Halloween and gaming go hand-in-hand. From childhood, we indulge in make-believe, competition, and mischief. Think costume parties, trick-or-treating, apple-bobbing, and pranks galore. Maybe we outgrew many of these pastimes, but we still love to game when October rolls around. And one board game captures the true spirit of Halloween – the drama, the spookiness, and the silliness. Spoilers: it’s Blood on the Clocktower.
We can list plenty of horror board games worth playing this spooky season (and horror RPG games, and horror miniatures, and horror wargames…). But Blood on the Clocktower, the world’s most elaborate social deduction game, is the cream of the creepy crop.
The basic premise is inherently Halloween-y. First, gather five to twenty willing victims. One of these is the storyteller, who’s in charge of organizing the game, facilitating play, and creating atmosphere. Almost everyone else is a town villager with a randomly assigned role they can use during the game.
And then there’s the demon. This player is both hunter and hunted, choosing villagers to kill during the game’s night phase (when everyone’s eyes are closed) and attempting to avoid detection during the day. If the demon kills the majority of the town, evil wins – but if they’re executed by a majority vote from the villagers, then good prevails.
We say ‘evil’ and ‘good’ because the demon often has minions helping them hide. And while every other villager is good, not everyone is useful – some have ‘outsider’ roles that actively confuse matters. Plus, the dead don’t stay quite dead in this town, often continuing to chat and support their side.
All in all, Blood on the Clocktower is a game of strategy, deception, and frantic finger-pointing. And you can tailor the experience to fit your perfect Halloween feel.
If you love horror and tension, dim the lights and play a few tracks from the best horror movies in the background. With your players’ consent, some gruesome narration from the storyteller can do a lot to set the mood.
Lovers of costume parties should encourage players to treat this like a full-blown murder mystery dinner. Set a theme, decorate your play space, and dedicate a whole evening to your demon-hunting. Everyone should come in costume and commit to playing their role – the storyteller could even don an unsettling mask as they silently visit villagers in the night phase.
You can also keep things light. Blood on the Clocktower can be as scary as watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with the lights on, if that’s how you want it to be.
What makes Blood on the Clocktower so Halloween-friendly is its capabilities as a party board game. It can accommodate much higher player counts than most of board games for adults, so no one has to feel left out. Plus, it allows for much more casual chat than your typical tabletop title – meaning no one misses the social side of a Halloween party in order to play.
Blood on the Clocktower is flexible and convenient, but more importantly it’s addictive. Suspicion and secrets keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire game.
Endless possible scenarios could be playing out around you. Are the couple having secret conversations in the corner evil, or are they innocents trying to establish a rare slither of trust. Did a character’s power not work because they were poisoned by a minion, or are they bluffing? Is that one person you put your faith in about to murder you in the night?
The storyteller can add as much complexity and chaos as they please. A clever demon could kill half the town in a single night. Good players can become evil, and vice versa. People can die and mysteriously return to life – sometimes you’ll even need to kill someone twice to make sure they’re really dead.
And then, after all the slaughter comes the reveal. Whether good or evil triumphs, everyone gets to know who their peers really were. And this moment of clarity is so satisfying that you often don’t care who won and lost – you relish a mystery uncovered together.
There’s a reason we keep talking about Blood on the Clocktower in our best board games lists. It’s not a cheap board game by any measure, but it’s well worth the luxury price. And with endless replayability, you’ll get many horror-filled Halloweens out of just one copy.