The High Five - Halloween Games
‘Tis the season for demanding candy from strangers, introducing children to night terrors, and wearing cheaply made costumes. I love the fall! To celebrate Halloween, we’re counting down the High Five Halloween Games. If you’re looking for a game for this year’s Halloween party, one of these should work with your group.
Mysterium, from Libellud, is a cooperative game in which one player takes on the role of a ghost trying to remember the manner of their murder. The other players at the table act as the mediums trying to interpret the ghost’s clues and narrow down the suspects, locations, and murder weapon. The ghost is unable to speak and communicates with illustrated cards that look like an extremely talented chimpanzee inspired by Salvador Dali drew them under the influence of LSD. Interpreting the clues on the cards is where the magic happens. At points throughout the game, players will laugh, feel smarter than they are, and suffer bouts of utter confusion. Mysterium isn’t a scary game, but it includes ghosts, twisted artwork, and death. Mysterium seats up to seven players and connects a broad range of players, making it a great option when your party starts winding down.
4. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
Dead of Winter, published by Plaid Hat Games, is a somewhat cooperative game about zombie survival. You and your fellow players have banded together as a colony in the hopes of riding out the zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, someone may be actively working against the group as a traitor, or maybe not. The trouble is, each player has a secret objective that makes them look shifty as hell. Throw in “Crossroads” cards that trigger when specific actions occur on a player’s turn, and you’ll be skeptical of everyone and throwing folks under the bus in no time. Dead of Winter has all of the psychological elements you’d expect in a zombie game while avoiding all of the overdone zombie tropes. This game produces fear, paranoia, and distrust, you know, the main themes of Halloween.
3. Horrified: Universal Monsters
Horrified is a cooperative game based on the classic Universal Monsters, and it’s fantastic. The game isn’t scary, but the subject matter evokes all of the standard Halloween feels. I consider this the “Monster Mash” (1962 novelty song by Boris Pickett) entry of the list. It’s not scaring anyone, but Halloween without it just doesn’t seem right. Halloween can’t exist without Dracula, the Mummy, the Werewolf, or desperate people wearing barely-there costumes, can it? If you want to read more about my thoughts on Horrified, check out our game night recap.
2. Betrayal Legacy
Betrayal at House on the Hill is an all-time classic horror game, but I’m going to defer to its son, Betrayal Legacy. Betrayal Legacy, from Avalon Hill, expands on the original and includes an evolving story as you go. “Legacy” games change after every play and from one game to the next, and Betrayal Legacy is no different.
In Betrayal Legacy, players explore a haunted mansion and the surrounding property to uncover its secrets. When the conditions are just right, a “haunt” will occur. During the haunt, players will often divide into groups, each with their own set of objectives. Some players will live, and some will die, but the results linger into the next game when a new generation of families explore the old house.
Betrayal Legacy is a great game for the Halloween season. Each game builds to the next with new rules, dramatic discoveries, and more horrific fun. People will be possessed, nutjobs will commune with the devil, and monstrous beasts are sure to appear. If you’re looking for a game to put you smack dab in the middle of every horror movie trope possible, look no further.
1. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
I’ll admit it. I never played the original Mansions of Madness. After playing the second edition, I never will.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition, from Fantasy Flight Games, is a cooperative H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu game that utilizes an app to do the heavy lifting commonly associated with Arkham style games.
Players explore the maps of Innsmouth and the haunted mansions of Arkham through map tiles determined by the app, which enhances the feelings of dread and fear. As you play the game, the app has a creepy soundtrack murmuring in the background. And because you can’t see everything the app has planned for you, the game capitalizes on the fear of the unknown and impending doom.
The games can be lengthy, but Mansions of Madness: Second Edition makes up for the length by offering a unique playing experience filled with high-quality components, immersive narratives, and memories that will last longer than the initial playthrough.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition is the quintessential Halloween game.
As usual, we have a couple of honorable mentions that missed the list but have unique elements that warrant a mention.
Montains of Madness
If you’re looking for a party style, quirky game for Halloween, you might want to take a look at Mountains of Madness from IELLO. Set in the Lovecraft universe, Mountains of Madness is a cooperative game where players become more “insane” as the game progresses. Players communicate with each other to solve puzzles to get off the mountain, but that can be difficult if you only speak in questions or have to check under the table before playing cards. Mountains of Madness requires 3-5 players and is hilarious if you can get it to the table.
The Grandfather of all social deduction games. Ultimate Werewolf works with a large group of players but requires a moderator. Which might be the perfect role for you, as the lead gamer at the party. In Ultimate Werewolf, players are secretly assigned roles as either werewolves or villagers. The werewolves attempt to eat villagers, and villagers try to discover who among them are werewolves. This game isn’t for everyone, and a crappy moderator is catastrophic, but because of its contribution to the world of gaming, it deserves mentioning.
If you want the classic “Universal Monster” feel with fewer rules and faster gameplay, take a look at Campy Creatures from Keymaster Games. Like every Keymaster Games game, the artwork is phenomenal and gets you in the mood immediately. Each round, players play one of their monsters to capture valuable mortals and take control of locations. Players select their monster cards simultaneously, so you’ll need to outwit and outthink your opponents to succeed. Campy Creatures is an excellent game for the non-gamers at your Halloween Party. Did I mention the art is delightful?
|Doug Kotecki is the Chief Curator at Tabletop Game Gallery, and even though his brain tells him not to, he still loves Taco Bell.|