Do you like scary movies?
To enjoy horror board games, you don’t have to love a scary movie’s jumpscares and eerie atmosphere.
For example, as much as I love a scary movie, I hate being made to jump and seeing a distorted ghoul in the mirror or down the hallway terrifies me. So there are some movies that I altogether steer clear from.
However, when it comes to horror board games, I feel safe unless one of my friends decides to make me jump. Still, it doesn’t quite have the same creepy effect.
To commemorate all things spooky, I have compiled a list of the best 9 horror board games of all time.
I have included some old, some new, and all my favorites, bringing all horror fans together on game night.
All-Time Best Horror Board Games
I have included various games. Some are more complex, so there’s something for all ages and abilities.
I will tell you what each game involves, where to buy it, and brief you on how to play.
So on that note, let’s get into the spirit of things.
1. The Thing
Based on the movie of the same name, the Thing board game is a great place to kick off this list of the best horror board games.
During gameplay, one player will be given the secret mission of being “The Thing,” and it’s their job to infect other players (the humans). The thing will also try to stop people from escaping the base center.
It’s a game of deception, as you can also hoodwink your friends into making them believe you’re a human so that you can escape with them.
The rest of the players will have the job of managing Outpost 31, keeping the generator going, and sourcing food; otherwise, you might find yourself in the cold and dark, a scary place to be with The Thing on the loose.
Each room on the map allows you to perform a specific action. It also looks like as in the movies and sticks to the theme well.
The aim of the game is similar to the feel you’re supposed to get from the movie, pure paranoia and a tense atmosphere. After all, The Thing could strike any time, and they’re wandering amongst you.
I was astounded when I recently purchased Atmosfear as a throwback to my childhood; the price has increased insanely. Other people have the same idea as me and want to relive their younger years with this iconic 90s game.
When I said in the intro that board games don’t make you jump, this is the exception because when that guy’s face appears on the screen, screaming at you for doing something wrong, it’s most certainly enough to have chills running down your spine.
The terrifying thing about this, which still gives me nightmares, is how the gatekeeper’s face gets older, more worn, and more frightening as the game goes on, and each time he pops on the screen, he yells louder and louder.
Atmosfear aims to collect a key from each region before reaching the center of the board, the Well of Fears.
The game is played between three and six players and takes almost an hour to complete.
The 90s version I played as a kid came with a DVD, but times have changed. So when this game was relaunched (to my absolute delight), they released an app to download instead.
It’s a highly tense, competitive, and stressful game, and you need to have your wits about you because when the gatekeeper calls, there’s nowhere to run.
Nemesis is similar to The Thing, involving players trying to escape antagonistic creatures, such as aliens.
In this game, instead of each room having different actions, the players all have various skills which can prove to be more or less valuable depending on the kind of attack they find themselves under.
What makes this game so tense is that as the game progresses and time passes, the aliens get stronger and stronger, threatening and putting the players at further risk of destruction.
Nemesis is a pivotal game with many tense dramatics and twists and turns, and despite the high price tag, it’s worth every dime for the hours of fun it provides.
If you like sci-fi games, look at my guide to the best star wars games for even more space-themed entertainment.
4. The Bloody Inn
The Blood Inn is a bizarre game; that’s the reason I like it so much. I love anything out of the ordinary that raises an eyebrow.
It’s a roleplaying game in which you’ll take turns playing the part of the innkeeper, an evil character who’s murdering and robbing all his guests. (Of course, nobody’s getting murdered, it’s all done using cards).
You will also need to build annexes throughout the game where you can bury your victim’s bodies.
What makes this game seem even more sinister is the artwork, imagery, and the fact that it’s based on actual events that are believed to have happened in France during the 19th century—fun fact for you there.
Overall this is an excellent game that’s quick to learn, easy to play, quirky, and fun.
5. Mansions of Madness
Get ready to be driven crazy in Mansions of Madness as you unveil the nightmares within.
During the game, one person will play the keeper role, controlling the monsters and other evil forces.
The game uses an app, which makes it innovative and interactive.
The rest of the players will be the detectives, trying to solve mysteries while trying to survive while being led through various scenarios by the chosen keeper.
The game is played with two to five players, and you’ll want to allow a reasonable amount of time to play this; it’s for dedicated game lovers and horror fanatics willing to be in it for the long haul.
Overall, Mansions of Madness is a game full of enigmas, puzzles, and mystery. It also requires quite a lot of strategy and forward-thinking.
6. Arkham Horror
Arkham Horror is technically a card game, but it also involves using a board, so it deserves to make it to this list. Plus, it’s probably one of the most popular horror board games.
It’s like a trading card game in that players use cards to ward off monsters.
What makes this game so stimulating for me is the number of exciting scenarios and settings there are, which you must explore. Of course, these are all creepy and highly unsettling scenes.
The game is split into five phases:
- The Upkeep Phase – Refresh cards, perform upkeep actions, and adjust their skills.
- The Movement Phase – Players make a movement depending on the dimension they’re in.
- The Arkham Encounters Phase – Players take action if they have an open gate and draw cards.
- Other World Encounters – Draw cards from the gate deck to match an encounter symbol.
- The Final Phase – Players take four actions to open a gate and spawn a monster.
It’s a complex game with many rules, which you can read about in more depth with this guide on how to play the Arkham Horror card game.
This game can end in two ways: either the players beat the mythos or be overpowered by it.
The gates must be closed, sealed, and the monsters banished to win the game. Beware, though, don’t wake the ancient one because if it’s unleashed, the players immediately forfeit.
7. Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill is an atmospheric game of survival in which you need to fight for your life to get to the end.
One of my favorite things about this particular game is the vivid graphics on the cards, which are all pretty creepy.
You can play with up to six players, and at least one of those will be a traitor, which is a nod to the name betrayal at House on the Hill. You have no idea who will betray you, so you must keep your guard and closely monitor those around you.
Once the haunt begins, your primary goal is complete missions, discover new rooms, attack your opponents, and try to check out the traitors from the other players.
There are tons of rooms to unveil, such as the entrance hall, the coal chute, the mystic elevator, the crypt, and the furnace room, to name a few.
The game takes about an hour to finish and can be played repeatedly without becoming repetitive. Another reason why I love it so much, I am easily bored, and games that play out at the same time quickly become mundane. It’s why I love Clue so much.
8. Smirk And Dagger: The Night Cage
If you’re looking for creepy, you’ve just found it because even the imagery on the box for this game is enough to send shivers down your spine and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
To play Smirk and Dagger, put yourself in the mindset of someone who just awoken, naked and afraid, in the pitch black with nothing but a single candle to light your way. Even the thought of this scenario is enough to send me into a panic attack, but this adds to the game’s atmosphere.
Each player in the game must blindly find their way around the maze and collect keys along the way. Once you’ve got a key, you need to find your way to one of the gates to find an escape.
There is a twist you’ve probably already guessed here; of course, you won’t be alone in the darkened hallways of this mysterious labyrinth. There are all kinds of terrifying and ghoulish monsters in there with you. But imagine your candlelight only illuminates a small tunnel of light, so it’s probably too late when a monster approaches.
It gets even worse; if you take too long to get to your gate and use too many tiles, your candle will burn out, and you’ll be trapped alone in the dark forever.
If you want to add some real drama and theatrics to this game, and have everyone feeling nervous, play this game in a room lit only with candles. It makes a difference.
It’s not a competitive game; you should help each other race to the end before darkness closes in.
9. Hako Onna
This game freaks me out, and to be honest, each time it gets bought out on the game night, I get a nervous feeling in my stomach, but that’s mainly because of the incredibly creepy image on the front of the box.
Japanese horror movies terrify me, I had a terrifying experience as a teenager watching the ring, and the phobias stuck with me forever.
However, if you’re looking for horror board games to scare the bejeebers out of you, that’ll do it.
It’s a game of hide-and-seek, and one player will have the role of Hako Onna, the rest of the players are visitors who need to escape, as fast as they can, from the disturbing mansion.
As you go through the shadows, be careful not to peep because if Hako hears you, your death is instantaneous.
The other freaky factor about this game is that cards are stacked around the board, and if anyone knocks over a stack, some hideously sinister-looking eyeballs are revealed. Don’t look directly at them; you never know what ominous curse might be placed on you.
I might be able to recommend this game to others, but for me, it’s one I try to avoid if I don’t want nightmares.
A Quick Rundown
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the best horror board games. If you’re looking for a frightful yet fun night, then be sure to hit up some of these spooky games to keep your friends entertained and on tenterhooks.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, we have plenty more engaging content. Some are world-famous games and introduce you to contemporary and diverse games from other cultures, such as the best French card games and the most amazing Korean drinking games.