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Halloween is fast approaching, which means your Halloween plans are (or should be) well underway. Me, I'm looking forward to a costumed Halloween party with gaming and a fire pit. Should be lots of fun.
Last year we took a look at 5 spooky Halloween games for you to play. This year, we've expanded the list to 13, plus an honorable mention.
Eldritch Horror is the little sibling to Arkham Horror in a lot of ways. Still a lengthy game, like its big brother, but much simpler rules for more streamlined play. Players take on the role of investigators, who travel across the world, and even venture into the Other World.
The game plays across a series of rounds, each of which has 3 distinct phases. The goal is simple: Solve 3 of the Ancient One's mysteries before the doom tracker runs out, or you'll be in for one serious battle. The game offers a variety of scenarios, so play is different every time.
Players: 1-8 Playtime: 2-4 hours Ages: 14+
It's not Halloween without zombies, right? Last Night on Earth is an all-vs-one cooperative board game. Most players are the Heroes of a small town. One player (or two; all vs. one maybe isn't the most accurate description) controls the zombie horde.
The goal is simple: Complete the objectives of the scenario before the sun track reaches the end. The combat is dice-based, and the game actually has a sense of urgency to it thanks to the sun track.
The game has several different scenarios and the board is modular; so like the best games, you'll get a different experience every time. And as usual, there are expansions, including Survival of the Fittest and Timber Peak.
Players: 2-6 Playtime: 90 minutes Ages: 12+
Ghost Stories is another cooperative board game with a spooky theme but a twist on the standard horror fare. The players are Taoist monks stopping an army of ghosts led by the lord of Hell himself, Wu-Feng. Players must exorcise the ghosts and protect the village.
The art on this one looks pretty phenomenal , and the board is modular, so the game will change up each time. There are multiple levels of play: on the basic level, you just need to beat Wu-Feng once, with more challenging play you have to beat several incarnations. There's even an expansion called Ghost Stories: White Moon.
Players: 1-4 Playtime: 1 hour Ages: 12+
Right off the bat, Letters from Whitechapel is not everyone's cup of tea. It's a tense, atmospheric game about Jack the Ripper. It's an all-vs.-one scenario that involves bluffing and deduction.
One player is the killer himself; the others are either police hunting for him or one of the Wretched, who could become one of the Ripper's victims. The board is designed to look like a period map of the Whitechapel area, with plenty of places for Jack the Ripper to hide.
There's a bit of strategy involved here. Players need to communicate, and there's always a question of what's the better tactic: for Jack, is it head straight for his bolthole, or take the long, meandering route? For police, do you rush straight to the crime scene to pick up the trail, or spread out your forces to create a net? There's also a high replay value given how many options there are for strategy. It's just a matter of making sure everyone is on board with the premise.
Players: 2-6 Playtime: 2 hours Ages: 13+
Dead of Winter isn't perfectly theme appropriate -- it's set in the middle of a post-apocalyptic winter where most of the world's population has died or turned into zombies.
But it's an intensely psychological game. Players must work together to survive and complete objectives, but at the same time, everyone has their own motives or psychological ticks -- some harmless, some not so much.
Dead of Winter is different from other coop games in that the group can win as a whole, or lose as a whole, and individual players can win or lose as well. It's another lengthy game, so best clear your schedule.
Players: 2-5 Playtime: 45-210 minutes Ages: 14+
Gloom made an honorable mention last year because it's a light-hearted spooky game, the entire goal being to make the family you control miserable and deliver good news to your adversaries. Cthulhu Gloom continues in the same vein, but this time you play as Lovecraftian investigators, and you get to torment your characters with Lovecraft's finest creations.
First, again, the premise is spot on. Second, it's fully compatible with Gloom and its expansions. The Cthulhu edition also introduces story cards -- that require players to meet the conditions -- and transformation cards, whose effects stick with the character.
It's a good choice if you want something not quite as heady and involved for your Halloween festivities.
Players: 2-5 Playtime: 1 hour Ages: 13+
Another cooperative zombie-themed game for your Halloween game night: Zombicide. You can probably guess what it's about, too. The zombies are simplistic, and controlled by a deck. Players must work together to defeat the hordes and complete specific objectives. But the more you level up, the more zombies appear. However, it's less story-driven than Last Night on Earth and more focused on the dice-based combat.
First, there's a couple different levels of play, so while the base game should only take an hour, the expert level it can be up to 4 hours -- more than enough to fill up your evening. And, there are expansions. Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak and Zombicide Season 3: Rue Morgue, both of which are standalone games playable as expansions. There are a couple other expansions that require the base sets to play as well.
Players: 1-6 Playtime: 1 hour Ages: 13+
Munchkin Bites is another light-hearted take on the Halloween theme -- and a classic to boot. This monster-inspired iteration of Munchkin is all about fighting the other monsters in a haunted house and finding ways to mess with your fellow players.
While this is a uniquely Halloween-appropriate iteration (with a sequel, Munchkin Bites 2), it also integrates with the rest of the Munchkin decks.
Players: 3-6 Playtime: 1 hour Ages: 10+
We're taking a bit of a break from your typical monster movie. It's more dystopia -- set in a city that is both a prison and a work camp, where a militant species called the Yugai leave survivors of their conquests. Dystopia obviously isn't seasonal, but there's something about bare trees and chilly wind that bring it to mind for me.
Players are the leaders of various gangs, and they are each vying for control of the city. So you have to recruit members, gather supplies, and avoid the police while maintaining control and fighting your opponents. This particular game is smart, and it's going to take quite a bit of strategy -- and you should expect something of a learning curve.
Players: 2-4 Playtime: 90 minutes Ages: 13+
Zombies!!! pits players against yet another undead horde. The game is quick and messy with dice-based combat. Unlike a lot of the other zombie games out there, it's not a cooperative game. Players need to get out of the infested city and to the rescue helicopter or kill 25 zombies (a difficult, if not impossible feat) to win.
What's a bit different is that the board is revealed as you go -- players unveil and place tiles, which might just be a boring street, or a building with crucial supplies. Special perks come from a deck of cards -- which you might use to your advantage, or to punish other players.
Again, this isn't a cooperative game, but there is no player elimination, either. You'll get a chance to start over, and wreak havoc upon the players that did you in.
Players: 2-6 Playtime: 1 hour Ages: 12+
Another zombie board game here, but this one with a radically different concept. Zombies invade, and now you have to fend off the masses of undead until a rescue helicopter arrives to save your motley crew of survivors. But to do that, you're going to have to figure out which survivors to sacrifice.
Everything is handled in a very democratic fashion -- with votes and a fair bit of scheming and negotiating. You'll make (and probably break) deals with other players to keep your characters alive whatever it takes.
So, if you and your friends are some terrible people or inclined to argue even a bit, you can expect some serious entertainment value here. City of Horror has similar mechanics to Mall of Horror (and made by the same person) but several changes.
Players: 3-6 Playtime: 90 minutes Ages: 14+
In Castle Panic, players must defend the castle against the monsters, who have amassed armies and marched out of the forest.
Another cooperative game here, but while players do have to work together, they're also keeping track of the monsters they slay, because the player with the most points also gets the title of Master Slayer.
Castle Panic is another less-intense option for game night that's light on strategy. The artwork is charming, and the whole premise is definitely kid-friendly, too.
Players: 1-6 Playtime: 1 hour Ages: 10+
Blood Bound is perfect if you're planning on having a large crowd over for Halloween and you don't want to resort to Cards Against Humanity. Meant for 6-12 players, it's a vampire-themed game of deduction and bluffing.
Players are members of two rival vampire clans (if there's an odd number of players, there's also a human inquisition). They must work out what clan the other players belong to and work to capture the Elder of the opposing clan.
Players: 6-12 Playtime: 30 minutes Ages: 14+
Welcome to the Dungeon makes my list of honorable mentions mostly because it's hilarious. The entire premise is about nerve and pressing your luck. You're daring other players to enter the dungeon (which is filling up with more and more monsters) with less equipment than they started with. You can win by surviving 2 rounds in the dungeon -- or get eliminated by losing 2 rounds.
Play is pretty simple. Either you draw a card or pass your turn. If you pass your turn, you're done for the entire round. If you draw a card, you can either use it to put a piece of your equipment out of play, or add it to the dungeon. It keeps going like that until there's only one player left, who must then enter the dungeon and fight the monsters. After the round, all equipment re-enters play, the deck gets re-shuffled.
Players: 2-4 Playtime: 30 minutes Ages: 10+
Did we leave something off the list? What are your picks for Halloween game nights? Which games have you played and which ones are you looking forward to? We're always happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so leave us a comment and let us know!