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3 Upcoming Halloween Board Games – Bedeville Carnival, Gatefall, Primordial Secrets

Bedeville Carnival – GameFound November, 2021

Let’s start with a game that checks off a lot of Halloween boxes. Dilapidated Carnival? Check! Being stalked by a creepy old man? Check! Undead rising from the grave so they can ride carnival rides? Sure, why not? Check!

And that list pretty much sums up the lore of Bedeville Carnival, the first project from publisher Loodo Ninja. Creepy old Mr. Carl spends his days as the local gravedigger and his nights moonlighting as the owner of an equally creepy old carnival. And much to his dismay, the bodies that he’s worked so hard to put in the ground keep digging themselves up to attend his carnival. And this is where the players come in. In this light worker-placement game for 1 to 4 players, you will play as a corpse just looking for a little fun at the carnival. But if Mr. Carl or his cat Fleabag find you, then you can kiss that cotton candy and Tilt-a-Whirl goodbye because it’s back to the graveyard with you!

Like any good carnival game of skill, the basic rules of Bedeville Carnival are straightforward and simple. But anyone who’s ever tried knocking down those milk jugs knows it’s more complicated than it looks, and Bedeville is the same in this regard. Each turn, players choose a carnival attraction to visit, earning joy tokens for doing so. They can spend their joy tokens to buy souvenirs for victory points or save them to get victory point bonuses at the end. Each attraction also comes with a unique action that lets the players improve their positioning. See? Simple.

Except that every attraction makes noise, and at the end of each turn there is a chance that Mr. Carl or Fleabag will appear. If they do, you’re in trouble. Mr. Carl will make a beeline for the noisiest guest and immediately kick them out of the park, taking some of their joy, closing attractions, and destroying souvenirs. Which is terrible…unless you’ve managed to move an opposing player to the noisiest attraction. When all of the souvenirs have been bought or destroyed, the game ends. Players add up their points and the highest point total wins.

This game tops the Halloween list for a couple of reasons. The first is that the relative simplicity of the rules makes this game accessible for just about any of your Halloween guests. The second reason is the art. Artist Paulina Opak does a top-notch job of taking innocuous carnival attractions and twisting them into something only a ghoul could love. All of the classics are there like creepy clowns and fun-house mirrors that reflect a little too much. On top of this typical fare, Opak manages to add some creative new entries to the “Carnival of Terror” subgenre such as her Unlucky Claw machine and Devilish Bull ride.

Bedeville Carnival Gamefound Preview link.

Gatefall: Monsters – GameFound

The next game may be second on the list but brings a theme that is first in my heart. And if you were a kid like me, staying up all night to watch classic monster movie marathons and fighting sleep with gratuitous amounts of Halloween candy, then this next game is for you.

For anyone familiar with other entries from Grim Rabbit Games (previously Jack Dire Games), publishers of party games like Superfight and You’ve Got Problems, then Gatefall was probably not a game you saw coming. Jack Dire took a definitive step away from party games with Gatefall and created a streamlined and accessible miniatures skirmish game for 2 to 8 players. But it’s this latest expansion featuring classic monsters that earned it a spot on this list.

Gatefall does a solid job of creating a skirmish game that is quick and easy to play but with enough strategy that you’ll definitely want to come back to it. Players control teams of fighters from various genres that have found themselves face to face thanks to a mysterious dimensional rift. And we all know that when you find yourself in such a situation, the only thing to do is brawl to the death, am I right? In this regard, Gatefall is similar to other skirmish games like Unmatched or Godtear, but it manages to distinguish itself with some key differences.

Start clearing shelf space now. Gatefall vs Gloomhaven minatures.

For starters, this game puts a big emphasis on the miniatures. Literally. They’re huge, with the biggest figure in the core set coming in at 152 cm (6 in) tall! There are also two different play modes: a 2 player skirmish and a battle royale with up to 8 players. Both modes use a deck-building element which determines the number of actions you get to take in a turn. And of course one of those actions is to fight. Combat is handled with a simple dice roll that lets you both damage your opponent and earn currency to upgrade your deck or your fighters. Each time a fighter is destroyed, they lose a turn and the winner of the combat gains victory points.

I love how the Invisible Man is twice the size of the other figures.

Gatefall: Monsters adds a classic monster team consisting of Dracula, a werewolf, a fishman, Frankenstein’s monster, a mummy, and an invisible man. In addition to the new character abilities for each fighter, this expansion will also introduce a solo play mode so you can take on interdimensional rivals even when your friends are busy. And like previous iterations of this game, a lot of emphasis is put on the “miniatures”, if you can even call them that.

Primordial Secrets – Kickstarter

While Gatefall: Monsters takes a traditional approach to horror, Primordial Secrets veers hard to the left and then continues to drive straight on towards the horizon. That’s because designer Garth Avery summoned inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft and H.R. Geiger for this game to create a decadent and macabre thematic concept with art to match.

Even showing up with a bottle of good wine can’t keep your visiting worshippers safe.

In this 2 to 4 player deck builder, each player acts as a powerful primordial being engaging in a bizarre game of power and politics with rival cosmic forces. Each turn, players will send up to 3 supplicants to an opponent’s domain and host guests from rival domains. Your visiting hosts compare the total “Deception” score on their characters against the “Insight” score of the visiting characters. If the visitor’s score exceeds the host’s by 4 or more, they get to steal a secret to use against their opponents later in the game. But if the host’s score exceeds the visitors, they get to take one visitor card as a sacrifice. Players can then use the “Devotion” on their remaining visitors to purchase new cards for their deck. The game ends when a player has 6 sacrifices, 6 secrets, or all of the ultra-powerful “Royal” characters have been purchased.

Are you The Keymaster?

Now, for anyone familiar with the deck building genre, these mechanics are pretty standard. But considering how bizarre the art of the game is, that familiarity will be a welcome anchor point. This game may be inspired by Lovecraftian cosmic horror, but just another Cthulhu game it is not. The starkly beautiful and bare-bones art depicting deeply unsettling characters captures the idea of “unknowable beings” better than just about any other game in this genre. And the base mechanic of callously sending your worshippers to be killed at an infernal dinner party creates an alien sense of values and immense power. 100% guaranteed to drive your Halloween game-night guests to the gates of madness.

Mythic e-shop

Witches and wisps,
Bogs and frogs.
The Darklands beckon thee!

Upcoming Board Game

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