The Halloween Board Game Guide
You can call me a big kid if you like, but I love this time of year, and Halloween is one of my favourite parts. People throw parties and gatherings all over the world, reveling in the spookiness of it all.
Now that we’re able to be in the same room as other people again, why not throw a Halloween party of your own, and get family and friends gathered around a table to turn the spook dial all the way up to 11. Below you’ll find my guide to my favourite Halloween games for families, kids, gamers, and groups of friends. Whatever your situation, you’ll be able to find something to fit the bill.
Special note: Kienda is now a sponsor of Punchboard. Some of the included games are available there. If you buy any of them (or any others), and your order totals £60 or more, you can get 5% off your purchase. Just head to kienda.co.uk/punchboard to create your account. No tricks, just treats.
Clickable games index
I’ve chosen these games to work with a combination of adults and older kids. Or just adults, there’s no shame in a bit of Scooby-Doo action, especially at Halloween.
I reviewed Horrified here on the site a while back, and it’s still in my collection. It’s a cooperative game (great to avoid arguments!) in which you’re trying to stop the monsters from achieving their goals.
The monsters are classics from Universal’s back catalogue, including Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster (and his wife), and The Wolfman. They can be mixed and matched, and all play the game very differently.
It works great on a family games night because of the combination of bright colours, cool plastic monster minis, and the ‘us against the monsters’ feel. Younger kids can play too but might take a little bit of careful steering by experienced parents. Win or lose, you’re all in it together.
Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion
Nothing says “child-friendly spooky” like Scooby-Doo. There are probably countless games out there that bear everyone’s favourite scaredy-dog’s name, but Escape from the Haunted Mansion (review here) must surely be the best.
It’s another cooperative game in which you control the gang as they attempt to escape the titular mansion. The artwork and presentation are fantastic, and you’ll use the various books included in the game to do your very best Shaggy impressions – like, zoiks!
The gameplay is great and makes clever use of a code system. If you want to try using an item with a character’s skill, look up the unique code in the book and see what happens. My son absolutely loved this game, and I think your kids will too.
It doesn’t get much spookier than ghosts, right? Mysterium is another cooperative game, where one player is a ghost, and the others are paranormal investigators.
If you’re the ghost, you don’t speak at all in Mysterium. Instead, you try to pass clues as to the identity of your killer, and the location and weapon. The clues come in the form of dream-like cards which you hand to the players, who then have to decipher your hint from the (sometimes surreal) images on the cards.
It’s great fun, and half the fun comes when you fail and try to explain how each card was meant to be a clue for something really tangential.
Halloween is (apparently) for kids, so ramp up the spook factor safely with games like these.
Zombie Kidz Evolution
Kids’ games don’t have to stray far from the path of the sort of games hobbyists play. Zombie Kidz Evolution is a proper Legacy game, but one which your screaming ankle-biters control.
As unlikely a scenario as it may be, in Zombie Kidz Evolution the kids are trying to save the school. The janitor scarpered at the first sign of trouble, and the children need to work together to fend off the zombie horde while trying to lock the entrances to keep them out.
They’ll unlock new heroes, and new abilities, and even get to do the cool thing of opening envelopes to see how the story progresses. It’s a fantastic game that deserves to hold the #1 spot on BGG’s children’s games list.
Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
This game is so frequently recommended for kids that not including it in a list of top Halloween kids’ games would be criminal. It’s another cooperative game and this time you’re trying to find jewels in a house. A haunted house!
It’s really easy to play – rolling dice to move around, collect treasure and fight ghosts. There are some great little tweaks that force the kids to work as a team, like for example when a third ghost enters a room and it becomes a Haunting. Two of you then need to fight those spooks.
The little ghosts are adorable, and the plastic player characters are very cool, with slots in their backpacks that the jewels actually fit into. It’s basically a lighter Pandemic, but with ghosts instead of diseases, which is awesome.
Ghost Adventure is a bit of a gimmick game, but it’s a great gimmick. The aim is to guide your ghost mouse (don’t ask) on missions, collecting stuff and moving through the various boards. “How?” you ask. A spinning top!
It’s a dexterity game where you pick up the boards and tilt them to move the top around, avoiding traps, and trying to reach specific spots. The boards are beautifully made, double- and sometimes triple-layered. You’ll be jumping the top, flipping boards, making perilous board-to-board transfers.
I played this at last year’s UK Games Expo, and while it might not keep adults interested too long, the game and its gorgeous comic certainly keep kids hooked.
Look, I get it. Halloween is cool and all, but you’re serious about your board games. Ghost mice and anthropomorphic crime-fighting Great Danes won’t keep you or your group entertained. Here are some more serious games which ought to keep you busy, spooky hardcore.
Betrayal at House on the Hill: 3rd Edition
There’s a reason Betrayal at House on the Hill is on a 3rd Edition – it’s great. One of the original hidden traitor games, Betrayal has these great narrative elements, telling the story of a group of explorers seeking to discover the secrets of the eponymous house. One of you, however, has a hidden role. Once the Haunt begins, the traitor needs to do whatever’s required of them before the good guys do the same. Who is it though!?
The plastic minis are great, and just the sort of thing a good spooky games night can do with to build atmosphere. The designers created a great modular system, with the house being revealed as you explore and flip tiles.
This third edition tidies up some of the things that left a sour taste for some people in its predecessors. There’s less of a chaotic feel at times, and the inclusion of scenario cards provides some back story, which helps pull the narrative together. It’s a great game.
Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein
If you can find a copy, Abomination is the perfect game for Halloween. It’s a worker-placement game where players hope to prove themselves as the next Dr Frankenstein by creating a new creature, to keep the previous monster company. Bless, he’s lonely!
The presentation of gothic Paris on the board is great, and it’s cool fun to actually find and place the body parts on your boards. Worker-placement is the order of the day, and it ties in with the theme so well. Digging around in graves and the morgue, researching science, even trying to find the spark itself, to bring it all to life.
If you play it, I highly recommend playing the official Igor Variant, which shortens the length of the game and tightens things up.
Zombicide: 2nd Edition
If you’re after a zombie game that recreates the feel of films like Dawn of the Dead, look no further. A group of over-the-top characters band together to fight off swarms of Zeds, find weapons and items, level-up, and engage in good ol’ fashioned carnage.
The scenarios are all linked with an overarching story, which lets you choose the way it branches, as a team. It adds a feeling of investment which keeps the same players coming back for more.
Zombicide really is the zombie game these days, and with good reason. The second edition tightens up a few rules which bring down the dependence on luck, and I understand you can mix in your stuff from the original. There’s a stupid amount of extras and expansions available to fuel your zombie-slaying for years to come. It’s a brilliant ‘beer and pretzels’ co-op blast-fest.
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
It wouldn’t be a horror compilation without a bit of Lovecraft, right? The original Mansions of Madness did really well, but required one player to act as the DM as such, controlling the mansion and the monsters therein. This second edition introduces an app which does the job for you.
Whether you like app-driven games or not, being able to play the game truly co-op with your group is great. As you explore the mansions of Arkham and Innsmouth you’ll need to work together to choose where to go, find weapons and items, solve puzzles, and do your best to avoid insanity – and death!
It’s scenario-based, which is good, but means you’ll end up buying expansions if you really get into it. Good news for the game, bad news for your wallet. A true horror classic.
So you’re having a party for Halloween, but the folks coming aren’t gamers. Maybe they’re lifelong friends, people from work, or just those people you lured into your van with ‘FREE CANDY’ written on the side. Whatever the situation, you want to keep them entertained (or from trying to escape), and what better than a decent party game or two?
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
There are a buttload of different variants on the classic ‘Werewolf’ game, and this is the best place to start. 3-10 of you (the more the better) randomly take roles of people in a village. Some of you are werewolves, trying to eliminate the rest of the villagers, while the villagers aim to expose the werewolves for the lupine gits that they are.
All the different roles on offer give players different abilities, and if you choose to use the companion app (which I recommend, it’s really well done), it ‘wakes’ each player during the night to carry out their tasks, before day breaks and the accusations start flying.
Quick, chaotic fun. If werewolves aren’t your thing there’s a vampire version, one with aliens, and even superhero and villain varieties.
You knew I was including Medium, right? Because you’re psychic?
If so, Medium is the game you’re after. It’s a quick, light game, perfect for after-dinner games, and hysterical after a drink or two, if that’s your thing.
Everyone has a hand of cards, each card with a word on it. In pairs, you reveal a card each, and then the mind-reading happens. You both have to come up with a single word or sentence that links the two cards. There’s this brilliant “Three, two, one…” before you both blurt out your answer.
It’s great if you’re in sync and get it right, but the wrong answers can be straight-up hilarious. I love Medium.
Blood on the Clocktower
Blood on the Clocktower is a recent phenomenon. I’ve seen people go to Expos just to play it. At this year’s UKGE (and last years for that matter) the group giving playthroughs had a queue for the whole show.
It’s a big social deduction game that plays up to 20 players, and does the whole ‘guess who the demons are before they kill too many of the townsfolk’ thing similar to Werewolf. The storyteller role is what really sets the game apart, with the way they run what’s happening, controlling pieces, and letting players concentrate on… playing. Players can even turn up late and join in. Every role (of the 200 or so available across different versions) is unique, and you can even win if you’re dead!
It’s not easy to get over here in the UK yet, but if you can get hold of it, I suggest you do so, it’s magnificent.
No two Halloween gatherings are the same, which means it’s impossible to put together a list that everyone will get something from. I’ve covered most of the bases here though, meaning whether you’re just with one other person, or another 19 people, you’ll find something to play, regardless of age.
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