How about gathering for a game night on Halloween? Below are 7 board games that are spooky but not so sinister that you can’t hop up from the table to answer the door when when a cute little tick-or-treater rings your doorbell.
#7 Dead of Winter
The objective of Dead of Winter is to survive both harsh winter elements and attacking zombie hordes. Players cooperate to achieve this objective…kinda. The problem is that while all players are working toward that shared objective, each player also has a secret personal objective that may or may not put them at odds with the group. Oh, did I mention that there is also a chance that one player might be an outright traitor?
Like all the best zombie fiction, the true threat is never the zombies themselves, it’s the other survivors! Gathering around a dining room table and experiencing this with friends is fantastic. Everyone is raptly engaged the entire game. While everyone is working together to achieve the main objective, a gnawing suspicion toward their fellow players is also ever present. It’s the perfect tension for Halloween.
Dead of Winter was the hottest game in the industry close to a decade ago. The game has cooled off, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use Halloween as an occasion to get a classic to the table.
#6 Campy Creatures
Campy Creatures is a small box board game that can be learned quickly but offers a good time. It features classic monsters from pop culture, so it will bring the flair of the familiar to those who are new to board gaming. It’s quite the approachable theme, and one that will keep you coming back for more even when there aren’t jack-o-lanterns on the doorsteps.
It’s good fun. And the best feature for this list is that it’s a game that can be played even if you have frequent trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell. Just campy right out by the door and let the games flow!
#5 Eldritch Horror
Nerds on Earth writer Abram picked up Eldritch Horror in a trade over at BoardGameGeek for a pair of games that he wasn’t playing very often. A short MiNi Con gave him the opportunity to open that well-used copy and dive into the mythos of an Ancient One and thwart their rise to power.
For those of you that like Pandemic, you’ll find a number of similarities. Eldritch Horror is definitely more crunchy and has more RPG elements to it like tracking Health and Sanity as you fight the horrors from another world. But it’s still cooperative, and everyone is either going to survive or fail together.
It might not work on Halloween for first-time investigators, being that trick-or-treaters might interrupt the flow. But the game provides quite a few harrowing moments and unlucky rolls, which would vault Eldritch Horror right to the top of the list for a group that plays together often.
Zombicide is big, dumb, fun in a box. The core Zombicide game is consistently the top seller through any Amazon affiliate links we have on Nerds on Earth, so the game remains popular.
Zombicide takes the idea of survivors against zombies and adds a layer of camp. Players simply set up a scenario that instructs them to lay out a few tiles to represent a playing area. Using cards, zombies are spawned and the players try to escape with their life.
Again, it’s nothing more than big, dumb fun. And isn’t that what you are looking for in a Halloween game night?
#3 Betrayal at House on the Hill (Scooby-doo Edition!)
In Betrayal at House on the Hill you are given a character with strengths and weaknesses. Your character may be very smart but pretty weak in the might category for example
Once the characters are chosen, the game begins. All the characters start in the entrance hall. And you build the house as you explore. Moving one space means you walk through a door and place a room tile down. And entering a room means you trigger an event. Most of the time, the events are creepy.
Sometimes an event can give you an item. Which will usually help you in the future. It could be an ax, a revolver, some armor, even some dark dice that will allow you a special ability. Items are always good. And you want to hold onto them.
But other times players draw an Omen, which triggers a roll of the dice. At some point the dice aren’t in your favor and one player turns traitor. This turns the game on its head and you must now try to escape the house with your life!
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a board gaming classic. And there is also a Scooby-doo version, which is great for families!
This is another game that doesn’t lend itself to a casual game that might be interrupted by trick-or-treaters, but it’s too good to not bring to your attention.
Mysterium is a quirky little game that started out as an obscure European title that just kept gaining momentum due to word of mouth until it broke out in the United States.
Set in the 1920s, a ghost guides a group of psychics to uncover a murderer using only visual clues. Choose your way to play: take on the role of the ghost who gives others clues, or as one of the psychics who work together to decipher the mystery.
Horrified makes this list because it’s a surprisingly good game that is designed for the mass market, meaning the MSRP is more reasonable, although it’s produced at a higher quality than you might expect for such a market.
Horrified leverages the old school masters Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Dracula, Mummy, Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon in a really solid game that allows a variety mission and win conditions, making it a game a family can play again and again.
Sure, you won’t be stoked by the cardboard standees and the miniatures aren’t of a high quality like Zombicide where you’ll be dying to paint them, but it comes at an attractive price point that offers you a lot of bang for a few bucks.
(Pro Tip: Horrified was designed by Prospero Hall, a collaborative design studio that specializes in mass market games built on IP properties that offer a much more fulfilling experience than what you’d typically find in mass market games. Other standouts include Jaws, Villainous, and Back to the Future: Back in Time. I’ll be bold enough to say every Prospero Hall game offers you a nice bang for your buck. They are consistently good.)
The Top 7 Suitably Spooky Board Games, Just in Time for Halloween
These 7 horror-themed games might not be absolutely most sinister games you’ll find, but they strike a nice balance between loads of fun and casual enough that you can host a Halloween game night where you may have a distraction or two.
I recommend that all these games be played with candy close by. Dibs on the Kit-Kats!