Yet another holiday, yet another perfectly valid reason to break out the themed board games! Is dancing, clubbing, drinking, and partying hard on Halloween not your cup of tea? Look no further than a nice spooky and subdued evening in playing some appropriately Halloween-themed, outrageously entertaining board games with a good group of friends and some Halloween snacks. Here are just 10 of the many creepy, fantastical, monster-filled board games to play at your next party. A couple classics are thrown in with some new and fresh titles, and they range from simple to a bit more advanced and complex. Either way, you’ll be sure to find the perfect game to play with friends and family.
Of course this whodunnit classic is first on our list! The murderous, detective, crime-solving game is the perfect way to set an eerie atmosphere. If you haven’t played recently, here is a reminder of how it generally works: a weapon, (candlestick, rope, pipe, gun, knife, or wrench,) room, and suspect clue card are removed to be put in a secret folder. Players get the remaining clue cards to keep secret, and must make their way around the locations to guess who did it, where, and with what. If another player has one of the clue cards mentioned, they secretly show it to the player who guesses, and they secretly strike it off as a possibility. If no one shows you a card, there is the strong possibility that it’s in the secret folder. There are many different versions of Clue in existence, such as Clue Jr. or the more advanced Clue Mysteries. There are also several more referencing pop culture, with such versions as The Big Bang Theory, Dungeons and Dragons, The Simpsons, The Office, Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty, Scooby-Doo, Supernatural, Harry Potter…the list goes on and on!
Labyrinth is a brilliantly colorful, deceptively entertaining game. Four players, represented as witches and wizards, must compete to find the various treasures lost in this ever-changing maze. Items to collect include jewels, armor, a book, a map, ghosts, keys, creatures, creepy crawly bugs, skull and bones, and so much more. Players can move along the twisted maze as long as there is a clear path, however there is a huge twist. The maze is made up of sliding tiles that change with every player’s turn! Players take a spare pathway tile and slide it into one of the rows or columns to try to benefit their player as they move through the maze. The game gets tricky as players battle to navigate the labyrinth and successfully collect their prized artifacts. There is also a cool, more elaborate, electronic version that features a whimsical talking spellbook, as well as Labyrinth Junior, so there is magic in store for all ages.
8. King of Tokyo
Halloween is when the monsters come out to play, and King of Tokyo is no exception! Players can choose to play as their favorite gruesome super-monster–Meka Dragon, Alienoid, Cyber Bunny, The King (Kong), Kraken, Giga Zaur, etc. The goal is to move your monster in to take control of downtown Tokyo for as long as it can, earning some points, but however, susceptible to the other player’s attacks. If the player chooses to leave Tokyo, the player who attacked goes in and has to try to survive and take over the city. Players roll bright green dice and decide whether they want to put aside a selection of the roll to attack, heal, gain energy cubes to buy cards (which all have differing benefits,) or aim to collect points. 20 points on your character’s card wheel wins, while you’re dead and out of the game if you lose 10 hearts. There are a few different versions and expansions, including a specifically Halloween expansion which adds two new monster characters (Pumpkin Jack and Boogy Woogy,) as well as some new cards to the mix.
7. Ex Libris
Ex Libris is a richly designed and highly strategic game about shelving books in your library. (We promise–it is so much more interesting and cool than it sounds!) There is a wide myriad of characters you can choose from, all who have their own special traits, benefits, and powers. Among the magical characters are a witch, ghost, robot, slime creature, trash golem, goblin, mummy, wizard, fire imp, and more. The goal is to travel to different locations and gain or place cards featuring different categories of books–Corrupted Codices, Fantastical Fiction, Historic Volumes, Spells and Potions, Reference Texts, and Monster Manuals. Players must place the cards, building their bookshelf and library, while adhering to the rules of shelving in alphabetical and numerical order, while also paying attention to structural integrity, as well as avoiding “banned books” (a randomly chosen genre of book) and collecting as many of the “prominent works” (another randomly chosen genre) and personal genre goal as they can. The books (and game art) are beautifully rendered and feature 510 unique, many spooky, mostly strangely hilarious titles! (Just a few gems: The Hardly Boys, Nancy Druid, The Nap That Never Ended, Poorly Translated Tales, Please Don’t Steal This Book, Dungeon Decorating for Dummies, Oddly Shaped Ghosts.)
6. Broom Service
Broom Service is the adorable game of witches traveling high and low across the land, delivering various potions for points. Gameplay is unique, involves all players, and all depends upon making the right choices in the cards you choose and how you choose to play them. All players start with two delivery witches, a potion of each color, (a very appropriately Halloween-themed trio of orange, purple, and green,) as well as a wand token for dispelling clouds that are in the way of your delivery routes. Each player also has ten cards featuring characters that they use for the entirety of the game to move their witches, make deliveries, collect potions, or dispel storm clouds. Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, players only get to choose four of these characters each round. Additionally, they need to decide if the character will be “brave” or “cowardly.” Being brave gives you more benefits, (for example an extra potion, extra points, etc.) however, if the player after you chooses their character to be brave, your card is cancelled out and you get nothing. So, for example, if you play a brave herb gatherer, anyone after you must also play their herb gatherer (if they picked one this round) and announce if they are brave or cowardly. There are other factors to the rounds, such as bonus points for certain conditions. Gray tower potion deliveries are thankfully impermanent, but be swift and smart in your strategy, for white towers fill up fast with permanent deliveries!
5. Mystery Mansion
What better way to while away the hours of Halloween night than to spend it exploring a mysterious mansion for hidden money? Mystery Mansion features an interactive game board where players discover rooms and place tiny, 3D furniture to later examine. The electronic, talking game pad acts as the host as you punch in numbers of the unopened rooms as well as minuscule numbers hidden seamlessly on the tiny furniture. (Don’t worry, the game features a little magnifying glass to help as well as a list of the furniture numbers if they are too difficult to see or find.) Players must use their three turns wisely, to either move, explore a piece, or barter with another player for a clue card. Note taking is encouraged as there are sometimes secret messages as well as items that require certain clues to explore. (For example, if you search the telescope, and it asks if you have a clue card with an incriminating item or servant, you know there is some juicy information in store!) The money’s location changes each game, as well as the rooms and clue card locations, so Mystery Mansion will be refreshing each round.
4. Dark Stories
Sounds fitting for Halloween, but what are “Dark Stories?” This card game’s instruction manual explains it perfectly: they are “usually tricky, morbid, desperately sinister stories where something unfortunate has taken place.” A reader announces the mystery on the card and players then make queries of yes or no questions concerning the case for the reader to answer. (They can also ask players to rephrase questions, declare them as “irrelevant,” etc.) The tricky part is, the “stories” are around one or two sentences or so in length, forcing players to really think outside the box and dig deep for questions and positing possible creative answers for the heinous and open-ended crimes. Riddles can be so simple as, “A man was driving his car through the city. He turned on the radio and shot himself,” “A woman sold her husband’s Porsche for a mere $500,” and “A dead man is lying in a sauna next to a thermos,” and many more peculiar situations. This is the perfect, cerebral party game to get a group of people to pass the night thinking of the various ways the crimes came to pass.
3. “Escape” Boxes
There are many differing versions and brands of these “escape the room” style board and card games, like Unlock, Exit, Escape Room the Game, Escape Room in a Box, and some others. There are some great themes and locations to escape from, such as an Abandoned Cabin, a Sinister Mansion, a Forgotten Island, a Forbidden Castle, Space Station, and the like. The unique feature of most of the games is that they are a one-time use, since players may have to take apart, interact, cut, fold, separate, and otherwise manipulate charts, papers, maps, codes, and more. (Some kits are just playing cards and won’t be damaged, so can be passed on to another group of players.) The game reveals itself to “trapped” players one piece at a time as clues are discovered, deciphered, and resolved. Spending the evening fighting to escape is perfect to play with a willing, close-knit group of detective-minded friends and family members.
2. Betrayal at House on the Hill
Almost a combination of Mystery Mansion and Labyrinth and borrowing some elements from Dungeons and Dragons and Arabian Nights, “betrayal” certainly happens at this haunted house. Players explore a big, creepy, old house one room at a time, flipping over a randomized new room tile once they reach a door to continue. (Rooms with special rules and titles like The Crypt, The Mystic Elevator, The Furnace Room, The Vault, and more.) Item, Omen, and Event cards further shake the situation up by aiding in player’s exploration or adding to their troubles and obstacles. Matters become even more complicated as later in the game when one of the players is revealed to be a traitor of the group! This traitor must now run the game and situations, referring to the manual to read the outcome of player’s actions. All players must complete their victory condition, which varies widely and from game to game. Settle in for a dark, twisted, adventure through the house on the hill.
1. Potion Explosion
Potion Explosion is not as dangerous as it may sound! The “explosions” are simply when two of the same color of marble collide on the “potion ingredient” chute. Players collect colored marbles–(yellow representing fairy dandruff, red as dragon smoke, black as ogre mucus, and blue as unicorn tears.) The mad scientist players use these ingredients to fill the needs of their various potions, of which there are eight different kinds that all do a different beneficial effect. Once each potion is filled, the player can flip them over and put them aside for points, as well as having the option to trigger their power by “drinking” them (rotating them upside down) to gain extra marbles, steal marbles from another player, use marbles as “wild” colors, and repeat previous potion powers. Doing so can cause a delightful chain-reaction of gaining marbles to complete multiple potions per turn. You also get bonus points for completing three of a kind or five different potions first. Strategy and thinking ahead reign in this multi-chromatic mixing game!