Friday the 13th – Tabletop Terror!

Friday the 13th – a date feared by many across the globe as a date rife with bad omens and ill luck! Bad news, friends – it’s tomorrow! But why all the fuss?

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví, meaning ‘Friday’ , and dekatreís, meaning ‘thirteen’. The superstition surrounding this day may have  come from Christian origins, the number 13 being considered unlucky because there were 13 people at the Last Supper, and Friday being considered unlucky because Jesus was supposedly crucified on a Friday. However, there are other ideas: a Norse story tells of a dinner party for 12 of the gods at which a 13th uninvited guest shows up. The gatecrasher — the trickster god Loki, of course — shoots the god of joy and happiness, Balder. Another popular culprit is the story of the events on Friday 13 October 1307, when hundreds of Knights Templar were arrested and burnt across France.

Not every culture shares this fear – if you were Italian, you’d be more worried about Friday the 17th, and the Spanish consider Tuesdays to be the unlucky day of the week. But the Friday the 13th phobia  has spread even to these countries (primarily in the younger generations) due to the widespread influence of American culture, and in particular the infamous Friday the 13th series of movies. Slasher flick fans everywhere will likely be settling down to give them another watch tomorrow night, but if you don’t fancy all that blood and gore on your tv screen, you can have a ghoulish night of fun on the tabletop instead, with these horror-movie-themed games!

Sadly, the Friday the 13th game is a thing of the past (there were also A Nightmare on Elm Street and Dawn of the Dead games), but we’ve got some more recent games for you to try:

Alien

The Alien franchise may have turned more into a sci-fi / action series as it went on, but that first movie was a true horror movie in pretty much every way. Low lighting, a constant deadly menace, cramped conditions, isolated protagonists: it’s all there, and it’s nail-biting stuff. There have been a few games based on the Alien universe over the years, but the best one so far is arguably the Prodos Games Alien vs Predator Miniatures Game. With beautifully detailed models, an ever-changing tile-based board and multiple scenarios to play out, along with constant expansions to keep the game fresh and exciting, it’s a real beauty. The starter set is an enormous beast of a box with so much packed inside you can’t begrudge the price tag, and the rules system offers a slightly unbalanced set of factions (aliens, predators and humans) to keep the gameplay faithful to the movies and really ramp up the fear for all the players. The game received some criticism for this initially, but in our opinion it makes it even better. The true challenge of the game is to play the humans and see if you can survive!avp-the-hunt-begines-boardgame

There’s also the Legendary Encounters: Alien deck-building game; it’s a co-operative game where players take on the roles of a Commander, Gunner, Synthetic or several other roles, recruit powerful allies such as Ripley or Corporal Hicks, and work together to complete missions. Try to avoid the Facehuggers, but if you do wind up incubating a Chestburster, don’t worry, you’ll then take on the role of a Xenomorph and start playing against your former allies!

There’s also another Legendary Encounters game, fully compatible with Alien, based on …

Predator

Another sci-fi / horror mix, Predator makes great use of an invisible enemy stalking the protagonists across hostile terrain. The luckless platoon being targeted aren’t just faced with fighting off the Predator; they also need to survive the harsh jungle landscape, and each other as paranoia tears through the group! The Legendary Encounters deck-building game lets you take on the struggle to fend off the powerful Predator, and if you really want to make it challenging, you can combine it with the Alien game as well!

Dracula

Now on to the pure horror stuff. The infamous Dracula has been object of countless movies over the years, from the slightly-plagiarising but iconic silent film Nosferatu, to the black and white Universal classic with Bela Lugosi, to the full colour, camp joy of Hammer Horror and the legend that is the late, great Sir Christopher Lee. More recently we’ve had the gorgeous melodrama of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the teen slasher romp of Dracula 2000, and the action prequel / reboot that is Dracula Untold. That’s without counting the ones where he’s not the main character, such as Van Helsing, or the several tv shows where he’s either the main character or a featured one (Buffy, anyone?). One of the best board games to spawn from the Dracula legend is Fury of Dracula, and fantastic hidden-movement game where one player takes on the others as the titular Count himself. The other players must plot against him as they try to catch him in his flight across Europe, bringing to life the final gripping moments of the original Dracula story.211583_detail_v2

But if you don’t fancy anything that involved, there’s always Nosferatu, a bluffing card game that takes around 20 minutes to play. Someone is Dracula, the others are vampire hunters – will they catch him or will he come out on top?

The Walking Deaddead-inside2.0

There are loads of zombie games out there – miniature games, board games, mixtures of the two, card games, Munchkin Zombies … basically, just as they are in the movies, zombies are everywhere! But the one title that has had games based specifically on its stories is The Walking Dead. Okay, it’s a tv show rather than a movie, but it works masterfully with the themes of isolation, constant threat, paranoia and the unknown that are prevalent in horror movies. There are several games based on the show for you to choose from: three or four co-operative board games, a competitive card game and a competitive dice game! So whatever type of game you prefer, you’re all set for a great night in if you fancy a Walking Dead party!

Ghostbusters

13We’re stretching the theme a little bit here, we know, but Ghostbusters was always a horror-comedy. If that bit at the start of the movie with the library ghost didn’t scare the pants off you when you were little, you must have been watching a different movie! So if you prefer your horror a little light-hearted, go for this one. The Ghostbusters board game came out last year and has become an instant classic – so much so that they’re already planning the sequel game! The miniatures are great and it’s episodic, so you can have a short game of one episode or you can lengthen the fun by playing several episodes in succession. Plus you can level up your characters and turn it into a campaign!

 

 

Honourable Mention: Magic: the Gathering: Shadows Over Innistradshadowsoverinnistrad

The latest MTG set release, Shadows Over Innistrad, isn’t actually based on any one horror movie, but it incorporates elements from pretty much all of them! Think of a horror movie trope and you will find it in these cards – ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, spooky forests, serial killers, cults, lake monsters, possession, witches, terrorised townsfolk, vengeful angels, zombies, weird Giger-esque landscapes, Frankenstein-esque abominations – it’s all packed in there! your decks and set vampires against werewolves, angels against demons – and if you’re not a regular MTG player, that’s fine – this set stands on its own brilliantly! The Holiday Gift Box (is Friday the 13th a holiday really?) releases tomorrow, and the companion set, Eldritch Moon, is due to be released in July.

Hopefully we’ve given you some ideas for a spooky night in (preferably devoid of any bad luck or ill fortune), but if you’ve got any recommendations of your own, feel free to add them below!

 

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