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Our favorite spooky board games for Halloween

Posted Saturday, 17-Oct-2015

What board games are perfect for Halloween or a horror-themed game day? 

Contributed by Crystal Pisano

 

It’s that time of year when ghosts and goblins come out to play, bags of candy fill the aisles of your nearest store, and it’s even more fun than usual to play a horror-themed, mysterious, or supernatural board game. If you’re looking for Halloween party games or just the perfect experience at a horror game night with friends, the options below will accommodate gamers and groups of all types and range from “not at all scary” to “holy moly all our characters are about to die!”

Broom Service

This strategy game for 2 to 5 players won one of the most prestigious awards in board gaming in 2015, the Kennerspiel des Jahres. A board game remake of the card game Witch’s Brew, Broom Service has players taking on the roles of witches, druids and gatherers who collect ingredients to make potions and then deliver those potions to different areas of the map to collect victory points.

 

Photo from AsABoardGamer.com
Photo from AsABoardGamer.com

 

The roles each have two versions, a brave action and a cowardly action. The brave actions give you better rewards, but come with more risk. Bluffing your opponents becomes essential as you attempt to perform more brave actions throughout the game. The player with the most victory points after 7 rounds wins the game.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “A Town With An Ocean View” by Joe Hisaishi (from the soundtrack of “Kiki’s Delivery Service”)

 

Nevermore

In Nevermore, a casual card drafting game for 3 to 6 players, players draft a hand of five cards every round in an effort to attack the other players, heal themselves, acquire light or shadow magick, or score victory points. If a player loses all their life, rather than being eliminated from the game, they become a raven and have a chance to get back into the game if they can draft a hand containing all of one suit or one of each suit.

 

Photo from @SmirkandDagger on Twitter
Photo from @SmirkandDagger on Twitter

 

The ravens will go after players who are still humans, creating a sense of urgency for players who haven’t been transformed. The last player who hasn’t become a raven or the first to six victory points wins the game.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “The Raven” by The Alan Parson’s Project

 

Ghost Stories

This cooperative game for 1 to 4 players pits you and your friends against the demon lord Wu-Feng and his legions of ghosts who are attempting to haunt a town and bring Wu-Feng back to life.

 

Photo from RobotAnatomy.com
Photo from RobotAnatomy.com

 

Players must exorcise the hoards of ghosts that appear before they destroy the village. Ghost Stories requires that players move strategically, collect Tao tokens, and roll dice to eliminate the ghosts and the incarnation of Wu-Feng that appears at the end of the game.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “The Sound of the Black Waves” by Kenji Kawai

 

Mysterium

This game gained popularity after it was published in Polish in 2013 under the name Tajemnicze Domostwo. The English version of the game, Mysterium, was one of the biggest hits of GenCon 2015 and can be played with 2 to 7 players. In this game, one player takes the role of the ghost who is giving clues to the other players to help them solve an old mystery.

 

Photo from DiceTowerNews.com
Photo from DiceTowerNews.com

 

The ghost communicates to the players through visions which are represented by illustrated cards (similar to the cards found in the game Dixit). Using only the cards given to them, the players must attempt to figure out who committed the crime, where it took place and what weapon was used. If the players can successfully identify what the ghost is trying to tell them, they can help the ghost rest peacefully.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “The Forest Of The Dead/Graveyard” by Joseph Loduca (from the soundtrack of “Army of Darkness”)

 

Betrayal at House on the Hill

In Betrayal at House on the Hill, 2 to 6 players slowly explore a modular haunted house with a main level, upper floor and basement, adding tiles one by one, ensuring that the layout of the house is different every time you play. Certain rooms will trigger events and others will contain an item or omen. Every time an omen is discovered, players must roll dice to determine whether the haunt will start or not.

 

Photo from winkfun.net
Photo from winkfun.net

 

Once the haunt starts, the game changes and one of 50 scenarios begins. In most scenarios, one of the players turns against the rest of the group and it becomes a one vs. all battle. With scenarios ranging from ghosts to monsters to supernatural powers and just about every horror movie set-up you can imagine, this game has a lot of variety to offer.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “The Cellar” by David Julyan (from the soundtrack of “The Cabin in the Woods”)

 

Mansions of Madness

In this one vs. all game for 2 to 5 players, horrible monsters and spectral presences abound and it’s up to the investigators to explore and search for answers to solve a mystery and stop the horrors that have befallen their location… all before they go completely insane. One player is the keeper, controlling the monsters and other aspects of the game and story. The other players all take on the roles of the investigators.

 

Photo from https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/82007/mansions-madness-scenario-horror-museum
Photo from https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/82007/mansions-madness-scenario-horror-museum

 

The base game contains five stories to choose from, each with a unique map, set of monsters, and plot. There are additional expansions that can be purchased including Forbidden Alchemy and Call of The Wild which add additional stories to the game. The learning curve on this game is a bit steeper than on others, especially for the player who is the keeper, but if you’re looking for a game rich with story and mystery, this is a good choice.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “At The Mountains of Madness” by Graham Plowman

 

Elder Sign

If you’re looking for a lighter game with a Cthulhu theme, Elder Sign will definitely fit the bill. Able to be played with 1 to 8 players, this fast-paced, cooperative game turns the players into investigators in a museum, attempting to locate the Elder Signs, eldritch symbols that can be used to seal away the Ancient Ones.

 

Photo from DiceHateMe.com
Photo from DiceHateMe.com

 

Dice rolling along with tests to the players’ sanity and stamina will help them accomplish tasks to collect the signs before the Ancient Ones appear.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “Call of Cthulhu: The Tale of Inspector Legrasse” by Graham Plowman

Note: If you really love H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulhu-based games, a couple others to check out are Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror.

 

Ultimate Werewolf & One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Two games with similar mechanics and themes but different gameplay which helps when you have a small or large group of people as well as if you have a lot or a little time to spare.

In Ultimate Werewolf, up to 75 people can participate in a game where everyone is secretly given a role, with the majority of people being townsfolk, some being werewolves, and others being special roles within either of those groups who have extra powers.

A moderator runs the game and facilitates gameplay which goes back and forth from “night” to “day”. Each night, the werewolves vote to kill one of the townsfolk. During the day, the entire group selects one person to “lynch” in an effort to kill the werewolves. The townsfolk are trying to kill all the werewolves and the werewolves are attempting to outnumber the townsfolk. Heated discussions can really ramp up the tension and excitement during this game.

If you have a smaller group or want a game that can be played very quickly, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is an abbreviated version of Ultimate Werewolf that takes place over one night and one day (rather than multiple nights and days like in the other game).

 

Photo from https://boardgamegeek.com/image/2088710/one-night-ultimate-werewolf
Photo from https://boardgamegeek.com/image/2088710/one-night-ultimate-werewolf

 

Up to 10 players are each given a secret role on a card, with three additional roles placed face down on the table. A free companion app acts as the moderator and instructs players to “wake up” (open their eyes) at different times during the night to act out their roles responsibilities which are things such as looking for other members of their role, switching the roles of other players, or even changing their own role. Players then all wake up and attempt to figure out who a werewolf is before time runs out. When time expires, everyone must point at one player and the player with the most votes is killed. If it is a werewolf, the townsfolk win, if it is a member of the town, the werewolves win.

Sneaky lies, betrayal and deception are definitely front and center in both these games, so if you like messing with your friends heads and having a lot of fun at the same time, these werewolf games are a perfect choice.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “Nightfall” by Midnight Syndicate

 

Fury of Dracula

Originally published in 1987, this game’s third edition is expected to release in November 2015 so while it won’t be around for Halloween this year, it’s perfect for a horror board game night or for Halloween in the future. Playable by 2 to 5 players, Fury of Dracula has one player take on the role of Count Dracula and attempt to gain control of all of Europe by creating an undead army of Vampires.

 

Photo from itfgaming.com
Photo from itfgaming.com

 

Dracula’s movement is secret but he leaves a trail of encounters and events behind him. The other players control Vampire hunters who attempt to track and destroy Dracula before his power grows too large. Dracula wins if he can advance his influence track to 13. The hunters win if they defeat him before that happens.

Recommended song to set the mood during gameplay: “Dracula – The Beginning” by Anton Coppola (from the soundtrack to “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”)

Published by BoardGamePrices.com



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