Some Spooky Suggestions for a Halloween Gathering
Fall has been wonderful this year in Manitoba. But now that most of the leaves have fallen, the temperature is dropping and night is falling earlier. We can all feel the weather ahead: Halloween!
And what a fun time it will be, a brief foray into the dark side of our minds that includes costumes, horror movies, and spooky decorations. But ultimately, Halloween is a season of coming together. Whether it’s for horror-themed parties, a family ride or treat, or showing off elaborate costumes at work, being scared is more fun if it can be shared with others. In a way, it makes life less scary.
So why not add some board game fun to the mix of ghoulish experiences? After all, games are a great storytelling tool for all ages. They allow us to live all kinds of new experiences in complete safety. Lucky for us, there are plenty of Halloween-themed game titles to choose from, covering zombies, witches, ghosts and beyond.
If you want to make your next game night a scary night, I have a few suggestions that will put you in a horrible mood.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
2 to 8 players, from 8 years old
A charming game for families with young players, or a fun and simple game for the holidays.
Five wooden objects wait on the table to be captured: a white ghost, a green bottle, a cute gray mouse, a blue book, and a comfy red chair. Each card in the game shows images of two objects, with one or both objects colored the wrong way round. With everyone playing at the same time, someone reveals a card, then players grab the “correct” item. The first player to grab the correct item keeps the card, then reveals the next card from the deck. If a player catches the wrong object, he must discard a previously collected card. When the deck of cards is used up, the game ends and the player with the most cards wins!
BETRAYAL AT HOME ON THE HILL
3 to 6 players, from 12 years old
This game has become a modern classic among the scary themed games. The rules need a bit of explanation, but the game is pretty straightforward. Players explore a haunted mansion of their own design, encountering spooky spirits and omens that predict their fate. It lasts about an hour and is ideal for parties, family reunions, or casual entertainment with friends. A good game to present to both beginners and experienced players.
As the player characters explore the house room by room, one of these characters betrays the rest of the party who must then defeat the traitor before it’s too late! This mechanic encourages a lot of bluffing and interaction with players. The game also includes some very themed components, all of which help create a scary atmosphere.
5-50 players, 13 years old and over
The perfect Halloween game for a big party or a group of people.
Each player is secretly given a role in a fictional village, as a villager or werewolf. The villagers don’t know who the werewolves are, and the werewolves try to stay unknown as they slowly take out the villagers one by one. A moderator (who is not part of a team) runs the game.
The game takes place over a series of game days and nights. Each day players discuss who among them is a werewolf and vote for a player. Each night, the werewolves choose a player to eliminate. The game is over when all villagers or werewolves are eliminated. Essentially, most of the game is based on verbal interaction between players. The trick is to sense who is lying or who is telling the truth.
EPIC LITTLE ZOMBIES
1 to 5 players, from 14 years old
Zombies are a predominant theme in board games and there is a lot to choose from. It’s a great cooperative game with relatively simple rules. It also plays very well as a single player game. It comes in a very small box but features an elaborate set of components that rival those of many larger box games.
Players take on the role of survivors on the run in a mall (why not), picking up weapons, killing zombies, and working to achieve three objectives. If the zombies invade the mall, the players collectively lose.
One turn will consist of a player moving three times, after which they will search the room. This is done by revealing the Research Card they hold. Sometimes they can find a zombie lurking in the corner. Be ready. After searching the room, other zombies invade the mall. Then it’s the next player’s turn. As easy as that. The game offers additional variations where players can also take on the role of zombies where they play against other players.
EXIT SERIES (various titles)
1 to 4 players, from 10 years old
I mentioned EXIT games in previous columns as a great example of an escape room board game adaptation. Thematically, many of them are a great addition to Halloween-themed games. They play well for small groups and are easy to learn (most of us know how escape rooms work). They have a relatively low price (under $ 20) but can only be played once, as your group will know the answers after that. They are suitable for most ages and come in different difficulty levels, which are indicated by dots on the box: two or three dots mean easier, up to the highest level of five. For a bunch of new players my recommendation is The House of Riddles which is an easier level.
Olaf Pyttlik is an avid board game enthusiast from Winnipeg and co-owner of Across the Board Game Café. In a regular column, he delves into the renaissance of board games and shares game ideas for families and friends of all ages. Email him at [email protected]
Board game columnist
Olaf Pyttlik is an avid board game enthusiast from Winnipeg and co-owner of Across the Board Game Cafe.
Read the full biography