Costume? Check! Candy? Check! Annoying spooky sounds CD played on incessant loop? Check! Guess we’re ready for the Halloween party, right?
Hm. Our party needs something else. It’s fine as it is, but it’s just fine. What can we do to make our Halloween party more memorable?
Got it! Halloween games! Now, I know what you’re thinking - they take too long, too many pieces, too complicated for parties. Well, let me elaborate. There’s tons of tabletop games out that break those expectations into pieces. They’re easy to learn, quick to play, and inject a surprising bit of thrill and excitement into any get-together. And, fortunately for the season, a huge number of them are suitably spooky! Let me show you some:
First let’s chat about one of the fastest, simplest, and most exciting of spooky games out there. Zombie Dice has rules that are easy enough to pick up just by watching others play. And since players are using the dice one at a time, people can drop in and out whenever they feel like.
The game is a nice, straightforward push-your-luck game. Players are zombies, and the dice represent the humans they’re chasing to “acquire” juicy, succulent brains. When a player rolls, the dice results show how many brains they got, adding to their score - or how many humans fight back. Take too many hits, and you bust and lose all your brains.
And that’s it! Zombie Dice works great as a filler game while waiting for friends to arrive, and is simple enough to add your own house rules - perfect for your graveyard get-together.
Werewolf is the seminal social-deduction game played at parties, conventions, and wherever large groups of people meet. With just a few cards and a player acting as moderator, Werewolf can be one of the most intense game experiences in the world. Players use deceit and deduction to help their team prevail - even if they don’t know who their teammates are.
The original Werewolf requires a large number of players to play, starting at 7 or 8, and a player to act as host and moderator. As an alternative, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is excellent - it requires only a few players, and has an app instead of requiring a moderator. While not as intense as the original Werewolf, One Night is much more accessible.
The original Love Letter is a fast, exciting “micro game” that packs a lot of fun into 15 minutes and 16 cards. It inspired game designers to develop the microgame genre with clever, elegant little games. Lovecraft Letter redesigns Love Letter with larger, nicer components and a few additional rules to add more depth to the game. And, of course, themes of insanity and mind-breaking monsters crank up the Lovecraftian lunacy!
Tiny Epic Zombies
The Tiny Epic series of games are an intriguing bunch. They aim to take large board game experiences and scale them down to something more approachable. Tiny Epic Zombies, in this case, tackles the dungeon-crawler genre, and condenses all the scenario-driven fighting and exploring into a pocket-sized box.
Also scaled down, too, is the play time and complexity. Tiny Epic Zombies gives players all the thrills of a bigger, 2+ hour game of Zombicide into 45 minutes. It’s a fantastic middle ground that can please both gamers and Halloween enthusiasts.
Kids on Bikes
For a twist, let’s recommend a role-playing game - although not one as big and complicated as Dungeons and Dragons. Kids On Bikes is a light, story-driven RPG heavily inspired by a Halloween classic, Stranger Things. Players are, as you might have guessed, kids on bikes, who take on spooky mysteries plaguing Smalltown, USA. The game focuses on developing a setting and getting to the action as quickly as possible, with a streamlined RPG system that’s light and thematic.
Escape From the Aliens in Outer Space
Lastly, let’s talk about a game that takes scary to a new level. Escape From the Aliens in Outer Space (or, EFTAIOS) exquisitely exploits the fear of the dark. Players are all on a space station on self-destruct, and must make their way to the escape pods as quickly as possible. One problem - there aren’t enough escape pods. Oh, and also, some of the humans are actually predatory aliens.
Players navigate their own map of the space station to get away in time, or to chomp on a human. They must call out their location as they move, but a drawn card tells them if they can lie about their location for this turn. Can you get to an escape pod quickly enough? Or can you fool a human to let them come to you? EFTAIOS is tense, quick, and exciting, giving an experience rare in tabletop games.