Okay, so we're not really fans of Halloween. But not many holidays lend themselves to a thematic night of gaming. Arbor Day? Two or three games, tops. Groundhog Day? I feel like anything would be a stretch. But Halloween?! That one's ripe for crafting a game night around it. So for those who like to celebrate this "holiday," we came up with a few ideas for a scary good night. Let's go!
Fury of Dracula
The Drac is back in a new edition of this classic co-op. One player is Dracula, who's using hidden movement to cause as much trouble and pain as possible. The other players are the Hunters, fighting Dracula's minions and trying to end his reign of terror. I've played both the 2nd and 3rd editions, and the 3rd one is the better of the two, IMO. If you want this one, better snatch it up quickly. Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop recently parted ways, and somehow Fury of Dracula is part of the split, so what's out in the wild is it.
Elder Sign is a co-operative dice game where you're fighting against the forces of Cthulhu. I know, I know... Cthulhu is PLAYED OUT. But this game is seriously good. And there are three expansions that add tons of replayability to the base game--especially the excellent Gates of Arkham expansion. And it all plays in about an hour--which is a fraction of the time Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror take.
Letters From Whitechapel
This one's similar to Fury of Dracula, in that one player is the baddie (in this case Jack the Ripper), and the other players are trying to catch him before time runs out. It's a little long, but it's full of interesting tension.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
So...One Night Ultimate Werewolf was my (Firestone) Game of the Year in 2014. It's a 10-minute game of Werewolf with no player elimination. And it's awesome! Hidden roles. Tons of variety. Fun uncertainty. This game is ridiculously great. Get the original. Get Daybreak. But get this game.
I wonder why so many scary games are co-op. Ghost Stories finds you as a group of monks trying to save your village from evil spirits. Every person in the town has a useful ability you can use in your fight. This game is TOUGH! You'll definitely be challenged by the evils coming for you and your fellow warriors. One thing to note is that the game is very dark, and some of the ghosts are super creepy. We don't recommend this one with the family.
Mansions of Madness
Fantasy Flight Games just came out with an app-driven 2nd edition of Mansions of Madness, AND IT'S AWESOME. The app takes care of the details and you're able to just play the game. There's plenty of mystery, clues, and combat. But also puzzles! You'll run into honest-to-goodness puzzles you'll have to work through in order to advance. Super fun.
Okay, this one doesn't have a "scary" theme, but it does have witches. It's a clever card game with plenty of bluffing and an Old School feel. Players take turns playing a role card, and each card has two actions--a brave one that's powerful but riskier, and a cowardly one that's safe but less powerful. It's a terrific game that won the Kennerspiel des Jahres last year.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal is a cult classic, where everyone's building a haunted house room by room as you explore. At some point in the game, one of the players betrays the others and they have to defeat the traitor, while the traitor has some secret objective to complete. It's thematic and tense--and they just came out with a long-awaited expansion.
King of Tokyo (with Halloween expansion)
It's no secret that we LOVE King of Tokyo. This small expansion adds two new monsters (Pumpkin Jack and Boogie Woogie), orange dice, and new Power Up cards in the form of costumes for every monster to wear. It's really just another excuse to play a fun game!
Okay, Dungeon Petz is a stretch, but I'm trying to get to 13, here! You're the leader of an imp family, trying to start a business of breeding and selling pets. And did we mention the pets are monsters? This seems like a lighthearted game, but it's really a complex worker-placement and hand-management game. With lots of monster poop.
In Mysterium, one player is a ghost and the other players are mediums, trying to discern messages from the ghost about the details of his murder. Using no words and only colorful, weird, and dreamlike images, the mediums must figure out the murderer, place of the murder, and weapon. If they can't figure it out in time, everyone loses. Obviously, this has an ghost-y theme, so use your best judgment.
Okay, we're adding this to the list even though we think Elder Sign is better. But some people really like experience games, and playing Arkham or Eldritch Horror is an EXPERIENCE. It's thematic, elaborate, expandable, and...well, an experience. It'll take you hours and hours to play, but you'll have a story once you're done.
Who would have thought you could make a 2-player deduction game? Well Bruno Cathala did, and thank goodness. There are eight characters with special powers, and Jack's trying to stay hidden among them, while the Detective is trying to suss Jack out. It shouldn't work. It totally works.
So that's our list! Now, I'm sure you have an opinion about games we included, and especially games we didn't include. I know there's one popular game that almost everyone else includes on their Halloween/horror list *coughDeadofWintercough*.
So what do you think? What would you include? What would you throw out? Let us know what you think! And thanks for reading!