Photo by Javier Grixo on Unsplash

Photo by Damon Lam on Unsplash

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We’ve mentioned before in our post about horror-themed card games for adults that we love horror. If it’s creepy, there’s a good chance we’ll love it.

Board games are no exception to that particular rule. Fortunately, there are tons of spine-tingling options out there for those as dedicated to horror as we are, and we’re going to share a sampling of them here.

So, whether or not anyone asked for it, here is our list of the best horror-themed board games for adults. Dim the lights, curl up with a blanket, and keep reading to see what heart-pounding entries made the cut.

Best Horror Themed Board Games for Adults

Betrayal at House on the Hill

The best thing about Betrayal at House on the Hill is that it’s not just a mindless game – it’s a storytelling experience. Every single game you play tells a new story about the haunted and mysterious House on the Hill.

When you begin the game, you choose a scenario from an included booklet of stories. Then, players become one of a range of characters who will be probing into the mystery of the haunted house.

Things start off as normal, with players working together to uncover new rooms in the house, find rewards, and run into the things that go bump in the night…until one of the players is revealed to be the traitor, hence the “betrayal” in the name.

The end of the game becomes a hasty race. Those who aren’t traitors must work together to escape the house while the traitor tries to keep them as permanent and unwilling guests for all of eternity.

Pros:

  • It has 50 chilling scenarios to play through, making this a game worth replaying.
  • Cooperative gameplay that encourages people to work together until the traitor is chosen at random.
  • The board is different each time you play, as you must add rooms while you explore.
  • Attractive and dark art on both the board and pieces.
  • You can customize characters’ individual stats as you play with unique items and circumstances.

Cons:

  • This game takes some patience to learn. It’s usually best if you have an experienced player in your group to help you through it.

Mansions of Madness

If you’re a fan of the Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG (or tabletop RPGs in general), then you’ll absolutely adore Mansions of Madness. This board game is another well-loved entry by the ever-popular Fantasy Flight Games, a producer of high-quality games.

One thing that we love about this game is how it works like an automatic DM. Unlike a tabletop RPG, where you oftentimes have to scramble to find someone to run the campaign, this game runs the story for you. Everyone gets to enjoy being a player here.

There are four detailed campaigns you can play through, and 500 intricate, beautiful parts to make your experience immersive every time. Whenever you play, you’re taken through the campaign by a companion app that’s compatible with most phone operating systems.

Because the app runs the game for you, you can even play alone if you want to. This one is definitely on our wishlist.

Pros:

  • Has a companion app that runs each campaign and encounter for you.
  • You can play with anywhere from one to five players.
  • Tons of ornate, immersive components to improve your experience.
  • Campaigns range anywhere from 2-3 hours in length, allowing you to sink into the setting.
  • Features teamwork-oriented gameplay that encourages all players to work together.

Cons:

  • You can’t play the game without the app.
  • There are tons of pieces, so it will take longer to set up and to put away afterward.

Mysterium

Have you ever wanted to investigate a haunted house? You won’t need any expensive ghost-hunting equipment to do so with Mysterium.

In this atmospheric game, one player becomes the ghost of an unfortunate victim to an unnamed crime. The other players don their thinking caps as they become investigators who are trying to deduce the cause of the ghost’s death.

The ghost tries to give the investigators clues through bizarre picture cards. Investigators must try to puzzle out what part of the picture includes the vital clue to unravel the mystery.

Pros:

  • Stunning artwork.
  • Cooperative gameplay, which is perfect if you’ve got some friends who get a little too competitive.
  • Good stories every time you play.
  • The rules are simple to learn.

Cons:

  • If you play with the same people over and over again, it can become too easy to solve the mystery as players learn to recognize what certain clue cards represent.

Arkham Horror

In Arkham Horror, you get to dive back into the universe of popular Lovecraftian monstrosities. Players become investigators, like in Mansions of Madness, who seek to stop an ancient cosmic deity from awakening.

If you’re really familiar with the game, this is another one that you can play alone. There isn’t a companion app that goes with it, but there is an automatic system that dictates how monsters move.

You also have some control over the stats of your investigator. It’s almost like making a character in a tabletop RPG, because you can tweak them to suit your own strategy and background.

Pros:

  • Can play by yourself if there’s no one else around.
  • Like most Fantasy Flight games, this one has captivating artwork.
  • Filled with richly detailed lore and stories that will have you entranced the entire time.
  • Takes place in the eerie and fun setting of Arkham (which fans of Lovecraft will be familiar with).

Cons:

  • The box says games can be finished in one or two hours, but we’ve personally noticed games can go on for much longer. We played one session that took several hours.
  • It has a steep learning curve.

The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31

John Carpenter’s The Thing is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It’s an absolute master class in suspense about an alien that can assume the forms of any living thing it digests. Naturally, its frozen body is discovered by an isolated arctic base, where it proceeds to lay waste to a team of researchers.

Infection at Outpost 31 lets you feel all the suspense and terror that comes with that situation. Depending on how many players you have, one or more people are “infected” at the start of the game and must play as imitations. While the human players work to escape the base, the imitations must sabotage them without causing suspicion.

This game does an excellent job of capturing the heightened tension and suspense of its source material. We have no doubt you’ll be on the edge of your seat if you end up playing this one.

Pros:

  • Super intense atmosphere that faithfully pays homage to its source material.
  • Quality board and pieces.
  • You can play as any of your favorite characters from the original movie.
  • High replay value, as the outcome can be different each time.

Cons:

  • Can be expensive, because the game is in limited supply.
  • It’s really difficult for the humans to win, especially if the imitations play along the entire time.

Dead of Winter

Have you ever wondered whether or not you could survive through an apocalypse? Well, no need to wonder anymore with Dead of Winter, because you can simulate one.

In this game, players need to work together to survive through a harsh winter after the apocalypse. Intense psychologic threats, dwindling resources, and external enemies must all be dealt with in order to make it until the end of the game.

What are those external enemies you’ll be facing? Zombies. Yes, you’ll need to keep your colony alive through a zombie apocalypse in – you guessed it – the dead of winter.

Pros:

  • Horrifying zombie apocalypse theme.
  • Incorporates many interesting gameplay elements, like resource and morale management.
  • Stunning components.
  • Players must make terrifying and difficult decisions that will have them each on the edge of their seat.
  • Supports anywhere from two to five players.

Cons:

  • Has a steeper learning curve.
  • All the pieces means it takes longer to set up.

Sub Terra

Are you a fan the famous horror movie The Descent? Then Sub Terra is the game for you, because it takes you through essentially the same scenario.

Sub Terra tells the story of novice cavers exploring an underground cavern network…only to find something terrifying lurking within. Now, the cavers must try to escape the series of subterranean tunnels before it’s too late.

This is a cooperative game. Each player assumes the role of a caver, and each caver has their own special abilities that can help contribute to your party’s escape.

Pros:

  • The map varies every time you play, because the tiles are pulled from a shuffled stack.
  • You can play a range of characters with unique abilities and skills.
  • Perfect for fans of The Descent.
  • Has wonderfully dark and creepy pieces.
  • Players must work together to escape the caves.

Cons:

  • Some owners say that it’s difficult to tell the character figurines apart.
  • Once you run out of event cards, whether or not you escape the cave is left entirely up to chance.

Clue IT Board Game

All right, we’re probably cheating a little bit by including a version of Clue on here, especially if you were looking for entirely original board games. But we loved the theme of this game, and it seems particularly relevant with the recent release of the It remakes.

Now, you can enjoy a classic game with a new horrific twist: Pennywise the clown, and the Loser’s Club. Unlike the standard game of Clue, where you’re trying to solve a murder mystery, your goal in this version is to figure out what Pennywise is going to do next to save Derry from the evil, shapeshifting monster.

Pros:

  • Classic game that most people are familiar with.
  • You can play as beloved characters from the It franchise.
  • Rules are easy to pick up.
  • Can be played with as little as two players.
  • Games only take around an hour.

Cons:

  • Some players reported that portions of the rulebook were missing.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

One thing most of the games on this list have in common is that, while they can often support several people, you can’t play them with larger groups. This can be problematic if you’re at a bigger party, and everyone wants to be involved with the game.

Well, that’s where Deception: Murder in Hong Kong excels. Sure, you can play it with a minimum of four players if you want…but you can also play with up to twelve people. That’s more than enough to accommodate large groups of people without anyone being left out.

In this adrenaline-inducing game, players become forensic scientists trying to solve a murder. There’s a twist here, though: one of the players is the murderer, and it’s up to the others to figure out who.

Pros:

  • Up to 12 people can play at once.
  • With over 250 cards, this game has a high replay value.
  • Interesting murder mystery plot with a traitorous twist.
  • The pieces look lovely.

Cons:

  • The minimum number of players may be four, but many say it’s better with larger groups.
  • It’s an extremely fast-paced game, so if you’re looking for something to really settle into, this may not be for you.

Salem 1692

Who doesn’t like a little bit of historical creepiness? We sure do! If historical stories are your thing, then you shouldn’t hesitate to grab a copy of Salem 1692.

As you may have guessed from the name, the story is about the witch trials of 1692. Players can accuse each other of witchcraft through a combination of cards, acting, and randomness. Your goal is to sniff out who the actual witches are and rid the town of Salem of their presence…without getting accused yourself.

We don’t know about you, but we’re also absolutely spellbound by the packaging for this game. It’s designed to look like a book, with a magnetic closing mechanism to safely tuck away the pieces. We love the idea of being able to store a game on a book shelf, with guests being none the wiser.

Pros:

  • Brilliant packaging.
  • You can play games quickly.
  • Allows 4-12 people to play.
  • Each character is based on a real person from Salem.

Cons:

  • Like Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, anyone looking for an evening-long experience might not like how rapidly this game moves.

Bonus Entry: Ouija

What horror collection would be complete without the infamous Ouija board? We’ll answer that for you: none of them would be.

Horror lovers of all interests and ages should have at least one of these on their shelves. We’re counting it as a bonus, though, because depending on your belief system, this isn’t technically a game.

Nevertheless, it is marketed as a board game. We thought this game – alleged by thousands to be able to communicate with ghosts – at least deserved an honorable mention.

Things to Consider When Buying a Horror Themed Board Game

Theme

If you’re looking at this list, you’ve already decided that horror is important to you. However, that’s a broad statement to make.

With horror, you can really pick your poison – whatever tickles your fancy. If you want some mind-numbing cosmic horror that’s scary enough to drive you insane, then you’ll want a Lovecraftian game.

But creepy paranormal games that will make your hair stand on end are certainly on the table, too – no pun intended.

Think about which kinds of horror movies scare or interest you the most. Without a doubt, there is a board game out there that will fit the bill.

Set Up and Clean Up

As much as we love board games, we have to admit there’s one thing we don’t like about them: setting them up and taking them down. It’s so frustrating when you’re excited to play something, and instead of dedicating as much time as possible to the game, you have to spend agonizing minutes – sometimes even hours – putting it together.

Set up and clean up matter. You want to spend as long as you can actually enjoying the game you bought.

The best way to determine how long it will take you to put a game together is to look at pictures. If a game is large or has a huge number of pieces, you can usually anticipate it will take more time to get ready.

However, this might not even matter to you. Particularly dedicated board game players aren’t always deterred by daunting setups.

Learning Curve

Are you a beginning board game player, or do you have some experience under your belt? Your answer to that question could give you an idea of your comfort level with complex games.

If you haven’t played many complicated games before, you’ll want to look for something simpler. These will make it easier for you to grasp the rules and immerse yourself in the game.

But if you’re more comfortable with sophisticated games, then your options broaden considerably. Many horror board games have specific sets of rules and interactions that take a veteran board game fan to traverse successfully.

Replay Value

Board games can get pretty dang expensive. This becomes truer with complex games and those that have a lot of pieces.

And, chances are, if you shelled out the cash for an expensive game, you don’t exactly want it to sit gathering dust on your shelf forever. You’ll want something that you enjoy playing often.

This is where replay value factors in. A game with replay value means that you can play it repeatedly without getting bored. Usually, this comes from having choices in how you play, different ways to win, and various outcomes that don’t become repetitive.

Wrap Up

If you’re looking to raise the spook factor up in your next board game night, then you’ll need a solid and creepy contender. Any of the games on this list should help satisfy your thirst for horror.

The one that piques our interest the most, though, is undoubtedly Mansions of Madness. This legendary Fantasy Flight game lets you mimic a deeper tabletop RPG experience with a companion app that guides you through terrifying campaigns. It’s true that the setup looks a little intimidating, but we know we’re up to the challenge. Are you?

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