Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect excuse to meet up with friends, show off your costumes, and most importantly play some spooky board games. There’s a lot of games out there, so in this article we’re here to help you pick the right board game for your Halloween party.
1. Sub Terra
In Sub Terra players drop down an uncharted dark cave, with nothing else but limited-life flashlight and their skills. The group has to find their way out and try not to get killed by gas, cave-ins, or get devoured by unseen monsters in the darkest corners.
The game is quick to explain and learn, and the setup is fast so you can get right into the terrifying action. It doesn’t have a lot of reading so you can play it under dim or limited light, and it’s actually recommended that you give it a go because the beauty of this game is that it glows in the dark! You can set up a spooky atmosphere, set some ambient sounds, and let the imagination do the rest.
Want to learn more? Check out our review!
Myterium is a paranormal detective game, where one player takes the role of an all-knowing ghost and helps the other players solve their own individual murder cases. Communicating only with beautiful Dixit-like picture cards, they have to help the rest of the group find their location, suspect, and murder weapon.
The game may take a while to set up, but explaining it is simple and easy. You can prepare most of it in advance and finish off the rest of the prep while enjoying some drinks and snacks. The game pieces can be rearranged freely in order to make space for food and drinks during game. You can also replace the yes and no voting tokens with small candy, that when people get it right they can eat the candy. What else do you need at Halloween?
Mysterium is a lot of fun, suitable for teens, and really well fits the Halloween spirit.
Note! Mysterium Park is a cheaper as fun option, but you loose on atmosphere.
3. Paranormal Detectives
Paranormal Detectives is a another limited information game, very similar to Mysterium, but with its own twists and charms that make it a very different game. One of the players plays the ghost, and with tools provided by the other players, they have to help them solve the murder at hand.
Unlike Mysterium, in Paranormal Detectives you all work together to solve a single crime. The ghost knows all the key information (like who, when, where, how, why) and without talking they need to give all that information to the mediums. The mediums have a limited number of tools each (represented by cards) and they can use them only once when asking a question. It’s very important to match the right tool with your question, for example, you can use the spirit board to ask for names, and the tarot cards to show the other players how it happened.
The setup is fast, and it is easy to explain. You can use some props, dress up like mediums, and have a fun séance without risking actually accidentally unleashing some ancient evil upon your home… you never know.
4. Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill (or Betrayal for short) locks you in a spooky abandoned mansion, and you have to all escape. At one point the game will give you information on what is going on and how to escape the house. However, it is very likely that one of you will turn against the rest.
Betrayal has over 50 plots, and you can never be sure which one you will get. You all play together as allies but you know that at one point, one of you is very likely to betray the group. It could even be you! With the high number of random factors (map building, events, etc.) and the multiple scenarios, Betrayal has very high reliability score. It is fast to explain and understand, and the set up time is moderate. We recommend you set the pieces in advance. The house map takes a significant space, but as it’s build with tiles you will have room for drinks and food. Put some spooky ambient music in the background, dim the light, and enjoy the inevitable betrayal from your friends.
While hidden traitor games aren’t for everyone (we don’t normally like them!), Betrayal‘s random nature means you don’t spend your time pointing suspicion at your friends and arguing, because it’s entirely possible that nobody will become the traitor. It’s not guaranteed to turn into a PvP scenario, and even if it does, there’s rarely hard feelings. So give it a shot, even if it’s not normally your sort of game!
5. One Night Werewolf
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a hidden role game where werewolves are hiding among the humans. The townsfolk have to find them before they get killed by the werewolves during the night. It is faster paced, and you if you play with a lot of people, most of them don’t just sit out and watch others having fun.
One Night Werewolf come with roles and they can be a little hard to understand, mostly if you play with people who are not very familiar with games. It can also be very confusing (and unrealistic) when you play with the rules that allow you to switch roles. The benefit of this game is that it is very likely for people to have heard of it and already know how to play.
We would recommend Mafia rules. Mafia is an old game that inspired all of those hidden role games (mostly Werewolf), and as an old game you can play it with minimum investment. Either write the roles on pieces of paper, or get some playing cards. You can alter the theme from Mafia to vampires, werewolves, or cultists even. It is a great game for costume party, as it gets really funny convincing the group that the pirate is a werewolf. You can read the original Mafia rules here.
The biggest plus of this game is that you can play it with excessive amount of people. Most board games go from 4 to 6 people, while Mafia-like games are better the more people there are. If you’ve ever played Among Us, this is where it was born. Werewolves are sus.
6. Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness is a story-driven Lovecraftian horror game, where you solve a mystery and hope not to die or get driven insane by Elder Gods. A usual Tuesday, basically. The game is great for a small group of friends (four or less), where you each explores a mansion and find its deepest darkest secrets. Mansions of Madness is published by Fantasy Flight Games with their signature high production quality. As you play, you build a beautiful map, guided by a companion app that tells the story and helps you to build the scene. Put the app on your laptop (it is on Steam), on your tablet (both on Android and iPad), and take turns to voice the characters. The sillier the voice, the better.
It is a quick to set up and explain, and it takes a few hours to play each of the scenarios. You cannot explore everything, and there are puzzles to solve, so that brings for great conversations and discussions between the players. The game is on the longer and pricier side, but it’s very worth much worth the time and expense.
Gloom gives out a lot of Addams Family vibes. It’s a very fun competitive card game, where you each player has their own family and they try to make them as miserable as possible and then kill them off. The goal is to have the least points at the end. Yes it does sounds very counter intuitive and depressing, but that is part of the charm.
Each turn you play cards either on your family or other peoples families, continuing the narrative of their lives. The most fun of the game comes from the stories you tell, so this is a great game for a small group of creative people. It is super fast to set up, quick to understand and grasp, and it leaves a lot of room for snacks and drinks. Since it has a small box, you can just carry it with you to a friends party and have a few quick, fun games.
8. The Night Cage
Darkness and small places are the main fears exploited by the new Kickstarter game The Night Cage. The players have to navigate in a seems endless connection of dark tunnels with nothing but their fleeting sanity and a burning out candle light, while avoiding the monsters that leak around.
The Night Cage is an easy to explain and quick to set up cooperative game for up to 4 players. Light a few candles, dim the lights, and put a spooky ambiance to enhance the haunting atmosphere. The games are very quick to play, and it has ways to adjust the difficulty if you find it too easy.
If you’ve ever played Tsuro and thought “I wish there was more existential dread in this game”, then The Night Cage won’t disappoint, though you may have issues finding a copy. If you spot it for sale in the wild – snap it up!
9. Stupid Deaths
Stupid Deaths is trivia game where you try to guess whether the death described on the card was true or not. You better don’t get a lot of them wrong, as The Grim Reaper is chasing you. As usual, you don’t really need to escape from him, you just need to be faster then your friends….
It is a quick to set up, very funny and oddly educational game. It comes in a small, easy-to-transport box, so you can just bring it a friends party. You can get an hour or so out of it between bigger games, and you may even learn something!
10. Murder of Crows
Murder of Crows is another card game, where you play letter cards and try to spell MURDER before everyone else. It is best for four or five players, and it has very beautiful art. At the end you have to read out what happened, as every letter represents a part of the murder.
You can play it right out of the box, and it is very quick and easy to explain. It is not very complicated, but it’s not for everyone. As you decide to directly influence peoples fields, it is important to play it with people who don’t mind competitive games, and will not feel ganged up on.
11. Dead of Winter
For fans of zombies, Dead of Winter is a good choice for your party. The players control characters that try to survive in a make-shift colony, managing their food and moral, while fighting off hordes of zombies.
Dead of Winter is a brilliant game, but it takes a fair share to set up, and mostly to explain. If you are playing with an experienced group, drop in a traitor just to make everyone even more on edge then they already are. It is the perfect game for a group of people who are fans of series like The Walking Dead, mostly because it there is an expansion that literally brings those characters in!
For unexperienced groups, start off with cooperative mode, without a traitor, and try to win a scenario or two. If you feel like you want to take on more of a challenge, get the expansion that I believe truly upgrades the game with the big and strong (sometimes too random) boss zombies.
As good as Dead of Winter is, be warned that the games are long, and can drag for hours, so it may be the only board game you have the time to play.
12. Dead and Breakfast
Halloween games don’t always have to be spooky, they can also be funny! Dead & Breakfast is an adorable cartoony game for 2 to 4 players, where each one of you runs their own B&B for monsters. Your goals each are to build the motel that will attract (and scare) the most customers.
It is a very cute game, quick to set up, and perfect to younger people, or guests who would like to sleep at night after the party. The game board could take a lot of space if you play with all 4 players, but nothing a dinning table can’t handle. Another plus for this game is that it has a relatively small box and an equally small price tag.
13. Pen and Paper RPGs
Chronicles of Darkness (or as people may know it World of Darkness) is a pen-and-paper roleplaying game system, and Chronicles of Darkness is the perfect system for the start of a Halloween campaign, or just a spine-tingling one-shot. The setting is built around modern day and horror, and allows you to tell stories that span from supernatural monsters snatching teens in the night, to the complicated politics of secret societies run by vampires.
You can either write your own short scenario, or just buy one from sites like Drive Thru RPG. There is no better way to get in the Halloween spirit, then a horror story that happens in your own home town.
Another pen-and-paper system that we’ve used for spooky adventures in the past is Savage World. This system not only allows you to be adapted to any type of setting, but it is also very simple and newbie friendly. You can prepare the characters in advance and give them out to players to chose. Or you can use the characters that your party guests are dressed up, to make a Murder Mystery-like dinner party.
You can find scenarios under Savage World in DriveThruRPG, and the core rulebook even has a few easy-to-run horror adventures in the back! While tabletop RPGs require a lot of work to plan and run, they’re some of the most fun you can have around a table with your friends.
These are just a few of our recommendations. Plan out your party theme, know how many people will attend, and pick the right game. Hopefully we’ve helped with the choice or at least given you some ideas! If you have a Halloween party, send us the pics on social media and let us know what you played!