copyright 2008 by Gary L. Pullman
When one tires of Monopoly and Scrabble, there’s always the death and destruction of the diabolically creepy horror board game. They may make better Halloween presents than Christmas gifts, but, should Santa need a stocking stuffer, your wee ones could enjoy receiving one of these ghoulish games.
Arkham Horror (Fantasy Flight Games): H. P. Lovecraft provides the town and the mythos. Bizarre incidents occur in the town that Lovecraft made, heralding a horrific catastrophe; Lovecraft’s Old Ones are the culprits, and all that stands between them and the end of the world are the game’s players, a team of investigators, numbering between one and eight, who are twelve years old or older and who can spare two to three hours--not much time when one considers the height of the stakes involved: the fate of the world awaits the throw of the dice.
Gateways open upon other areas of the town, and, if too many open at once, look out! An alien will enter the scene, wrecking havoc. Therefore, it’s a good idea to close the gates! Unfortunately, to do so, the players themselves must enter these same portals and be teleported to--well, somewhere else.
An interesting addition to this game is its extension, Dunwich Horror (also manufactured by Fantasy Night Games), which supplies a game board for another Lovecraft town, Dunwich, which is a short distance from Arkham and is beset by its own mystical and macabre problems. The play is similar, but the rules have changed. Similar games from the same maker are the additional Arkham Horror Expansion games Kingsport Horror (based on yet another of the fictional towns that Lovecraft invented), Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, and The Black Goat of the Woods.
There is also Zombie Town: players’ neighborhood have gone to the zombies, who rise from their graves in the cemetery in the middle of the community, and no help is forthcoming; it’s up to each player to scrounge up the makeshift weapons he or she needs to survive for the ten days’ duration of play, by which time the neighborhood will be overrun by zombies, some of whom will be one’s next-door neighbors! Isn’t this the same premise of The Beverly Hillbillies?
For younger players, All Wound Up: Escape from the Cemetery (Twilight Creations) is a fun alternative, in which the pieces are, as the game’s title suggests, wind-up zombie toys. Players are allowed to wind their avatars so many times, depending upon their play, as they race in various directions to be the first to reach the cemetery’s front gate. Two to four players, eight to adult, can participate in the mayhem.
Dracula (Rio Grande Games/Kosmos) is based upon Bram Stoker’s novel, and sets Dr. van Helsing the unenviable task of locating the coffins of the undead while his nemesis, Count Dracula himself, seeks five new victims. Play lasts about half an hour, can be joined by two who are twelve or older and have sound hearts, if not sound minds, and contains such contents as the game board, cards, figures, barriers, energy cubes, and a rulebook, which, appropriately enough, come in a box. This is one you can really sink your teeth into! (Sorry; couldn’t resist.)
There are lots of other games in the horror genre waiting to take a bite out of your favorite goblin this Christmas; some are apt to be harder to find than others, and a few may be out of production altogether (but there’s always eBay):
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Susan Prescot Games)
- Dracula’s Revenge (Human Head Studios/Green Ronin Publishing)
- Frankenstein’s Children (Human Head Studios)
- Vampire: Prince of the City
- When Darkness Comes: The Awakening Game Board (Twilight Creations)
- Munchkin Bites (Steve Jackson Games)
- Betrayal at the House on the Hill (Avalon Hill)
- Ghosts (Milton Bradley)
- The Great Brain Robbery (Cheapass Games)
- Minion Hunter (Games Designers Workshop/Dark Conspiracy)
- Which Witch? (Milton Bradley)