Werewolf is a hidden role party game created in the 1980’s which is a mainstay of any board game convention. I recently played a game at OrcCon with over 50 people. (Yes, 50 at once.) Everyone playing the game gets role cards. Some of the players are Werewolves, others are villagers, some of which have various different motives. The game has two alternating phases: “night”, during which the werewolves vote to “murder” an innocent, and “day”, in which the surviving players debate the identities of the werewolves and attempt to lynch a villager they suspect. The game continues until all of the werewolf members have been eliminated, or until the werewolves outnumber the innocent villagers.
We’ve seen a lot of werewolf films over the years, but few of them use the hidden-role mystery construct. Setting the story in a quiet little 16th century village allows for an interesting contained story of a town trying to find the werewolves in their midst before its too late. Like Groundhogs Day, we could grow to learn all the members of this small town and try to decipher which ones change overnight and which ones might just have their own secret agendas. A story like this could also work well as a mini series.
Ultimate Werewolf is available on Amazon for around $20.
5. Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror
Fantasy Flight’s Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror series of adventure board games are based on writings of H. P. Lovecraft. Players take on roles of investigators in either the Massachusetts town of Arkham or traveling the world as gates to other planes open spewing out aliens from other worlds. The investigators must solve mysteries, gain artifacts, fight the creatures and close the gates before they destroy Arkham and the world. The game has immersive role-playing and storytelling elements that would make it perfect for a big screen or small screen adaptation.
While the concepts are based on the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, much of what happens in the game is the creation of game designer Richard Launius. There have been plenty of Lovecraft-inspired movies, if few “accurate” ones. Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has been developing a movie adaptation of the Lovecraft novella At the Mountains of Madness for years. Tom Cruise was attached to star and production was gearing up to begin when a disagreement between del Toro and Universal Pictures over the rating canceled the film. Del Toro says he will continue to try to make the film.
Until then, these two adaptations are on the table. Eldritch Horror would work better as a premium cable television series, with the investigators traveling around the world to find artifacts, fight monsters and close gates. Arkham Horror could work as a lower budget horror film, as its set in one town.
Disclaimers: I said in my intro that I had played all the games on this list. That’s actually a lie. I haven’t played Arkham Horror. But I have played Eldritch Horror, which is considered as Arkham‘s streamlined, easier-to-learn replacement. I also lied when I said that any of these games would be great for a first time board gamer. I’ve heard Arkham Horror is a bit fiddly and that the rules are harder to grasp even for experienced board gamers. You have been warned.
Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror are both available on Amazon for around $40-45.
6. King of Tokyo
King of Tokyo is a dice-rolling board game where the players take on the roles of mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens – all of whom are destroying Tokyo and knocking each other out in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo. The game is basically Yahzee variant where each player rolls and re-rolls six dice, hoping to gain victory points, Energy (the currency of the monster world), Heal and Attack other monsters.
There have been a ton of monster movies (we’re all looking forward to the upcoming Godzilla reboot) but most of them are set in the world of the humans. But what about instead setting the story in this colorful and vibrant world of the monsters? I could see these characters in a Illumination Entertainment, DreamWorks, or Blue Sky Studios animated feature. The dice game doesn’t offer a ton in terms of story, but has tons of illustrations over many cards used in the game. Some of these illustrations are as cool looking as the concept art I often see in pre-production art rooms.
7. Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert
In Forbidden Island, you and up to three other players take on the role of a team of fearless adventurers on “a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise.”
This game is centered on the legend of the Archean empire, a civilization that possessed the ability to control the Earth’s core elements–fire, wind, water, and earth–through four sacred treasures. These treasures stayed hidden from enemies for years on the Forbidden Island, which was designed to sink if intruders ever attempted to capture them. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!
If that description doesn’t convince you that the game’s storyline could make a fun movie adaptation, then I just give up. This cooperative game is often compared to Pandemic, which makes sense since it was also created by the same award-winning game designer, Matt Leacock. Forbidden Island is a bit easier to grasp, which makes it perfect for families. That said, I still have trouble winning this game when not set on the easier levels — it is a bit of a brain burner. Thats probably why the Mensa organization awarded the game the 2010 Mensa Favorite Brainy Games Winner.
In 2013, Leacock and Gamewright Games released a sequel to Forbidden Island called Forbidden Desert. Its a bid more complex but still amazingly simple in its construction. The sequel follows a bunch of adventurers who crash land in the desert and are trying to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient city before they die from dehydration in the scorching heat and relentless sandstorm. This game could also be adapted for the screen, but desert sandstorms are probably less cinematic than the island adventure.