Top 10 Horror Board Games
Horror is our happy place. Let’s take a short break from books to talk about another way to get your horror fix. Board games aren’t just Monopoly and Scrabble any more. If you haven’t played a board game since you were a kid, you really are missing out on some great fun. So grab some friends and gather around a table with some snacks and get ready to get scared with my top 10 horror board games.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game 1-2 players/1-2 hours
This is one of the few games that I have enjoyed playing solo, so if you’re stuck at home isolating from Covid-19, this may be perfect for you. In this box is a campaign with three adventures to play through. Each mission is played with a deck of cards that represent a specific investigator with unique items and skills. The core set gives you five adventurers to choose from and three scenarios that form the first campaign. Unlike many other games, the choices you make carry over to the next mission, which makes for some pretty exciting situations. And since Arkham Horror is a living card game, you can purchase expansion packs with new campaigns and investigators. There is a TON of content available for this game that will keep you entertained for hours.
Nyctophobia 3-5 players/30-45 minutes
This is a weird one and probably the most unique experience on this list. In Nyctophobia, most of the players play the game blind. The game comes with special blackout glasses to prevent the players from seeing the board. The idea is that a group of survivors is trying to escape a murderer in a dark forest. The players have to use their sense of touch to feel their way out of the woods and to their car before the killer finds them. There is one player that is not blind and can see the board. The killer. One player’s goal is to mess with the minds of their victims by moving the forest around and causing the others to lose their way. Can you escape the forest or survive until the police arrive? Probably not.
Mysterium 2-7 players 45 minutes
Mysterium is a cooperative game where everyone works together to solve a murder. The story that goes with the game is that the players are a team of psychics that are visited at night by the ghost. The ghost can’t speak but can influence the dreams of the psychics, giving them visions of the killer. The way that works in the game is that one player is the ghost and are forbidden from speaking. Once per round, they give each player a card with BEAUTIFUL art on it that represents their dream. The other players are the psychics, and it’s their job to interpret the dream cards and relate them to a murder weapon, location, and murderer. Because the dream cards are complex and open to interpretation, the conversations about what they mean are entertaining. Oh, and you only have a hand full of nights to solve the murder before the ghost vanishes for good. So work quickly!
Dead of Winter 2-5 players 60-120 minutes
Another cooperative game that forces the players to work together, Dead of Winter, recreates the zombie apocalypse. Players each have their character with unique abilities and are in a camp in the center of the board. As the game goes on, players will have to search for food and supplies by leaving the safety of camp to scavenge other locations. But leaving camp also leaves fewer defenses and can attract more zombies. My favorite part of this game is that there are multiple different scenarios that you can play through to make the game different each time. It also includes a “crossroads deck,” which the players draw from that throws a wrench in your plans. Sometimes, these cards are good, but most of the time they are bad, it just depends on how you play the game.
Who Goes There 3-4 players 110+ minutes
This is the board game version of the 1980’s classic horror movie The Thing. Who Goes There is a cooperative game until it’s not. Like the movie (and the book it’s based on), the crew works together to gather supplies and make weapons to survive the harsh Antarctic climate. However, exposure to the elements also means exposure to something else. At some point in the game, one or more players will be taken over by The Thing and get new objectives. To sabotage the rest of the group. The game perfectly captures the immense paranoia of the film while still forcing players to rely on each other. When the game comes to a close, and it’s time to escape, the players must decide whom they trust and who they don’t. On Amazon, this game is going for a RIDICULOUS $349. There are plenty of copies floating around on eBay for reasonable prices.
The Last Friday 2-6 players/30-120 minutes
This slasher horror board game takes all the tropes of the slasher subgenre and crams them into one package. Players take on the role of young campers at Camp Apache. One player, acting as The Maniac, stalks the board in secret, attempting to isolate and murder the campers, while the campers are trying to fight back and kill the murderer. There are four chapters (Arrival at the Camp, The Chase, The Massacre, and The Final Chapter) that make up this game; they can be played separately or as one big story. Each chapter plays differently going from campers being stalked, campers chasing the maniac, maniac trying to kill one specific camper but not the others, and one particular camper has to kill the maniac with the help of the others. My favorite part of this game is that the killer has their own itty bitty secret board to move around on. I enjoy hidden movement games, and The Last Friday does that mechanic very well.
Betrayal Legacy 3-5 players/45-90 minutes
If you aren’t familiar with “legacy” games, it means that the game is going to tell a story. Each time you play the game, you make decisions that will affect later games. Think The Butterfly Effect. Betrayal Legacy is the story of a haunted house told over decades. The players enter and explore a house and discover the rooms within, in each room, the players may have an encounter or find an item. Players work together to explore the house and discover its secrets until the house forces one or more players to betray the rest of the group. This betrayal can happen in 52 different ways, and each one makes gameplay different. If the legacy aspect of this game is not your jam or the permanent decisions give you anxiety, then check out the original Betrayal at the House on the Hill for a similar experience but without the pressure of legacy.
Gloom 2-4 players/60 minutes
In Gloom, each player is in charge of a family of misanthropic misfits that thrive on misery. In the spirit of the Addams Family, your goal is to fill your family members’ lives with as many tragedies as possible before ushering them off to the sweet release of death. While you want to make your life as terrible and tragic as possible, you also want to bring joy, terrible joy to those around you. In your hand, you will have cards that give your life a positive boost. You play these happy, funfilled cards on your opponents to make their lives brighter and more fulfilling. They’ll hate it. There are multiple expansions to this game that add more families and make the game playable with up to 7 people. Few games that I’ve played give me more horrible delight as Gloom.
The Bloody Inn 1-4 players/30-60 minutes.
Say you’re a farmer in 19th century France. You and your family want to make your fortune and live that good life. How do you accomplish your goal? Open up a quaint roadside Inn and straight-up murder all your guests, taking their money and burying them in the back yard. Yeah, it took a turn. In this game, you are competing with your fellow players to amass the most wealth while evading the capture of the police. Primarily a card game, you have to be strategic about which murders to commit and where to bury their bodies. Also, you really should clean up the corpses before the cops check into the Inn. Throughout the game, you can hire some shady staff members to help you with running your murder hotel and getting that sweet cash.
Solve mysteries and fight monsters to escape the mansion alive and sane. This game is run by an app, and the players are working cooperatively against the scenario that the app gives you. There is a board and pieces, but the app tells you what items you find and which monsters you’re fighting. It’s essential that you see the “second edition” up there because this version is run by the app, and the “first version” is run by another player. That’s very important because it’s so much easier to play with the app than another play that may or may not know all the rules. Because the app is there, the game is easy to jump right in and play. There’s lots of puzzle solving, monster fighting, and clue investigating that make this game very immersive and entertaining.
Are there any horror games that I left out that you feel deserve to be mentioned? Hit me up on Instagram @teamredmon and let me know about it. If you end up buying and playing any of these games, let me know! I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading!