In the age of horror board games, your Halloween game nights can actually be scary again. Gone are the days of apple bobbing – there are plenty of tabletop games out there to titillate terror-lovers. From our extensive testing, we’ve picked this lien-up of the best scary board games to bring to a Halloween party. Spoiler alert: ghosts, zombies, aliens, and serial killers are all coming your way.
Like many of the best board games, horror tabletop games have to strike a fine balance between genre and gameplay. The best of them expertly straddle the awkward line between tactics and terror, generating unique, uncomfortable moments you might never find in more vanilla couples board games, coop board games, and the like.
The best horror board games are:
- Arkham Horror 3rd Edition
- Arkham Horror: The Card Game
- Fury of Dracula
- Eldritch Horror
- Mansions of Madness
- Betrayal at House on the Hill
- Hako Onna
- Blood on the Clocktower
- Final Girl
- Dead of Winter
1. Arkham Horror 3rd Edition
Many popular horror board games are based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and Arkham Horror 3rd Edition is the latest version of the ‘elder statesman’ game in that oeuvre.
Players take on the role of 1920s characters and work together, exploring the dark secrets of the town of Arkham, defeating eldritch monsters, and closing gates to try and stop the place from being devoured by creatures beyond human understanding.
2. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
If you want your Lovecraft a bit more eldritch, then don’t confuse the Arkham Horror board game above with this, Arkham Horror: The Card Game. It’s also a coop board game – but that’s where the similarity ends.
This is a more narrative-heavy affair where you delve into a series of linked mysteries, trying to uncover furtive goings-on, and uncovering skeletons in closets which may turn out to be actual skeletons, or something worse.
Each character has a deck of skills and items that can be added during play and fine-tuned or upgraded between scenarios… if they survive. Full of excitement and suspense, this is a great line of games – although once you’ve solved a mystery you’ll need to purchase another scenario pack to keep playing.
Luckily, you’ll be spoilt for choice – Arkham Horror: The Card Game is one of the best card games of all time, and, while publisher Fantasy Flight Games changed the game’s release cycle in 2021, it’s still bringing out new Investigator and Campaign expansions in 2023, seven years after it debuted in 2016.
3. Fury of Dracula
Bram Stoker’s famous Count Dracula is even more of a horror icon than Lovecraft, so no surprise there’s also an excellent board game devoted to him – Fury of Dracula. One player plays the powerful bloodsucker as he travels in secret across Europe, trying to spread his vampiric curse, and planting traps and minions in his wake.
The others work together as vampire hunters Abraham Van Helsing and friends, piecing clues together to determine where the vampire might be, while accumulating blessed items and weapons to fight the Count’s servants and the dreaded vampire himself. It’s an epic battle, and one of the most beloved horror board games of all time.
4. Eldritch Horror
If Arkham Horror is about you working together to save Arkham, Eldritch Horror ups the ante by getting you to work together to save the world. Given the higher stakes, it’s perhaps surprising that this is a slightly simpler game than its sibling – but it’s no less fun for all that.
The zoomed-out focus gives it a more epic feel, and lets you delve more deeply into the lore of whatever monstrosity it is that you’re facing – as well as varying the encounters with a truly international, and sometimes interdimensional, feel.
Gamers of a certain age will remember the novelty of TV-aided horror board game Atmosfear, with an included DVD full of creepy moments that helped guide you through play. There have been multiple editions of Atmosfear down the years, and you can still play the discs on most game consoles. The latest version bought things up to date by moving the action to an app.
The core game still requires you to roll one or two dice to navigate the board, avoiding hazards and collecting keys while hoping the horrible gatekeeper doesn’t pop up on screen and utter pronouncements on your doom.
6. Mansions of Madness
There’s also a heavy-duty, Lovecraftian app-driven game available in Mansions of Madness. Like the previous Lovecraft games on our list, this sees you working together to peel back the onion layers of a classic horror conundrum.
Unlike the others, the app spoon-feeding you information about the scenario allows it to have a real sense of exploration and mystery as you delve deeper and deeper into the unknown, uncovering horrible secrets and sinister clues one by one on your way to victory or unspeakable demise. There are some classic moments awaiting in the core box and, if you manage to beat all the scenarios, there are plenty of expansions to enjoy.
7. Betrayal at House on the Hill
One of the oldest and zaniest horror board games is Betrayal at House on the Hill, a mouthful of a title, currently on its third edition. It starts out cooperative as your team explores a classic haunted house, tile by random tile, looking for clues and items. At some point, events will cause the ‘haunt’ to kick in, at which point one player will become an antagonist to the rest, secretly reading hidden, spooky scenario details.
Both sides now have a win condition to race to, putting what they found in the first half of the game to good use. The wide range of haunts included in Betrayal at House on the Hill means this can take up almost any horror trope imaginable, from demonic possession to invisible killers. There’s even a Scooby-Doo-themed version for families, and a campaign-driven Legacy version for hardcore gamers.
For the full (ghost) story, check out our Betrayal at House on the Hill review.
Sometimes you don’t want to be scared by a spooky board game, you just want to kick back and splatter zombie guts everywhere. On those occasions, Zombicide is the game you want to break out. Arriving in a huge box packed with plastic, your team is tasked with fighting an oncoming horde of undead, gaining items and experience, and triggering even more zombies to be unleashed along the way.
What Zombicide lacks in the tactical nuance of the best strategy board games, it more than makes up for in sheer spectacle and drama as you carve your way through wave after wave of shambling horrors, painting the board with blood.
9. Hako Onna
Hako Onna deserves to be mentioned purely for its box art alone. Seriously, the creepy ghost reaching out towards you is the stuff of Grudge-inspired nightmares.
Hako Onna (translated: “the woman in the box”) is an asymmetric board game that twists hide and seek into something truly terrible. One player becomes the titular Hako Onna, while two to four other players are visitors exploring a mansion. If you’ve seen literally any horror movie ever, you’ll already have the feeling this was a bad idea – and you’re right because Hako Onna plans to kill everyone off before they can escape.
The survivors must explore the mansion’s rooms to find items to weaken Hako Onna or ways to make a speedy exit. But this is no small feat – they’ll need to avoid making noise so they don’t wake the ghost and trigger her turn.
And if Hako Onna is hiding in the room they search, she’ll kill them instantly, converting them to her cause. Hako Onna makes hidden movements during her turn to keep players guessing, and a dexterity mechanic for making noise adds even more tension to the game.
10. Blood on the Clocktower
We at Wargamer can’t recommend Blood on the Clocktower enough. It’s the best social deduction game going, a fantastic party board game, and – thanks to its grim theme – it’s an excellent Halloween game.
Up to 20 people play as members of a gothic-as-heck village. One person is a demon, going on killing sprees in the night (when everyone closes their eyes) and displaying their victims on the village clocktower. The villagers must use their unique roles to deduce who the killer is and execute them before the population is totally wiped out.
Blood on the Clocktower is full of strategy and suspicion. If you can overcome the wild accusations and false information, you might sleuth your way into surviving the night.
We recommend storytellers (the player facilitating play) play some horror soundtracks during the night phase of the game to keep everyone on edge. And, if your party is into that sort of thing, feel free to describe each player’s death in plenty of gruesome detail.
11. Final Girl
Final Girl is the ultimate board game for horror movie nerds. It’s a solo board game based around the concept of the ‘final girl’, the heroine who’s often the only person to escape a movie’s killer alive.
One core gameplay box gives you the basics for play, and there’s a range of ‘Feature Films’ to mix and match for replayability. You’ll need a core box and a Feature Film to play, but their combined price is still cheaper than many big board games.
Many of the Feature Films are loosely based on horror icons. ‘The Happy Trails Horror’ pits Laurie against a summer camp killer, while ‘Frightmare on Maple Lane’ sees Nancy fend off a monster that gets you in your dreams. Sounding familiar yet?
Gameplay revolves around rescuing innocents from a killer who wants to wipe out as many people as possible on their path to destroy the final girl. It’s kill or be killed, and the final girl will need to destroy their adversary if they want to see another sunrise.
As the final girl explores the map they’ll uncover helpful items and not-always-so-helpful events. Plus, different Feature Films introduce new mechanics to keep you on your toes.
This is a highly thematic game that relies heavily on luck, which means it won’t be for everybody. But if you enjoy a quiet night in with some tense dice-rolling (plus gorgeous, highly collectible box design), we think Final Girl is worth the go.
12. Dead of Winter
Zombie horror is as much about gruelling survival as it is about walking corpses. Dead of Winter is a board game that understands this and recreates the feel of the genre with harsh mechanics and storytelling.
At its core, Dead of Winter is a co-op strategy board game where you play as a group of survivors trying to survive a zombie outbreak. If that wasn’t bad enough, you’re doing so in the middle of a frostbite-inducing winter. And not everyone in your group has the same goals – everyone has a secret personal objective they must complete alongside the game’s core objective, and some of these will actively harm the rest of the group.
Explore a decaying, snow-covered city to gather resources. Avoid getting frostbitten or zombie-bitten and reducing your numbers. Try not to tear each other apart looking for traitors and arguing about what to do during story events. This is a complex and highly thematic horror game, and we can’t stop playing.
As with all our guides, we’ll be adding shiny new games to this list as we play them (even when it’s not Halloween). If none of these spooky titles tickles your fancy, however, we’ve profiled the best board games in a bunch of other genres too – you might find something more your speed among the following guides: