October is upon us and you know what that means…
It’s time for that sinking feeling that the year is almost over and you haven’t accomplished all your arbitrary goals!
Oh—and also Halloween.
Though this Halloween might not be full of costume parties and trick-or-treating like our (medical) maskless years prior, here are five board games to get you in the spooky spirit from the comfort of your own home.
Though this miniature-packed horror game is still on preorder, it’s expected to arrive during October—just in time for Halloween! Atmospheric and deeply thematic, this semi-cooperative board game places you as a crew member on a spaceship infested with grotesque, hostile aliens.
In the vein of survival horror videogames or film classic Alien, playing Nemesis fills you with tension and distrust as you perch on the edge of your seat, fearful an alien might ambush you out of the shadows. But are the aliens really the ones you should be worrying about? Each person will play as a unique character with their own skills, equipment and most crucially, a secret objective. Does your best friend really want you to get out of this ship alive? Or have they been plotting to leave you to die to an alien this whole time?
You’ve heard of stage presence—this game has table presence. With its variety of intricately detailed miniatures and its dark, shadowy board, just setting up this game will give you chills. (Even looking at the box makes me uneasy but I’m a baby).
Dim the lights and be ready to star in your own Alien movie, because Nemesis is tension in a box.
2) Arkham Horror: The Card Game
If you’re that person who wishes Halloween was a year-round event, try your hand (of cards) at Arkham Horror: The Card Game. As a Living Card Game (LCG), it takes the concept of a Collectible Card Game like Gameology favourite, Magic: The Gathering, and removes the blind-buying randomness. You still get the satisfaction of building and expanding your deck with new cards, but you’ll know exactly what’s in every pack you buy.
With a blend of role-playing and traditional card games, you will take on the role of a character in the town of Arkham. Encounter terrifying Lovecraftian mysteries while you play to the strengths of your unique character while grappling with their inner flaws. Thanks to its countless expansions and packs, this infinitely replayable game has the potential to be a core piece in your collection, for monsters and madness all year-round.
3) Betrayal at the House on the Hill
Are you missing haunted houses? Well, I’ve got a house for you—except it’s a board game...and it also comes with betrayal. Players take on the role of one of six possible characters and explore a haunted mansion, full of ghosts and dark omens, until one of the group secretly betrays everyone. (Aunt Lisa, how could you?)
Before Betrayal at the House on the Hill even begins, players will get to design their own haunted mansion using room tiles or build them from scenarios in the book, meaning each game, you and your family will explore a totally new spooky lay-out.
If you can get past its mouthful of a title, Betrayal at the House on the Hill is lighter than our previous two entries, while still retaining that spooky atmosphere. Accommodating 3-6 players at a runtime of around one hour, this is the perfect Halloween board game for your more reluctant players—or anyone looking for something simpler, but just as spooky.
4) Mansions of Madness
I know what you’re thinking—isn’t this the same as the previous game with the title that’s too long to type? (I know it’s what you’re thinking because it’s what I was thinking when I first saw these two games next to each other.)
However, Mansions of Madness takes elements from the last three games we’ve talked about and condenses them into a Lovecraftian narrative-driven experience! In Mansions of Madness, players take on the role of investigators working together to uncover the secrets of Arkham’s cursed mansions. Unlike the other games on this list, this game is lighter on strategy, heavier on story. Included in the game are four different scenarios of different difficulties and lengths so you’re sure to find something suitable for your gaming group.
But here’s the shiny weathervane on top of this spooky mansion—it’s driven by an app! Free and downloadable on any device, the app details room set-up and key story points but without all the frantic page-flipping.
With the thematics of Nemesis, the Lovecraftian mysteries of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, and the haunted house crawl setting of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Mansions of Madness fills a nice middle-ground between the last three games.
Maybe you’re a baby like me and all this talk of aliens and haunted houses creeps you out. Maybe you’re looking for a game more “Halloween-lite”, or perhaps something that wouldn’t terrify your kids if you left the game out in the living room.
If you’ve played the gorgeous cooperative Cluedo-like game, Mysterium, you’ll recognise similar elements in Obscurio. All the players are wizards who snuck into The Sorcerer’s library to steal the magical Grimoire. Now, with the help of said Grimoire, they have to make it out of the library alive. However, one of the wizards has fallen prey to the evil Sorcerer’s spell and is working against the team! (A traitor mechanic! How new and innovative!)
Like in Mysterium, where one player acts as the silent ghost, in Obscurio, one player acts as the Grimoire who helps guide the players out of the library but (as they are literally a book) cannot speak except in cryptic images on their pages.
Much more lighthearted than the other games on this list, Obscurio is mystical and magical with only a hint of horror, perfect for those who get freaked out just from Nemesis’s box (don’t worry, you’re not alone).
Oh, and the cards are circles. Yes, it’s beautiful.
In summary, if you’re looking for...
A thematic experience full of tension? Nemesis. (It’s worth the wait!)
A card game? Arkham Horror: The Card Game
A thematic experience that doesn’t take 3 hours? Betrayal at the House on the Hill.
Something cooperative and story-driven? Mansions of Madness.
And there we have it! Our top 5 horror board games for your at-home Halloween! What do you think? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!