100 Days of Halloween: Tabletop Horror, Part 3 – Camp and Circumstance
Tabletop games are fun and all, but when you throw a cheesy sense of humor into the fray, game night becomes a therapeutic laugh-off. The more ridiculous the better!
Here are two such games in our 3rd installment of Tabletop Horror, part of our continuing #100DaysofHalloween. Guest contributor Tommy Brownell continues his list of games to play this Halloween season:
Our next set of horror themed games include more of a…camp element. They are also both more about the journey and not the destination.
Grave Robbers from Outer Space
This card game from Z-Man Games has two expansions now, and is meant to be played competitively.
The gimmick is that you are creating a horror movie, but you send monsters into your opponents’ movie to disrupt it and kill their cast. Other cards are playable along the way, for different events and the like. You add characters, props and locations to the movie and unleash monsters on the other side. After you use a series of keywords to come up with a cheesy movie title, of course.
Monsters have an Attack Rating and Characters have a Defense Rating, but they also often have special abilities, and props can add to defense, or add special abilities or both. For instance, your Old Priest has a defense of 3…unless he’s facing something supernatural, then his defense is a 6. Give him a shotgun and he’s up to a whopping 10, more than enough to hold off the Teenage Werewolf (Attack of 8), but not enough to hold off the BRIDE of the Teenage Werewolf (a Special Effect that lets you replay a monster with +5 Attack value).
The game ends when someone plays the Roll the Credits card, or the card decks run out, which is only going to happen if you willingly don’t play the Roll the Credits card. There’s a whole score-keeping system that I’ve honestly forgotten, because we don’t care about the score by the end of the game, we just have fun playing it. Fun, light card game for fans of campy, schlocky horror films.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
By far the least balanced board game in my selection, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a semicooperative board game for 3 to 6 players. It includes six miniatures, each represented by a double-sided card that has the stats for two different characters (one mini doubles as a priest and a scientist, for instance).
The premise is that your characters are venturing into a mysterious House on the Hill together, then creepy stuff starts happening, and then someone is revealed to be a traitor and the battle to the death is on!
The events pre-betrayal are all based off of card-based exploration and includes things like ghosts appearing, rushing you and vanishing, or suddenly becoming covered in grave dust, or hearing mysterious footprints (and rolling on a chart to find out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing).
Along the way, you also find Omens, some of which are quite useful, but each of which may trigger the Betrayal…and then, and only then, do you know WHAT scenario you are playing. Maybe one of the survivors has become possessed. Maybe they got bit by a werewolf. Some scenarios involve flooding of the mansion, while the potential end game monsters include zombies, ghosts, evil fungi, Dracula, Dragons and sooooo much more.
The mansion is laid out with tiles as you explore, and there are even multiple floors you can explore. The randomness of it can lead to wonky situations once the Betrayal hits, but that’s at least half the fun. The downside is that each betrayal has sections that the traitor and the survivors need to read separately, which usually leads to the game grinding to a halt, and the first edition (which I own) is heavily errata’ed.
Betrayal ranks in my all-time favorite board game experiences, and I highly recommend it if you are capable engaging your sense of humor (and adventure) and leaving the serious competitiveness at the door. You (or someone at your table) WILL get seriously screwed in this one, but it’s really all about the journey and not the destination, so lighten up and have fun!
Happy Halloween 2014!!
Tommy Brownell is freelance writer/editor and a tabletop gamer/reviewer. He writes The Chronicles of Rachel Strand for Equinox Comics and has worked with Savage Worlds licensees Savage Mojo, Daring Entertainment, Gun Metal Games and Third Eye Games, and has recently begun developing his own creative imprint known as Empyreal Creative, through which he is developing his own comic series, among other projects.
You can find him on the web at: http://mostunreadblogever.