The tabletop gaming scene has blossomed in recent years with both board games and ‘pen-and-paper’ gaming such as Dungeons and Dragons and Cthulhu becoming hugely popular. So, we thought that instead of watching a scary movie or playing a horror-themed video game, why not take a look at these short descriptions of available board games and get friends and family together instead (socially distance considerations taken into account of course)?
UP TO 8 PLAYERS (GREAT FOR LARGER GROUPS)
Set during the roaring 1920s, this is a cooperative game based around the Cthulhu mythos of horror legend HP Lovecraft. Players choose an investigator, settle on a back story, and across the course of the game will acquire skills and equipment that will help them defeat an ancient evil that threatens to come into our world!
There are several story strands to play through, each with a variety of endings depending on play, and there are expansions available for those who want to play further.
This is a card game where you draw various cards and modifiers from the pack and, with luck and a bit of skill, kill your entire family. I should point out that this family is the one you choose at the start and play the game as; please don’t kill your own family. That’s a TBG public safety announcement. Taking elements from Edgar Allen Poe and, again, HP Lovecraft, Gloom is a game where you have to make your chosen family totally miserable before they finally die untimely and horrific deaths. Cheerful, eh?
It’s a great game; fun, fast and can be played without the concentration more character-based RPGs require so is perfect for people gathered around drinking and eating and having some spooky Halloween fun.
Zombies!!! (that will not get at all tiresome) is a great little game where the goal is to not get your brain eaten and to get through a city and escape from the zombie hordes by helicopter. The players start in a zombie-infested city and only see part of the gaming area. As play progresses and more cards are laid, more of the city opens up with locations such as hospitals and police stations adding to the tactics and bonuses available.
Combat is fairly straightforward; roll a six-sided dice and the result will have a different effect depending on weapon or circumstance. It comes with zombie figures and dice and is a great little game if you’re a fan of those stumbling mumbling brain-loving fiends.
Imagine if the bad guys won in all those Disney classics we all watched as kids? Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s the basic premise of Disney Villainous which puts players in the shoes of classic villains such as Maleficent, Ursula from The Little Mermaid and Jafar from Aladdin. Each villain has a different objective and your goal is to reach yours before other players reach theirs. You can play hero cards to thwart the other players (so, for example, dropping Peter Pan in the path of Captain Hook) and gameplay can be ramped up for more experienced gamers or dialled back if you’re playing with younger family members.
Expansions are available and there is plenty here for Disney fans or just those who want to be evil!
BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL
This strategy roleplaying game is one of our favourites. In this fantastic game, players take the roles of various seemingly stereotypical characters (professor, jock, etc) and puts you into a haunted mansion.
The game has a huge variety of situations and scenarios available and no two games will ever be the same; the villainous foes you encounter are all very different and the scenes and action moments of are varied and exciting; an invisible man may be stalking you as the house falls into a swamp or a monster storms up from the basement and takes you out one by one. You start working as a team but one, or more, of you will soon become treacherous and soon you’ll all be fighting to win.
It’s lots of fun and is a must-play for horror movie fans and is an excellent introduction to RPG gaming.
In these Coronavirus times, this may be a little on the nose but Pandemic is a great game that has up to four contagious diseases breaking out across the world, with players working together to contain the viruses and find a cure. You start at the Centre For Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (any Walking Dead fans in?) and panic rises as diseases spread from city to city whilst you try to combat them.
It’s a very tricky, complex experience that will get the pulse racing as you battle against what can at times appear to be unbeatable odds. Random event cards which in other games, can sometimes come across as forced really work with Pandemic and add to the nerve-wracking tension that builds as you watch the map of the world slowly become overrun. It’s a great cooperative game, where either you all win or you all lose, and is a great way to get together and achieve a common goal which is fairly rare in gaming these days.
ONE NIGHT ULTIMATE WEREWOLF
This game takes five or ten minutes to play and… what? Yes, that’s all it takes. It’s great for fast-paced gaming, allowing for several rounds to be played in a short period of time. A werewolf is trying to kill villagers and those villages need to stop the werewolf. What more do you need?
It’s a classic bluffing game, where players take random roles as werewolves or villagers, with werewolves trying to remain hidden as the villagers try to wheedle them out, and it’s a case of seeing which random cards players are dealt and then playing that hand. Gameplay works by villager guessing who the werewolf is and choosing to kill them; if it turns out a werewolf is killed, the villagers win. Hurray!
The exciting thing about One Night Ultimate Werewolf is that there is a corresponding app that you can download and play. It narrates the story and helps play the game which, considering we’re in the modern world, is a great idea and adds an extra layer to the gameplay. You don’t need to use it (a player can read things out as needed) but it makes things much easier. It’s quick and easy to learn and is a great game for larger groups to play. The more the merrier!
THE WALKING DEAD BOARD GAME
The Robert Kirkman comic book that became an industry, spitting out a tv show, tie-in novels, video games, action figures and of course board games, everyone knows the name and that zombies (ok, pedants, not zombies but ‘walkers’) are involved. This board game features characters and locations from the comics but of course some will be familiar to fans of the show too. Characters are chosen at random so there are no favourites here!
The game has players hunting down resources and looking for safe locations to survive the zombie apocalypse that has befell the world. The game starts with three available ‘safe havens’ visible but each player is then able to have a private one that they can attempt to reach. This particularly comes into play if this private haven (fnar fnar) is located close to where the player is on the gaming board.
One of the more interesting aspects of the game is that if a player dies it isn’t game over for them; they become part of the zombie horde and can, in turn, attack other players. This adds more tension to the game (and can help settle old rivalries, shh) and this unique mechanic really works.
This is just a quick look at some great games that are available and that, during the spookiest of months, you may enjoy playing. If you’ve never been much of a tabletop gaming fan or haven’t played board games outside of Scrabble and Monopoly, any of these would be a great place to start!
Things are difficult at the moment with social distancing rules, rumours of more lockdowns and so on but if you have got a few close friends or family you live with these could be a great way to spend an hour or two!