Hands down, the best holiday of the season draws near. All Hallow’s Eve has always been near and dear to my black, dead heart. Dressing up in costumes is such a highlight for me because it’s the only time of the year I can get into my patented Card-Borg costume and say things like, “Resistance is futile. You will be corrugated“.
The past decade has seen the Halloween genre of game, (think blood, zombies, demons and dark rooms) really come into its own and has given us stay-home types something to howl at the moon over. We’re gonna get into some of the dark and evil offerings that have drawn us out from the dark. So light your black candles, shuffle your tarot cards and open your Ouji board. It’s about to get scary.
Vampire Hunter: The Game
Right out of the grave you’re going to love the look of this game. It’s simple to set up but I have to say, that tower really makes this game look cool. Arguably the coolest part of this game is that it needs to be played in really low light. This adds a spooky vibe to the game and brings out the best of the light tower as it switches from red to blue.
This is an easy game to learn which makes it great for preteens and up. The core of the game is that a group of valiant Vampire hunters has infiltrated the island of the dreaded Drakus, a vampire of great power. They must find and kill Drakus before his escape ship arrives to whisk him away.
A core mechanic of Vampire Hunter is noting the change from day to night As the game progresses and player make their way in towards the tower, inevitably the sun will set, the moon will rise and all manner of monsters will come out of their haunts to roam the island. Along the way, you’ll find swords and stakes and believe me, you’re going to need them. Do you have what it takes to defeat Drakus before he escapes? If so, then you my friend, truly are a Vampire Hunter.
Goosebumps: The Board Game
Nostalgia alert for anyone watching kids television in 1995! Goosebumps aired on October 28th and kicked things off with a special Halloween event. Scary dolls, aliens and monsters were the norm on a show like Goosebumps and that made it the perfect game to adapt to a Halloweenesque board game. This is a family friendly romp for kids 8+ but that in no way means a group of adults can’t take a stroll down nightmare lane one more time.
The premise of the game is cute. Players take on the role of monsters have broken free of the books they were contained in. The only way for them to be recaptured is through R.L Stine’s magic typewriter. Players draw cards from a deck a race along the path and trigger events depending on where they land on the board. Most cards will be for movement but there are also Monster Mayhem cards that have global effects that all players must follow.
This is an easy game to pick up but it still contains plenty of charm and surprises along the way. Pop some popcorn and dime the lights. It’s time for Goosebumps.
This game is for the true Halloween enthusiast. Released by Universal, Horrified takes everything we love about scary movies, adds a hefty dose of nostalgia and unleashes one hell of game. Designed for 1 to 5 players, this game is played cooperatively. This means everyone wins or loses as a team. While normally, these type of games (think Pandemic) leave me wary of having to deal with bossy players, the Halloween theme just completely overrides it.
You and your party (assuming you are playing with others) become a group of heroes who are tasked with destroying a list of legendary monsters. Dracula, The Mummy and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are just a taste of the terror that awaits. To defeat them, you must first succeed in performing unique tasks.
On top of having to deal with this terrible melange of horror, you’ll also need to protect the villagers but hey, that’s what heroes are for! There’s an aptly titled Terror Level which ticks up every time a hero or villager gets killed. Once the terror level tops out, you’ve reached Maximum Terror! which means monsters have overrun the village and you lose the game. You also lose if you run out of monster cards before defeating the bad guys. I recommend playing this with no more than 3 people. 2 people works just dandy as less people means less downtime talking strategy.
Betrayal At House on The Hill
I love this game. I love it when the role of players in the game can change and twist. Betrayal At House on The Hill puts players in the shoes of a random cast of characters, each with unique attributes such as strength, intelligence and so on. Designed for 3 to 6 players, this game does need that extra social/political environment to work but it also really shines with 6 people playing.
Everyone starts in the lobby of an old manor. Random room tiles are flipped as players begin exploring the house. As rooms are explored, events begin to trigger. Some rooms have useful items. Other rooms contain spooky traps events. Lastly, many rooms trigger an omen. When an omen is triggered, the player whos turn it is rolls some dice and if the roll is less than the amount of omen cards that have been played…..well this is where it gets super fun.
When a player loses an omen dice roll, they flip to a page in one of these books which is determined by where you are in the house and omen you flipped. At this point, usually, one player becomes the enemy and leaves the room so everyone else has time to plan for survival. I don’t want to spoil the scenarios but let’s just say dimensions to other planets, monsters and mayhem are all on the menu. Betrayal offers some serious replayability.
If you do play the original game enough that you start to see the same scenarios, you’re in luck! The Widow’s Walk expansion offers 50 new, frightening haunts that are sure to stick with you at night and invade your dreams; permeating and twisting them until you are driven mad from terrible images in the night. Sounds like my kind of fun!