All Hallows’ Eve is just around the corner and you can already feel the horror-filled vibes in the air. From the horror specials online and on TV, to your buddies prepping their creepy costumes, the spirit is alive once more! And what better way to get into the vibes but with horror-themed board games! But not every gaming session is the same as different players, preferences, circumstances and the like call for specific type of games. You might need party games for some scenario while highly thematic ones might be needed in another. Fear not! We got your back as we give you our go-to tabletop horror-themed games every scenario! Let’s get to it and let the fright begin!
Did you invite a lot of guests or most are non-gamers you’re looking to share your board game hobby with? Then these games are for you! These are generally light games with basic mechanics
- Zombie Dice
Braaaaaaaaaains! From it’s name itself, Zombie Dice is a quick push-your-luck dice game for at least 2 players, where they will take roll of… you guessed it! ZOMBIES! On their turn, players will roll custom dice, trying to get errrr… eat as many brains as they dare before they get shot 3 times. You decide if you want to pass up ’em yummy brains or risk getting a shotgun to the face! A fun a quick game that separates lucky zombies from headless ones.
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Awooooooo! Do you know who’s a werewolf? Or maybe you are the werewolf? Or maybe not… anymore? One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a quick bluffing and deduction party game for 3-10 players where each game usually lasts for around 10 minutes. And yes, that’s no joke. The game, derived from Werewolf and Ultimate Werewolf (its predecessors which are loooooooonger and more complex) places the players in a village where each are given a role at random. There are a lot of roles in the game but basically you’ll belong to one of two factions: the Villagers and the Werewolves. The Villagers’ goal is to kill off at least 1 werewolf while the Werewolves (who usually know each other) aim to deceive and fool the villagers into killing off another villager. The game is played in 2 phases: The Night Phase and Day Phase. During the Night Phase players with distinct roles wake up and perform their actions and during the Day Phase, the players discuss who will be killed off. The special roles make this game truly shine and with the help of the companion app along with some expansions, you’ll find yourselves playing game after game of One Night Ultimate Werewolf!
Normally, the BEST wins the game, but this isn’t the case with Gloom. In this game, the most miserable or gloomiest wins the game. A take-that card game for 2-4 players, Gloom assigns a family for each player to control, with each family member having a distinct card. Players then take turns playing cards on their own family members or their rivals’. What are these cards you say? Well these are events and circumstances that will be applied to the chosen family member, which are usually cruel and unfortunate. But don’t fret! That’s the goal after all. As you play each card, you are highly encouraged to narrate what happened and craft a story, making the game really fun albeit in a somewhat sadistic way. Ummm… Well, we did say these are horror-themed games.
Thematic Zombie Games
Of course there will be zombies! The living dead has perked up our interest for several years now and, true to their nature, it seems they won’t be stopping anytime soon. Zombies have effectively translated into board games and we have some gems that truly showcase the gruesomeness and dread of the genre. Here are some that fit the bill:
- Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game
Have you ever imagined what you would do if the zombie apocalypse happened now? Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game is a classic of the genre that lets you experience just this. Created for 2 to 6 players, the game divides the players into 2 teams: one controlling 4 survivors who are trying to survive and fulfill the mission objectives of scenario, and another team controlling the zombies… trying to feed them delicious humans. This game features several human characters with unique abilities, giving good replayability along with various scenarios to play! Played with modular tiles and miniatures, the players will move their characters within a set map, trying to achieve their respective goals. It’s a fun game that will really get you pumped for survival whether you’re a determined human
Certainly a milestone of the genre, Zombicide lets you play as one of the unique characters, trying to survive in a zombie-infested area and achieve a certain goal along with fellow survivors. What makes this game unique you say? Aside from the amazing miniatures, interesting game mechanics and exciting combat, this game allows the zombies to virtually move by themselves, without a Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM). How cool is that! But don’t underestimate the AI zombies, as you might find yourself quickly surrounded and about to become lunch. Played with modular tiles, players move their characters in the map, trying to scavenge useful items and supplies, killing zombies in the way and moving towards their goal. With several expansions and titles under it belt, it seems that Zombicide won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
- Dead of Winter
Ever watched that popular TV series? The one with the zombies, that sheriff, crossbow guy and… Caaaaaaarl!!! Well, imagine that series but set in WINTER! Yep, that’s pretty much Dead of Winter, an amazing game that beautifully simulates the situation of a group of people banding together, trying to survive the zombies walking around, not to mention the harsh environment. Designed for 2 to 5 players, the game let’s you take control of some survivors, trying to help out the group and achieve the group goal along with their own secret agendas. If this wasn’t complicated enough, somebody might even be a traitor, trying to sabotage the group and creating chaos. This game has a lot of promise each time you play it, paving a way for truly memorable and distinct moments of suspense, drama and even awkward, funny circumstances! If you’re a big zombie fan and haven’t played this yet then we highly recommend that you get a few of your buddies and try this one out!
Thematic Lovecraftian Games
It’s no secret that we’re big H. P. Lovecraft fans and it should’t be surprising that these games often find their way on our gaming table. What can we say, Lovecraft’s lore simply intrigues us! It’s a big plus that we get to encounter some of his unnameable and indescribable horrors albeit in cardboard or plastic form. A word of caution though, you might want to keep your sanity in check when playing these games. Alright, do a will test and proceed!
- Elder Sign
Ever tried fighting the old ones with dice? Well now you can! Elder Sign is a cooperative dice game, where players assume the role of an investigator, trying to solve mind-wracking mysteries relating to an old god of Lovecraftian Lore. Designed for 1 to 5 players, the game is set in the 1920’s, giving a bit of creepy noir feel to it. Players must investigate locations, with the dice deciding their success or ultimate doom! You can uncover horrific secrets and battle monsters all to prevent the old gods from rising up once more!
- Arkham Horror
Man oh man! If you want something highly thematic, you don’t need to look anywhere else! Designed for 1 to 8 players, Arkham Horror deep dives into the whole Lovecraftian lore, immersing the players to the terrifying genius of H. P. Lovecraft as they assume the role of investigators, solving the mysteries of the old gods and trying not to die or go insane in the process. The game board features the map of Arkham (and other locations with the expansions) which the investigators can move around in as they try to piece out the puzzles of the old god, battle monsters, and even plunge into portals into other worlds! Sound interesting to you? Arkham Horror will take you into an otherworldly adventure like no other. BUT! It may be important to note that the official duration of a game is 120-240 minutes. That’s not a misprint and a game can easily go over that. So you might take that into account before you set this game up. If you’re not sensitive to the duration, we highly recommend this game.
- Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
Looking for a more visual game? One with miniatures? Then Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition should do the job. Essentially a cooperative dungeon crawl intended for 1 to 5 players, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition features modular boards and miniatures of investigators, which players will control throughout the game, trying to achieve the objectives of one among several scenarios. Gameplay involves a lot of thematic story telling as you investigate the eldritch mysteries lying in front of you. The game also comes with a companion app, which controls the monsters and surprises that will stand in the investigators’ way. If you want a very visual mystery adventure, look no further! Just mind that sanity, though.
- Eldritch Horror
One of our favorite games, Eldritch Horror places the players in the shoes of investigators set in the 1920’s. Designed for 1 to 8 players, this cooperative board game features a world map as the investigators race across the globe to stop the impending revival of the old gods! Maintaining a highly thematic narrative, the players will find themselves encountering circumstances, rumors and situations which relate to the specific old god they are facing like Cthulhu and Azathoth. Battle monsters, gather clues and solve mysteries to stop the old gods from taking over! The game has a lot of similarities with Arkham Horror but is distinctly streamlined, making it less complex and more fast-paced. Certainly a distinct experience, Eldritch Horror will leave a lasting impression on your mind!
They have been called a lot of names: Game Masters, Dungeon Masters, Overlords… These players generally stand in the way of the heroes attempting to impede them in their quests, making the games more exciting and compelling in the process. More than just “me versus everyone,” GMs can introduce unique stories and narratives to a game, creating for an even better gaming experience for everyone! If somebody in your group’s willing to take on this role, you might want to look at these games:
- The Others: 7 Sins
Tired of those shambling zombies? Well, you can try battling demons instead, with The Others: 7 Sins. Intended for 2 to 5 players, with one of them acting as the GM, The Others: 7 Sins thematically plays with the concept of the 7 deadly sins: Greed, Wrath, Lust, Avarice, Sloth, Gluttony and Pride! In the game each of these corresponds to one unique group of demons, visually represented with beautiful miniatures! The hero players will be controlling unique characters with distinct abilities and powers form the Federal Authority for the Interdiction of Trans-dimensional Horrors ooooooor F.A.I.T.H. They can choose to be the form-changing werewolf, the dreaded vampire and many more! The game comes with several scenarios where each side will be trying the achieve their objectives. A very interesting game with a great design and amazing components!
- Fury of Dracula (Third Edition)
Are you in the mood to hunt vampires? Fury of Dracula (Third Edition) should do nicely. This 2 to 5-player game pits the GM, controlling Count Dracula who will attempt to spread his influence on the land, and the other players, controlling the Hunters who will try to find and stop Count Dracula. The Hunters will initially be unable to see Count Dracula, but as they gather clues and follow trails, they can eventually find him and attempt to take him down. On the other hand, Count Dracula, who only moves at night because… daylight, can mislead the hunters by creating rumors, false trails and other cunning methods. If the Hunters do find the Count, a fight ensues! It’s an exciting and fun game involving a lot of deduction, cunning and team work, which just make for an awesome game session.
You want a friendly GM rather than a competitive one? Then Mysterium might be the game for you! This cooperative board game for 2 to 7 players revolves around a Ghost (the GM) trying to find justice for his death by communicating with Psychics (the players) using visions. Seemingly a mix of Clue and Dixit, Mysterium allows the Ghost to hand out clues in the form of vision cards to each player pointing them to specific suspects, venues of the crime and the item used by the killer. On top of this, the Ghost cannot communicate with the players except through the vision cards! It’s a good game that almost anybody can easily pick up and enjoy.
- Betrayal at the House on the Hill
If you like your usual B-Horror Movie, then Betrayal at the House on the Hill might be your thing. This 3 to 6-player game features a group of people who, for some reason, ended up in a haunted house which they try to explore, just like in a decent B-Horror movie (Because why not?). When they move into new rooms, the players will place a corresponding tile, expanding the house layout as they go along and making for good exploration with terrifying implications. As they explore, the dread of the house will chill their spines and eventually, the plot will be revealed: One of them turns out to be the evil mastermind behind the happenings in the house! At this point one of the players will be the GM with a specific objective based on the scenario. The rest of the players will then have their own objective as a group, which usually goes in the line of getting the hell out of there! Betrayal at the House on the Hill has dozens of scenarios, making for amazing replayability. So prepare for some stereotypical horror and find out who would end up as the evil mastermind!
Whew! What a list! Among other games, these are our Halloween must-play board games and hopefully this list can help you plan out your upcoming gaming session. I’m sure there are other awesome horror games out there that missed our list, and I bet you have your own favorites. Let us know yours in the comments section, we’d love to hear them! But for now, I think I have to roll for sanity damage… Ia! Ia! Chhulhu fhtagn!