For the month of October, I've pulled 10 recommendations for spooky games from my own shelves. Also, make sure you check out the free print n' play links at the bottom. Thanks and enjoy! 




Ancient Terrible Things Cover Artwork

Designer: Simon McGregor

Artist: Rob van Zyl

Publisher: Pleasant Company Games

Year Published: 2014

No. of Players: 2-4

Ages: 14+

Playing Time: 60 Minutes

Main Mechanics / Theme: Dice Rolling/Hand Management/Horror

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Ancient Terrible Things is an enjoyable dice rolling/manipulation game wrapped in a horror theme. Throughout the game, players will collect dice and tokens of different colors used to try and achieve specific combinations (e.g. three of a kind, pairs, etc.) for the purpose of satisfying requirement on various "ominous encounter" cards. Each location on the board holds a randomly drawn card as well as a printed special benefit players will receive when they visit. This game offers light gameplay, a playfully creepy aesthetic, and a great deal of interesting decisions each turn. 



Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game Cover Artwork

Designers: Jonathan Gilmour &Isaac Vega

Artists: David RichardsFernanda Suárez, & Peter Wocken

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games     

Year Published: 2014

No. of Players: 2-5         Ages: 13+       

Playing Time: 60-120 Minutes 

Main Mechanics / Theme: Cooperative/Dice Rolling/Horror

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Dead of Winter is a game that I don't get to the table often enough! This game has a lot of content between its official expansions (Warring Colonies & The Long Night) and  dozen or so promos floating around. I really enjoy the zombie theme of this game and only sort of enjoy the traitor mechanism it implements. This game shines as a cooperative game and I really like that you each start with a small team of characters, ensuring that you're not eliminated from the game just because one of your characters was eaten! If you like The Walking Dead, this game has gone above and beyond to try and provide an experience true to the spirit of that show. From what I've seen, many recommend the standalone expansion (i.e. DoW: The Long Night) over the original version. I personally enjoy having 2 games worth of characters to mix together. In any case, if you like tense, semi-cooperative games check this one out!



 Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters Cover Artwork

Designer: Brian Yu

Artist: Pierô   

Publisher: Mattel

Year Published: 2013     

No. of Players: 2-4

Ages: 8+     

Playing Time: 30 Minutes

Main Mechanics / Theme: Cooperative/Pick-up & Deliver

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Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters is an excellent family-weight game where you take control of a group of kids exploring a haunted house, searching for treasure while fighting off the ghosts and evil spirits that inhabit it. This game shares some similarities with Pandemic in that ghosts will randomly spawn in different rooms based on a small deck of event cards. The artwork is vibrant and playful and the components for this game (e.g., squishy ghosts, beautifully sculpted spirits and children miniatures, etc.) are excellent.



Cover Front (Publisher's Press Image)

Designer: Antoine Bauza   

Artist: Pierô

Publisher: Repos Production     

Year Published: 2008

No. of Players: 1-4     Ages: 12+   

Playing Time: 60 Minutes

Main Mechanics / Theme: Cooperative/Dice Rolling/Horror

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Ghost Stories is a game with a reputation for being difficult to win; however, that doesn't take away from the beauty of its design! This game features vibrant artwork, excellent components, and a fun theme that help you to forget you're being punished by cardboard. Players assume the roles of Taoist monks tasked with defending a village from hordes of ghosts descending upon the villagers. As players move around the village (i.e. a modular 3x3 grid of villagers/locations), they will recruit the help of villagers when they end their movement. These villagers can help improve dice rolls, provide special abilities to defend against approaching ghosts, etc. Players must work together to plan their moves to ensure that ghosts do not overwhelm the town, haunting tiles as the close in. Too many hauntings and you lose the game; although, dying at the hands of a ghost is just as likely. Players must fight their way through the deck of ghosts until they discover and defeat one of several incarnations of Wu-Feng (i.e. the lord of Hell) randomly selected for each game. If players defeat Wu-Feng, they win! This game is very tough but the level of player interaction and cooperation is excellent, making this a perfect game for gaming families and friends.




One Night Ultimate Werewolf Cover Artwork

Designers: Ted Alspach & Akihisa Okui   

Artist: Gus Batts

Publisher: Bézier Games     

Year Published: 2014

No. of Players: 3-10       Ages: 8+       

Playing Time: 10 Minutes 

Main Mechanics / Theme: Bluffing/Deduction/Horror

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One Night Ultimate Werewolf is one of my favorite games to introduce to non-gamers who are skeptical about the hobby. I have taken this game to parties and completely neglected every other game in my bag, playing this 10-minute filler for an hour or longer! Everything about this game is elegantly simple from the limited components to the easy to grasp rules. I often tell new players that the app for this game literally teaches the game as you play it. Despite its simplicity, One Night Ultimate Werewolf creates some of the most thought-provoking and engaging experiences I've had in gaming. You learn a lot about the people around the table. No Halloween party would be complete without a round or two of this title!





Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, Upper Deck Entertainment, 2014

Designers: Ben Cichoski &Daniel Mandel

Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment     

Year Published: 2014

No. of Players: 1-5     

Ages: 17+     

Playing Time: 30-60 Minutes

Main Mechanics / Theme: Deck Building/Cooperative/Horror

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Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck-Building Game is another perfect example of how a theme (or intellectual property in this case) can help to inform and elevate the design of a game. This version of Legendary Encounters does an excellent job at simulating many of the most memorable elements of the Alien franchise. At any point in the game, players could be scanning the ducts to see what enemies are approaching, trying to kill a facehugger before it plants an embryo, or just waiting for a chestburster that was previously shuffled into their deck to appear, killing them instantly. This game plays great as a solo experience but really shines with more players due to the inclusion of mechanisms that allow players to utilize cards out of turn order in an effort to assist the active player. The artwork is gruesome, warranting the 17+ age recommendation. Even if unfamiliar with the Alien franchise, this game is an excellent exercise in cooperative deck-building that creates a tense and exciting atmosphere. 




Mansions of Madness: Second Edition, Fantasy Flight Games, 2016 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Designer: Nikki Valens     

Artists: C. Balanescu, Y. Boissonnet, A. Finér, et al.

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games     

Year Published: 2016

No. of Players: 1-5     Ages: 14+   

Playing Time: 120-180 Minutes 

Main Mechanics / Theme: Exploration/Cooperative/Horror

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Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition is an immersive and cooperative experience filled with Lovecraftian horrors. In this game of exploration and survival horror, players assume the roles of characters with unique abilities and attributes who must work together to solve one of several scenarios. Gameplay is assisted with the use of an app that helps prompt players on what rooms to reveal, tokens to place, creatures/enemies to spawn, items to discover, and puzzles to solve. Despite the scope of gameplay, Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition has a very limited setup time (i.e. 5 minutes or less) which I really appreciate. This is a game that promises hours upon hours of unique gameplay experiences that are sure to create lasting memories! 




 Monster Slaughter, Ankama, 2017 (image provided by the publisher)

Designer: Henri Pym     

Artists: Édouard Guiton &Thomas Choux

Publisher: Ankama     

Year Published: 2018     

No. of Players: 2-5

Ages: 14+     

Playing Time: 45-60 Minutes

Main Mechanics / Theme: Action Points/Dice Rolling/Horror

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Monster Slaughter is a perfect example of how theme can inform design. In this game, players assume control over one of the many families of monsters included in the game (e.g., vampires, werewolves, aliens, etc.), descending upon a cabin filled partying teenagers in hopes of eliminating them all before dawn. The game uses assymetric player abilities unique to each familir of monsters with variable action points depending of the family member being utilized. Furthermore, players use dice rolling to resolve combat, forced entry of the cabin, and attempts to scare partygoers. Points are scored for destroyed doors, the death or injury of each partygoer, and correct predictions concerning the order of partygoers' death. This game is criminally underrated and a perfect choice for both families and horror movie buffs alike!



  Mysterium, Libellud, 2015 (image provided by the publisher)

Designers: Oleksandr Nevskiy & Oleg Sidorenko

Artists: I. BurlakovX.ColletteO. Nevskiy, & O. Sidorenko

Publisher: Libellud     

Year Published: 2015     

No. of Players: 2-7     Ages: 10+     

Playing Time: 42 Minutes      

Main Mechanics / Theme: Deduction/Horror

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Mysterium is a whodunit-style game with a beautifully eerie aesthetic. In this game, one player assumes the role of a tortured spirit providing visions to one or more mediums in the form of abstract art cards. These visions are meant to direct the attention of each medium to a person, place, and thing that were randomly selected for each player during setup. Players attempt to correctly identify their chosen suspects, location of the murder, and murder weapon before time runs out! This game does a great job creating a creepy atmospher and it can be played with up to 7 players! 



Shaky Manor, Blue Orange Games, 2018 — front cover, U.S. release (image provided by the publisher)

Designers: Asger Harding Granerud & Daniel Skjold Pedersen

Artists: Etienne Hebinger    

Publisher: Blue Orange    

Year Published: 2017

No. of Players: 2-4     Ages: 6+   

Playing Time: 10-20 Minutes

Main Mechanics / Theme: Dexterity/Pattern Building/Horror

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Shaky Manor is a cute little dexterity game in which players race to isolate specific items within one of the rooms in their manor. To get started, one player flips the top challenge card of the deck, revealing those items which must be present in a specific room. The room is determined by the color/design on the back of the NEW top card in the deck. Players slide and shake their 3D game boards, rolling and bouncing objects around in attempt to meet the requirements of the challenge card. The first player to successfully isolate these objects in the correct room claims the challenge card. The first player to claim 5 challenge cards wins!



Below are two spooky print n' play variants for Ganz Schön Clever and Onitama that I've created.

Each image is linked to the downloadable files hosted on BoardGameGeek.

Hope you enjoy them and thanks for checking out my article!



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