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Halloween Is Here! 4 More Horrific Games for the Big Day

This is not a drill! Halloween is in just four days! Pumpkins carved? Check. Candy bought? Check. Procured games for Halloween game night?  

Don’t tell me you forgot! If this were a horror movie (which honestly the jury is still out on), that’s exactly the sort of unholy transgression that would summon some horrible hell beast or unstoppable, knife-wielding maniac! Lucky for you, I know just what to do. Read this article out loud three times in front of a mirror, and you’ll be safe. Or silently to yourself works too.  

The Adventures of Dex Dixon – Kickstarter (February 2, 2023) 

Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

A lot of interesting characters walked through the door of Sam Spade’s detective business, but best as I can remember, all of them were human. Unfortunately for Dex Dixon, that’s not always the case. Vamps, Weres, Trolls, and even stranger creatures have taken up residence in the noir shadows of this skirmish game for 2 – 8 players, and it’s up to hardboiled detectives like Dex to keep them in their place.  

The game takes place across 2 cities connected by interdimensional gates: Our Fair City and the interdimensional hub, Nightside. Evil monsters are constantly trying to use the various dimensional gates scattered across Nightside to invade Our Fair City and feast on all of its delicious inhabitants. Detectives, like Dex, and those monsters who play by the rules, like Delia the Vamp, must band together to teach those dirty-dealing night creatures a thing or two.  

A detective is only as good as the cases he solves, and that applies to  Dex Dixon as well. The game is completely scenario driven with each scenario requiring completion of a different objective to win. Each player chooses a Boss, complete with their own special powers, a Mug to assist them, and several random Items and Powers.  

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From there, players will build up their power by collecting new Items, Powers, Artifacts, Events, and Mugs while also trying to navigate between Our Fair City and Nightside. This is easier said than done, though. Several of the gates are guarded by Trolls who must be dealt with if you want to cross. One can attempt to go through the Haunted Well, but there’s always a price to be paid. Sooner or later, though, heroes and villains will collide, and then lead is going to fly! 

The usual suspects. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Combat is quick and dirty, requiring only a couple of d6 rolls. Each Boss and Mug comes with a set of special abilities, many of which can be used to help in a fight. But it also doesn’t hurt to be packing a “Machine Gun” or “Brass Knuckles” to ensure things go your way. It’s not just combat that’s dependent on dice, though. Those d6 rolls are an integral part of the game, determining everything from movement to whether or not a character’s ability functions. That dependence on luck does a lot to add the tension that film noir is famous for, especially as you’re being chased down alleys and through sewers.  

If you’re going to take the shot, you better make sure you’re ready. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Don’t think this game doesn’t have any strategy, though. Each player has modifiers to their various die rolls depending on their strengths. It also emphasizes the importance of gathering upgrade cards, and these can only be obtained by moving to particular locations, making area control a crucial part of each game. After all, it takes a lot more than luck when dealing with Nightside’s worst.  

Black Mold – Kickstarter (Live until November 11)

Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Every good game builds tension. Tense breath holding as the die are cast or the cards are drawn, and audible gasps when the result is revealed, are the hallmark of a well-designed gaming experience. In Black Mold, bated breath is more than a byproduct of a good time.  

That’s because in this semi-cooperative game for 2 – 5 players, you are a prisoner trying to escape from an underground prison that has been overtaken by disgusting black mold with hallucinogenic and mutagenic properties. The only way to survive the spore-clogged air? Breathe it as little as possible.  

Each turn, you must literally hold your breath while trying to complete several complex tasks. On the inhale, you will reveal a plot card (if using them) and connect a new room tile to an existing room of the prison complex. You can often make a dice roll to search a room for basic items like flint, cloth, metal, bones, or nugs which will determine the winner at the end. Items can be traded with other players or crafted into better items like torches and shivs. Remember though, this is a semi-cooperative game, and other players can attack you and steal your items.  

It’s just arranging cards. One handed. While oxygen deprived… Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Once you’ve searched the room and while still holding your breath, you have to find a way out. You’ll draw neural pathway cards, each depicting a synapse stretching across the card at different angles, and try to arrange them so you have connecting synapses equal to the areas target number. Oh, but in addition to holding your breath for this, you have to do it one handed. If you run out of cards before you exhale, your turn ends and you’re stuck in the room, possibly taking spore damage. Take enough spore damage, and you’ll become a Thrall: a humanoid extension of the mold whose soul desire is to bring others into the fungal fold.  

Huh. Mold count must be high. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

If you escape, and that’s a big “if”, count up any Nugs you’ve managed to locate over the course of the game. The player who escapes with the most Nugs is the winner and finally gets to catch their breath.

Cube Monster – Kickstarter (November 21 

Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Nothing screams “Halloween” more than a giant, orange monster hand. The hand in question belongs to the Cube Monster, and it must be appeased! 

In Cube Monster, each of the 2 – 4 players is a champion of their respective village who has been chosen to climb Mount Kubia and placate the god-like beast who dwells therein. How do you quell its terrible hunger? With cubes. Lots of them.  

Each turn, the Feeder player draws a set number of cubes from the cube bag and feed one to the Monster. If this completes a row of cubes on the Monster’s palm, then players must make an Offering to it. Those who are able to offer up enough cubes are rewarded with special abilities while those who cannot are smacked with a Disaster card, causing any number of headaches.  

At this point, every player gets their own turn. The game is an engine-builder and cubes are the fuel. To win, you’ll have to manage your cubes between Offerings, building Structures, and climbing Mount Kubia, the true goal of the game. Each turn you can draw one cube, and then spend that cube by incorporating into a village Structure or using it to climb to the next level of Kubia, both of which require cube combinations of specific colors and numbers. Building structures will grant you better actions like drawing more cubes. Spending cubes to advance to the next level of Kubia moves you closer to the finish line and also grants you Super Cubes which can be used as wilds.  

Don’t get too attached to those buildings. One Disaster, and they could be so much rubble. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

While seemingly simple, the Cube Monster’s hunger is always building in the background. At the end of each round, the last remaining cube is again placed by the Feeder into the Cube Monster’s hand, possibly triggering yet another Offering. 

The Cube Monster hungers! Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

The winner is the first player to reach the top of Mount Kubia or the player farthest along at the end of round 16. Considering that there are only 6 stages to the climb, this seems like an easy task. But the Monster is a demanding god, and only the worthy will be allowed to pass. Good luck, Champion! 

Graveyard Chess – Kickstarter (October 31) 

Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Sometimes, you just can’t be a classic, and it doesn’t get more classic than chess. But even the Eiffel Tower gets a new coat of paint every so often, and Graveyard Chess slaps a new, spooky face onto the game of kings.  

Chess variants are nothing new, and Graveyard Chess is a retooling of a chess variant known as Equestrian Chess. In this version, the board is diamond shaped, pieces have way cooler names like “Scythe-Wielder” and “Flying Empress”, and pieces can be respawned at certain points on the board.  

This latest version takes the cool new pieces, new board design, and respawning ability, but ups the ante by making the game much more frantic and in-your-face. For starters, rather than a large diamond-shaped board, Graveyard Chess uses a much smaller 3 x 6 space board, so players start the game already in each other’s faces. Gone too are fiddly pieces like pawns. Instead, there are only 4 types of pieces: Zombies, Skeletons, Ghosts, and the lynch pin, the Necromancer. Each piece features versatile movement but with enough limitations that the first player isn’t just going to annihilate their opponent right away.  

My favorite opening move? Slaughter. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

But when you do start to capture pieces, that’s when things get especially weird. Rather than move a piece, your Necromancer can instead reanimate any piece you have captured thus far and place it in an empty, adjacent space. Unlike the King in regular chess, the Necromancer can summon an entire troop of bodyguards so long as he has bodies at hand. Of course, that makes in all the more satisfying when you are able to capture him, becoming the Necromancer Supreme! 

By Zane Messina

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