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 board games.
Whatever your taste in games runs, we’ve got something for you. Don’t forget to check out our honorable mentions!
View the Top 10 Spooky Board Games for Halloween
Arkham Horror is on pretty much every list of spooky board 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 board game, for sure. But it’ll fill the hours nicely, and who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned Lovecraftian monster?
Arkham Horror Expansions:
- Curse of the Dark Pharaoh
- The Dunwich Horror
- Penny Arcade Characters
- The Black Goat of the Woods
- The King in Yellow
- The Lurker at the Threshold
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a cooperative spooky board 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.
There are no expansions, but this board game already comes with a ton of variations to keep it interesting.
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.
Elder Sign Expansions:
- Gates of Arkham
- Unseen Forces
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 spooky board games.
Mansions of Madness 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
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.
Fury of Dracula Expansions:
There are no expansions for Fury of Dracula at this time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other Spooky Board Games to Consider
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 spooky board games or while waiting for the rest of your players to show up.
- 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 small board 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.
- Players: 3-10
- Estimated Play time:10 minutes
- Expansions: None
Gloom (2nd Edition)
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.
- 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.
- 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