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At least a couple of the people on our team will be the first ones to admit that we love horror. (There’s maybe one who’d disagree with that, but they’re overruled in this case.)
When there’s a promising horror movie in theaters (which, let’s face it, isn’t all that often these days), we’re always the first ones in line for a ticket. Or when there’s a new horror show on Netflix or Hulu, we’re among the earliest people to binge it and digest it.
Needless to say, horror games are our thing. We love bringing spooky into many aspects of our lives, and that includes our card games. Whether or not anyone asked for it, we’re proud to bring you our list of best horror-themed card games for adults in this post.
Best Horror Themed Card Games for Adults
No self-respecting list of horror games could go without at least one Lovecraftian entry…maybe two. That’s part of the reason we had to include Arkham Horror – the Card Game.
One thing we love right off the bat about Arkham Horror is that it supports one to four players. We know as well as anyone that it’s not always easy to get someone to sit down for a terrifying game with you, and in this case, you don’t necessarily need other people.
In fact, it may even be better to play alone. Light some candles and put on a hair-raising soundtrack and you’re good to go.
Players aside, the gameplay is fantastic, too. You get to assume the role of any of the game’s investigators, each of which has their own benefits and drawbacks. Just like a detailed role-playing game, each of your choices will have consequences, until either you or the eldritch horrors win.
- Can play alone if you don’t have anyone else who wants to play.
- Has enjoyable and intense role-playing elements that make you feel like you’re in Arkham.
- The cards are covered in gorgeous and grisly artwork.
- Based around a unique deck-building mechanic.
- You can improve your character decks in between games.
- Some players noted that, to get the most out of the game, you need to invest in the expansions, which can get expensive.
- Has a steep learning curve.
Okay, so not everyone is looking for a long, detailed, and intense experience like that offered in Arkham Horror. Some people just want a casual, quick, and easy-to-learn game to whip out with their friends.
If that sounds more your speed, then allow us to introduce you to Don’t Get Stabbed! In this amusing party game, one player assumes the role of serial killer and then tries to, well, kill all the other players.
The serial killer wins once all the other players become his or her victims. Other plays achieve victory by escaping the wrath of the killer. This is done through stab cards, which the victims need to avoid drawing (or play an action card to prevent once they draw it) and which the killer wants victims to draw.
It’s pretty simple, but still really fun. Plus, it can be finished quickly, which is perfect when you don’t have the time to sink into something lengthy.
- Easy to introduce new players to.
- Fun serial killer theme.
- Cute and stylized artwork on the cards (this doesn’t mean it’s a kid-friendly game, though!).
- Perfect for a small group of players.
- Humorous enough for non-horror fans to like, too.
- There isn’t much strategy or skill involved, since it’s all based on which cards are drawn.
- Some feel that it’s a little too short.
Right away, the dark and yet oddly whimsical artwork on the box of this game caught our eye. We were right to consider it, though, because upon further research, it absolutely deserves a place on this list.
Gloom has an entirely unique concept unlike anything we’ve seen before. In the game, players play as an odd family. Your goal is to curse your own character with as much misfortune as you can until your character’s death. Meanwhile, you try to cause good things to happen to opponents’ characters.
It’s like opposite day, with a gloomy, humorous twist. We think anyone could get a kick out of this intriguing game.
- As you play, creative players will have fun making stories out of the unfortunate events that befall your characters.
- Filled with dark humor.
- The artwork on the cards is lovely and detailed.
- Some felt that the rules are really confusing to read.
To be honest, including the Superfight Horror Deck is kind of cheating. Superfight the game isn’t normally horror-based; this deck is an expansion that adds horror to it.
Nevertheless, we had to mention it. We’ve played Superfight a few times before, and we love the debating elements involved. In Superfight, players use trait cards to make an imaginary hero and then they take turns pitting their made-up characters against each other.
After debating over why their creation would win, the players outside the debate vote on the victor. The combinations are really crazy, which is why we think this horror expansion would be amazing. You really could end up with a serial killer made out of guacamole or a vampire with a kitten cannon.
It leads to interesting discussions, to say the least.
- Leads to amusing and bizarre debates (all the better if you turn it into a drinking game!)
- Incredibly affordable.
- No two games are exactly the same.
- Easy to learn.
- Be prepared to make your own house rules when playing this game. (We ended up having to rule that players can’t choose gods when cards are ambiguous/blank, because they’re impossible to win against.)
- It may not appeal to people who don’t enjoy debating.
Let’s be clear: any edition of Fluxx (and there are many!) is prone to craziness. Little wonder, then, that they ended up making their own Lovecraftian edition, featuring the madness-inducing deities from the popular horror universe.
You can play this game with a relatively small number of people, ranging from two to six. Games are pretty quick, and generally last around half an hour.
As for the actual gameplay? Well, it varies every time you play it – players can set down different rule and win condition cards. Basically, the game is hard to get bored of because it’s different every single time you play it.
It’s maddening…just like the source material from which it came.
- Easy to learn.
- Games are quick and don’t require a lot of time commitment.
- Suitable for horror fans and those who are easily spooked alike.
- Each game is different from the last.
- Lovecraftian-inspired artwork.
- Players who aren’t familiar with Lovecraftian stories may not enjoy the game as much.
- It’s not the kind of game you can sink into for hours with friends, because it ends so quickly.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Card Game
Number of Players
When you’re choosing a card game, how many people you need to play matters. It has a direct impact on how often you’re going to be able to play.
Pretend you’re considering purchasing a game that requires several players at once. Unless you live with a large number of card game enthusiasts, or see a bunch frequently, you’re not going to be able to play the game a lot. This might not be a problem if you only want to play occasionally, though.
But if you want to play the game as often as you possibly can, then you’ll probably want one that allows you to play with one or two people. Such games are easier to set up, and allow you to play at any time.
Since you’ve stumbled across this post, we’d be willing to bet horror matters to you. That means the theme of the game is important.
The topic of this article is horror, so we’ve established horror as a baseline. However, there are different types of horror, and this is worth thinking about when you choose a card game.
Do you like horror comedy? Then you might enjoy the wackiness of a game like Cthulhu Fluxx, for instance.
But if you’re looking for something a little more serious, you’ll probably prefer the Arkham Horror card game.
Have you ever played a game that went on hours and hours, boring all those involved? Have you ever found yourself fervently wishing a game would end?
That’s why the duration or playtime of a card game matters. Think about whether you’re looking for something that will take up an entire evening, or something that can be finished within an hour.
Quick games are great for when you just need something casual to pass a bit of a time. Longer games are better for when you’re looking to dedicate an entire evening to gaming with your friends or family.
How hard a game is to win might be important to you. Some games, even when you understand the rules well, take blood, sweat, and tears to win.
This tends to be the case with Fantasy Flight games, such as the Arkham Horror card game. But for many people, this challenge is preferable, because they feel a tremendous satisfaction when they do actually win.
Others prefer something that’s a little easier. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a game that’s not particularly punishing.
When it comes to difficulty, the best way to determine where a game stands is the reviews. Customers will oftentimes describe their experiences, and reference how easy or difficult the game was.
This might sound like it’s similar to difficulty, but there is a key difference. Whereas difficulty refers to your chances of winning, learning curve means how hard it is to get the hang of the rules and gameplay.
Some games have rulebooks thick as dictionaries. Players need to spend hours riffling through these books, familiarizing themselves with all these complex rules, before playing. Don’t get us wrong – there isn’t anything wrong with complex rules, but not everyone has the patience for them.
Other games are simpler. Learning them takes little time at all, and you can start playing pretty quickly with few hiccups or debates on what to do next as you play.
Which one you prefer is up to you. You can usually determine how hard it will be to learn a game based on customer comments and how the rulebook included with it looks.
If you’re looking to bring the Halloween spirit to your evening game night at any time of the year, the card games on this list will help you do it. But which one would we recommend if we had to narrow it down to only one?
That’s a tough question. We think all of them are a spooky blast. However, we love the darkly whimisical look and unique themes of Gloom the most.
Which horror card games scare you the most? Feel free to drop a comment below if you can think of any we missed.