Photo by Riccardo Pelati on Unsplash

Table of Contents

If you’ve ever tried to set up a game night with a group of friends, you might have experienced a phenomenon I like to call herding a bunch of cats. Everyone might be in agreement that they want to play something, but getting everyone to agree on what they want to play can be a Herculean task worthy of immortalization in epic poetry. Just like herding cats, you might find everyone going in different directions.

At other times, you might find yourself in the mood to play a board game with no one around. Solo video games can’t always scratch that gaming itch, after all.

That’s why solo board games can be immensely appealing. If you can’t get your friends to agree on one or you don’t have anyone to play with, you won’t need to give up, because you can play them alone. To keep it seasonal, I’ve gathered some of what I feel are the best solo horror board games.

That way, you can experience the creeping thrill of a spooky board game with or without a party of teammates.

Best Solo Horror Board Games

Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness likes to make an appearance on pretty much any post I write about horror board games. I’m kind of a sucker for anything Lovecraftian, after all.

But setting aside my own personal biases for a moment, I really do think this one deserves to be here. That’s primarily because of its unique design that makes it play like a tabletop RPG with an automated DM.

There’s a free companion app that you can download along with the game. The app runs different scenarios and encounters for you, on top of telling you how to set up the map. It’s the perfect way to dive into a gritty, Lovecraftian world – with or without teammates to help you survive.

Pros:

  • Comes with hundreds of lovingly crafted pieces and figures.
  • A companion app runs the game for you, so you don’t need a player to sit aside as a DM in order to play it.
  • Comes with four different campaigns to play through right out of the box.
  • Could be a great role-playing experience.

Cons:

  • Each game can take a few hours – this could be a positive or a negative, depending on how much time you have.
  • The app is required to play the game.

Arkham Horror – Third Edition

Yeah, I’m throwing another Lovecraftian game on the list. I’ve played this one solo quite a few times, though, so I feel confident putting it here.

In Arkham Horror, you can choose from one of a dozen different investigators. Each one has their own benefits and drawbacks, allowing you to slip into character once you’ve chosen one.

If you want the alien Lovecraftian experience without having to use an app, then this is the choice for you. This game makes it possible for you to dive into the misty streets of Arkham for a solo exploration.

Pros:

  • On top of being able to play solo, you can play this with up to 5 people cooperatively.
  • There are twelve different characters to choose from.
  • The game has branching narrative paths, so each game can feel different from the last.
  • Incorporates dark and beautiful art into all the pieces.

Cons:

  • The box says you can complete the game in one or two hours, but in my experience, that’s inaccurate – games can be quite long.

Ravensburger Horrified: Universal Monsters Strategy Board Game

Finally, we’re steering away from Lovecraft a bit with Ravensburger Horrified. Let’s pitch an idea to you: have you ever thought you could deal with the threats of Dracula, Frankenstein, or a werewolf better than people in the movies could?

Well, now you can find out exactly how you’d do in those situations, because that’s the premise of this game! In Ravensburger Horrified, a town is under attack by one of several iconic monsters. Your mission is to defeat them before the town can be destroyed…or possibly even worse.

It’s designed to be a cooperative game, so you can play it on a team with your friends. However, if you’re looking to bundle up with a steaming mug of something on a fall evening and give yourself the creeps, you can play it solo, too.

Pros:

  • The gameplay includes several legendary monsters, each with different abilities.
  • You can learn to play it quickly.
  • If you do have other people wanting to play, it can support up to five players.
  • You can complete a game within an hour.

Cons:

  • There are reports that the monster figurines are very fragile.

Castle Ravenloft

Okay, so Dungeons and Dragons isn’t traditionally a horror game. However, Castle Ravenloft kind of turns the universe of DnD into a spooky experience, so I feel like it deserves a place on this list.

In Castle Ravenloft, you (and anyone else playing with you) have been invited to a lavish dinner put on by the master of the castle. However, once you arrive, you realize not everything is as it seems, and that the castle is brimming with darkness…

If you’re worried the story will get boring, there’s no need to be. The game includes multiple scenarios, so you can be sure that each playthrough feels different from the previous one. Can you escape Castle Ravenloft intact, or will you perish along the way?

Pros:

  • Has multiple scenarios to shake up the routine as you play it time and time again.
  • Takes place in the DnD universe.
  • Should you decide to play with other people, the game can support up to five players.
  • Comes with numerous figurines that are highly detailed.
  • Ideal for fantasy lovers.
  • It could be a great way to introduce new players to tabletop RPGs.

Cons:

  • If you’re looking for a relaxing game that’s easy to win, this isn’t it.
  • It can take up a lot of space on your table.

Sub Terra

If you liked the movie The Descent and want to replicate that same subterranean terror by yourself, then Sub Terra is perfect for you. In Sub Terra, you’ll become a caver trying to escape from a mysterious network of underground tunnels.

You’ll be able to take on the roles of several different types of characters. Each one has abilities that make them useful, such as the ability to blow up new routes through the caves with dynamite. You should probably consider more than one character at a time if you’re playing alone.

Plus, as you explore the caves, the map is made by drawing tiles at random from the stack. This means that no two sessions will ever be exactly the same, giving it a decent replay value.

Pros:

  • The map is generated randomly each game, making it feel fresh each time.
  • Can support up to 6 players, if necessary.
  • Creepy underground theme is perfect for fans of The Descent.
  • The artwork on the board and pieces is gorgeous.

Cons:

  • You only have a certain amount of time to escape the caves; when that time runs out, you are essentially left rolling a die over and over again to see if you can keep playing or if you lose.

Dark Souls: the Board Game

Dark Souls: the Board Game is not, in the strictest sense of the word, a horror game. However, the grim dark fantasy tone of the game after which it was named lends itself to horror well.

Look at the board, box, and pieces, and you’ll see why. There are all kinds of horrifying monsters, battered warriors, and dark castles or tombs here.

Furthermore, the difficulty of Dark Souls could easily dovetail with a horror theme. In this board game, you’ll play as a cursed undead, trying to save the world from a grim fate. It might not give you nightmares at night, but dim the lights a bit and play with some candles illuminating the table and we could see how this could get just a teensy bit creepy.

Pros:

  • Based on the legendary Dark Souls franchise.
  • Comes with tons of gorgeously detailed pieces.
  • Like an RPG, you can choose a character class with its own unique abilities.
  • Because it has expansions and different difficulty levels, it can replayed again and again.

Cons:

  • The box says you can finish a game in a couple hours, but there are some reports of it going for much longer.
  • Some have reported parts of the minis bending easily.

What to Consider When Buying a Solo Horror Board Game

Theme

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably decided that you’re interested in horror board games. As far as theme goes, that means you’ve already done half the work.

Keep in mind, though, that there are many types of horror within the broader genre of all things creepy. Lovecraftian horror is popular, for instance. However, you could also look for heavily monster-based horror if creatures are what you’re into.

Whatever type of horror interests you most, you’re bound to find a game that fits. Be sure to check out pictures of the pieces and board to determine if it’s a theme you’re intrigued by.

Number of Players

This article is all about solo board games, but even games designed for a person to play alone aren’t typically only for solo gaming. As you might have noticed on this list, many of the games have a minimum of one required player but go up to several.

Is that important to you? Do you intend to share the game with other people? Then make sure you check out the box on each game to see how many players it can support total.

Learning Curve

Some board games are simply easier than others to learn. You can sometimes tell when a game is going to take some time to get the hang of when you pull out the rulebook and find that it’s as thick as a Stephen King novel.

Note, however, that difficult doesn’t mean bad. It means only that beginners may need to be patient with themselves while they learn the ins and outs of the game.

Consider whether you’re looking for something more in-depth and complex, or whether you want something that’s quick to pick up. Once you’ve made up your mind in that regard, pay attention to customer reviews, because they’ll always mention if they had a hard time learning to play.

Playtime

Are you looking for a game that will take up the better part of your evening, or just something quick to pass a little time? The duration is an important consideration, because it can vary vastly from game to game.

Think about whether you prefer long or short games. You can always find this information on the box for the game…but don’t always take that at face value, either. I’ve found on more than one occasion that some games will say they’re shorter than they really are, especially when you factor in the time it takes you to learn and set up the game.

Instead, use the time listed on the box as an estimation, then check the customer reviews to see if anyone said anything different about the duration.

Replay Value

Unless you have more money than you know what to do with, you probably don’t want to buy a game that you’ll only ever play once. Chances are, you want a board game that you can play time and time again, not a bored game, am I right?

Overlooking my terrible pun, replay value is important. You’ll get more out of something you want to play repeatedly, as opposed to something that just sits and gathers dust on a shelf.

What actually gives a game replay value is up for debate. A game that one person considers worthless could be one someone else plays on a nearly daily basis.

Overall, however, replay value comes down to differences/settings in the game. Multiple campaigns and difficulty settings, for instance, are things that might make your sessions feel different each time, increasing the replay value.

Wrap Up

If you think playing a board game solo sounds silly, my hope is that some of the games on this list helped convince you otherwise. Horror is oftentimes an experience best enjoyed alone, anyway, and these board games can help heighten the terror.

Which one would I suggest over all the others? You can probably guess: Mansions of Madness. I am completely intrigued by the idea of it being run by an automated DM, and like I said earlier…I’m a sucker for all things Lovecraftian.

For more suggestions on terrifying board games, be sure to take a look at our list of the best horror themed board games for adults.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.