October 14, 2019

13 Best Horror Board Games to Play This Halloween

As we mentioned in our Best Party Board Games article, board games are a fantastic addition to any party, and that goes double for Halloween! There is a brilliant variety of horror board games on the market right now, and we’ve picked our top 13 to help you plan the spookiest Halloween party ever.

From scary board games that will leave you and your friends questioning everything you think you know to family-friendly spooky board games for those who just want to have some fun. Sit back and let us take you on a spooktacular ride as we count down the 13 best horror board games to play this Halloween!

13 Horror Board Games for a Spooky Halloween

Our Top 3 Choices

Get It Best For Full Review

Machina Arcana
Check Price Its unique steampunk setting Read Our Review

Mansions of Madness
Check Price Its innovative app-driven scenarios Read Our Review

Letters from Whitechapel
Check Price Its breathtaking, true to life artwork. Read Our Review

1. Machina Arcana

Gametime30-240 minutes
Difficulty7/10
Players1-4
Ages14+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor8/10
Our rating9/10

Summary & Gameplay

A Lovecraftian board game with a twist, Machina Arcana invites players to investigate the Cthulhu mythos in a unique steampunk setting. It’s a narrative-rich game that uses self-contained scenarios to progress the game. Each scenario is then divided into chapters that players must work through to complete it.

As they work their way through these chapters, players will find themselves taking on the role of adventurers and collecting equipment to help them unravel mysteries, survive, and utilize their environment.

Machina Arcana is a multi-dimensional game that uses game mechanics to bring the steampunk world to life; as the game progresses, so do the players’ items. Players can craft new items, adding to the things they already have by tinkering in true steampunk fashion.

The true horror of the ancient subterranean complex has been recreated through the narrative and the beautiful game board with exquisite and chilling artwork. Lovecraft is a common theme for horror board games, and Machina Arcana brings something utterly new to the table that is sure to delight both new and veteran board gamers.

What’s to like

  • Rich stories with fully fleshed-out characters.
  • The steampunk setting and the chance to tinker with gear!
  • The artwork is amazing.

What’s not to like

  • It is yet another Lovecraftian game.

2. Mansions of Madness

Gametime120-180 minutes
Difficulty9/10
Players1-5
Ages14+
Extra requirementsCompanion app download
ExpansionsHorrific Journeys Expansion, Streets of Arkham, Sanctum of Twilight, Path of The Serpent Expansion, Recurring Nightmares, Suppressed Memories
Scare factor8/10
Our rating8/10

Summary & Gameplay

Mansions of Madness is unlike any of the other horror board games you’ve ever played. While it seems like just another H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror game, the unique addition of app-driven scenarios takes the game to a whole new level

As investigators, players must make their way through cursed mansions, solving mysteries by collecting clues and deciphering puzzles while avoiding danger along the way. Danger comes in many forms: monsters, insanity, and death. Players will be on the hunt for items that can help them on their journey.

The companion app takes on the role of the Keeper, a Games Master-esque role that can be played by players alternatively. It controls the scenarios, providing you with your very own GM that is downright adversarial and exists to feed you to the monsters. The app includes additional story-telling features and music to create the perfect ambiance for the game, ideal for a Halloween party.

What’s to like

  • Beautifully illustrated cards that draw you into the mysterious and terrifying world of H.P. Lovecraft.
  • The game has a lot of role-playing elements in it, such as dice checks, which will appeal to role players.
  • Epic stories and puzzles that bring the game to life.
  • The multiple combinations of tiles and scenarios result in high replayability.

What’s not to like

  • This is a game that has a steep learning curve and set up time. The app helps a lot with both, but it is not a beginner-friendly game.
  • Just as the role-play elements are a pro, they’re also going to be a con for people who want to play the game without having to roll a dice for every little thing.
  • While the companion app is free, additional content is not.

3. Letters from Whitechapel

Gametime60-120 minutes
Difficulty8/10
Players2-6
Ages14+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsLetters from Whitechapel: Dear Boss, Whitehall Mystery
Scare factor7/10
Our rating8/10

Summary & Gameplay

Fans of true crime will enjoy this board game based on one of the original serial killers, the notorious Jack the Ripper. Letters from Whitechapel delves into the bloody history of Victorian London as the horrific murders plagued the city between December 1887 and March 1891.

Players take on the historical roles of the Whitechapel detectives that chased him through London, while one player takes on the role of the Ripper himself. In this cat and mouse game, players follow the clues and hunt Jack through the streets of London using a chilling blood-spattered board accurately representing London’s Whitechapel district at the time.

The game takes place over 34 nights, and it is won by whoever triumphs by the end of the 34th night; either the police have caught Jack or Jack has safely returned to his hideout. At the beginning of the game, Jack chooses a numbered location on the map as the hideout. He must return to this location by the end of each night after committing a grisly murder.

Each round, Jack places seven white tokens on the board, some of which have a red spot underneath them to signify a victim. These white tokens are possible murder locations, with the red spot being the real location.

The detectives will then place their black tokens on the board to indicate possible locations where an investigator is present, with a colored spot showing the real location.

Jack then reveals the real murder locations and has the choice to commit the murder or lie in wait. If he chooses to commit the murder, the race to get back to the hideout begins. If he decides to lie in wait, he can reveal one of the detective tokens, and the detectives can choose to show one of Jack’s tokens. By doing so, each side may learn new evidence about the other.

It’s a game that uses deduction and logic, requiring the detective players to discuss and analyze the evidence they have available. Jack’s player is party to all of this, and that can make it amusing for them, especially if they decide to throw in some taunts to the detectives.

What’s to like

  • Breathtakingly accurate artwork that brings the history of Victorian London to life.
  • A wonderfully immersive horror board game that uses real investigative skills to track down one of the most notorious killers in history.

What’s not to like

  • As with all hidden movement games, the constant chasing around the board may get tedious, especially for the person playing Jack.

4. Sub Terra

Gametime20 minutes
Difficulty7/10
Players1-6
Ages12+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsAnnihilation, Extraction, Investigation, Core Character Miniatures, Sub Terra Deluxe
Scare factor7/10
Our rating8/10

Summary & Gameplay

Sub Terra is a game that asks precisely what goes bump in the dark. Players take on the role of amateur cave explorers who find themselves stuck in an unexplored cave network. Naturally, it’s not as easy as just finding the right path; they need to get out before the lights go out or before the creatures lurking in the dark decide it’s dinner time.

The game invokes the terrifying fear of the unknown, hidden depths using a random tile system which reveals the path as players advance.

Players can combat the various perils and problems they find with unique abilities, such as a Scout finding new paths easier or an Engineer using dynamite to clear fallen rocks. When a turn ends, a hazard card reiterates the cruel reality of their situation, adding further danger to their journey.

There are only a limited number of Hazard cards, and they cannot be replenished, which means if the players are still in the cave when the last Hazard card is drawn, their chances of survival drop dramatically. They start to suffer the same consequences as real-life explorers as the air begins to run out.

What’s to like

  • It’s a thematic experience that thoroughly considers the real dangers of subterranean exploration.
  • The board game is wonderfully designed, even including glow in the dark tiles, to add to the atmosphere.

What’s not to like

  • It’s one of the creepiest and most intense horror board games on this list. Thus, it isn’t for the faint-hearted, especially anyone who finds the idea of being trapped underground unnerving.

5. Nyctophobia The Hunted

Gametime30-60 minutes
Difficulty5/10
Players3-5
Ages12+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNyctophobia: Vampire Encounter
Scare factor8/10
Our rating7/10

Summary & Gameplay

Named after the phobia of the dark, Nyctophobia is a smart game that requires players to rely on their other senses as they play. In this cooperative game, the players are running for their lives through a pitch-black forest from a maniacal predator.

To recreate the conditions of the forest, players must wear blackout glasses, plunging them into darkness, and effectively blinding them. If they want to survive, they need to work together and play by touch to navigate to safety and win the game.

It’s a game that is defined by the question ‘are you afraid of the dark?’ and gets a high scare rating from us as it delivers the chills just thinking about it. By hiding predators from the players, the game successfully builds suspense and creates an environment where decisions and problem-solving are necessary for survival.

Choose to move one way, and you’ll walk directly to your death. Game pieces are tactile in nature, and the game is filled with puzzles that need to be solved as players try to traverse the forest. Nyctophobia is a game that offers a truly unique experience if you have the guts to try it.

What’s to like

  • One of the few tactile horror board games out there, it’s an entirely new way to experience a board game.
  • Sensory deprivation brings a feeling of real heart-pounding terror.

What’s not to like

  • It is extremely unnerving not to be able to see, and this may make people feel uncomfortable, especially those who already have vision problems.

6. Dead of Winter

Gametime90 minutes
Difficulty7/10
Players2-5
Ages12+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsThe Long Night, Warring Colonies
Scare factor7/10
Our rating7/10

Summary & Gameplay

Recognized as one of the top survival horror board games, Dead of Winter is a psychological game that requires players to work together to survive, while at the same time plotting against each other.

In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of weakened human survivors have banded together to stay alive and fight off flesh-eating monsters. Each player is the leader of a faction of survivors. To win the game, they must reach their objectives. However, that isn’t as straightforward as stabbing their teammates in the back.

Their goal could be something reasonably harmless such as a psychological trick, or it could be complete sabotage of the primary mission. Some objectives target the entire group, while others only target particular people. In short, you never know who or what your fellow players are up to, and anyone could be about to betray you.

But, if humans want to survive, they need to work together. The players must deal with all sorts of crises, from outside threats to food shortages and low morale within the colony. The game is less about fighting zombies and more about preventing that possibility from ever happening.

The secret objectives help recreate the psychological atmosphere of the post-apocalyptic world as players begin to question why their fellow players are making certain decisions.

What’s to like

  • It’s a different type of horror that requires some thinking and a lot of sneaking, which can be fun with the right group.
  • It’s not your typical zombie game, and that’s a breath of fresh air.
  • There is a good balance between fighting zombies and storytelling.

What’s not to like

  • It’s a game that invites a sense of friendly paranoia, and there is always a chance that it could trigger a more severe reaction in some people.
  • There’s a lot more to this game than just fighting zombies, which might be too passive for some people.

7. Children: The Horror Game

Gametime60 minutes
Difficulty7/10
Players1-5
Ages12+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor7/10
Our rating7/10

Summary & Gameplay

This is one of the creepiest and quirkiest horror-themed board games available, and that’s what caught our attention. There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned haunting, and in Children, you’ve got 13 of them.

Players take on the role of amateur ghost hunters who have decided to rid the house of the 13 child ghosts haunting it. The aim of the game is to trap each ghost, and you can only do that by confronting them with their toy. Players need to search the mansion for each toy, hoping that they don’t meet a ghost before they find the correct one.

The mansion is built tile by tile as each player takes their turn, creating a unique game board every time. The game functions on a card limit mechanic, which affects gameplay and ultimately decides whether the ghosts or players win. You may keep only five cards in hand, and when a player reaches that number, they must drop a card in the room they are in.

Players can leave traps hidden beneath these cards for each other as well as the ghosts, which results in some exciting hijinks! The hand limit is further reduced if players cause a ghost to enrage, and when it gets to 0, they have lost the game.

This is an interesting game with chilling artwork and a downloadable soundtrack featuring a narrated history and ambient music.

What’s to like

  • The unique card limit mechanic is an interesting idea, as having too many cards in hand is an issue that always happens. Utilizing this as a gameplay mechanic is a stroke of brilliance by the game designers.
  • Pulling pranks and setting traps for other players; what’s not to love?
  • As the board is built tile by tile, it will never be the same, which gives this game fantastic replayability.

What’s not to like

  • A game about child ghosts is possibly just a bit too creepy.
  • The rules can be a bit confusing to start with, so this game has a learning curve.

8. Camp Grizzly

Gametime60 minutes
Difficulty7/10
Players1-6
Ages15+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor7/10
Our rating7/10

Summary & Gameplay

This survivalist horror game embodies the horror film genre and whisks players back to 1979. Playing as camp counselors, players are being stalked by the terrifying homicidal maniac Otis.

It’s a collaborative game that offers players four alternative ways to win the game by completing a set of objectives. These are achieved by exploring the campgrounds, hoping to avoid Otis because every time the body count rises, he grows stronger.

The use of Cabin cards that players must draw each turn throws plenty of plot twists and random events to keep things interesting, some for the better and others not.

Also, decisions that players make will sometimes have a much more significant effect on the gameplay than they initially appear, so you never quite know what to expect.

What’s to like

  • Interesting game mechanics such as weather changes and cameos in the Cabin cards and Fate Tempting cards.
  • It’s cheesy 80s horror at its best.

What’s not to like

  • The rules take a few playthroughs to get used to.
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9. Fury of Dracula

Gametime120-180 minutes
Difficulty7/10
Players2-5
Ages13+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor6/10
Our rating6/10

Summary & Gameplay

In one of the top horror board games, the legend of Dracula is brought to life. One player takes on the role of the infamous Count Dracula as he travels secretly through Europe, spreading vampirism and laying traps for those hunting him.

The hunters are played by the other players and are recognizable characters such as Van Helsing. They thought they had wiped his evil from the face of the earth eight years ago – but they failed. Now, they must follow him again and try to stop him and his undead minions from claiming more lives.

The game is won by the hunters dealing 15 points of damage to Dracula, or Dracula gaining influence over the whole of Europe. To wound Dracula, the hunters must accurately guess where he is hiding, and to do this, the game uses a compass. Dracula gains the upper hand in the game by maturing his fledgling vampires and/or defeating hunters.

It’s a cat and mouse game which involves strategy and combat, with Dracula throwing events in the path of the hunters to slow their progress. With so many facets to this game and its classic horror theme, it’s sure to be a winner for Halloween.

What’s to like

  • A fascinating game that embodies the Dracula legend and gives players a real sense of hunting the Count through all of Europe.
  • Intricately detailed miniatures bring the characters to life.

What’s not to like

  • There are rules for everything, which can be too much at times.
  • There’s a lot of chasing Dracula around, which can feel a bit aimless.

10. Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu

Gametime30-60 minutes
Difficulty6/10
Players2-4
Ages14-15+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor7/10
Our rating6/10

Summary & Gameplay

A spin-off version of the original Pandemic game, this version is inspired by the Cthulhu mythos, and players are investigators fighting to keep Cthulhu from awakening. It is an entirely collaborative game in which players must work together to seal four gates in the fictional towns of Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, and Kingsport before they go insane.

As they hurry to fight off the minions of the Old Ones, find relics, and seal off the portals, the Old Ones are constantly whispering in their minds. This is the ‘infection’ of this version of Pandemic, and several game mechanics can test a player’s sanity.

The infection significantly increases each time cultists perform an Awakening Ritual, which summons an Old One. After eight awakening rituals, players will lose themselves to insanity, and the game will be lost.

Unlike the original game, Reign of Cthulhu comes with detailed miniatures of the Old Ones and their minions. These and the dark artwork emphasize the true horror of the dark forces the players face, and as the game continues, the desperation of the situation adds to suspense-building.

What’s to like

  • It’s more streamlined than the original game, which makes it easier to learn.
  • Wonderful art and miniatures.
  • A great game that gets everyone united against a common enemy.

What’s not to like

  • It’s a team game, so it’s not ideal for people with a competitive streak.

11. One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Gametime5-10 minutes
Difficulty5/10
Players3-10
Ages13-15+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsOne Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak, One Night Ultimate Vampire
Scare factor5/10
Our rating6/10

Summary & Gameplay

One of the most popular horror board games, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a fast-paced game that makes for a great Halloween board game. It’s fun, easy to learn, and you can combine it with expansions for even more thrills.

The aim of the game is to work out who is the werewolf. Each player is given a card with a role on it, and three other role cards are placed face down in the middle. One of the players will end up with the werewolf card.

Each role in the game has a unique ability that helps players discover who the werewolf is. However, players cannot reveal their role. That means no one knows who the Seer (who can view another player’s card) is or the identity of the Robber (who can steal a card), unless, of course, they’re holding the card themselves. It’s essentially a game of bluffing and calling someone’s bluff mixed with deduction.

You can only move cards during the night phase, and once that is over, there is a good chance the players will have changed roles. During the day phase, all the players must vote for whom they believe the werewolf to be based on the information they gathered during the night phase. Whoever receives the most votes dies and is out of the game.

What’s to like

  • A lighthearted game that’s perfect for a spooky party.
  • There’s a companion app that takes care of all the rules and boring bits for you.
  • Additional expansions add more possibilities.

What’s not to like

  • It’s a straightforward game that could get boring fast, but with the right group, it could be really fun.
  • It’s not designed to be story-driven or complex.

12. Monster Slaughter

Gametime30-60 minutes
Difficulty6/10
Players2-5
Ages8+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor5/10
Our rating6/10

Summary & Gameplay

Monster Slaughter is a fun game that will take you back to the 1980s Halloween films where high school students are the meal of the day. Players play as monsters, and before the game starts, they predict the order in which each student will die.

The aim of the game is to hunt the students down to make the predictions come true. Players have the option to protect humans as well, sabotaging their opponents’ kill order and keeping their victim/s alive, so they die when they predicted.

What’s to like

  • An interesting spin on the horror board games genre where you get to play the monsters for a change!
  • There are several references to old movies that will appeal to classic horror fans.
  • The diabolical thinking that goes into saving the poor humans from your fellow players so that you can kill them later.

What’s not to like

  • There are a lot of pieces to set up at the start.

13. Stupid Deaths

Gametime15-30 minutes
Difficulty4/10
Players2-6
Ages12+
Extra requirementsNone
ExpansionsNone
Scare factor5/10
Our rating5/10

Summary & Gameplay

Stupid Deaths is one of the best scary card games to have fun with at Halloween, especially if you have a morbid sense of humor! The aim of the game is to beat the Grim Reaper before he beats you. You can accomplish this by chasing him around the board.

Players need to keep ahead of the Grim Reaper and make their way around the board. Each turn, a player selects a death card and reads it out loud. The other players then place their vote, true or false, as to whether the death happened or not.

Moves are then awarded to the players for correct answers, and to the player who drew the death card for those who answered incorrectly. The winner is the one who reaches the finish tile on the board first or who is the last one standing.

What’s to like

  • With 300 death cards, there’s plenty of deaths to go through before it becomes boring or repetitive.
  • It’s a fun, family-friendly game that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously and is perfect for some deliciously spooky fun at Halloween!

What’s not to like

  • The game doesn’t work well with a small number of people. Reviews note that some adjusting to the rules may be required for three or fewer people; otherwise, the Grim Reaper catches up too fast.

Conclusion

These fantastic horror board games are sure to spice up your Halloween parties this year! From the truly terrifying Sub Terra and Nyctophobia to the spooky fun of Stupid Deaths and One Night Ultimate Werewolf, horror board games cover a wide array of formats and genres.

How do you like your horror board games? Do you like them spooky and fun, or do you like them engaging and story-driven? Let us know in the comments!

Heather Trend

Contributor

As a child of the 80s and 90s, my journey into geekdom was fuelled by warrior princesses, NeverEnding Stories, magical creatures, sword fights, and people going off on adventures. Nothing much has changed really!

I’ve always been drawn to stories, and my two great loves are Star Wars and World of Warcraft. I fall in love with fandoms easily, devouring everything I can get my hands on including games, spin-offs, and extra material. As a huge animal lover, I’m constantly asking my fiance if I can adopt every cute fantasy creature I come across. Although we already have two cats, Milo and George, I would quite happily have many more – even a zoo if I was allowed!

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