Halloween Tabletop Game Picks!

It's Halloween and people everywhere will be arguing over whether we are becoming too Americanised. I thought I should get my opinion on the table and bring a level mind to the argument. Here is where I stand on Halloween and living in Australia. Let's get the facts straight. The origins are murky at best. It is likely linked to All Hallows Eve, which is the night before All Saints Day, an event in the church calendar to remember the dead.

Finally, who cares about facts when we can use the hype for a wonderfully themed board game night? So with that said, and all arguments settled, let's discuss what games work best for a Halloween Party.

Most people prefer to do games that fit with a horror theme, but this does not suit everybody. Some people just do not enjoy minmaxing a character so they can hunt down Zombies, Vampires, and other monsters. While I like monster themed games for Halloween I also enjoy any game that gets me into the spirit of the evening without having Zombies or Vampires attacking me. We all know the perennial favourite of Betrayal at House on the Hill, Zombicide, Ghost Stories, and Dead of Winter. But these are a given. There are games that keep the morbidity of Halloween without resorting to the stock standard horror monster themed choices. I wanted to suggest a few games that could work for a Halloween party that might appeal to an audience not interested in ghouls or the walking dead.

The Last Banquet game review from Gameapalooza Australian tabletop game news and reviewsWell you have to admit, the art is nice.

The Last Banquet
6-25 Players 45 Minutes Play Time
Designers: Michael Neitzer, Oliver Wolf, Britta Wolf Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

With a player count that goes up to 25 this is clearly an ideal party game. In The Last Banquet you form three teams, Royals, Castes, and Roses. The Castles and Roses are trying to be the family that assassinates the King, while the royals are simply trying to keep the king alive. Each team will provide a weapon to one of their teammates. This game uses physical spaces as a key component of gameplay. Everyone stands in a circle and take turns using their influence and powers to manipulate where people are sitting. The team must try and use their influence and abilities to get their teams assassin seated next to the king by the end of the round. Should they land there successfully they kill the king. Should the other team succeed to get their player on the other side, both teams lose and the king lives. This is assuming you can get your player there. It is not as easy as it sounds. Teams have three rounds to assassinate the king or should they fail, the royals win.

This game is thoroughly engaging and provides a lot of opportunity for dialogue and strategising. The components are of typical high quality we have come to expect from Fantasy Flight. The character cards are my favourite part with flavour texts, demeanour, powers, and phrases for role playing. This game provides a wonderful opportunity for people to get into character or just hang around the edge observing, if that's what you prefer. Killing a royal is a wonderful way to pass an evening.

Gloom the card game best games for Halloween by Gameapalooza AustraliaGloom the card game, be as miserable as you can this Halloween.

Gloom 2-5 Players
60 Minutes Play Time
Designer: Keith Baker
Publisher: Atlas Games

Do you love spending time with your family? Love to hang out and go on adventures with your siblings. Gloom provides you control over 5 members of an oddball family unit where you hold their fate in your hands. Your goal is simple. Provide them with the most miserable life possible and then kill them off. With innovative clear plastic cards you will overlay modifiers on your family that diminish their happiness. This might include setting on them a pack of poodles, or being hit by a hive of bees, whatever the mishap the best thing to do is to end their lives as soon as possible.

For me the best part of this game is weaving more and more elaborate and intricate stories that try to link together each event written on the cards. This game may be morbid, but it will have you laughing outrageously the whole while.

Falling card game by Cheapass Games best halloween tabletopFalling the card game – a Halloween top pick!

Falling 4-8 Players
1 Minute Play Time
Designer: James Earnest
Publisher: Cheapass Games

I did not make a mistake on the play time, it really takes a minute to play. Each player sits around the table with one person assuming the roll of dealer. In Falling players are people who are falling rapidly to their death. You are all going to hit the ground, but as you fall the only thing you can think to do is to try make sure everyone else hits the ground first. The dealer deals each player a card at whatever pace they think works best, but the quicker the better. Each card has some sort of modifier. Victims may use the cards dealt to them and play the card in front of any player at the table. The dealer will follow the instructions on the card when he or she gets back around to that player. Some cards played in front of a player may force the dealer to give them two cards, or to create two separate piles of cards for them, or to skip their turn. One card stops a card being played on the payer using it.

This not only stops the effects of cards other player may play on you, but at the end of the deck is a set of ground cards, which when you receive one you die. Stop cards are the only card that can protect you from hitting the ground. Last player to splat on the pavement wins. It is chaotic, but once you get into the swing of the game players get tactical and ruthless very quickly. I love this game and always have a lot of fun playing it.

Letters from Whitechapel board game review Gameapalooza AustraliaLetters from Whitechapel board game – A beautiful thematic masterpiece

Letters from Whitechapel
2-6 Players
120 Minutes Play Time
Designer: Gabriele Mari, Gianluca, Santopietro
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Letters from Whitechapel pulls you into the horrible and deadly world of Jack the Ripper. Jack is out killing and you must track him down and stop him before he slips away forever. This was my introduction to one verse all player roles as well as the hidden movement mechanics. Each round begins with Jack committing a murder. As the police it is your job to track him down. try to corner him, pick up clues, follow sightings. Over the course of the game you gain a little more information as to where his hideout is. Capture Jack to end the game. Let him get away with five murders and you will lose track of him forever.

The Bloody Inn a great game to play this HalloweenThe Bloody Inn a great game to play this Halloween

The Bloody Inn
1-4 Players
30-60 Minutes Play Time
Designer: Nicholas Robert
Publisher: Pearl Games

Players will find themselves in 1831 France running an honest establishment. Honest, but not particularly moral. As an inn keeper you are determined to make the most money you can, and it would be so easy if you could just rob the guests that come to your establishment. You are too respectable to rob your guests while they are living, so the only sensible thing you can do is kill them before taking their money. This works a treat and often you can make a killing a lot of money from offing your guests. Of course the police will occasionally come by your hotel and being caught with dead bodies is a grave offense. As you play you will kill guests, collect money, and dispose of bodies all before the police arrive. This game is so morbid I often had to stop and just appreciate how casually I would announce my intentions to dump several bodies. There is a fun puzzle mechanics mixed with some push your luck. A well designed and balanced game.

Guillotine card game reviewPrepare for the chop!! Guillotine Card game sees heads roll!

Guillotine 2-5 Players
30 Minutes Play Time
Designer Paul Peterson
Publisher: AMIGO

This is a casual and light game that has you collecting the heads of French Aristocracy. But it is not just enough to collect any head, you want the best. Get a soldier and it's nice, but collect a Royal head, or the Archbishop's and you could get some serious prestige points. In Guillotine you will play three rounds where all the aristocracy are lined up waiting for their turn to meet their maker. At the start of each player's turn the royal at front of the line will be executed and the head provided to the turn plater. You will play cards to try and rearrange the line to push the best scoring heads to the front. This game is so easy to learn and with two desk of cards the only set up, you will be up and playing this age in no time.

At the end of the day we shouldn’t need a reason to get together and play games, but having one like Halloween is a perfectly acceptable cause. These games certainly reflect the season well without having to resort to big box games with lots of miniatures. Whatever you are doing over Halloween I hope you find some time for a little board gaming fun.

Looking for more? Check out last years Halloween Game Suggestions.