By Sam Desatoff
Halloween is this Friday, and, unlike me, you’ve probably been invited to some kind of social gathering. Gathering everyone around for a zombie flick or silently listening to the Monster Mash on loop for hours is all well and good, but if you’re looking for a fun way to get everyone chatting and potentially ruin a few friendships along the way, a board game might be in order. I’ve chosen five games that might get the Halloween night frights kick-started.
King of Tokyo
Brought to us by Richard Garfield, the mind behind Magic: The Gathering, King of Tokyo does a great job of simulating Godzilla-style monster battles. Each player controls a massive monster on a rampage through Tokyo. Essentially a variant on Yahtzee, the game has each player rolling dice to take control of the city, attack other monsters, and stockpiling energy to be spent on game-altering special powers. It is easy to teach and plays in less than half an hour, making it an easy game to break out during your party.
Mansions of Madness
The most involved game on this list, Mansions of Madness has each player controlling an investigator as they explore a haunted house. Meanwhile, another player takes on the role of the Keeper who controls the monsters the investigators will be forced to confront. This asymmetrical balance keeps games tense, and with a book full of different scenarios the replay value is huge. Beware that the setup time can run a bit long so this may not be the ideal Halloween party game, but those that stick it out will find a very rewarding story-driven game.
Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game
If any game on this list embodies all the camp of a “B Movie” horror flick, it’s Last Night on Earth. In this game, each player controls a horror movie stereotype ranging from the godly priest, the jock, and the farmer’s daughter. Meanwhile, one or two other players controls the zombies as they try take out the heroes. Each scenario tasks the heroes with performing some kind of task that usually involves escaping the city or killing a set number of zombies. Heroes can scavenge for items like baseball bats or shotguns to use against the undead. The game also includes a CD containing several tracks of atmospheric music. While not essential, the music certainly adds to the camp that this game so readily revels in.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
If King of Tokyo is a Godzilla sim, then Betrayal at House on the Hill is a haunted house sim. Here, a group of heroes explores a spooky mansion room by room collecting items and discovering “omens”. Midway through the game, a “haunt” occurs and one of the heroes turns on his or her allies. The game ends when either the traitor or the heroes are left alive. Much of the fun in this game comes from the tension of not knowing exactly who the traitor will be. After the haunt occurs, the traitor will receive a set of powers they can use to take out the heroes. These powers aren’t always balanced, but Betrayal is more about telling a fun story anyways.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
One Night Ultimate Werewolf can handle more players than anyone else on this list, making it an ideal party game. Each player secretly takes on the role of a villager or a werewolf, with each villager possessing a different way to manipulate the game. After players have learned their roles for the, it’s up to the villagers to puzzle out who the werewolves are. Over the course of ten minutes wild accusations will fly and people will deny that they are the werewolf. The quick play time and highly interactive nature of One Night makes it a strong choice for your Halloween party.
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