I love board games and game nights. The last few years have seen a true golden age in terms of board game design and mechanics (not that there’s anything wrong with classics like Monopoly), and the structure helps give an excuse to hang out with a group of friends regularly. So, like almost everything, there has to be a way to make it a Halloween event.
Luckily, you have plenty of options to choose from to entertain your favorite ghouls and guys.
One Night Ultimate Series
Kicking things off is one of my favorite games I’ve found in the last few years. It’s been a mainstay at game nights nearly every week in some form or another.
“But Nick, how can you play the same board game every week for literally years and not get bored?” Easy!
- You get to accuse your friends without needing actual evidence, which is awesome.
- There are so many combinations of roles that play off each other in interesting ways, mechanically.
- My friends and I are suckers for social deduction games.
- Expansions and spin-offs from the original shake the formula up just enough and are relatively affordable.
- You can play with almost however many players are there, from as few as 4 to as many as 10 with just one game.
- One of my friends looks like the Tanner.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf and its expansions and spin-offs task you with determining who among your group is a werewolf/vampire/alien. There are (generally) 2 teams: villagers and the evil monster team.
Everyone closes their eyes while the app (it’s free and awesome, and if you don’t get it, someone has to either memorize the order for everything or skip playing to be the judge/reader) goes through the order of roles, having one role wake up at a time to perform a task. The role might simply be to wake up and look for who else is that same role, or it might be to swap your card or two other players’ cards.
Most roles, especially in Daybreak, Vampire and Alien, do something each night. Once the night is done, everyone has a set amount of time, usually 5 minutes, to talk among themselves and get an idea of who the monsters are. Monsters generally win if none of their rank is killed while villagers win if at least one of the main monsters is killed. You’ll lie, you’ll accuse each other, you’ll sometimes be quiet and watch as chaos erupts. Basically, it’s a fun time.
The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
“Someone in this camp ain’t what he appears to be.”
If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing, stop what you are doing and go watch it, I’ll wait.
Hey, welcome back! Good flick, eh?
Now, imagine someone was able to capture that feeling of anxiety and distrust and turn it into a board game. Now, imagine that it was done successfully. Now, go and find The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 to play it because, wow, this game captures that intensity.
This game combines social deduction, similar to the One Night Ultimate series earlier, with active sabotage and resource management. To boil it down, the humans want to clear the outpost of the Thing and be the only ones to escape in the helicopter while the imitations win if basically anything prevents that, whether it is destroying enough of the outpost, preventing the Thing from being killed, or sneaking onto the helicopter at the end.
At the start of the game, at least one person around the table is an imitation. All players have a supply card hand that details a variety of useful items or occasionally sabotages. The role of captain moves around the table each turn, with the captain leading missions to get necessary items to advance to the next section, as well as hunting the Thing.
As each section opens up, however, the chance of more people becoming imitations increases, allowing the imitations to be more bold in their sabotages.
The game includes impressive quality pieces and parts that any fan of the film will enjoy, while also being accessible to those who haven’t seen the movie. Unfortunately, getting your hands on this game is not the easiest but still doable. Just talk to your friendly local game store, and they are usually more than happy to order it if they don’t already have it, or you can just order it yourself, because the internet is a helpful tool.
The classic whodunnit!
Most everyone has at one point or another played Clue. Travel the board and collect clues that various players have and be the first person to put it all together.
This is the third game in a row on this list that involves accusing fellow players of being a monster (well, murderer, but they are a monster in society’s eyes), and I don’t know what that says about me.
There are few games that have a movie made about them (as opposed to being based off an existing movie) and even fewer with a movie that’s actually good. Gather your friends and prove once and for all that Professor Plum did it in the kitchen with the knife!
As an aside, I don’t really like that the player whose character did it doesn’t know. I’m not sure how that would be handled if it were created in today’s game climate of social deduction as opposed to in-game deduction, but if any board game designers figure it out, it could be fun!
What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a game where someone is a ghost?!
The premise is similar to Clue: someone was murdered and the players have to figure out who it was. But how that is done is very different.
One player is the ghost while the others are mediums. The ghost gives each player a “vision,” an impressively surreal picture that’s supposed to point players toward selecting the correct suspect/location/weapon. Each player has to identify a different set, and then the ghost decides what the actual answers are and gives a final round of visions that players can look at together to decide.
I feel like I undersold it. It’s a ton of fun, and the vision cards are bizarre and often hard to fit to the suspects/locations/weapons. You’ll find yourself giving players a card intending to give them a clue for one reason and then latch on to something else and choose incorrectly. Oh, and the ghost can’t talk during the rounds or about the cards.
It’s a blast, and it works your brain on either side of the game screen, whether you are trying to figure out a card to best suit each player or trying to figure out what the ghost wants to lead you to.
Gotta have zombos in October.
The game goes really fast, letting you play several rounds of it to see who the best zombie in your group is. Simply roll the most brains before you get shotgunned to death.
What gives this game an interesting twist is the difficulty dice. There are three colors of die you randomly choose. Green die are easier to roll brains and harder to roll shot guns. Yellow die are of medium difficulty, and the red die are the hardest to get brains with.
This game is easily portable and can be used to play when you know a friend is on their way, so you don’t want to start a big game but you don’t want to just sit around and wait. Be careful though, as before you know it, you’ll spend most the knight rolling the bones.
Step into the shoes of Generic-Slasher-Maniac-That-Totally-Isn’t-Jason or be one of the camp counselors, several of whom look eerily like the cast of Critical Role. The player who is the maniac sits behind a game screen, like in Mysterium and various table-top RPGs, and writes down the movement of their maniac on a piece of paper through a helpful…stencil…thing. This picture will help.
This game actually features 4 separate chapters in it that can be played one at a time, all at once, or completely separately. Each chapter features a different objective for the counselors and maniac, sometimes putting the counselors on the run and other times letting them try and stop the maniac.
The air of mystery regarding where the maniac is is a very cool mechanic. Depending on the chapter, the maniac has to reveal himself every few turns, sometimes at the beginning of a set turn and sometimes the end. Counselors can also leave traps that reveal where the maniac is if he crosses into them.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Remember Cabin in the Woods? This game is Cabin in the Woods.
There’s a scene in the movie where the gang (minus Scooby) is in a room full of ominous objects and it cuts to a betting pool somewhere else of what they will activate. Betrayal perfectly captures that moment of activating the wrong thing at the wrong place.
As you explore the spooky-scary house and read event cards in your best gravelly voice, the players will collect Omen cards and then have to roll the dice. If the number rolled is lower than the amount of omens collected, the “haunt” starts. Depending on what omen it was and in what room, a different haunt occurs and a different player is the “traitor.”
The game then violently shifts gears from exploring this mansion to trying to stop this mad scientist; kill the aliens; kill your evil doppelgangers; or be the first to find the treasure and escape.
In the base game, there are 50 different haunt scenarios, with the traitor having to leave the group, so they can read their own secret information while the group reads their own and formulates a plan. It’s fun, randomized, asynchronous gameplay, though some of the haunts are weighted heavily in the favor of the traitor. Personally, I don’t mind too much. It’s still fun.
Extra! Extra! Solve mysteries and attempt to thwart Great Old Ones and other horrific monsters and mind-shattering horrors from entering our world in the 1920s/30s.
If you and your friends enjoy the strange and unsettling aesthetic made famous by H.P. Lovecraft, you owe yourselves to pick up a copy of either Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror. In each, you play period-based investigators who must travel the world to collect clues to stop Cthulu and other creatures from entering our dimension and tearing apart reality. You have to balance your desire to learn more about them with the fact that learning about these monstrosities is a one-way ticket to insanity town. Each character has special abilities and skills that will come in handy.
Try and prevent the coming of the Old Ones while staying as blissfully ignorant as possible. Sounds like how I get through life.
Go get a game, grab some friends, and enjoy a great Spooktober.
Got any other fun games that fit the Halloween spirit? Let us and the community know! Share your favorite memories of games and more.