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It’s never a bad time to play a horror board game. There’s something about zombies, ghosts, werewolves, and other nightmares that are a great fit for huddling around a table with your friends. The horror genre is filled to the brim with great games, and below we’ve assembled some of the best.

Each game represents different mechanics, but since jump scares are nearly impossible in a board game, atmosphere is king in the horror genre. So gather your friends, dim the lights, and get ready to experience terror like only a board game can deliver. These are the best horror-themed board games to play in 2022.

Unmatched: Cobble and Fog

  • Number of Players: 3-6
  • Play Time: 2-4 hours

Unmatched, a game series in which you can mix and match figures from myth and pop culture to go head to head in a tactical fight, might not seem like much of a horror game. But Cobble and Fog takes the action to the streets of Victorian London with figures like Dracula, the Invisible Man, and Jekyll & Hyde. Each has its own deck of cards that leverages the simple rules framework with flavourful and fun special effects: Dracula, for example, can lure and hypnotise his opponents as well as drain their blood. Between them the four characters here weave a real atmosphere of gothic horror. Cobble and Fog is about the best set in the entire Unmatched series, and so is also a great introduction to its wider charms. See our Unmatched: Cobble and Fog review for more details.

The Bloody Inn

  • Number of Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 45-60 min

This Bloody Inn boasts one of the most bizarre themes in all of board gaming: players take the role of innkeepers trying to boost their profits by robbing and murdering their guests. In practical terms, this is done by paying with other cards from your hand to recruit or kill guests, or to build annexes to your inn under which to bury bodies. It’s a classic case of competing priorities, with everything needing a prerequisite to do something else, enlivened considerably by the ghoulish concept and sinister art. And there’s more strategy than may first be apparent, with some annexes and recruited guests giving you discounts on paying for future actions.

AuZtralia

  • Number of Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 30-120 min

Real-world Australians may be outraged by the portrayal of their home as a monster-infested island, but it makes a compelling horror game. Players spend the early part of the game building a train network across the continent, defeating Lovecraftian monsters on the way to reach valuable resources and build farms. About halfway through, the pace kicks up a notch as the monsters start to hit back, destroying your infrastructure and potentially wiping humanity out completely, resulting in a loss for all players. It’s a weird combination but it works well, providing a fun theme, exciting combat and strategic route and combo building all at the same time and making the game widely appealing.

Unfathomable

  • Number of Players: 3-6
  • Play Time: 2-4 hours

Some years ago there was a quite brilliant board game based on the Battlestar Galactica TV show, in which players had a hidden role and the group had to try and out traitors while guiding the starship back to earth. Now it’s been reborn with a horror theme, with a steamship under attack by Lovecraftian monsters as it crosses the ocean. Players are either passengers who need to work together to save the ship or secret cultists who must quietly sabotage any efforts to avert the crises that unfold each turn. The star of the show is the way players put cards face-down into a pile that can either boost or undermine attempts to stave off disaster, leaving the group slivers of information to guess who might be the cuckoo in the nest. The stellar production values we’ve come to expect from publisher Fantasy Flight help a lot, too. See our Unfathomable review for more info.

Zombicide: Black Plague

  • Number of Players: 1-6
  • Play Time: 60-180 min

In the original Zombicide released in 2012, you play as a survivor hoping to live through a modern-day zombie apocalypse. Black Plague changes up the formula by transporting you a fantastical medieval world of magic, dragons, and… well, more zombies. You control a paladin, or a knight, or a magician, among other character types as you look to combat the death magic of an evil necromancer. This fantasy version of a typical zombie story is refreshing and novel, and there are a ton of expansions available that add new scenarios, player characters, locations, items, and more. If you want more similar options, check out our picks for the best cooperative board games.

Horrified: Universal Monsters

  • Number of Players: 1-5
  • Play Time: 60 min

It’s the monsters’ world, we’re just living in it. In Horrified, it’s your job to thwart the nefarious plans of the most famous movie monsters of all time. Take on Frankenstein and his bride, the Wolf Man, Dracula, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon in this easy-to-learn cooperative game. You’ll take to the streets of a small village under duress from the monsters, and must take on the role of one of several heroes. Each one comes with their own strengths and weakness when it comes to fight off the monsters. If you’re looking for a showdown with horror’s most iconic monsters, Horrified is the game for you.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game

  • Number of Players: 1-2 (1-4 with two copies of core set)
  • Play Time: 10-120 min

If you’re looking for more Lovecraftian flavor, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a no-brainer. The base game comes with a small handful of scenarios that sends you directly into the jaws of cosmic mystery. You can use the suggested starter decks, or build a custom one centered around your chosen investigator’s special abilities. Gameplay sees you hopping from location to location to search for clues in order to advance the story while attempting to impede the deadly Mythos deck. Your investigator will inevitably take damage and acquire weaknesses over time that can affect future games in the campaign, making Arkham Horror: The Card Game one of the most thematic games on this list. Also check out our list of the best deck-building games.

Dead of Winter

  • Number of Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 45-210 min

Dead of Winter is kind of like a board game version of The Walking Dead. The game is described as a “meta-cooperative psychological survival game,” which means that, while it is cooperative, there are elements of competition that carry through the game. Each player controls a group survivors during the zombie apocalypse, and all must work together in order to meet the shared goal. In addition, you’ll be working towards your own hidden goal as well. Sometimes that means hoarding the most medicine, or stockpiling the most ammo. Other times, you might simply want to betray the team and ruin group morale. No matter what, though, there’s no way to trust anyone at the table thanks to the group politics and interpersonal drama Dead of Winter brings.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

  • Number of Players: 3-10
  • Play Time: 10 min

The game that popularized the whole “secret roles” mechanic now common to the party game scene, One Night Ultimate Werewolf will have your group flinging accusations and insults around the table. The goal is to learn who the werewolves are and expose them, but that’s easier said than done. There are other characters who can switch roles around, and even see which roles are not in play for the round. Because nobody can be sure who the werewolves are (including the werewolves themselves), each game is a chaotic flurry of accusations and desperate defenses that always end in a good time. Rounds are short, and the free phone app makes setup a breeze, which makes One Night an ideal party game.

Last Night on Earth

  • Number of Players: 2-6
  • Play Time: 60-90 min

An homage to campy b-movie horror, Last Night on Earth plays out like an early Romero flick. You and your friends control characters that fall into the typical horror archetypes like the cool high school jock or the weird nerdy kid. Each scenario presents different goals that range from escaping town in a truck to killing a certain number of zombies. You can scavenge for items and weapons used to mow down enemies as you explore buildings. Last Night on Earth has proved to be so popular that is has spawned other genre parodies such as old school sci fi and high adventure. If you’re a fan of campy horror, Last Night on Earth is hard to pass up.

Mansions of Madness

  • Number of Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 120 min

Mansions of Madness takes the dungeon crawling and asymmetrical gameplay of Descent and Star Wars: Imperial Assault and transports its to the macabre world of H.P. Lovecraft. One player takes on the role of the Keeper and guides the others through one of several pre-written scenarios. As players make their way through the mansion, their actions and choices may affect the monsters they encounter. There are several expansion scenarios available, which helps to make your investment more worthwhile. Set aside a hefty chunk of time, however, as Mansions demands no small amount of attention, making it a perfect game for a dedicated group of horror fans.

Betrayal Legacy

  • Number of Players: 3-5
  • Play Time: 45-90 min

In the original Betrayal at House on the Hill, players explore a haunted house, room by room, until they trigger the titular betrayal, when an unsuspecting player turns on the rest of the party. In Betrayal Legacy, this formula is stretched out into a campaign-length legacy game that plays out over a prologue and 13 chapters. The story spans decades, and has players playing several generations of families that all fall victim to the hauntings of a house. Haunted house simulator in every sense of the concept, Betray Legacy is as spooky as it is novel.

The Fury of Dracula

  • Number of Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 120-180 min

The Fury of Dracula is an asymmetrical game where one player takes on the role of Dracula, and everyone else is a hunter looking to end his reign of terror. The Dracula player secretly moves around Europe each turn, exerting their influence and building up an army of new vampires. The hunters must deduce Dracula’s location and take him out before his army grows too large. While there is combat involved, The Fury of Dracula is mostly a battle of wits; how long can Dracula evade the hunters? How well can the hunters decode Dracula’s whereabouts? It’s a thrilling cat-and-mouse game that is endlessly replayable.

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