Sunday, October 21, 2007

Games for Halloween

Bring a game to celebrate a night of murder and mayhem. Games appropriate for Halloween come in all the major themes to suit your taste. Here's a guide to some good ones, sorted by spooky style:

Board and Card Games


Braiiiiiinsssss ... For some reason the animated dead skeletons and corpses of dead humans have always been a main feature of our horror stories. Something to do with people coming to collect money from you even when you thought you were finally safe, I guess.

Last Night on Earth The Zombie Game was designed by Jason Hill, is for 2-6 players, and plays in 1.5 hours. It's got dice rolling, heroes, weapons, blood, gore, and all the features you would expect from a video game. And one or two of the players gets to play the zombies.

Other zombie games:
Mall of Horror - zombies in the mall.
Dawn Under - a zombie game for kids, believe it or not.
Zombies!!! 2nd Edition - A hundred zombies, and half of them are women zombies (zombettes?).
Zombie Plague - Two-player, one plays the zombies.


Another undead, vampires have considerably finer manners than their zombie cousins. They won't come in unless they're invited, they don't spend all their time preening in front of mirrors, and they throw pretty good parties.

Fury of Dracula was designed by Stephen Hand and Kevin Wilson, is for 2-5 players, and plays in 2 hours. One player plays the Prince of Darkness, the others the vampire hunters intent on killing the vampire before he, uh, gets six victory points.

Other vampire games:
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle - considered one of the best CCGs other than Magic.
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer - rumored to be pretty good. Buffy has a CCG, too.
Dracula Board Game - 2 player game of hunt an chase.
Vampire: Prince of the City - everyone plays a vampire in this game, vying for control of the city.
Munchkin Bites - A send up of roleplayers and vampires in general.


Werewolves are cursed humans who grow a little hair and a little wild on nights of the full moon, and without drinking, too. Since you have to be bitten by a werewolf to become a werewolf, one wonders where the first werewolf came from.

Werewolf is a public domain party game also known as Mafia. One person moderates the group, one or two play the werewolves, one plays a seer, and the rest play villagers. Each night the werewolves strike, and each day the villagers lynch someone by voting, until only werewolves or villagers remain.

It plays with around 6 or 8 players up to 20 or more, and takes about an hour or two to play. The above picture is one of numerous published versions supplying cards and alternative characters for added enjoyment.


"She turned me into a newt!"

Women throughout the ages have been condemned for being ugly, single, or simply healthy. Sound fair to me.

Wicked Witches Way is by Serge Laget and Bruno Cathala, is for 2-6 players, and plays in 30 minutes. A game of speed and pattern recognition, where you have to quickly scan the pattern on nine dice and recreate them. With several twists.

Other witch, wizard, and warlock games:
Techno Witches - witches on vacuum cleaners.
Magic: The Gathering - Kind of fits here, I guess. The famous CCG, play a witch or wizard battling for control in Dominia. Anyway, there are lots of vampires, zombies, and ghosts in Magic. Play black.


Back to undead, ghosts are insubstantial, and consequentially I never understood why they cause so much terror. They can't touch you. And since they can possess your body, you have a great excuse when it comes to making mischief.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is by Bruce Glassco, is for 3-6 players and plays in 1.5 hours. All the players explore a haunted house until one player triggers a trap, becomes possessed, and tries to kill all the other players before they can escape.

Other ghost games:
Ghosts! - a hidden forces game (like Stratego).
Spooks - a lightly themed card game.
Ghost Chase in Canterville Castle - a kid's induction game (like Scotland Yard).


When the zombies don't get around to animating themselves, it is up to the overworked, underpaid mad scientists to do the job for them. And what thanks do they get?

It's Alive was designed, by a startling coincidence, by yours truly. It's for 2-5 players and plays in 30 minutes. Players collect, sell, and auction body parts to make their monster.


HP Lovecraft wrote an entire mythos based on the "elder gods" occasional visit to Earth (usually the fictional town of Arkham, MA), and this thread was picked up by a later science-fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard.

Arkham Horror was designed by Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius, is for 1-8 players, and plays in 3 hours. It is very highly regarded on Board Game Geek, playing a little like an RPG combat scene, complete with character upgrades and intense combat. The game also has several expansions.

Other Cthulhu games:
Call of Cthulhu CCG - another well regarded CCG after Magic.
Munchkin Cthulhu - for lighter fare, this is one in a series of funny games about roleplayers.

Other Aliens and Monsters (Mummies, Demons, Devils, Bats, Spiders, and Creepy Crawlies)

The list of single creepy creatures and foul fearsomes can continue as long as there are movies to watch on Sunday afternoon. Suffice to say, you don't want any of these sneaking up on you.

Doom: the Boardgame is one of a new breed of board games based on video games, unlike say, Civilization, which is a video game based on a board game. The Doom board game is by Kevin Wilson, is for 2-4 players, and plays in 3 hours or so. Expect a lot of weapons and gore, and don't expect a cakewalk. One player plays the aliens.

Other monster or alien games:
Monsters Menace America - you play the monsters attacking the military, and you try to get the military to pick on the other monsters.
Aliens - based on the movie of the same name.
Cosmic Encounter - more aliens than you can shake a stick at, and some are cute, too.
HorrorClix - an easygoing miniature game of horror.
Hive - a two-player abstract game of swarming bugs trying to encircle your opponent's queen bee.

Criminals (thieves, murderers, and cannibals)

And just so you always remember, even if all of those monsters and aliens aren't real, there are lots of other all-too-real madmen out to get you and eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Clue Master Detective was an updating of the original Clue with more possibilities. Said to be somewhat more challenging than the original.

Other killer games:
Mystery of the Abbey - some claim that this is a superior version of Clue.
Mystery Rummy - themed rummy games with special cards and stories.
Mr. Jack - you play Jack the Ripper trying to evade pursuit. Some very interesting mechanics in this game look quite fun.

Video Games

Think FPS and you can't go wrong.


A number of RPGs have tackled horror themes, some quite well. For a good list of these games, try here. Here is a list of free horror RPGs.

Murder Mystery Party

Another great game for a Halloween party is the Murder Mystery. This is an elaborate game that requires a team to carry out, and a bigger group of guests to play, but it's well worth it for large groups. There are sites, kits, and books to help you with this.

Finally, for the discriminating way to end a good Halloween party, you should always watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.


P.S. Boo.

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