[Image courtesy of Chris Loves Julia.]
Halloween is but a few days away, and many puzzlers and game enthusiasts are in the mood for a fun, spooky round of seasonal board game shenanigans. A fellow PuzzleNationer asked if we had any recommendations for scary or atmospheric games in the spirit of the season, and we are happy to provide some.
Buckle up, fright fans, we’ve got some choice options for you today.
[Image courtesy of Dicebreaker.]
Ultimate Werewolf / Mafia / Salem 1692
All of these games are variations on the same idea: you have a group of people, and one or two of them is secretly the enemy. You must figure out who the bad guys are before they strike. Social deduction games like this are perfect for parties or group gatherings, because they’re easy to learn and they’re heavy on the replay value. (The viral video game Among Us is just the latest iteration of the concept.)
Whether you’re hunting for villainous mobsters (Mafia), hungry werewolves (Ultimate Werewolf), or crafty witches (Salem 1692), you’re bound to find a fun time. (With regards to Salem, our group often plays it a little differently, protecting the coven from secret overzealous witch hunters.)
[Image courtesy of Ravensburger.]
If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly game with a spooky theme, Horrified is a great place to start. In this cooperative game, your group of heroes is pitted against some of the classic Universal movie monsters like The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. You must work together to complete specific tasks in order to defeat the monsters.
Horrified is more welcoming and less daunting than many co-op games, and that makes it a terrific starter game to introduce young and experienced board gamers alike to both spooky games and cooperative gameplay.
[Image courtesy of Geeky Hobbies.]
Nothing makes a game atmospheric like a murder to solve, and Mysterium goes way beyond Clue by having players work together to find the murderer. But there’s a twist, as one of the players is a ghost, and cannot speak. Instead, they offer visual clues to all of the other players, who are psychic mediums.
The mix of clever communication and immersive storytelling makes this an excellent choice for a macabre night of gameplay and murder-solving. And with a mix of suspects, weapons, and locations to choose from, there’s plenty of replay value here.
[Image courtesy of Amazon.]
There’s perhaps no fear more primal than the fear of the dark, and Nyctophobia uses that to its advantage, plunging all but one player into darkness. (Blackout glasses are provided for the players.) The now-blind players must try to escape a dark forest, while the one player who can see stalks them, removing them from the game one by one.
When properly executed, there’s no board game more immersive and scary than this one, as players have to navigate the game board by touch and be very careful with their spoken communication, since the villain is close by. It takes a little getting used to, but this unique horror-inspired game is unlike anything you’ve played before.
[Image courtesy of Tabletop Bellhop. ]
Dead Man’s Cabal
Sometimes it’s hard to gather friends and loved ones for a party. Well, in Dead Man’s Cabal, that’s not a problem, since you can simply raise the dead and make them attend your party!
As players compete to gather the most undead partygoers for their event, they can affect not only which guests arrive for their party, but the queue for other players’ resurrected guests as well. The dark tongue-in-cheek humor of the game only enhances the experience, making for a raucous and ridiculous time for all involved.
[Image courtesy of Research Gate.]
If you’re looking for a darkly fun game with shades of The Addams Family or Edward Gorey, then Gloom is the game for you. In Gloom, each player is the head of a spooky family, and it’s your job to make them miserable in hilariously ghastly ways before they croak. And as you do so, you regale your fellow players with the ongoing tragic tale of their fates.
Not only that, but to ensure that your family has the most gloriously horrendous story, you can play cards on your opponents’ families that cause GOOD things to happen. Turn their misfortune into good fortune for your own gain!
The gameplay is accentuated by the beautiful clear playing cards, which allow you to stack different events and effects on your family characters and still be able to see what’s going on! For a silly and sinister time, Gloom is an absolute treat.
Those are some of our favorites, but here are a few honorable mentions to check out, organized by theme. (And we’re marked our personal favorites in bold!)
- Kid-friendly games: Disney Villainous, Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
- Zombie survival: Dead of Winter, Zombies!!, Zombie Dice, Last Night on Earth
- Spooky survival: Endangered Orphans of Condyle Cove, 10 Candles
- H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror: Eldritch Horror, Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, The Doom That Came to Atlantic City
- B-Movie-inspired survival: Monster Slaughter, Mixtape Massacre, Betrayal at the House on the Hill (which now has a Scooby-Doo version!)
- Escape room style: Unlock!: Squeek and Sausage, Exit: The Game: The Abandoned Cabin, Exit: The Game: Dead Man on the Orient Express, Escape the Room: The Cursed Dollhouse
Do you have any spooky recommendations for Halloween board games, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!
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