Relive Your Childhood Fears with Are You Afraid of the Dark
As a child growing up in the 90s, I absolutely loved the TV show Are You Afraid of the Dark. Each standalone episode focused on a terrifyingly scary story told by a member of the “Midnight Society”; a group of teens who designate one day a week to gather around a campfire in the woods and tell stories about the supernatural. There were tragic stories (such as the story of the Prom Queen), frightening stories (the Tale of the Quicksilver)and even a few that still give me nightmares to this day (The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float).
I always wanted to be a member of the Midnight Society and meet with a group of friends in the woods and tell great stories. So, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered there was an Are You Afraid of the Dark board game. It’s turned out to be one of the top nostalgic favorites in my board game library.
The premise is simple: you and three other friends are tasked with going on a journey through the most terrifying destinations imaginable. If you can overcome all of the obstacles, gain points in categories such as Knowledge, Strength, Courage, Witnesses and Luck – and be the first person back at the campfire, you’ll be initiated as a new member of the Midnight Society.
But beware: you’ll have to take risks, seize opportunities to go through secret passages and above all, avoid the dreaded Pit.
Optimized for 2-4 players, each round will last approximately 30 minutes, although you can lengthen the game by increasing the number of points required to win the game.
Each player has a Secret Mission sheet in their possession and they must roll the dice to determine how many tools and points they start the game with. Any number they land on will be added to their Knowledge category, while landing on the White Star on the dice will give them a tool. Players must complete the dice roll for each one of the other categories (Courage, Strength, Evidence, Witnesses and Luck) to start the game. Each player will start the game with different strengths and weaknesses.
Players meet up at the ‘Campfire’ on the middle of the board. Once the first roll is made, the player has a choice of continuing to roll the dice 1 to 2 more times before moving the total number of spaces. Their turn will end in one of two scenarios: they decide not to roll again and move their marker the total number of spaces already rolled or they roll a Black Star, which will cause them to lose all points as well as tools picked up on that turn. You can take chances but remember, Lady Luck won’t hesitate to give you a Black Star to smack you down!
You compete against your opponents to gain the most points in each category by moving to the eerie destinations on the board (all iconic locations from the show) to win points. If, for example, you land on Ghost Train #713, your dice roll will determine if you can win the 3 Evidence points up for grabs. If you roll a White Star instead of a 3, you receive a tool but you don’t win the points. It’s only on your next turn that you can decide to roll again for the points or leave the location – AND you have to announce your intentions to the other players.
Just because the game is based on luck, doesn’t mean you can forego strategy or let your ego dictate your next move. While you have the option to roll the dice more than once per turn, I rarely roll the dice more than twice on my turn. You tempt fate when you roll the dice and you have as much of a chance to land on a White Staras you do a Black Star. When it comes to accumulating points in each category, I’d rather be strategic at each location and take a 50/50 chance of earning points, rather than lowering that chance to 33.3% by rolling the dice 3 times.
The Swamp, however, is a special case, where players have a chance to roll for points in two categories. You can roll for the 2 Evidence points or win both the 2 Evidence points and 3 Courage points if you land on a 3 or higher.
On the other hand, the Secret Passageways might just be a player’s ace in the hole, so to speak. Any player who lands on a secret passage may take a Secret Passage card. These cards allow them to take shortcuts to different destinations on the board, obtain bonus points and have a quicker and easier opportunity at rolling for the points at each creepy location.
However, there’s a catch:in order to use the Secret Passage card, you must meet the requirements on the card. If you don’t have the required number of total points or certain tools, you lose the ability to use that card on your turn. Any Secret Passage cards with a skull on them will land you in the dreaded Pit. Once in The Pit, you can only leave if you roll a White or Black Star on your next turn.
Also, be wary of your opponents and where they might land on the board – if they land on a space you’re already occupying, they could bump you into The Pit, too.
How do you win? Traditionally, you win by accumulating 6 points in each of the categories and being the first to return to the Campfire at the centre of the board, becoming a member of the Midnight Society. But that’s only if your group hasn’t increased the challenge by increasing the number of points needed in each category.
If you’re keen to experience some childhood nostalgia (and possibly re-live some nightmares), you’ll still be able to find rare copies of the game online through Ebay or Amazon.
By Lillian Sue