It’s here: Halloween party season! For adults, especially nerdy adults, just the thought of a party can be intimidating. When you’re hosting a party, sometimes it’s difficult to get guests to interact when most of them just want to hide in a corner playing on their phones or talking to your cat. I recommend breaking out one of these spooky board games, which will keep to your theme and satiate the nerd within while encouraging interaction between guests.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf: 3-10 Players, 10 Minute Play Time, MSRP: $25
This game has won a slew of awards, comes with a handy app, and plays in about ten minutes, which makes for a fun icebreaker for any Halloween party. In this hidden identity game, everyone gets a role, each with a special ability, and over the course of a morning, your village must decide who the werewolf is and kill it before it turns everyone. The game is fun, engaging, and so quick that you’ll definitely want to play it more than once. It holds many players and can be combined with One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Daybreak to expand to even more players and roles.
Gloom: 2-5 Players, 60 Minute Play Time, MSRP: $25
Set the tone for your party with Gloom, a storytelling game reminiscent of The Addams Family. In this game, each player controls a gothic family of misanthropes, and the goal is simple: make them as miserable as possible before they die. Beware, though: other players can play cards on your family members to make them happy, causing you to gain points. At the end of the game, the player with the lowest number of points wins. This fun little card game has an innovative design, using plastic translucent cards that players can layer on top of characters to modify their worth. The game also has three expansions, each adding an additional player, so you can expand up to eight. This is a really fun game to set a macabre mood for the perfect Halloween atmosphere.
The Last Friday: 2-6 Players, 30-120 Minute Play Time, MSRP: $50
This game is inspired by the horror “slasher” movie genre. It’s a deduction game of hidden movement and hunting. Most players take on the role of young campers challenged to survive a terror-filled weekend, while one player acts as the psychopath, hunting them and hiding in the shadows. Of course, the psycho wants to stay hidden and kill all the campers, while the campers want to find the murderer and kill her before they’re all killed. The game is played over the course of four “chapters,” each playing out differently as the hunter becomes the hunted, and then comes back from the dead seeking revenge. This game nails the theming and is perfect to play before watching a classic slasher film!
Elder Sign: 1-8 Players, 90 Minute Play Time, MSRP: $35
This fast-paced, cooperative dice rolling game is perfect to play after a few contentious rounds of One Night Ultimate Werewolf to get everyone working together again. It’s 1926, and a museum’s collection of ancient artifacts poses a threat to the barriers between our world and the elder evils lurking between dimensions. Players are investigators racing against time to locate the symbols necessary to close the portals forever and stave off the return of the Ancient One. Investigators must successfully endure the adventures within the museum to collect elder signs, then battle the ancient one without going insane. This game’s theming is phenomenal and perfect to set the spooky tone and get people talking and working together.
Betrayal at the House on the Hill: 3-6 Players, 60 Minute Play Time, MSRP: $50
This game is absolutely one of my favorites. If you and your party guests love haunted houses and/or Scooby Doo, you’ll also love this game, where players explore a spooky house and reveal its various rooms together before one player turns traitor and the game changes. In this tile laying and dice rolling game, each player is one of six characters exploring the house, revealing its rooms tile by tile. Once enough bad omens are collected, the game quickly pivots when a traitor is revealed among the group, becoming a one versus many race to the end. To win, the innocent members of the party must defeat the traitor before it’s too late, otherwise the traitor wins. This game comes with a book of 50 different scenarios, so it’s quite different every time you play. It combines elements of role playing, storytelling, tile laying, and dice rolling to create a creepy, fun game that you and your guests will want to play over and over again. The game is getting its first expansion this Halloween, so don’t miss it!
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu: 2-4 Players, 40 Minute Play Time, MSRP: $50
Let’s be real: Cthulhu is the king of creepy. This game is regular, cooperative Pandemic with a horrific twist that will have players facing twelve Old Ones, each of which threaten the world with their unique powers. Players take on the roles of investigators sealing portals before monsters pour into our world and/or they lose their minds. Instead of curing diseases, players seal portals and shut down cults. Pair this with Elder Sign and/or Arkham Horror (a game that didn’t make this list, but is similar in theme) and some readings from HP Lovecraft for an excellent Cthulhu-themed soiree!