Halloween is just around the corner and to help put you in the mood, we’ve conjured a list of 13 of our favorite games with themes that are perfect for Halloween game night. Some are frightful, others delightful, but all are great fun. Take a look at our list and let us know–did we include your favorite?
For some time, my favorite hidden movement game was one involving a guy named Jack. Now it’s Jason–or Michael or Freddy in this genericized send-up of slasher horror flicks. Campers will be chased by an unseen killer before the tables are turned and the hunter becomes the prey. Play takes place over four distinct chapters and each is clever and fun, and Last Friday is definitely worth bringing to your table this Halloween. (db)
Donner Dinner Party
For months, I’ve been stuck in the High Sierras, snowed in and trapped. Supplies were gone weeks ago. Last month, we decided to eat Ned’s dog. Two weeks ago, his horse. We’re starving now and, if I’m perfectly honest, Ned is starting to look pretty tasty… Donner Dinner Party is a bluffing and deduction game for 4 to 10 players, aged 12 and up that plays in about 20-30 minutes. Pioneers hunt for food to feed the starving group for another week while Cannibals hope to eat one of their party instead. It’s a deduction game with a different flavor!
Read the full review. (db)
Tomb of Annihilation Board Game
WizKids’ Tomb of Annihilation Board Game—based on the latest Dungeons & Dragons adventure module of the same name—is seven pounds of cards, counters, sturdy tiles, plastic minis, and pure arcane horror. A cooperative campaign game for 2-5 players (with the option for solo play for you lone wolves), it challenges your adventuring party to brave the tropical jungles of Chult, plumb the Tomb of the Nine Gods, and, hopefully, free the world from an enduring “death curse.” Built on the familiar Adventure System, you’ll be drawing cards, placing tiles, and collecting treasure in no time. Just don’t expect your fierce supernatural enemies to go down without a fight. (Z.) [Game provided by: WizKids]
Ghosts Love Candy
Ghosts Love Candy had a bit of a rough start—it was successfully Kickstarted by 5th Street Games in 2014 (read my original Kickstarter review here), but then the company went out of business before it was produced. Fortunately, Steve Jackson Games stepped in to save the game, shipping it to backers even though it didn’t get any of the funds from the campaign. And now that it’s hit retail, you can finally play this Halloween-themed game on Halloween! Up to 6 players take on the role of ghosts who love candy, but can’t eat it because, well, they’re ghosts. Instead, they possess all the costumed kids on Halloween so they can enjoy the candy… but eat too much and the kid gets sick. It’s an adorable game, and I’m glad Steve Jackson brought it back to life, so to speak. (Jonathan Liu)
[Game provided by: Steve Jackson Games]
Haunt the House
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get your hands on this one in time for this Halloween, but you should back the Kickstarter now so you’ll have it for next year. Haunt the House is a great, family-friendly game about chasing ghost hunters out of the haunted house. (Maybe it’s because they don’t have any candy!) Great artwork and a nice bluffing mechanic make this a fun, not-too-spooky house that you’ll love to haunt. Read my full review here. (Jonathan Liu)
[Prototype copy provided by: Kids Table Board Gaming]
On the evening of Samhain, the boundaries between this world and the next waver, making it the best time to communicate with those on the other side. You and your fellow psychics have gathered to investigate an old mystery—a death that was ruled an accident but may have been something more sinister. In the cooperative game Mysterium, one player acts as the ghost, giving clues to the psychics in the form of cards with mysterious images on them; the psychics must use their intuition to piece together the suspects, locations, and potential murder weapons, and find the real culprit before the veil closes once again. The Hidden Signs expansion released last year adds even more cards to expand the possibilities. (JL)
Hit Z Road
Hit Z Road is a road trip through hell. More accurately, it’s a trip on Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles, during the zombie apocalypse. The game is made from found things, the product of a boy who survived the trip already (or so the story goes). You and your fellow survivors gather resources along the way and these resources allow you to overcome obstacles and fight zombies on your journey. Each player bids to choose among the available routes, but you have to sacrifice your resources to get the better choices. The further west you go, the tougher it gets, but it’s loads of fun and, in an age where zombie games fill our shelves, Hit Z Road stands out for its unique gameplay and outstanding art. Read the full review. (db)
One Night Ultimate Werewolf (Or Vampire or Alien)
Few party games at our table get the comment “Come on, let’s play one more time” as often as One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Most people are familiar with werewolf and mafia type games, where players assume roles with special abilities and then try to root out the werewolf (or mafioso) in their midsts. There are plenty of variations, but One Night Ultimate Werewolf is special for a few reasons: First, it looks great; it has wonderful art. Second, you can play this particular game with as few as three players. Third, you don’t need a moderator. Just download the iOS/Android app and start having fun. Fourth, there is just a single round, play is fast. For us, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a game worth playing a lot more than just a single night. Read the full review here. (JL)
You play as witches who have come across the medieval village of Wickersby, a town with a blacksmith, a farmer, and a miller, but without a Crone. You will have to compete with your fellow players to harvest ingredients that will enable you to cast spells to summon villagers to locations, make them fall in (and out of) love, turn them into frogs, and more. The player who accomplishes the most challenging spell combinations and scores the most points will win the title of The Village Crone! Read the full review. (db)
There are hordes and hordes of zombie-based board games on game store shelves; what makes Dead of Winter so great, you might ask yourself, before pointing out that it doesn’t even have plastic minis! Dead of Winter is billed as a “meta-cooperative psychological survival game” which means all players are working toward a common goal, but individual players also have secret objectives. In order to win, both goals must be achieved for each player. But beware! Among the players, there may also be a betrayer, working to thwart your plans by driving down morale. The result is lots of tension, suspicion, and second-guessing each other’s motives. (JL)
Night of the Grand Octopus
Have you often thought to yourself, “I wish I could share the obsession and madness that accompany worship of Cthulhu with my kids”? Now, at long last, there is a game for you: Night of the Grand Octopus. In this light-playing and non-threatening family game, players secretly move their cultists and their octopi offspring from room to room of an English university. If you end up in the same room as another occultist, you must negotiate or bad things can happen. End up in a room with a monster, and your game is over. But if you end up alone, you can grab magical goods. Grab enough goods and you can summon the Grand Octopus and win the game! (db)
Okay, of course it wouldn’t be a Halloween games list without at least a few zombie games, right? I do like playing long, thematically rich zombie games, but sometimes you just want to jump in and run for your life. That’s where Zombie 15′ comes in. It’s a real-time cooperative zombie game that takes 15 minutes per session. I mentioned it in my earlier roundup of zombie games, and it’s a blast to play (though it takes a while to set up each scenario). Just because the zombies are slow and shambling doesn’t mean your game needs to be! (JL)
I know what you’re thinking: “Pandemic? That’s not a Halloween game.” Well, flu season is horrible and there’s talk of indestructible viruses and some people won’t even vaccinate their kids, so what better way to conquer your fears than by finding cures for nasty viruses? But I should warn you: chances are, the nasty viruses will wipe you out. Here’s hoping life doesn’t imitate art.
Pandemic is a now-classic cooperative game, where you work together to formulate cures before the diseases wipe out too much of Earth’s population. The On the Brink expansion adds a few new roles, more virulent diseases, plus an optional bioterrorist role. And, of course, now there’s Pandemic: Legacy, where the consequences of each play session will affect the next.
Hate being on the losing side? You could pick up Pandemic: Contagion, where you get to play a disease trying to wipe out the human race. That reminds me: better go get your flu shots. (JL)