Whether cooperative or highly competitive, horror’s one of my favorite themes in board gaming. And there’s no better season to try out a new, scary tabletop game with friends. So let’s get right into it and check out my recommendations for the best horror board games to play this Halloween season!
Best New Horror Board Games - Resident Evil: The Board Game
Steamforged Games knows how to put together a proper tabletop experience based off of a beloved video game IP. And that's more apparent than anywhere else with their treatment of the Resident Evil franchise. Starting off with board game adaptations of Resident Evil 2 and 3, the Steamforged team have finally brought the game that started it all to your home table.
Resident Evil: The Board Game is a collaborative horror adventure game for 1-4 players, as they set out to replay the events from the first RE game, exploring the creepy, zombie-filled Spencer Mansion. In the game, players set out to learn more about what's going on in this terrifying mansion, fend off attacks from zombies, and collect useful items.
Each mission comprises a section of the mansion, and oftentimes you'll be unable to unlock more of the mansion until finding a specific item or completing a certain section. In this way, the game perfectly captures that feeling from the video game of needing to run around, carefully monitoring your health, ammo, and other resources, just to find a way to move deeper into the mystery.
This is one of those incredible, sink in and play over a bunch of sessions kind of games that (like the next game up in this list) really invites players to take their time and lean into the game.
If you're looking for a cooperative game that's wonderfully straightforward in its approach to classic zombie horror, then look no further than Resident Evil: The Board Game.
Best New Horror Board Games - Etherfields
Etherfields has been kicking around the gaming world for a while now, but it's only recently reached a wider audience thanks to solid distribution. This incredible, cooperative campaign-style game truly invites players to push the boundaries of their imaginations, and question what they've come to expect from a game like this!
Published by Awaken Realms, Etherfields is a cooperative narrative game that sees players take on the role of Dreamers exploring a strange dream-filled world. Don't expect full on horror from this game, but there are definitely some dark and twisty visions that'll swim into focus.
Disorienting in the best way possible, the game invites you to follow dream logic as you attempt to fight off nightmares, unlock the mysteries of the world you find yourself stuck in, and explore a larger map. What I most love about the test games we've played of Etherfields is the way even the first few beginner adventures keep you on your toes.
From flipping between entries in a book of quest prompts, to pulling cards that change the game (and even the map!) from moment to moment, you'll need to rely on your wits, ingenuity, and deck-building skills to uncover the secrets of Etherfields.
For those horror fans who prefer a film like Pan's Labyrinth over Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Etherfields is the perfect fit for you!
Best New Horror Board Games - Marvel Zombies: A Zombicide Game
As far as horror board games go, it's hard to talk about the genre without talking about Zombicide. Since its release in 2012, this game franchise has been bringing zombie-killing horror to tables almost yearly - and they're constantly innovating. Case in point: the brand new Marvel Zombies: A Zombicide Game!
In Marvel Zombies you take on the role of one of several classic Marvel heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, Wasp, Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Deadpool. But there's a twist -- with Marvel Zombies, as the name implies, you, the superhero, are the zombie! Infected by a hunger for flesh and sporting decaying rotten super-bodies, you'll chomp your way through a full book of fun scenarios.
One of my favorite mechanics in Marvel Zombies is the hunger track. Becoming more hungry makes your character more dangerous, and able to unlock more abilities. But let it get too high, and you become ravenous, and lose control of your character.
This push-your-luck mechanic adds a fun bit of complexity into a thoroughly smash and crash style dice-chucking adventure game.
How will you fare against those goody-two-shoes heroes who haven't lost their minds to the zombie virus? This game finally answers the question of who would win in a fight: zombie Hulk or non-zombified Thor?
Best New Horror Board Games - Horrified: Greek Monsters
Don't you just hate it when Pandora's Box is opened, and the greatest threats to the ancient Greece all spill out and threaten to destroy the world? Well, as avatars of the gods, it's your job to clean up this mess in Horrified: Greek Monsters.
This cooperative game sees players take on the role of characters like the Mariner, Actor, Shepherd, and more, as you face off against the following monsters: Medusa, Chimera, Minotaur, Cerberus, Sirens, Basilisk. What makes all of the Horrified games so fun is the way the monsters are played. You'll choose different monsters each time you play the game, and mixing and matching them create very different play experiences.
You can also easily scale the difficulty up or down by choosing the amount of monsters you'll encounter. So how does Horrified: Greek Monsters play? Each monster has their own special conditions to defeat them, and you'll navigate your heroes around the board - gaining items, completing tasks, and escorting famous Greek characters around the map. Defeat the monsters before terror strikes the city, and everyone wins. Fail to do so, and it's curtains for Greece!
We should also take a moment to give a special shout-out to the entire Horrified game line. No matter what flavor horror you're in the mood for, there's likely something for you. First, there's the Americana and nostalgia-filled Horrified: American Monsters, which features monsters like Mothman and the Jersey Devil. And then there's my personal favorite, the original Horrified, which is like the tabletop version of a love letter to classic monster movies.
Whether you want to try the newest - and extremely fun - Horrified: Greek Monsters, or you're looking for another flavor, this is one of the most approachable cooperative games on this list.
Best New Horror Board Games - Disney Villainous: Introduction To Evil
Finally, let's take a look at - can you believe it - a non-cooperative horror board game! Disney Villainous: Introduction To Evil takes the modern classic Disney Villainous game and makes it more approachable to a broader audience of gamers.
In Introduction to Evil, every player gets to step into the shoes of one of four iconic Disney villains. There's Prince John, Ursula, Maleficent, and Captain Hook. Each villain comes with their own villain deck, fate deck, player board, and 3D character piece that serves as an abstract representation of your villain.
When it's your turn, you get to move your character around the player board, and that's where the action happens. You'll take one or more actions based on the options available in that spot, which usually involves playing cards from your hand. After all that, you get to top up your hand back to four cards.
Each hero has their own villainous goals they want to achieve, and you can mess with your opponents by playing heroes from their movies to mess up their boards! So, if I'm playing as Prince John and I'm trying to get as much power as possible, but Ursula's about to reach her evil goal - I can send Ariel to go deal with her!
It's an incredible concept for a game, and this new, streamlined approach (the rules are slightly simpler, though it's fully compatible with other expansions of the base game) makes it so easy to get into the villainy.
Whether you're working together or fighting tooth and nail, whether you're looking for an in-depth gaming experience or something a bit more approachable, these are all some of my favorite new horror games to release this year! Here's to a fabulously spooky Halloween season, and beyond!