Wicked Wanderlust: Horrifying Haunts For Halloween Gaming

October 30, 2018 by cassn

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The leaves are brown. The nights are cold. And on the breeze, there exists the faint howl of something just beyond our plain of existence.


Yes, the spooky season is most definitely upon us. Black cats roam the streets with impunity and every second drink is a pumpkin-spiced latte.

And here at OnTabletop, I’ve been raiding our board game stores to find the scariest games possible for my annual Halloween gameathon.

I love games nights, especially the ones where I can cover the walls with decorations and theme the games. But, if I’m honest, despite my awesome hosting skills, I’ve always secretly wanted to spend Halloween somewhere where the atmosphere didn’t have to be crudely constructed with fake blood and plastic bones. There are so many bone-chilling, utterly terrifying places out there in the world, and my spooky soul wants to visit them all.

So, if you’ll indulge my imagination, I’ve put together my own personal Halloween bucket list of places I want to be and games I want to play when I’m there.

Let’s hope I can cross some of them off before the Samhain spirits send the Banshee to keen for my soul!


Place: Hashima Island

Game: Dead Of Winter


Okay, this first pick may have less to do with me being a gamer fan, and more to do with my movie addiction. Most people will know Hashima Island as the location of Silva’s lair in Skyfall (Javier Bardem remains my favourite ‘modern-day’ Bond villain), but this floating, abandoned, coal-mining town once served as a forced labour camp for Chinese and Korean prisoners of war.

When Japan moved to petroleum, the island was left abandoned, and now instead is a much sought-after movie set for international productions.

There is a definite post-apocalyptic feeling to Hashima. Nearly four decades have passed since the island was abandoned, and the buildings have been worn and misshapen by the passage of time.

Only a game like Dead of Winter has the presence to thrive within such utter loneliness. A meta co-operation game, Dead of Winter is as psychological as it is strategic. While you must work towards a common victory objective, you need to also fulfil your secret objective to achieve survival success.

In a world where humanity spirals towards disease, death, and zombiism, depending on others is both a necessity and a weakness, a mechanic which makes this game narratively fascinating. I tentatively await the announcement of a Sam Mendes film adaptation.


Place: Danvers State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, Massachusetts

Game: Mansions Of Madness


Would it really be Halloween if we didn’t mention Lovecraft? The Danvers State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, although never mentioned specifically by name, is widely accepted as the basis for Lovecraft’s now infamous Arkham Asylum.

The real mental hospital was eventually closed in 1992, however, rumours abound about sinister treatments and unscrupulous staff prior to its closure. Today, unfortunately, the building has been refurbished into condos. Perhaps this is a development which feels suitably Lovecraftian, but it keeps this awesome architecture at number four on my countdown list.

At Halloween, there are so many Lovecraft-themed games to choose from that the genre itself can become sickeningly disappointing. We even reported earlier this year on a Lovecraft adaptation of Twister which, unless it literally causes Cthulu to rise from the depths, seems about as far from terror-induced madness as you can get.

For me, the original Lovecraft board games are still the best, balancing curiosity, power, and madness in the way all good Lovecraft games should. My personal choice for a Halloween gaming night will always be Mansions of Madness, but Eldritch Horror or Arkham Horror: The Card Game make excellent alternatives.


Place: Bran Castle, Transylvania

Game: Fury Of Dracula


I almost excluded Bran Castle from this list for being too obvious but, let’s face it, if you could spend a night vampire gaming in the inspiration for Dracula’s castle, you would do it in an undead heartbeat. The castle can, in fact, be rented out to stay overnight, however, you better be prepared to pay a hefty sum, although thankfully not in blood (we hope!).

As for what game to play while you’re there - the options are limitless. Ideally, you would make a night of it and play a mix of vampire games (One Night Ultimate Vampire, Dracula, and The Order of Vampire Hunters are all good options), however, were the lord of darkness to command of me that I only consume one gaming experience before I meet my grizzly end, only Fury of Dracula would completely satisfy my gamer lust.

Fury of Dracula is a hidden movement game where one player takes on the role of Dracula spreading his influence across the European continent while the other players try to hunt, find, and kill him before his control becomes too strong.

A fang-tastically fun game for two to five players, hopefully, Prince Vlad wouldn’t mind playing a few rounds with me before my eternal kiss.


Place: The Black Forest, Germany

Game: Nyctophobia


With the OnTableTop team just back from Essen Spiel, Germany was always going to make my Halloween list. Even if they didn’t get the chance to specifically game there, I imagine a remote cabin in the Black Forest would be a creatively creepy place for a board game night.

The Brothers Grimm based many of their fairy tales within the fabled woods, and the forest is said to be home to all manner of otherworldly creatures, from headless horsemen to roaming werewolf packs. So what better game to play than Nyctophobia, a co-operative survival game about escaping a forest consumed by darkness?

Nyctophobia is a tactile maze game, in which a team of two to four players must escape another player (acting as the Hunter) and find their way back to their car to await rescue from the authorities. The catch? All players, bar the Hunter, are blindfolded and therefore in complete darkness.

The Hunter can take two forms - the axe murderer, who uses brute strength to cut down trees in his path and find the quickest route to his kill, or the mage, a trickster who can move the forest around them and confuse the terrified party. The Hunter wins if he can reduce just one of the team member’s health to zero, so sacrificing the pretty cheerleader won’t work in this situation.

Halloween is made for terror, and the idea of being blindfolded in a pitch-black forest gives me goosebumps in the best of ways. Now I’ve just to learn German for “he’s behind you”!


Place: Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana

Game: Mysterium


Myrtles Plantation has a rather spooky history and names itself “One of America’s Most Haunted Homes!” due to the frequent ghost sightings on the property. There are several reasons why this mysterious mansion has made the top of the list.

Firstly, I love all things creole, and the Myrtle Plantation has been exquisitely restored and maintained by the current property holders.

Secondly, all hauntings have been well-documented and researched. In 1992, the proprietress of the Myrtle Plantation took photos for the insurance company which, when developed, clearly showed what is believed to be a slave girl standing between the buildings.

The photograph has been comprehensively examined and the shape was confirmed as human in proportion. No other explanation has ever been given for the shadowy figure, and the image is now known as ‘The Chloe Postcard’.


There have also been other sightings, including a vivid image of a translucent girl in period dress, known only as “The Ghost Girl” of Myrtle Plantation.


Such creepy apparitions deserve a suitably ghostly game. Despite Ouija Boards being originally a Hasbro game for children, I have been advised not to include them in this list. However, there is thankfully a modern, family-friendly alternative - Mysterium.

One player takes on the role of a tortured spirit, trying to convey to those still on the mortal plane the details of their ghastly murder. Players must determine through a series of abstract cards who killed the spirit, in which room, and with what weapon before their time in the liminal plain of existence runs out and the spirit must cross to the other side.

The OnTableTop crew played this game recently and, let me tell you, I am a terrible psychic. Just awful. Even so, Mysterium is a superbly spooky game that could only be improved by playing it in a haunted creole mansion alongside the Bayou.

Which Spooky Games Will You Be Playing?

So there you have it - five ghastly games, five spine-chilling settings. Sadly I won’t be summoning spirits in Louisana this Samhain.

Instead, I’m going to be surrounded by fake cobwebs, badly carved pumpkins, and glow-in-the-dark skeletons while psychologically scarring Sam and destroying Ryan at board games. For me, that’s a Happy Halloween.

Let us know what games you'll be playing this Halloween in the comments below!

"A meta co-operation game, Dead of Winter is as psychological as it is strategic..."

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"Halloween is made for terror, and the idea of being blindfolded in a pitch-black forest gives me goosebumps in the best of ways..."

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