After I offered up 13 tabletop games to the bloody altar of Halloween, recommendations and outraged abuse poured in from both friends and complete strangers regarding absentees from my list.

I struggled to narrow it down to 13 in the first place, so I hardly needed the peer pressure or hate mail to tackle the games that didn’t make the cut last time.

1.) City of Horrors

Publisher: Asmodee
Price*: £39.99
No. of players: 3–6
Play time: 90 mins
Age: 13+

City of Horrors takes up where Mall of Horrors left off. Players sacrifice the living to escape the dead, bringing out the best in humanity once again. It’s done by vote too so this is perfect for bringing the family closer together over the festive period.

Pros:
· Back-stabbing fun.
· Refreshingly different game play.
· Fairly cheap.

Cons:
· Cardboard standees not miniatures.
· Prepare for possible fisticuffs.
· Needs a big table for set-up.

2.) Zombie 15′

Publisher: Iello
Price*: £49.99
No. of players: 2–4
Play time: 15 mins
Age: 14+

Zombie 15′ puts players in the shoes of a gang of teenagers, who have just 15 minutes to carve a path through town to safety. If B-movie plots are anything to go by, the Zombie apocalypse will see emo, angst-ridden teens first on the menu.

In actual fact, teenagers are better than the majority of the population at surviving an undead menace: they’re armed, dangerous and pissed the internet doesn’t work anymore.

Pros:
· 15 minute play time. Fail and you’re good to go again immediately.
· The 15 minute audio track that drives the game is suspenseful and fun.
· You actually end up invested in your teenage protagonists.
· There’s a cheap solo expansion to escape the town on your tod.

Cons:
· Hectic! Real-time games aren’t for everyone.
· The set-up time is about twice as long as the play time.

3.) The Bloody Inn

Publisher: Pearl Games
Price*: £19.99
No. of players: 1–4
Play time: 30–60 mins
Age: 14+

Players compete as landlords of The Bloody Inn to line their pockets before time runs out, either renting out rooms or murdering the unsuspecting occupants. Bury the evidence to stay one step ahead of the pesky gendarmes.

It’s good, old-fashioned French hospitality, where you can expect a clean room and polite service for a bargain price. Or be butchered in your sleep for the contents of your wallet.

No more room at the Inn? Then build that annex for the mother-in-law or a new “guest”. Same difference, just get digging.

Pros:
· Easy to learn and fast-paced fun.
· Fine artwork that compliments the darkly humorous theme.

Cons:
· Not everyone is comfortable with the murderous theme.
· The theme can often get lost in the mechanics.

4.) Cthulhu Gloom

Publisher: Atlas Games
Price*: £19.99
No. of players: 2–5
Play time: 45-60 mins
Age: 13+

Cthulhu Gloom adds a Lovecraftian veneer to the popular Gloom, but a couple of tweaks make this worth a look for more than just a new theme.

This time around you compete to ensure your family members are significantly acquainted with the Cthulhu Mythos to shrug off the true terror of interdimensional doom that awaits everyone.

The opportunity to start Gibbering with Ghouls or Learn Loathsome Law whilst persuading your opponents to just Forget about the Fungus should be reason enough to check this out.

Pros:
· It’s standard Gloom fun with an added twist.
· The new Story and Transformation cards are great.
· It uses the word “squamous” on the box.

Cons:
· Not the biggest card deck in the world.
· Some are jaded by the glut of pasted-on Cthulhu themes on the market.

5.) Dead of Winter

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games
Price*: £49.99
No. of players: 2–5
Play time: 45–210 mins
Age: 14+

Prefer your zombies to be background noise to the apocalypse rather than your main antagonists? Then Dead of Winter is for you.

Starvation and frostbite are as much your enemies as the walking dead in this co-operative survival extravaganza. As if things weren’t bad enough, someone among you is a traitor, working to bring the colony down and run off with all your tinned food.

Pros:
· A break from the norm in Zombie games.
· The Crossroads system implements narrative beautifully.
· Great artwork.

Cons:
· Cardboard standees instead of miniatures.
· Traitor games have their haters.
· Can look daunting for new players.

6.) Elder Sign

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Price*: £27.99
No. of players: 1–8 (best with 4 or less)
Play time: 90 mins
Age: 13+

Sorry, here’s more Cthulhu. Think Night at the Museum, but with residents even more horrific than Ben Stiller. Apart from that, it’s standard Lovecraftian fare, working with up to eight buddies to discover artifacts, locate Elder Signs and go insane together. However, unlike Arkham Horror, you won’t need three years to finish it.

Pros:
· Gorgeous cards, cool dice and a big cardboard clock.
· Perfect for those without the spare time or room to play Arkham Horror.
· Cheap game considering it will accommodate up to 8 players.

Cons:
· It’s Cthulhu. Again.
· Too luck-driven for some.

7.) Zombicide

Publisher: Guillotine Games/CMON
Price*: £69.99
No. of players: 1–6
Play time: 45–180 mins
Age: 13+

If you think it’s better to face zombies wearing jeans and a T-shirt than chain mail, then you have my sympathy and Zombicide is the game for you to meet your deserved fate. Grab your trusty baseball bat and go hunting for a boom-stick.

If you’re all about the killing, with no interest in long-term survival or the human drama playing out around you, then you’ve struck gold.

Pros:
· Bucketfuls of miniatures.
· Easily learned, frenetic fun.
· Supports up to 6 players.
· Stacks of expansions.

Cons:
· Some rules issues.
· The board can get stupidly crowded with walkers, stupidly quickly.
· Cheaper, but Zombicide: Black Plague is better. It just is.

8.) Arkham Horror

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Price*: £49.99
No. of players: 1–8
Play time: 120–240+ mins
Age: 12+

Travel around Lovecraft’s Arkham town, closing gates, evading or fighting horrors and tiptoeing around sanity. You should know the score by now when you see tentacles and folk in 1920s garb.

I have a confession to make. I’m not a fan, as it’s like I can feel myself ageing when I play this. However, there’s no doubt that it’s hugely popular and its success paved the way for many games that I do really enjoy.

So, grudgingly, it’s made the cut this time around.

Pros:
· Beautiful production quality.
· Supports many players.
· Dripping with theme.

Cons:
· Estimate an hour play time per player. More if they’re noobs.
· Eldritch Horror may have made this game redundant.

9.) Carnival Zombie

Publisher: Raven Distribution
Price*: £49.99
No. of players: 1–6
Play time: 90–120+ mins
Age: 13+

Ahh, Venice, 2048. The canals. The gondolas. The architecture. The hordes of zombies roaming the narrow streets.

Within four days and nights you must escape the city by bridge, ship or dirigible or else defeat the horrific Leviathan with something resembling the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

A funky masquerade costume is the de rigueur outfit for tackling the undead, so get togged up, lock and load, and work together with your buddies to bring down the evil infesting the city.

Or just escape by the skin of your teeth and leave the place to its doom.

Pros:
· Great co-operative play. Don’t co-operate and you’ll fail spectacularly.
· Creepy, evocative artwork.
· Great board with all the information you need at hand.
· You get a great big gun right at the start.

Cons:
· Wooden cubes for monsters — no minis here.
· Very difficult, although there are levels of difficulty.

10.) Hecatomb

Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (OOP)
Price*: eBay
No. of players: 2–4
Play time: 30+ mins
Age: 15+

Ever wanted to be an End-bringer, hell-bent on the destruction of the world? That’s handy, because in Hecatomb, once you’ve dealt with this world, you can travel to other parallel ones and trash them too.

The game utilizes unique, pentagonal cards printed on transparent plastic to allow you to create and evolve horrific Abominations by stacking one on top of another up to five high.

Sadly the game was discontinued in 2006, but the up side is that you can still pick up decks and booster packs online for a song.

Pros:
· Cool, horrible artwork.
· It’s very dark and very weird.
· Insanely cheap, if you can find it.

Cons:
· Discontinued so stocks won’t last.
· The box says 13+ but it depends on how delicate your precious ones are.
· Cards are difficult to shuffle!

11.) The Others

Publisher: Guillotine Games/CMON
Price*: £92.99
No. of players: 2–5
Play time: 90+ mins
Age: 14+

As members of the snappily titled Federal Authority for the Interdiction of Transdimensional Horrors (catchy acronym: F.A.I.T.H.), you must fight back the forces of one of the 7 Deadly Sins from the city of Haven, where the decadence of the inhabitants has finally caught up with them.

If you’re lucky you might die quickly. Otherwise look forward to being torn apart by claws, tentacles or simply the corruption bursting forth from your tormented soul. Lovely.

Pros:
· Stunning miniatures.
· Great theme.
· Player roles are varied enough to encourage teamwork.

Cons:
· With All-vs-One game play, you either love it or hate it.
· Some might be uncomfortable with the game’s theme.
· Definitely not for kids!
· Only just released in the US so mostly on pre-order in the UK.

12.) London Dread

Publisher: Grey Fox Games
Price*: £55.99
No. of players: 2–4
Play time: 60-90+ mins
Age: 14+

It’s Victorian England, but sadly Holmes and Watson are nowhere in sight to help, so it’s down to you and up to three of your friends to co-operate in uncovering a dastardly plot and saving the day.

London Dread’s streets are cruel, creepy and unforgiving. It’s vital that players collaborate, communicate and coordinate their characters’ strengths to stand a chance of getting to the final confrontation at the story’s finale.

Elementary it is not. Tense, gritty and fun it most certainly is.

Pros:
· Awesome artwork that makes the game ooze theme
· Combines card and dice play.
· A rewarding narrative experience.

Cons:
· Not everyone likes to have to concentrate on a story.
. Not everyone likes to work together. Bastards.

13.) Shadows over Normandie

Publisher: Iello/Devil Pig Games
Price*: £49.99
No. of players: 2–3
Play time: 90+ mins
Age: 14+

If there’s something we know from our movies, it’s that Nazis love dabbling in nefarious occult practices, so it’s no surprise to find them centre stage in this wargame of Lovecraftian horror.

Join the fight as either the U.S. Rangers, the evil Nazi Black Sun Cult or the ancient Deep Ones in a three-way tussle for battlefield control and world domination.

This game is less an accurate World War 2 game and more a lighthearted homage to our favourite war movies like Kelly’s Heroes and Inglorious Basterds. So Shadows over Normandie is like a Hollywood Cthulhu horror war story. So it’s awesome.

Pros:
· Three forces can battle at once, although the game works best with two.
· Fantastic, cartoony artwork.
· Fairly cheap for a box packed with cardboard goodness.

Cons:
· Wargaming nerds might want something more in-depth.
· History buffs will wonder who the hell Cthulhu is.

*Quoted prices are recommended retail prices (RRP) only and do not represent the real world prices available in stores and online. Shop around for bargains!

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons