Wargaming is always tense, the fate of your favorite fighter resting on a single die roll while the battle hangs in the balance. But it’s not often scary – pushing teeny tiny figures around a miniature battlefield isn’t going to make you scream. The best horror wargames use the aesthetics and tropes of horror from films, art, and literature, to create unique gameplay and awesome model-making opportunities.
If you’re after more spills and chills, make sure you check out our guides to the best horror board games and the best horror RPG games. And if these games don’t satisfy your desire for tactical combat, check out our rundown of the best miniature wargames full stop.
These are the best horror wargames in 2023:
- Necropolis28 – The best free horror wargame
- The Doomed – the best horror wargame for kit-bashing
- Last Days – the best zombie horror wargame
- Don’t Look Back – the best horror movie wargame
- Sludge – the best full-scale horror wargame
- Warhammer 40k Inquisimunda – the root of modern indie horror wargames
Necropolis28 – The best free horror wargame
Necropolis28 is an indie horror wargame with powerful Dark Souls energy. Players command small warbands of the undead investigating the ruins of an ancient Necropolis city. The game uses very small warbands and encourages the use of dense, diorama style micro-boards. We first covered The Doomed in November 2022, and you can get the rules by joining the game’s active Discord server.
The Doomed – The best horror wargame for kit-bashing
The Doomed is a game of post-apocalyptic horror hunting. Set on a sci-fi world abandoned by its corporate masters, players control warbands of survivors who must battle each other and terrifying horrors for survival.
Each horror is a formidable foe and a totally unique scenario, and the open-ended progression system makes this game a perfect excuse to go absolutely wild with conversions. Check out our ‘The Doomed’ review to get a full rundown on the game.
Last Days – The best zombie horror wargame
Like a good zombie movie, Last Days knows that the real threat isn’t the undead, it’s the humans. It’s a modern-era skirmish game, in which teams of survivors search for the supplies needed to stay alive and improve their hideout.
When models take actions they generate noise, dragging zombies in their direction and summoning more onto the board. Last Days was created by YouTuber Ash Barker of Guerilla Miniature games and you’ll find lots of videos on his channel.
Don’t Look Back – The best horror movie wargame
Don’t Look Back is a love letter to the VHS era of horror movies. It’s a solo or co-operative game played against an AI controlled plot and killer; players control hapless teens who are set upon by terrifying killers, monsters, ghosts, cannibals, and other classic monster tropes, and must find a way to survive. Expansions for extra monsters and scenarios even come packed in custom VHS cases.
Sludge – The best full-scale horror wargame
War is horrifying, but not many wargames lean into that grim truth. Enter Sludge by Sean Sutter, a wargame of black-powder battles outside of time, a timeline in which the world tree is rotting and the nine hells are bleeding into our reality.
As units of musketeers, pikemen, and cavalry slay one another the spilt gore lingers on the battlefield, fraying the nerves of the survivors. The combination of historical figures with supernaturally awful setting make it a great vehicle for grimdark conversions and terrain – not to mention those gore tokens.
Warhammer 40k Inquisimunda – The root of most indie horror wargames
Inquisimunda is a fan-made ruleset that blends together the second edition of Warhammer 40k, the first edition of Necromunda, and 54mm scale narrative wargame Inquisitor. The ‘Inq28 scene’ played Inquisimunda (among other games) using kit-bashed 28mm scale miniatures for characters from the most outlandish Warhammer 40k factions and the furthest reaches of the game’s lore.
Inq28 was partly responsible for popularising the Blanchitsu aesthetic, a grim, kitbash-heavy model-making style inspired by revered Warhammer illustrator John Blanche. New indie wargames emerged from the scene, such as the Napoleonic root vegetable-infested Turnip28. Necropolis28, The Doomed, and Sludge can all trace their roots back to the Inq28 scene and Inquisimunda.
With the exception of Don’t Look Back, all these games are miniatures agnostic – a perfect excuse to convert some custom miniatures for the job. Alternatively, you could look at the huge range of digital miniatures out there: Don’t Look Back and Sludge are both supported by downloadable 3D miniatures. Wargamer has helpful guides about how to 3D print miniatures, and the best 3D printers for miniatures, if you’re ready to take the plunge.