Halloween is a fantastic time for gamers the world over, with a coffin full of games with a theme to suit and gameplay to get you in the mood for a spooky evenings festivities.
I can think of lots of games that will be dragged screaming out of dark places and played across a dimly lit alter, (ok - games tables with poor overhead lighting), in games stores and dining rooms across the country this evening.
Granted some will be darker than others, some will try and walk a difficult line between good and evil, but there are plenty out there that are good wholesome fun for the entire family, keeping the adults as entertained as the kids.
The games we have chosen to highlight here are not only even better when played by the light of an evil looking pumpkin or two, but are also all games that we use on a regular basis in our family events and learning programs nationwide. So, in no particular order...
1. It’s Alive!
Described as ‘the monster building game by Yehuda Berliner’, this fantastic game is sadly, currently out of print, but was one of our core games in the Imagination gaming arsenal when the company started.
Each player has their own castle and hidden from view inside they have a slab on which to construct their Frankenstein-esque monster. On their turn, each player draws a body part card which has a cost to it. This can then be bought to add to their monster, sold to the bank for half its value in gold, or auctioned off to the other mad scientists.
Does it always thunder and lightning when you play this?!
Some body parts are more valuable than others and the same parts can be cheaper or more expensive. With a meager pot of money to start with, knowing when to buy, sell or auction really could mean life or death!
Oh yes - watch out for the villagers too. If they find out you’ve been digging up their ancestors they’ll come knocking on your door and won’t be best pleased!
My favourite memory of this game is playing it at a primary school and as soon as we started, a real storm began to brew outside. Halfway through one young man took his go, and then looked at me and said… “Does it always thunder and lightning when you play this?!”. Never forget that one!
About a 20 - 30 minute game for 2 - 5 players it says on the side of the box it’s for 12+. We can understand why but it has been fantastic for primary and secondary school kids to play, demonstrate and apply money-handling skills and negotiation techniques, all in the name of being able to scream… “It’s Alive!”
2. Werewolves Of Millers Hollow
A worldwide hit, ‘Werewolves’ as it is commonly referred to is a game that caters for lots of players up to 15 with one set (though have used more and played with 30+!) and is ideal at parties and get-togethers.
In essence, its a good versus evil battle, with each player given a card with a secret identity at the start of each game to determine which side you are on and what powers, if any, you have. It also requires a ‘narrator’ to guide the game which is simple enough and also fun to do.
The story-teller announces when a day in Millers hollow has ended and the moon has risen. At this point all the villagers close their eyes while the werewolves open theirs and silently point at one villager they would like to feast on!
When morning breaks everybody, villagers and werewolves, opens their eyes and the narrator announces who was eaten. At this point that villager is removed from the game and chaos ensues as the villagers try to work out who might secretly be a werewolf and decide who to kick out of the village. Whoever is chosen reveals their identity and steps out of the game… before night time falls and the werewolves return….
The addition of different characters within the village creates some fantastic dynamics on top of this. For example - the little girl who can peek in the night, the fortune teller who can know the identity of one player each night, and the lovers - when one dies the other can’t continue!
The Werewolves need to eat all the villagers before the villagers kill all the werewolves, whichever faction is eradicated first loses, but there will be casualties on both sides that’s for sure!.
There is also a New Moon expansion for this game that introduces more characters and associated rules, and a limited edition set that incorporates both sets in a new design too.
This is one game we have used to inspire storytelling and roleplay, but is also a simple and fun way to get groups talking and interacting together, and is always a massive hit for with children and adults.
3. The Magic Labyrinth
This one is one of those games that you just look at and think… cool! Definitely made for younger kids, it keeps the older ones intrigued too and I see plenty of grown-ups’ playing this together all the time
The magic labyrinth has a multi-layered board but you can only see the top and this is where your ‘wizard’ moves to find things within the maze. The thing is the walls are invisible… but you can’t walk through them!
Each space on the board has something to find and the first one is chosen randomly from a bag of tokens. Players then roll a 4 sided die to see how many spaces they can move on the board - but the direction they take is completely up to them.
Your wizard is magnetic, and as you move him from square to square across the board, the metal ball attached to him on the underside of the board follows. Beneath the playing surface there is a maze of wooden walls that will knock the ball of each time the wizard tries to pass through an ‘invisible’ wall.
Honestly - you’d think it would be easy to begin to remember where the walls are, but as you move around the board you quickly lose track.
A fantastic game of memory and the best bit is that all the walls can be moved to different positions and the playing surface rotated so that every single game really is different.
A-Maz-ing game !
This one we changed a bit. Definitely a more ‘adult’ rated game, this is one too cool to avoid, so while it goes down a storm with older groups, we adapted it to make it more suitable for Imagination Gaming - but the game and the miniatures involved are still very ‘ghoul’!
All players start on a single tile in the middle of the table. This is part of the city you are trapped in. on each turn the player adds a new tile to the board, expanding the cityscape, but in a different way every time.
Every new ‘block’ contains zombies which appear, and each player must roll to move their character to safety and also roll to move the zombie swarm which is growing every go.
Whenever a player is faced with a zombie they must fight it, but they have a myriad of powers / tools / resources that can help them to do this. The objective - to find the helipad and survive long enough to get to it and fly away.
The cards in the original game are definitely a bit gruesome for a younger audience but knowing they’d love the game we did something very special with it. By creating our own deck of suitable cards we can play this game with any age.
The best bit - we use this to fuel imagination for story writing, character development, comic and poster design and other literacy based skills in our Zombie Diaries classes. Mu-ha-ha!
5. City Of Zombies
Devised and designed by Matt Tidbury, City Of Zombies is one of our favourite games of the year. Originally conceived to help his young daughter with her Maths, this has become one of the most popular games we use, partly because it looks so cool and everyone loves zombies. Especially zombie dogs, clowns and taxi drivers!
This is a cooperative game played around a board that has zombie cards advancing towards your barricade, where your team must defend the survivors. During each turn, every player gets a chance to fight and destroy zombies as they come out of the city, across the motorway, fields and eventually your backyard with only one thing on their brains.... your brains.
Players work together to fight zombies by rolling dice and then using the numbers to make sums to hit the numbers on the cards. Combinations are allowed, as is the use of squaring (special power!), to destroy one or more zombies at a time.
Meanwhile the rescue plane is on its way. Depending on where you start you have to survive up to 15 turns before the plane lands to whisk you to safety. But the closer the plane gets, the closer the zombies appear.
With plenty of variety of powers, characters, play options and and cards, once you know how it works this game can easily be matched to the age and ability of the group playing and has helped massively in all the maths classes I have used it in so far.
There’s also more to come with re-issues, expansions and more games to follow. Having won 3 of our independently adjudicated Imagination Gaming awards (Best Family, Best Numeracy and Expo Players Choice) in 2014, this is definitely one to watch.
Like the sound of these games and others like them?
Come to one of our events, ask us about getting the games for yourselves or tell your school about what we do - it’s fiendishly simple!
This was the first ‘list’ of games we have published on the new blog. Do you recognise any of them, have you played them or would you like to? - Let us know below or catch us on social media, we’d love to hear from you.
Have you any other topics or subjects you would like to find games that link to. Suggest away and it might be the subject of another list soon!