It’s spooky season, and if you’re looking for the right tabletop game for a Halloween game night, we have a few recommendations.
There’s something about gathering around a table with a handful of friends that enhances the spooky-ish traits of games around this time of year. Maybe it’s a subconscious association with seeing other groups of teens clinging to each other while playing Ouija or fleeing from a masked, chainsaw-slinging maniac. Either way, it’s a great season for a Halloween game night.
We’ve curated a list of suggestions to inspire you for a creepy (or campy) evening of tabletop gaming. Gather your friends, don’t split the party, and face the ghouls with these experiences this All Hallow’s Eve.
5) Star Wars Villainous
Dressing up as superheroes and villains has become as central to Halloween as slasher flicks and monsters. Ravensburger’s Villainous franchise is a great way to lean into this aspect of the holiday, especially with Star Wars Villainous, which celebrates some of the most iconic, Dark Side-wielding baddies in science fiction.
Each of the five villains included has their own unique motivations, mechanics, and win conditions, and is represented by unique totems that look more like relics than Star Wars figures. It’s accessible, and a good solution if you want the villains to win this Halloween game night but aren’t feeling all the stereotypical ghouls. (For peak seasonal effect, make sure someone plays as The Clone Wars’ Asajj Ventress.)
From Free League Publishing comes Vaesen, a “Nordic Horror Roleplaying” game set in a version of 19th century Northern Europe where myths are real. Its Gothic, dark fantasy setting—based on Swedish illustrator Johan Egerkrans’ work—is a refreshingly original change of pace, the perfect thing to diversify your Halloween game night.
Vaesen falls on the rules-light side of the tabletop RPG spectrum, using Free League’s intuitive Year Zero engine. Being focused on narrative, it’s a great fit for the season—it’s reminiscent of telling spooky stories around a campfire, just with a game master and more stats. Heck, you could even play it around the campfire if the weather cooperates.
3) Arkham Horror
Continuing in the vein of alternate history dark fantasy, Arkham Horror Third Edition takes your Halloween game night on a more eldritch, Lovecraftian route. One to six players take on the role of investigators and must search for clues and tools to prevent incursions by the Old Ones, and thus the unraveling of reality.
With a plethora of scenarios and investigators, and just the right degree of difficulty, Arkham Horror is a robust experience that could keep you busy all season, not just on your pre-Halloween game night.
2) Monster of the Week
If you like scary stuff a little campier or modern, Monster of the Week is an excellent roleplaying game. Inspired by “monster of the week”-style shows like Buffy the Vampire Hunter, Supernatural, or even early Smallville, this game allows players to create their very own monster hunter. Start with an archetype or “playbook” like the Chosen, the Expert, or the Monstrous and customize their powers, then spend your Halloween game night slaying whatever vile monster is plaguing your sleepy little town.
Utilizing the Powered By The Apocalypse system, Monster of the Week has less hit point tracking and more flavorful actions, making it a good entry point for players who might not have dipped a toe into roleplaying games before. Act out the equivalent of a whole TV show season in one Halloween game night, or turn it into a month-long gauntlet, or even keep the scares coming all year round. Plus you can explore any number of popular Halloween conventions, depending on your game master’s imagination.
1) Zombicide: 2nd Edition
When it comes to conventions, however, zombies have become one of the most prevalent, stumbling through your friendly local game store in a multitude of different products. None is better than Zombicide: 2nd Edition, however. Cool Mini Or Not’s classic board game has been revitalized after a smash-hit Kickstarter campaign, and has become a staple of not only my group’s annual themed Halloween game nights, but a permanent feature of our regular get-togethers all year round.
Take the survivalist vibes of The Walking Dead and replace its heavier thematic elements with a more comic book-like style, and you’ll get a good sense of Zombicide. Players carry out various missions across a substantial campaign, securing supplies or saving people before the ever-escalating tide of the undead consumes them. Zombies aren’t just simple shambling menaces either; they come in a variety of intimidating forms, with unique traits. The characters’ avatars run from cliches to pop culture nods with a fun, almost campy feel that keeps the experience fun.
If you want even more to this world, particularly on the roleplaying side, you can also check out Zombicide Chronicles, a spin-off RPG that can utilize components from the board game.
Whatever you get up to at your Halloween game night or on the big night itself, have fun, stay safe, and keep posted to CGMagazine for more tabletop gaming coverage.