Best Horror Board Games (Reviews & Rankings)
It's dark out. It's gloomy and gray - the rain patters on the roof. A flash of lightning. Or it's Halloween. OR you just want a reason to play a horror-themed game.
If any of these above events occur, it's time for a horror board game. Fear not: we have compiled a list of the best horror board games designed to terrorize you and your gaming friends tonight.
So whether you're in for zombies, vampires, aliens, or all of them at once, let's take a look, shall we?
Our Top Picks for the Best Horror Board Games
- Arkham Horror - The Card Game - Best occult investigation horror game
- Space Hulk - Best Alien Horror survival game
- Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-building Game - Best Alien horror card game
- Fury of Dracula - Best vampire horror game
- Rebel Nemesis - Best in-depth gameplay
- Last Night on Earth - Best zombie board game
- Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game - Best Isolation/psychological Survival Game
- Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space - Best 'Way to Lose Trust with your Friends' Horror Game
- Pandemic - Best Real-life Horror Board Game
- Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition) - Best Haunted House Game
1. Arkham Horror - The Card Game (Best occult investigation horror game)
- Players: 1-2
- Playing time: 60-120 mins
- Game type: Card, co-operative
- Age: 14+
- Price: under $40
Why we love this game: The horror-struck world of H.P. Lovecraft gets some love with this card/role-playing style game. Arkham Horror - The Card Game is atmospheric, challenging, creepy, and a lot of fun.
Gameplay: This is a story-driven card game, where two players progress through Arkham, Massachusetts, in 1921. These various characters are investigating some unusual and horrific activities in the town. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses, adding real depth to the game. As an example, Roland Banks, the 'Fed,' has access to his special issue gun but also has a dark past with crime, which can catch up to him during the game.
Players must progress each scenario by advancing the story before the evil minions achieve their agenda. Characters must investigate locations in Arkham to gather clues to get to the end of each act; the minions generate 'Doom' points every turn - if they accumulate enough, they beat the players.
Along the way, ghouls encounter the players, along with rat swarms and strange events, all conspiring to hinder their progress.
You can link the stories into a campaign where characters accumulate experience along with physical and mental trauma from their encounters.
Here's an in-depth review with playing instructions:
Verdict: Reasonably priced, eery and atmospheric, choose this game if you enjoy Lovecraft, or a challenging horror card game. For those who enjoy story-driven games, there are multiple expansions to delve further into the world of Arkham.
2. Space Hulk (Best Alien Horror survival game)
- Players: 2
- Playing time: 60 mins
- Game type: board, dice, competitive
- Age: 12+
- Price: under $300
Why we love this game: Dark narrow corridors on a drifting derelict spaceship in the year 40,000; super-human soldiers in walking tank armor confront fast-moving, lethal, six-limbed aliens who stalk them in the shadows. I mean, sign me up!
Gameplay: Players compete against each other in a series of sixteen scenarios. One player is the Space Marines, who must survive on board the Space Hulk against the other player, the Genestealers, stealthy alien predators.
Each scenario sets up using a modular board, beautifully rendered with lovely artwork. The gaming pieces are stunning.
The Space Marines player has a limited number of 'Terminators' under their control. They have several actions they are allowed to perform each turn, and can move, turn, shoot, and more.
The Genestealers have unlimited numbers and get more actions each turn, due to their speed. They are hidden as 'blip' tokens until they enter the Terminators' line of fire, when they reveal themselves, adding no small amount of tension to the game.
If the Terminators achieve their objective, they win the scenario; if they die before then, the Genestealers win! The games are often nail-biting and close-fought, gritty affairs.
Verdict: Space Hulk is a tense and challenging game, oozing with a horror-like atmosphere and tension. It's expensive but beautifully designed, self-contained, with replay value and is great fun for two players.
3. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-building Game (Best Alien horror card game)
- Players: 1-5
- Playing time: 30-60 mins
- Game type: Cards, co-operative
- Age: 17+
- Price: under $45
Why we love this game: H.R. Giger's design of the Alien world is legendary in itself, so playing an immersive card game set in this world is bound to be a horror game treat. That it happens to be part of the 'Legendary' series seems appropriate.
Gameplay: The players must co-operate to complete three objectives to win. Players have a set of cards in hand, which can become more powerful as you progress through the game. The experience reward is a simple mechanic to keep player engagement. Every player chooses a character, such as the iconic heroine Ripley. These characters recruit a crew to explore the ship to achieve objectives and encounter the horrific aliens along the way.
This card game is heavily theme based. There is even an option to play the movie scenarios, aiming to achieve the objectives from each of the first four movies. Expansions add to the game, such as the Alien Covenant expansion that adds the events of the film of the same name.
Verdict: Heavily atmospheric and with a fantastic theme based on the Alien universe, this is a fun co-operative horror game for those that love a self-contained card game. For those who want a co-op challenge with possibilities of replay, this is for you.
4. Fury of Dracula (Best vampire horror game)
- Players: 2-5
- Playing time: 120-180 mins
- Game type: Board, cards, all vs. one competitive
- Age: 14+
- Price: under $55
Why we love this game: Fury of Dracula draws heavily from the source material of the gothic horror novel 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker, so the game drips with character. You get to play as Dracula himself (how cool is that?), or as one of 4 hunters aiming to defeat his plot to conquer Europe under his pall of darkness.
Gameplay: The board is a map of Europe. Dracula travels around Europe, attempting to build an army of minions. He lays traps, spreads rumors, and causes headaches for the hunters stalking him. Dracula must gain influence - when he gains 13, he wins. He gathers influence through playing encounter cards as he travels (for example, creating new vampires). The hunters must kill Dracula before this happens.
A turn divides into day and night. Hunters may take turns during the day and night, but Dracula, of course, may only act at night.
Hunters can move, fight, or search places for Dracula in their turn. They can even book tickets for trains and travel further between cities, a nice touch.
Hunters possess their own attributes, like Mina Harker. As she has a bond with Dracula, she can make him reveal himself if he's in her location -this is a sweet character trait based on the story itself. Supplies will bolster a character's chances in their hunt - they may pick up a dog, or some cloves of garlic (everyone must know vampires are affected by garlic).
Each character also has a chance to fight against minions, or Dracula. It works with a scissor-paper-rock style card system.
Verdict: Fury of Dracula is a horror game delight and probably one of the scariest board games out there. The world is colorful, and the gameplay challenging but rewarding. Choose this game if you want a more extensive gaming experience and a more complicated style in the horror game genre.
5. Rebel Nemesis (Best in-depth gameplay)
- Players: 1-5
- Playing time: 90-180 mins
- Game type: board, dice, cards, semi-co-operative
- Age: 12+
- Price: around $350 on Amazon (but seen for under $150 on other stockists' websites)
Why we love this game: It's the game that has nothing to do with the Alien franchise, but seems remarkably like it! Nemesis is a survival horror game with incredible attention to detail - we love it for its immersive style of gameplay, and of course, it's 'nothing-like-Alien-at -all' dark and dripping atmosphere.
Gameplay: The players have woken from stasis sleep on a ship meant to be headed back to Earth. The computer has detected some intruders, and the vessel is in lockdown. The players must survive against these aliens and get to Earth safely.
Each character has their own unique abilities and actions they may take in their turn. Playing to each character's strengths creates lots of tactical options, plus encourages some team co-operation.
Each player has secret objectives too, which adds a competitive edge to the game. They may be nice and fluffy, like ensure everyone survives, or not, like make sure player one does not survive. These secret agendas add a nice twist to the co-operative element in the game.
Along the way back to Earth, players must repair the ship, keep the noise down to avoid aliens, fight them if necessary, prevent infection and death, and generally survive the dark hallways of your ship. All in all, it sounds perfect for horror games night.
Here's an in-depth review of the game:
Verdict: Nemesis is complicated, expensive, and challenging. Having said all that, it's heavily themed, and a great deal of fun. We recommend this for the more experienced gaming group or for those who want to really splash out for a comprehensive survival horror game.
6. Last Night on Earth (Best zombie hoard game)
- Players: 2-6
- Playing time: 60-90 mins
- Game type: board, cards, dice, teams, competitive
- Age: 12+
- Price: under $60
Why we love this game: Last Night on Earth plays like a B-grade zombie movie, with dense atmospherics, and even a themed music soundtrack. It is simple to learn and yet immersively fun.
Gameplay: Players are struggling for survival or acting as the shambling horde of zombies. The board sets up with modular tiles adding for a variety of scenes. More variety of options are created with five individual scenarios with objectives. The living players must last through the night until dawn, while the zombie players must defeat them.
In turn, living players, then zombies, make their moves. Living players can move further each turn than zombies, or explore their space for items. Zombies spawn each turn randomly and relentlessly shamble towards their prey each round; they can also make limited use of items found. A randomly drawn card deck determines the items, ranging from guns to baseball bats to bandages (all the classics in a survival horror).
Inevitably comes the zombie that gets within reach to take a bite out of one of the living. Dice-rolling determines fights, with boosts coming from cards, like weapons. Combat can be random and nail-biting affairs, and while the humans have the advantage of speed and brains, the zombies have the benefit of overwhelming numbers. It is fun to see a single zombie take down one of the living against the odds!
Verdict: Last Night on Earth cleverly recreates the zombie movie theme, making this a fun game. It is easy to learn, so the players can focus on the atmosphere and the social aspect of gathering around a table to eat each others' brains. Last Night on Earth recommends itself for a lighter horror gaming night, and maybe for the older crowd.
7. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game (Best Isolation/psychological Survival Game)
- Players: 2-5
- Playing time: 60-120 mins
- Game type: cards, scenario, semi-co-operative
- Age: 13+
- Price: under $45
Why we love this game: Dead of Winter is about an isolated community, one of the last remaining colonies of humans on Earth. A zombie plague all but wiped out humanity. This game is a co-operation game of difficult decisions, psychological turmoil, and survival.
Gameplay: Players are in a colony of some of the last survivors on Earth. They aim to survive together, but each individual has a hidden agenda they must also achieve. This makes The Dead of Winter a co-operative game, with some competitive elements.
Players travel to various abandoned town locations, like the police station, gas station, or school, to locate food, gas, weapons, and the like for their continued survival.
Each game relies on a scenario with a compelling story (such as "Find a Cure"), and depending on the time available, you can choose a short, medium, or a long one.
Players also have secret goals, for example, 'Burn it all down' means a player wins if they destroy the colony, by barricading everyone in! Another player might have 'Desire to Live,' meaning they win if they collect weapons and medicine, and the whole territory survives.
Every turn sees new 'crisis' events occur, like food shortages, zombie attacks, and others. As these are met and achieved or lost, morale will be affected. If morale drops too low, the game is up!
Verdict: This is a heavily story-driven game. If you want a survival horror game, that makes you weigh life-or-death decisions that impact the group, this is your game. The Dead of Winter drips with atmosphere and most definitely earns a place for top horror board games.
8. Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space - Best 'Way to Lose Trust with your Friends' Horror Game
- Players: 2-8
- Playing time: 20-45 mins
- Game type: cards, deduction, teams, competitive
- Age: 12+
- Price: under $45
Why we love this game: Humans and aliens on board a derelict spaceship. The aliens are infecting humans. No one knows who is an alien and who is a human. Friends become enemies, and those you think are against you are not. You may have friends after this game, or you may not, but you'll all have fun.
Gameplay: The game's artistic design is minimal yet striking in manner.
Players draw a random and secret character: The Captain, The Executive Officer, The Blink Alien, The Invisible Alien, amongst others. All have unique abilities.
The aim is for the players to escape the ship before the aliens consume them: a simple but always compelling premise. There are forty turns to flee.
Players mark their location on a secret map that each player possesses, on a specially provided map pad. There is a huge variety of maps for varying challenges and replay value.
Everyone secretly moves, but when they land on a silent space, they must tell everyone. Players thus may get a clue as to where the player might be, which is useful to the aliens (though it seems strange the silent spaces must be identified).
As you move about the ship, you acquire various items, or encounter dangers: players draw cards to see what these are, adding a random and unpredictable element to the game.
Cards either give you an item, compel you to reveal your location or to lie about it, but no other player knows which card you drew, so it's up to them to decide if you are lying or telling the truth, which will test how well you know, and trust your friends.
Aliens attack a space when they think there's a hidden human on it, but be sure they are human because if you kill an alien by mistake, you'll bring your prey closer to victory!
Verdict: Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space is a nerve-inducing, nail-biting, and also a compelling game of deduction. We recommend this for a social and rowdy horror game night and a slightly different twist on the alien survival game.
9. Pandemic (Best Real-life Horror Board Game)
- Players: 2-4
- Playing time: 45 mins
- Game type: board, cards, co-operative
- Age: 8+
- Price: around $50
Why we love this game: Pandemic is a real-life horror scenario: what if several deadly diseases spring up all around the world at once? How do we cure it? Pandemic is an excellent game about social co-operation and collaboration.
Gameplay: The board is a world map, with several interconnected international cities. Several virus outbreaks are occurring at once across the world, and it's the players' responsibility to slow and eliminate the spread of them.
Players begin at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Each player has a unique role, such as the Researcher, who has her own abilities. The players must interact with their various roles and co-operate to defeat these viruses.
In a game turn, players move, draw cards, and then progress the diseases. A player can reduce the potency of the disease by taking action and removing one of the virus cubes on the board at a city location. These cubes travel from city to city if left unchecked, and spread by drawing cards each turn to indicate their travel to new places, which is the 'infection rate.' Too much spreading is an outbreak - if eight outbreaks occur, the players lose.
Players cure diseases by building research stations and using collected cards of the same type. Once they do this, they can travel to locations and remove all the disease cubes at once, making it much easier to destroy it. Removing all the disease cubes eradicates it. If they eliminate all diseases, then they win.
Verdict: Pandemic is a great 'real-life' horror game. Playing this is informative and also interesting fun - this would be good for a family game night. Choose this game for a collaborative and brainier horror game scenario that offers a break from aliens and zombies.
10. Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition) - Best Haunted House Game
- Players: 1-5
- Playing time: 120-180 mins
- Game type: board, app, scenario, dice
- Age: 14+
- Price: around $80
Why we love this game: What is a good horror board game list without a haunted mansion full of creepy ghouls and fiends?
This is arguably THE ultimate haunted house game.
Gameplay: Each quest is a randomly generated mansion using the app, which creates variety for your games. The app itself does not feel gimmicky and certainly adds to the game.
Players solve mysteries while exploring dark, haunted mansions. Every player has a character with unique abilities. It is up to each player to solve puzzles, quest the mansions, and fight off monsters to discover the secrets of the haunted house. Rooms have encounters and problems to address, often with several options - for example, if you encounter a hideous monster, do you fight the beast or run away? It's a classic quest that meets a choose-your-own-adventure type game.
Verdict: This is an interactive and immersive horror board game. Choose this for a traditional haunted mansion horror setting, which gives you an in-depth, atmospheric, and bone-chilling game night.
So, here is our list of Best Horror Board Games to play in 2020. We hope you enjoyed it and found yourself a couple of sweet options with which to terrorize your friends when you next get together for a games night!
We sincerely hope you liked our recommendations, and if we missed any, please feel free to comment below.