The Best Spooky Board Games to Play This Halloween
If you’re looking to host a scary board game party this October 31st, these ten games will be a great addition to your table.
Halloween is fast approaching, and while there are plenty of spooky video games you could play, board games are usually a much better social activity. So whether you’re hosting a Halloween party big or small, we’re here to help you select some of the best board games to make your evening appropriately terrifying.
We’ve tried our best to stay away from out-of-print games. These are games that you can run out and pick up in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, this means some great board games (Last Night on Earth, The Bloody Inn, Mystery at the Abbey, etc.) didn’t make the cut. That said, the ten games below should give you plenty of options for your Halloween festivities.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
You could really put any variation of classic Werewolf here. One Night plays up to ten, but if your group is bigger, Ultimate Werewolf plays up to 100 or something ridiculous. Regardless of the version you choose, this is a classic social deduction game that has stood the test of time. You’ll be left in stitches as your party argues their way through a hilarious evening of werewolf escapades. The variable player powers in both Ultimate Werewolf lines really take the game to the next level.
Your enjoyment of Gloom is highly dependent on the group you play with, so be careful with this one. Gloom puts you in charge of a small family, and it’s your job to make them as miserable as possible before they die. Each character comes on a transparent card and you’ll place other cards over them to force negative life events on them. At the same time, you’ll try to give other players’ families positive events and bring their score down. Each time you play a card, you’ll give a short description of what happened to the character.
This makes the game less fun to play with players who lack quick-thinking creativity, but makes it a blast with a group of theater nerds. The Addams Family vibes are very strong with Gloom. If you can find a group who the game clicks with, you’ll be in for a miserably fun night.
Fury of Dracula
Fury of Dracula is a great game that solves a problem that groups like my own often have to deal with. If you have one player who plays way more board games than the rest of their group (raises hand), then the other players are often looking to you to tell them what do in cooperative games.
Fury of Dracula is a “one versus many” game, with one player taking on the role of Dracula while the others are vampire hunters. By taking that one player out of the equation, the phenomenon of having an “alpha gamer” usually goes away, making for a much more fun experience for the group as a whole. If you’re looking for a meatier game to introduce your group to, Fury of Dracula might be perfect.
Dead of Winter
When Dead of Winter released in 2014, its implementation of the Crossroads deck was a revelation that took the board gaming world by storm. In 2019, it’s lost a bit of its luster, but that doesn’t make it a bad game.
For my money, it’s the best zombie-themed game on the market. The hidden traitor mechanic keeps the game fresh and the Crossroads deck is still a fun way to add more narrative to the game. It’s been surpassed by other games in the past few years, but it’s still worth a play for zombie fans.
T.I.M.E. Stories is one of the most innovative games to come out in recent years. You play as time-traveling agents going to various periods in time and stopping the bad guys from changing history. As you explore a time period, you’ll learn as much as you can before the time loop resets. Then you have to start over with just the knowledge you’ve gained. In some ways, it’s a bit like the analog version of what made Outer Wilds special when it released earlier this year.
Each scenario is different, but a few of them are appropriately spooky. The base scenario “Asylum” is a good starting point, and “The Marcy Case,” “Expedition Endurance,” and “Estrella Drive” all have their own brand of horror within. The other expansions are mostly great too, even if they just don’t fit the horror theme you’re looking for. Save them for later in the year.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Mansions of Madness is one of the best examples in the industry of using a companion app to create a deeply immersive tabletop experience. This co-op adventure exploration game is a must-play for Cthulu fans, and anyone looking for a deep (and expensive) game to dive into would be well-served giving it a look as well. Mansions of Madness is a meaty adventure that will give you more than enough content to play through this Halloween.
Horrified is a brand new game from Ravensburger. In just a few months, it has been tearing up the Board Game Geek charts since its release. The game takes the cooperative gameplay from something like Pandemic and gives it a new twist. Where in Pandemic you’re just traveling the globe trying to stop diseases from spreading by playing cards, Horrified has you fighting monsters who all have their own mechanic for stopping them.
This greatly livens up the Pandemic-like gameplay because each monster needs to be approached differently. On paper, this might not sound like much, but in action it makes Horrified feel incredibly fresh. Horrified is also one of the many board games Target has scooped up to give wider distribution. Thus, getting your hands on it should not be a problem.
Of the games on this list, Mysterium is your best bet for playing with non-gamers. The game does well with every group I’ve ever tried it with: even my grandma loves it.
Mysterium sees one player taking on the role of a ghost who has been murdered by someone. Everyone else plays as psychics trying to decipher the odd messages they’re receiving from the beyond. These messages take the form of beautifully illustrated cards and are the only way the ghost can communicate. You try to guess what in the world they could be leading you toward as you slowly try to piece together exactly what happened.
It may not be the most complex game on the list, but it is one of the funniest. You might also look at Obscurio, which is Libellud’s newest game that just might be a Mysterium killer.
Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein
Plaid Hat Games’ latest release is a bit of a gamble on my part since it just came out. That said, what I saw from Abomination at Gen Con was very intriguing. This worker-placement game has you racing to build the best monster. My group adores worker placement, so this is a must-play for us. If your group is similar or you’re just looking to join the cult of the new, Abomination is absolutely worth a look.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
We end this list with my group’s personal favorite spooky game. Betrayal starts as a cooperative game where you play as a group exploring a haunted mansion. At some point, your group triggers a special event and the game changes completely. One player (or more) becomes the traitor and is forced to leave the room. Each of the two new groups reads through the event rules and the endgame begins. There are 50 different scenarios included in the event and each time you play, the event is random.
The rules are a bit fiddly, but Betrayal absolutely nails the Halloween flavored theme, making it the perfect board game to play with friends on a stormy October night.