HALLOWEEN HORROR – TOP 5 SPOOKY BOARD GAMES
Oh yeah, it’s Halloween time again. I think last year I did a few Halloween themed articles, this year, I’m going to do top five lists every Wednesday on different Halloween themed things in various mediums. Not sure which all topics will be covered, but I’m starting with board games.
Now, when I say things like “Halloween Horror” and “Spooky” in the title, these are games that fit the Halloween theme. It doesn’t mean that they are the scariest games out there, but instead, these are games that I want to play around Halloween, and there are games out there, like IT: Evil Below, that I’ve really interested in getting my hands on eventually, but that I haven’t played yet.
So with all that ado, let’s get onto the list:
There has been a murder, and one person as the ghost is trying to get investigators pointed down the path of whom their murder might be. This is a lighter game, but it’s an interesting and fun one that is accessible to most people. The artwork in this game is beautiful as well, as the ghost is giving you abstracted “visions” to see if you can match up those images with the location, the weapon, and the murder for your own personal case. Then you have to see if you can figure out which one of all of the cases actually is the murderer. The game has some weird methods for how you get to guess which one it is at the end, but those can be house ruled, basically just allowing everyone to guess at the end with all the card information. It’s also nice because you can talk as a group to help people who might be falling behind in understanding their cards. The aesthetic of the game is what really makes it a Halloween game. The cards artwork is just weird, sometimes haunting, and generally amazing.
4- Xenoshyft: Onslaught
This one is technically a horror game, but less of one than the higher ranked ones. I feel like this one you’re getting a bunch of Starship Troops as you fight off waves and waves of bug aliens. What works well in this game is that it’s a fully cooperative deck builder. So you can help each other out, but it’s also a game you’re not going to win that often as you start dealing with larger and larger bugs and they hit your base. This game has some nice pressure to it as you each are defending your own part of the base but you can help the other people out, so that means if you are the last one to go, there might not be much to help you, so you hope you are lucky enough to have some easy bugs you can take out without them getting through. The game is pretty easy to teach as well which is nice, so it’s one that you can get to the table easier or quicker as compared to some of the higher ranked games on this Halloween list.
3- Dead of Winter
There are so many zombie games out there. I haven’t actually played that many of them, but Dead of Winter is a big favorite of mine. The game puts you in charge of a group of survivors after the zombie apocalypse, so that’s normal. But then borrowing from The Walking Dead, the game isn’t as much about the zombies, though, if you aren’t careful they will kill you, it’s about who you can trust. You all have your secret goal that you need to do to win, and someone might be a traitor who is trying to get their own objective that’s different from the groups main objective. You always feel like you are pushing your luck in this game, and most of the time, you don’t know who you can trust. Dead of Winter is a big game with a lot of decisions, it’s probably a board game that would take a whole game night, if you wanted to get into it. There are a few wonky things about it, but that’s mainly with how the winners are determined, but the rest of the mechanics are great.
2- Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
I only wanted to put one Lovecraftian game on the list, and Mansions of Madness, to me, is the most Halloween. I think that Arkham Horror or Arkham Horror LCG also work, but with the app integration into the game, the little bits of random spookiness that can happen are really good. And the variety of scenarios is really good. And while I might personally be about done with the first scenario because I’ve played it a number of times, it’s good that it’s not too hard and enjoyable enough to replay. This game lets you feel the tension as you get injured and are running away from a monster in hopes that it won’t catch you, because another hit and you’ll likely go down. You get the pressure as your sanity slowly disappears, and you know that the plot is progressing, even if it feels like you aren’t progressing.
1- Betrayal at House on the Hill
Is this the best game on the list? It’s one of my favorite games that’s for sure, but with Betrayal at House on the Hill, it feels like Halloween. You are exploring an old spooky house with a group of misfits who probably shouldn’t be working together. Then, in a twist, one of the people turns on the group to enact some evil plan. There can be issues understanding the haunt and how it works, but the haunts are extremely thematic, and if you can immerse yourself in the theme of the game, that balancing issue of the haunt is much less of an issue. This would be the game that I’d pull out nine times out of ten when someone who has played some board games says they want to play a scary board game or a Halloween board game.
There are so many more Halloween games that I want to play. I haven’t played Fury of Dracula, and that seems like an important Halloween game to play. I haven’t played any Zombicide game, and that might not happen, but a game like Legendary Encounters: Alien is interesting to me as well. Or, in my collection, I have Shadows of Brimstone, that game has great horror themes, but it’s a big game that is hard to get to the table at times, so I just don’t have enough experience with it to put it on the list. I’m also curious to see if a game like Folklore: The Affliction, would make it to the list as well.
What are some of your favorite horror board games? Is there one, based off of my top 5 that you think I need to play?
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