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RETRO: Cult Classic ‘Dark Shadows’ Board Game Isn’t Actually THAT Bad

3 Minute Read
Apr 24 2019

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of vampires? Barnabas knows.

Despite the Tim Burton adaptation might have you believe, Dark Shadows was dramatic soap opera.

The series aired from 1966 to 1971 and was definitely not a fun romp through the supernatural. It was dramatic, intense and atmospheric like crazy. It ran for 5 years from 1966 to 1971 and in that time, running weekdays, it aired ONE THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE EPISODES!

It should come as no surprise to you that they had a board games based on the show as well. It should come as no surprise to you because that’s the whole setup for this article. It’s kinda hard to do a big reveal when my editor says I can’t keep making my article titles “You won’t BELIEVE what 60’s soap opera had it’s own board game!”

It comes up more often than you’d think.


Dark Shadows is your typical race game. First player to the end wins.


However, unlike many other games of the era, Dark Shadows actually has strategy! Well, some at least. Rather than using roll-to-move, Dark Shadows uses a play-to-move. Each player is dealt 4 cards.

I see where Bela Lugosi’s chiropractor got his inspiration for Plan 9 From Outer Space.

On their turn, each player plays one of their cards to move into that adjacent space. If they can’t or don’t want to, they discard a card and draw a new one. But, unlike Candy Land, Dark Shadows has multiple routes!

Some spaces only require matching the color (red/black), and some only require matching the number(1/2) and some require matching the symbol (knife, bat, poison, etc…). Most of the short cuts require specific cards. So, this gives players a push-your-luck mechanic, kinda. If you want to sit and wait and hope for a shortcut card, you can. But it might not be worth the risk.

And that’s about it. First player to the end wins! Not a whole lot else to say, really.

Except check out these player pieces!


It’s been all downhill for player minis since 1966.

Thanks for reading!

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