It’s just a matter of what games we have. There isn’t a game in our collection one might suggest as a theme related to Yule, Christmas or even Festivus, so a December theme night never gets considered.
But Halloween, being a times of ghosts, witches, zombies and their ilk, the games we might play is long, from Tiny Epic Zombies to Ghosts and a bunch more.
So this year we planned to play a couple of games befitting of the season.
But, we couldn’t actually play on Halloween as one of our regular’s was running a disc golf tournament Oct. 31, including an evening round in the dark.
And, Halloween eve was out as the Saskatchewan Roughriders were playing on TV and they take precedent over gaming.
So as anyone with multiple hobbies has to do, we compromised and played the afternoon of Oct. 30.
Our first game was Lockwood’s Asylum, a 2018 release by designer Mason Crawford.
Lockwood’s is a generally much-underappreciated deck-builder, that is easily top-five among deck-builders we’ve played and that is nearly-50 played to-date.
In terms of horror the game drips with theme.
“There have always been rumors surrounding the Lakeshore Asylum,” detailed the game’s successful Kickstarter fundraising page at the time. “The strange fire back in the days of the Great Depression, the scandal involving the administrator and the flayed bodies in the '40s, the missing patients that briefly led to the asylum's closing in the '70s ... they were stories told around campfires by those who had not seen the horror first hand.
“When Dr. Lockwood took over the administration of the asylum, nobody had any reason to be concerned. The doctor was analytical, precise, driven: the perfect person for the job.
“Then Lockwood found the tome, and the rituals and experiments began ...”
The art by David Romero, Alexander Solomon and Jesh Pasiliano is creepy without being garish to further immerse players in the realm of horror.
As luck sometimes happens, the game arrived in the post the afternoon of Oct. 31, back in the day. It was Halloween, and a Wednesday, the night we typically gather the Meeple Guild for some gaming. So of course we broke out Lockwood’s Asylum.
We had played our fair share of deck-builders, and this one immediately set itself as better than most.
The reason was simple enough, this one allows for more player interaction than most deck-builders.
As the Kickstarter campaign noted, “Lockwood's Asylum allows players to build not only their own decks, but also the decks of their opponents. Each time a player purchases a monster or horror card, that card goes into the play area - or ‘room’ - of the player to their left.”
The element of influencing other players does make this far more of a ‘take that’ game, which may not suit all, but our group liked it a lot.
Played again this season, this remains an outstanding deck-builder, albeit with a darker theme than some. A must-own if you are a fan of the mechanic, or the genre.
From there we moved to Pandemic: Reign of Cthulu, which was released in 2016 as part of the growing family of ‘Pandemic’ games.
Admittedly, this is one of the weaker offerings in the family, it suffers from being part of a rather esteemed line of games.
Were it to be played without knowledge of its sister games the view would most likely be better.
With this one you are battling the minions of Cthulhu, trying to shut down portals of evils before the players all suffer insanity in the face of the power of the dark ones first released upon the world by writer H.P. Lovecraft.
The game is ideal fare for Halloween and we actually managed to turn back the darkness in one of the two play throughs’ this year.
Other things kept us from actually playing on the holiday, but it was no less fun, and the two games chosen were a perfect afternoon of ‘darkness’.