Horror board games are the best kind! There is no doubt that board games have made a resurgence in the past few years, and so fans of horror tales are looking for what fun can be had with the horror genre on a tabletop.
Here we have a list of some of the best out there.
More than any other on this list, this horror board game has become a franchise. Not only is this the original Arkham Horror, but there are many expansion packs and variant (and popular) card games.
Arkham Horror is a horror board game in the form of a cooperative adventure game, all based around H.P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythology. To start the game you’ll choose from 16 Investigators, where you’ll venture off into the streets of Arkham. You’ve chosen 1 of 8 Ancient Ones to be your main nemisis, with the goal to prevent it from breaking into the world. Along the way you will upgrade your characters by acquiring skills, allies, items, weapons, and spells. It’s up to the players to battle many different types of monsters, along the way closing gates to other dimensions that are opening up around town.
According to Co-Op Board Games, “The overall presentation is excellent…The encounters are great… [and it] has a massive amount of replay value thanks to all of the variety in the game.”
Length: 2-3 Hours
Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness sounds a lot like Arkham Horror, in which players take on the roles of Investigators running around the city. And it is based on the Cthulhu mythology in a similar way as Arkham Horror. But starting in the 2nd Edition, one of the key differences in Mansions of Madness is that it is heavily supported by an app for your smart phone, tablet, or computer.
You’re given an overview of the scenario and the story unfolds through that and the use of one or more players narrating. So while on paper there are a lot of similarities between Mansions of Madness and Arkham Horror, the storytelling experience is quite a bit different.
According to Board Game Quest, you’ll like Mansions of Madness “if you love dungeon crawling filled with puzzles and heavy on narrative… each story delves into the Cthulhu Mythos with a nice balance of horror and mystery… and the flow of the game is quite simple and easy to pick up.”
Length: 2-3 Hours
Horrified is a horror board game that is heavily influenced by classic movie monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. And it caters to slightly younger kids so for certain family game nights, it could be a great way to introduce the classic monsters to younger kids.
In the board game Horrified you and others players take on the role of a hero with the goal of cooperatively ridding your village of the monsters plaguing it. Each monster has their own strengths and weaknesses who are set out to accomplish different unique tasks. Each one is defeated differently, which coincides with the real monsters and their own unique ways to kill and be killed (or defeated)… Wolf Man has a cure, while Dracula it’s all about destroying his coffins, that sort of thing.
According to Meeple Mountain, “Horrified is such a well-designed game; the replayability is high because of all the different Monsters and Hero roles in the game… [and] the way the Monsters are managed — using a single deck of cards — is so streamlined, clever, and beautiful.”
Length: 1 Hour
The Thing Board Game
The Thing Infection at Outpost 31 is one of a number of horror board games based on a popular (and classic) horror movie. And John Carpenter’s The Thing certainly lends itself to a board game.
It is what could be considered a “hidden role” game, where one player is initially the “Thing”. In that way it can be compared to One Night Ultimate Werewolf or other similar card games that have become popular lately, where there is a “villain” among you and their goal is to spread their kind, while the human’s roles are to destroy it before it takes over the entire camp.
Like the werewolf variant games, there is a lot of interesting strategy going on with both sides, the Thing creatures and the humans.
According to Tabletop Bellhop, The Thing Infection at Outpost 31 is “an extremely well-designed team-based social deduction game.”
Length: 1-2 Hours
The Shining Board Game
This is another horror board game based on a beloved movie, and it’s also another one that is meant for the older crowd. Actually there is this game and there is Escape from the Overlook Hotel game, but since that one is generally rated below this one, I’m using this version as the evidently superior one based on a certain amount of consensus.
There are a number of similarities between this game and The Thing board game. The players are all snowed in, where you explore the rooms of the Overlook Hotel. One of the players has already succumbed to the evil forces of the hotel, and thus, wants secretly to keep you there… forever and ever and ever… bwahaha! So in that way, The Shining board game sets up some of the same social deduction components as The Thing board game.
As ThereWillBeGames.com states, some say the game is somewhat simplistic in its gameplay. But in all criticisms, there are those who appreciate that feature. “I am much more impressed with a game that can create an atmosphere and a sense of setting with less, than I am with a game that throws the kitchen sink at it.”
So while this may not have as many rules, tokens, and things to remember compared to some games on this list, for some that may be exactly what they are looking for.
Length: 30-45 Minutes
This one is for the kiddies. Or I should say, it might be best for the adults who first played this in the 1970s or 80s and want to introduce it to their kids now.
Also released as Which Witch in some territories, this game was originally released in 1970 and is considered a classic that can still be found in many stores. Players in Ghost Castle move their characters around the board trying to be the first to escape the house. Along the way players draw cards that do one of several things
- turn you into a mouse (can’t move),
- turn you back into a child if you are a mouse, or
- have you drop the ball down the chimney.
A comparison might be to Mouse Trap, only with a slight tinge of spookiness. If you’re looking for something that has a horror vibe to get younger kids primed for future fun, this is a great option.
Length: 45 Minutes
As far as horror board games, here is one that is a bit different than the rest. It’s a shorter game with a lower complexity score, but it’s still mainly meant for adults and teenagers.
Grind House is a narrative horror board game where the goal is survival. Each player has a classic archetype with a secret motive (but unlike some of the others on this list, you’re not exactly the villain). You’ve been invited to a dusty mansion with the possibility of a huge reward, ala House on Haunted Hill. You can take some injuries but not too many; and whomever survives with the most of their limbs will be the winner.
As Board Game Geek describes it, “Grind House is a straight-forward game with limited rules, a small number of thematic components, and a huge grasp of theme and enjoyment.”
Length: 30 Minutes
Last Updated on February 4, 2022.