Into the Abyss: Exploring Some Darker Card Decks, Board Games & TCGs

It’s always fun to explore the darker side of things. That’s why we have horror movies, real-life escape room games, survival video games and entire festivals, events and genres dedicated to looking into the abyss. Here’s a list of the best card decks, board games & trading card games that are to be played with creepy background music and dim lighting.

Card Decks

Whether your poison of choice is poker, bridge or blackjack, the card deck you choose is as personal as the clothes on your back. If you want to create a different atmosphere for your next game, cue the scary music and choose the right deck.

Bicycle Dead Soul Playing Card Deck

The Bicycle Dead Soul playing card deck is a limited-run, customized deck that relies heavily on the motif of skeletons and skulls. Standard poker size. 

Serial Killer Cards 

Produced for anyone with a morbid fascination or degree in criminal forensics, Serial Killer Cards is a card deck based around some of the most notirious serial killers in history. How about that for your next bridge game? 

Monster Masterpieces

Monster Masterpieces produces some great card decks based around famous movie monsters of history: A great deck to compliment a horror movie marathon or woo a horror movie fan.

Bicycle Grimoire Playing Cards

For anyone who has a fondness for mummies and the potential reanimation thereof, there’s this Bicycle Mummies-themed card deck. Feel free to invite your, well, mummy.

The Movie Monster Tarot 

The Movie Monster Tarot is a little obscure (and pretty rare), but for the Venn-diagram crossovers among us who are after tarot decks with movie monsters, there’s this gem.

Board Games

Board games go far beyond just Monopoly and Clue. There are many great board games for taking a walk on the dark side – and yes, you’ll rethink the idea that a board game can’t be creepy. Invite your friends and dim the lights in preparation for these.

Arkham Horror: The Board Game

Arkham Horror is one usually at the very top of recommendations for horror-themed or scary board games – and do you know why? Because it deserves to be. There have been plenty of expansions and sequels from the makers, but here’s the original Arkham Horror for anyone who wants an undeniably great role-playing board game to escape to.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

From Wizards of the Coast, there’s Betrayal at House on the Hill: Spirits, spectres and more are woken up to play in this great horror-themed board game. If you loved any PC games like Ghost Master where you got to terrify people, you’ll have fun with this.

Cthulhu Dice 

Cthulhu Dice is an offering from Steve Jackson Games, the creator of the famous Illuminati board game: Anyone who has a talent for throwing the dice (or, well, die for the language purists, then…) should check this – or maybe get it as a gift this year.

The Bloody Inn

The Bloody Inn is the perfect board game to seek out if you’re a fan of Clue or Cluedo, but want a game with a slightly darker atmosphere and undertones.

The Pain Doctors

This one is called The Pain Doctors: The Game of Recreational Surgery. It’s a lot like the game of Operation, but considerably darker – and a lot more demented.

Trading Card Games

TCG are like regular cards, but with different abilities – or something like that. Here’s a handful of trading card games that’ll keep you occupied while waking up your dark side.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Remember Arkham Horror from way up there? Here’s the accompanying (yet standalone) trading card game that goes together with it. Enjoy!

Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

Based on the series that brought Vampire: The Masquerade to PC and console screens everywhere, here’s the accompanying card game Vampire: The Eternal Struggle (or V: TES). Ridiculously elaborate – and notably beaufiul – this is a must-have for any horror or vampire fan.

It was out of production for a while, but seems to be returning after being bought over by another company in 2018.

Trivial Pursuit: Horror Movie Edition

Think you know your horror canon by heart? Test your knowledge – and make your friends worry about how you’ve been spending most of your time.

By Alex J. Coyne
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