The Best Halloween Board Games for Kids
Halloween is fast approaching, and now there are pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons all over the house. And that’s just fine by me. I’m a big fan of spooky things, and Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. And, ever since I was little, a big part of the appeal of Halloween - or any holiday for that matter - is how it blends into the common rituals of our everyday life.
I’m talking about things like how your favorite TV shows have Halloween specials. And how our kids spend lots of time digging through the dress up clothes, and then stand by the side of my bed in their costumes until I wake up and scream. And with the kids it also certainly means reading a lot of spooky books and playing some Halloween-themed games during family game night.
We’ve already pulled out all of our spooky board games in our house, and we’re working our way through them all again. It’s well-documented that I’m a big theme guy when it comes to games - especially since our kids are big into using their imaginations and role-playing a little bit during board games - so I really look forward to these October family game sessions.
If you’re a fan of ghosts, we’ve also put together a list of our favorite ghosts in family board games. But some of the ghostly games on that list are more fantasy-themed than Halloween-themed. So if your first priority is setting the Halloween mood, this is the list for you. This right here is purely a list of games that are spooky fun - our favorite Halloween-themed games.
Our kids are 7 and 3 at the moment, and the vast majority of the spooky games on this list can be played by both of them, but there are a few that our 3-year-old isn’t ready for. But that also means there are some really great scary games for older kids like Betrayal at House on the Hill that are left off of this list. It’s sitting lonely on the top of our shelf - looking down sadly on our Halloween family game nights and waiting for our son to age a few more years.
I hope you’re able to discover a new game that will help you celebrate this fun time of year with the kids - and Happy Halloween from our family to yours!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. These links will lead you to view the games’ listings on Amazon.com.
Designed by Kirsten Becker & Jens-Pieter Schliemann and Published by Drei Magier Spiele
Like another one of our favorite family board games, Shadows in the Forest, Vampires of the Night can be played in the dark. That’s because some of the game pieces actually glow in the dark. Talk about a great way to set that spooky atmosphere.
The aim of this game is to use the magic wand to steer the vampire around and push as much garlic out of the castle as possible - without it falling down the holes into the crypt. As the story goes, there are vampire children down in the crypt and we’re trying to keep them safe. The vampire and the wand work using the powers of repelling magnets, and the kids really love playing with it. So turn down those lights and go save yourself some vampire kids.
Designed by Guido Hoffman and Published by Drei Magier Spiele
Castle Flutterstone is another game from Drei Magier. Every board game we’ve ever played from Drei Magier Spiele has been a hit with our kids, and that’s because they all have some sort of creative, gimmicky hook that makes the games memorable and engaging for the kids. And I don’t mean gimmicky in a bad way, I simply mean there are always innovative mechanics that makes them unlike any other games we have.
In the case of Castle Flutterstone, the gimmick is that there is a catapult launching bats into a castle. It’s a race to the top of the castle, but, in order to move, you have to be successful with your bat launching as well. The best shot you can hope for is getting a bat to fly through a castle window. Our son loves hands-on games like this, and it has an undeniably great Halloween atmosphere.
Designed by Wolfgang Dirscherl and Published by HABA
Regular readers are no doubt aware of our love for cooperative board games in our family - as well as our love for the board game publisher HABA. Ghost Blaster is just one of the many cooperative HABA games that we return to all of the time - and one that both our 7-year-old and 3-year-old can play together.
Ghost Blaster is a very simple to understand memory game where you move ghost hunters around to different tiles looking for ghosts underneath. If two ghost hunters are standing on the same type of ghost, it’s a match and you blast them with your ghost zapping goo.
As is always the case with HABA, the game includes great components. In this case you get little wooden ghost hunters and a handful of green stones to place on the ghost tiles to show they’ve been zapped. It’s quick to play, and ideal for a young family looking for a spooky game.
7. Shaky Manor
Designed by Asger Harding Granerud & Daniel Skjold Pedersen and Published by Blue Orange Games
One of the things about board games is how unbelievably different the gameplay can be sometimes. I feel like I say it all the time, but we don’t have any other games like Shaky Manor. Every player gets a replica of a haunted house with separate rooms and different creatures inside. And the object of the game is to shake and slide the creatures around and be the first player to get them into specific rooms.
Fast-paced games like this aren’t always my first choice - I’m not a huge fan of card games with slapping for instance - but I’m a big fan of Shaky Manor. It’s such a different kind of game and it’s so funny to have everyone furiously shaking their little haunted boxes at the same time.
The spooky pieces inside are things like spiders, snakes, eyeballs, and ghosts - and they all have different qualities about them that make them hard to navigate through the mansion. It’s worth pointing out that the fine motor skills involved can make this a tricky task for little ones - but it will definitely help train their patience and provide a great challenge at the same time.
Designed by Steve Jackson and Published by The OP
We have a couple different versions of the classic card game Munchkin. But the Nightmare Before Christmas version is far and away our very favorite - and inarguably the best for this time of year. This is really a fantastic mashup that pulls great details from one of my favorite movies of all time to bring this game to life.
I particularly love the monsters from the movie that you have to fight in this game - and all of the great Nightmare-themed equipment you can find. Our son is absolutely obsessed with finding the Zero card to keep as a pet.
The point of the game is to be the first to level 10 - and you level up each time you win a battle. And if you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of Munchkin, it’s a chaotic game of cooperation and deceit. There’s lots of bribery and bargaining, and you can choose to work together with others or sabotage each other at any time.
5. Ghost Blitz
Designed by Jacques Zeimet and Published by Zoch Verlag
Ghost Blitz is another fast-paced game that I actually like a lot. We actually have Ghost Blitz 2, and there are in fact several different versions of this game now - all with different components inside and relatively similar gameplay.
Basically Ghost Blitz is a game of very quick processing and deduction. There are several items on the table - including the spooky ghost - and the point of the game is to be the first to grab the correct item. Each round you flip over a card to let everyone know the item they should grab, and then you have a mad scramble with the hands to grab it first.
But the card doesn’t doesn’t simply tell you what to grab. Oftentimes you’re going to be grabbing the one item that isn’t represented in any way on the card. That’s where the quick deduction comes in and it’s definitely a great little brain exercise for kids.
Designed by Josh & Helaina Cappel and Published by Kids Table BG
Haunt the House takes a perfect spooky theme and concept and executes it very well. The concept is that the players are all ghosts trying to haunt the ghost hunters that come into their house. It’s basically a competition to see who can scare away more ghost hunters, but the mechanics and the scoring system give the game a lot more depth than it sounds.
Different ghost hunters are scared by different things, and the players will use scare cards (like slamming doors and chills) to try and be the first to yell “Boo!” and earn the points for that scare. There is also a very interesting layer of bluffing and pressing your luck that make the gameplay very interesting. Our 7-year-old loves playing this one, and Haunt the House has undeniably nailed spooky Halloween fun.
Haunt the House also recently made our list of board games with our favorite ghosts.
Designed by Shanon Lyon, Marisa Pena, & Colt Tipton-Johnson and Published by Peaceable Kingdom
Cauldron Quest is one of the oldest board games in our family’s collection, and that’s because it was made by longtime favorite publisher Peaceable Kingdom. We discovered them when our son was very young, and quickly bought as many of their games as we could find. We love that all of their games are cooperative games that focus on the fun of playing and working together.
The story behind Cauldron Quest is that an evil sorcerer is going to destroy the kingdom unless the players can get the right ingredients in the cauldron to make the counter spell. There’s plenty of luck involved during the dice rolling parts of the game, but there are plenty of important strategic decisions to be made as well. Now that our 3-year-old is just old enough to play along with our help, we’re certainly going to playing this one around Halloween for many more years to come.
Designed by Brian Yu and Published by Mattel
The only game on this Halloween list to win the coveted Children’s Game of the Year award (Kinderspiel des Jahres), Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned. And, even using the easiest set of rules, it’s excruciatingly difficult to beat. Honestly, the fact that I love this game so much despite how often we lose must really mean this is a great one.
This board game is quintessential ghost hunting. This is the Luigi’s Mansion of board games. Working together with your fellow ghost hunters is a blast. Planning your strategy for defeating the ghosts and getting out with all the treasure is a diabolical and ever-changing puzzle to solve.
And to really make it the ultimate package, the ghost figures and the artwork are both outstanding. It really hits the trifecta: great gameplay, great theme, and great components. And I love the little design details like how the treasures fit inside of your ghost hunter’s backpack.
And if you end up loving Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters as much as us, there’s also an excellent expansion available that adds a basement and a ghost king to this haunted house. Even though we certainly didn’t need a bigger challenge yet, it’s pretty much the most excited I’ve ever been about an expansion.
Designed by David Wyman and Published by Winning Moves Games
13 Dead End Drive is not just our favorite spooky game of all time, it’s one of my favorite board games of all time, period. I have a lot of nostalgia for this game, and I’m so happy it’s gotten new life from the publisher Winning Moves. It definitely deserves it.
There aren’t any spooky Halloween monsters to be found in this game, but it’s undeniably dark and spooky. It’s kind of like the board game version of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. There are working booby traps in this game, and characters are getting knocked off one by one in a competition to receive the big inheritance.
I still have my copy from childhood, and after all these years the fun of springing these booby traps hasn’t lost its appeal one bit. It has the atmosphere of an extravagant murder mystery - but it’s silly and innocent enough to share with kids. Our 7-year-old is certainly a big fan. And if we’re looking to set that atmosphere of a dark and stormy Halloween night, I can’t think of a better way.
You can read much more about 13 Dead End Drive in our featured article.
Do you like to get into the Halloween spirit during family game night too? What’s your family’s favorite spooky Halloween game? Let us know in the comments!