror/ Mansions of Madness: If you are looking for a main event game that revolves around Lovecraftian ideals, you cannot go wrong with any of these three games. They all offer suspense and tension, while having a long and immersive game play experience. If you want the most thematic of the three, I would have to suggest Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition though. The app adds an air of mystery and thematic music, while still keeping game play flowing quickly.
- A Touch of Evil: Mentioned earlier, A Touch of Evil by Flying Frog Productions is campy fun that will be reminiscent of games that non gamers have played. Players can choose to play cooperatively or competitively as they band together to take down horrors that are haunting a colonial town. The art and feel is reminiscent of an 80’s horror movie, and will keep players engaged throughout the entire game.
- Time Stories: Asylum: This game is more focused on suspense than horror, but is especially good when playing with players for the first time. The artwork is just creepy enough to keep players intrigued as they explore the asylum. There are plenty of twists and turns to explore, but make sure you set aside at least 2-4 hours to play. Depending on the choices made this game can be very long!
- Dead of Winter: You can’t have a Halloween list without zombies right? Dead of Winter is a game that focuses on both the scare of zombies and the even more frighting idea of what people will do in a apocalyptic setting. While the game is technically cooperative, players may be playing against someone whose goal is to betray the others. If you are a fan of the Walking Dead or are looking for a game with a little more depth than Zombicide, I would suggest this one!
Games for Big Groups:
- Mysterium: If you are having more than five players over to play, than Mysterium is a great choice. While the game itself is great with depictions of creepy art and a ghostly presence, to really elevate this game players can focus on making it thematic. Playing this game by candlelight with some creepy music will make it a engaging and fun experience for everyone involved.
- Ultimate Werewolf or Ultimate Werewolf Legacy: If you are hosting more than ten people, an obvious choice is Ultimate Werewolf. The game is easy to explain and is the enjoyment is made up entirely of the people playing the game and their interactions. If you want to make it more thematic or have more story to it, then consider picking up the Ultimate Werewolf Legacy. It gives players background knowledge and story to support why they are having this werewolf hunt. Just be aware that you need nine players minimum to play that one!