Okay, I love October. Beautiful weather, awesome food (stews, cider, the whole cozy kit and caboodle), and yes . . . Halloween! This past year, I’ve been joining friends as we heed the siren call to escape our realities and dive into new worlds through the medium of board games. Tabletop gaming of any kind seems to be thriving these days, if all the game shops and cafes cropping up around the city are any indication. Immersive, tactile, social in a way that is refreshing–board games have a lot to offer, and it helps that the past years have seen so many wonderfully creative new offerings on the market.
So, what does this have to do with October and the month of creppy/spoopy goodness? I’m glad you allowed me to project that question in your voice, dear reader. With Halloween around the corner, I thought I’d offer a cute lil’ trinity of portable/packable/party games with themes that fit this most haunted of holidays. For eerily atmospheric to downright scary-good, there are quite a few games on the market that could fill an entire evening of candy and games on their own: Mysterium, Betrayal at House on the Hill, the Arkham Horror entries, and so many more. But if you are out and about for your Halloween celebrations, these games are tiny but in the spirit (get it?) of the season and oh so fun.
If you want a game to accommodate a large party, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is perfect for any ghoulish game night. A fast-paced game of deception, logic, and chaos, One Night Ultimate Werewolf provides the option to use the associated app in setting up the scenario. The app creates atmosphere and immersion, as well as fulfilling the practical role of getting the game going without having to rely on an outside narrator. The setup is simple, too, once you’ve learned the rules–there are cards, tokens, and the initial introduction via the app or a narrator. Join your friends and work with (or against) them as you save the town (or not) from a looming, lycan menace! As a bonus, there are other entries in the One Night Ultimate series (such as a vampire-themed one), and a variant called Werewords with very different (and still cool) gameplay in the same cutely-creepy world of One Night Ultimate Werewolf!
If you want a . . . wait for it . . . NO BRAINER of a game, Zombie Dice is your game. The goal is simple: eat brains and un-live to shamble another day. Where One Night Ultimate Werewolf is best with a larger party, Zombie Dice is plenty of fun with just two players, but accommodates more. The challenge is to collect as many brains as you can without rolling the dreaded shotgun dice, which will eventually end your noggin-chomping ways. This is another fast-paced game (games tend to run around 10 minutes or so when I play) with a lightweight form-factor–a simple little tube of dice/rules that you can chuck into a bag and barely notice. Bonus: you can buy the expansion (a few extra dice) to give yourself yet another . . . this one’s gonna be good . . . SHOT at nomming some brains!
Last, but not least, is Gloom. As a writer, I thoroughly enjoyed this one–you get to be a storyteller in Gloom. In fact, it’s the point. A one-deck card game, Gloom is the most portable but also the most in-depth of my trinity of recs. This game is unique in so many ways: transparent cards that you overlay with others in your hand to keep track of game objective; wonderfully creppy/spoopy, Goreyesque art; the use of storytelling as a game mechanic; and many others. The real twist, though, is that while in most games you strive to keep self and kindred alive, in Gloom, the objective is to kill off the entirety of your miserable, twisted, wretched family in the most gleefully gruesome of ways. Gloom is for 2 to 4 players, and can take an hour or so, so it’s by far the heftiest entry into my list of potent portables. The makers of Gloom also created Chthulhu and Fairy Tales versions of the game that I’m curious to play.
Now I must shamble/lope/ghostily hover away to stuff my face with candy corn, put on some scary music, and enjoy the days leading to Halloween–I hope you have a frightfully good one!