Beyond Monopolyby Louis Sylvester
Because of the ongoing pandemic, many will celebrate this Halloween season by staying at home. As such, families have a wonderful opportunity to gather to play some haunted tabletop games. Here is a list of some of the finest games with horrific themes that you can bring to your table this Halloween.
If you are seeking a truly terrifying challenge, there are few games that offer thrills and chills like Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition (1-5 players, age 14+). Based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, this game provides several mysterious scenarios for players to overcome, from exploring a cursed mansion to facing insane mobs in the streets of Innsmouth. The game is cooperative, so players will work together to overcome the twisted, unearthly horrors hidden within the game system. One important note: Be sure to pick up only the 2nd edition because it utilizes a free app program that guides players through the rules and runs the monsters that players must face, which makes it that much easier to enjoy.
Another frightening game that requires player cooperation is Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game (2-5 players, age 13+). Players control a group of survivors in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. This band of plucky heroes must struggle to find food and fuel while building barricades to hold back an ever-increasing horde of zombies. Victory can only be achieved if players work together, but each individual player also has a secret objective that can stir up paranoia between members of the group. Will your group find a way to win together or will your safehouse be overrun?
For a much lighter scare, One Night Ultimate Werewolf (3-10 players, age 8+) presents players a deduction-style game that can be played in 10 minutes. Each player is assigned a secret role such as villager, seer, or werewolf. The villagers want to uncover who in the group is a werewolf, but the werewolf wants to stay hidden. A free app moderates each step of the game, allowing players to enjoy play without getting bogged down by rules. You’ll want to play game after game of this!
Many people like to spend Halloween night by watching a horror movie, but why not spend a few hours playing one of the greatest horror movie series of all time? With Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deckbuilding Game (1-5 players, age 17+) players can experience the four Alien movies. Whether defending against a hunter xenomorph or hoping to avoid a facehugger, this card game requires players to coordinate their moves to avoid being overwhelmed by the Perfect Organism. Be ready for a real struggle, though, because the aliens are not about to make winning easy.
Finally, in past columns, I have recommended some amazing games that would make for an excellent evening of Halloween fun. Players can face the challenges of an escape room by playing any of the Unlock! Adventures games. Or you can face off against the Universal monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man in the excellent coop game Horrified. If you want a game that is exactly on-the-nose concerning today’s news, there are literally a dozen different versions of Pandemic, a system that requires players work together to find a cure before viruses break out across the world.
So, don’t worry about missing trick-or-treating because whatever games you pick, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween at home this year.
Sylvester is an associate professor in the creative writing program at Lewis-Clark State College. He is the co-author of “Legends of the Lost Causes” series, a rip-roaring adventure set in the fantasy West, available now. You can send him your questions about tabletop games at firstname.lastname@example.org.