Do you feel that chill? Do you smell that pumpkin spice? Are you a game nerd? — Hopefully, we can’t smell you. Well, then, let’s conjure up a few board games for this year’s Spooktacular Halloween Board Game List!
1) Jekyll vs. Hyde (Mandoo Games, 2 Players)
Two-player trick-taking games are hard to come by. (Here’s one: https://www.geekgirlauthority.com/the-fox-in-the-forest-trick-taking-fun-for-two/). Finding one that fits the Halloween vibe is even more rare. Enter Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Each player takes one of the iconic roles. Jekyll is trying to stay sane by having balance and Hyde wants one player (it doesn’t matter which) to dominate each round. Each round there are ten tricks, at the end of the round Jekyll will move from sane to insane a number of spaces equal to the difference. So if Jekyll wins 7 tricks and Hyde wins 3, Jekyll moves 4 spaces towards insanity. There are only 10 spaces total and if Jekyll hits space ten it’s game over. If Jekyll survives three rounds, they win. There are just a couple of more rules, but that’s pretty much it. There is quite a bit of strategy and an appropriate amount of tension, even though games are only about 20 minutes. Highly recommended.
2) BOOoop. (Smirk & Dagger Games, 2 Players)
I picked this one up after playing the original (Boop.) at a convention with a friend. I am not afraid of an abstract game – actually, I love abstract games – and this one is one of the cutest looking you’ll find. Strictly for two players, the rules are quite simple: get three of your cats in a row on the bed. As with most good abstract games, though, that requires a bunch of brain power. This game could have been any theme, and while I love real cats, the original Boop probably doesn’t make it into my collection. But add cats with witch hats and pumpkins along with an orange quilt board, then add a little “ghost” expansion, and it becomes true Halloween magic. An excellent addition to the Spooktacular list.
3) Good & Bad Ghosts (Kod Kod, 2 Players)
What? More abstract Halloween goodness, you say? Well, here you go. This game was originally printed in 1980 and has been reprinted many times since. I grabbed the latest edition and gave it a whirl with another friend at another convention. Yes, apparently I have at least two friends. Good & Bad Ghosts is very simple and includes a bit of bluffing. Each player has four blue “good” ghosts and four red “bad” ghosts. Your ghosts’ identities are kept secret, like Stratego. The whole goal is to get one of your good ghosts from your end of the board to the opposite end of the board. You can also win if you can trick your opponent into capturing three of your bad ghosts. This one is a perfect game for getting youngsters to the table during the spooky season. Cute, cheap, quick and fun.
4) Zombiegeddon (Twilight Creations, 2-4 Players)
This game is designed by my (likely) favorite designer, Reiner Knizia. It was released in 2009 and is currently out of print. A third (yes, third) friend picked this up for me for $5 at a convention flea market and that was the first I heard of it. We played it a few times at the convention and we were all hooked. It’s the apocalypse and players are trying to get the most stuff while keeping other players from doing the same. It is suuuuuper mean but super fun. Aside from the box cover it is also really ugly with cheap-looking components. After hearing that his was an excellent game, a friend (stop it) made me some excellent upgraded components that take it to the next level. Regardless, this game is a hidden Knizia gem with tons of tension, good decision space, and surprisingly thematic. Like The Walking Dead (or the board game Dead Of Winter) it is reinforced here that during the real-life Zombiegeddon, it’s your friends you really need to watch out for. I really hope this game gets a reprint. If you can find this used in the meantime, get it. I think it’s a hidden gem.
5) Affliction: Salem 1692 (2nd Ed.) – (DPH Games, 2-4 Players)
What better way to spend a Spooktober game night than exploring the true horrors of humanity? In this one, you’ll be dealing with the real-life inhabitants of Salem, Mass. during the witch trials. You’ll be using worker placement mechanics to acquire the influence and resources to protect those in your inner circle while pointing accusing fingers at other townsfolk, aka witches, hoping to get them arrested by the authorities. This game somehow manages to provide fun entertainment while drawing attention to one of the most bizarre events in history. It’s a very well-designed game that truly captures the spirit of Halloween.
Well, there you have it. I hope there is at least something on this list you might not have heard of and will enjoy. Happy Spooktober. Be safe, have fun, and keep nerding on, WITCHES!
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