Halloween brings out the horror fan in all of us. There’s no better time to enjoy a haunted house, Lovecraftian horrors or the father of all vampires than when it gets dark and just a bit chilly — especially when the wind blows.
But I digress. Forget trick-or-treating, cheesy slasher flicks, or boring costume parties. Spice up your Halloween festivities with one of these spooky games. Whatever your taste in games runs, we’ve got something for you. Don’t forget to check out our honorable mentions!
1. Arkham Horror
|Players: 1-8||Playtime: 240 minutes||Ages: 8+|
Arkham Horror is on pretty much every list of spooky games for a reason: it’s well designed and fun to play. This cooperative Lovecraftian game is set in the Roaring 20s in the fictional city of Arkham, MA.
The players are all investigators of the occult, who must stop the Ancient One (you choose from 1 of 8 before the game starts) from breaking into their world. As you move through the streets, you battle monsters and try to close portals. Dice rolling is integral, but players also get to build their stats. Character traits are paired, so when you maximize one, you must decrease another.
Arkham Horror is a long game, for sure. But it’ll fill the hours nicely, and who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned Lovecraftian monster?
Expansions: There are a LOT of expansions for this game: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, The Dunwich Horror, Penny Arcade Characters, The Black Goat of the Woods, The King in Yellow, and The Lurker at the Threshold, just to name a few.
2. Betrayal at House on the Hill
|Players: 3-6||Playtime: 60 Minutes||Ages: 12+|
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a cooperative game set in a good old-fashioned haunted house, and if you watch a lot of horror movies, it’ll feel pretty familiar to you. You move through the house (you build it as you go, thanks to a modular board design), collecting items and avoiding dangers. When the Haunt begins, one player secretly turns traitor and begins killing the others. You’ll roll dice as you go through and keep track of your health with a damage marker.
Betrayal at House on the Hill is quite a bit shorter than Arkham Hill, and with dozens of scenarios, the replay value is pretty high.
Expansions: None — but you won’t need them, either.
3. Elder Sign
|Players: 1-8||Playtime: 90 Minutes||Ages: 13+|
Elder Sign was created by the designers of Arkham Horror, and set in the same world. Think of it as the dice-based child of Arkham Horror. The mechanics are much the same, but it’s much faster-paced.
Elder Sign is set in a museum, players are investigators trying to stop the Ancient One from returning to the world by defeating monsters and closing portals. It’s another cooperative game, and you’re going to rely heavily on the dice, but you can get some re-rolls.
Expansions: Gates of Arkham, Unseen Forces
4. Mansions of Madness
|Players: 1-5||Playtime: 2-3 Hours||Ages: 14+|
If Elder Sign is the dice-based child of Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness is the story-based child. All the players except one play investigators exploring a derelict mansion with a malicious but unseen keeper (the remaining player). Part of the thrill comes from not knowing what’s behind the next door. The entire game uses a pre-designed story with varying plot threads. This one’s a great call if you have someone who’s used to being the GM for other games.
Expansions: Plenty of expansions to be had: Call of the Wild, Forbidden Alchemy, House of Fears, Season of the Witch, The Laboratory, The Silver Tablet, The Yellow Sign, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part
5. Fury of Dracula
|Players: 2-5||Playtime: 2-3 Hours||Ages: 14+|
If Lovecraft and haunted houses aren’t your thing, there’s always gothic horror. Fury of Dracula is based on Bram Stoker’s novel and set 8 years after the novel concludes. One player is Dracula, and the others play one of the four vampire hunters. Players have to stop Dracula from taking over Europe, which is no easy feat. Dracula moves through Europe using cards and a map hidden behind the screen, while the rest of the players use their own map of Europe.
As they reach locations, players uncover obstacles Dracula leaves behind. Combat plays round-by-round, and players have a limited number of bites or wounds they can sustain.
This one’s a lengthy game like Arkham, but the story line and game mechanics are interesting, and it’ll fill your day (or evening) nicely.
|In Zombie Dice, you are the zombies. Roll the dice and find out whether you get shot, your prey gets away, or you get a tasty snack. First one to 13 brains wins! This is a perfect, short game to play in between longer games or while waiting for the rest of your players to show up.|
No. of Players: 2+
Estimated Play time: 10 minutes (longer with more players, of course!)
Expansions: Double Feature, School Bus
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
|In this fast-paced game of bluffing and deductions, every player takes on the role of a different character in a village. They must work together to figure out who the werewolf is and rid themselves of the creature. There’s no elimination and no moderator needed, making it a perfect party game.|
No. of Players: 3-10
Estimated Play time: 10 minutes
|Finally, the perfect game for all those Sims fans who spent their time devising ways to make their sims miserable. (I wasn’t the only one, right?) Players take charge of their own family and must find ways to make them suffer before they die. You can complicate things for other players by causing happy events for their families.|
No. of Players 2-4
Estimated Play time: 60 minutes
Expansions: Unquiet Dead, Unfortunate Expeditions, Unhappy Homes
A Touch of Evil
|This Sleepy Hollow-esque game is similar in mechanics to Arkham Horror, but simplified. Players work together to hunt villains. The game is set in the early 19th century in New England.|
No. of Players: 2-8
Estimated Play time: 90 minutes
Expansions: Lots to choose from here, including The Shadow Witch, The Coast, The Volgovian Nutcracker, and more.