Released in 1968 from Whitman, the Dark Shadows board game was based on the cult Gothic soap opera television series of the same name, which aired on ABC from 1966-1971.
The show centred around the lives of the Collins family, inhabitants of Collinsport, Maine — a small, coastal fishing village where a preponderance of supernatural occurrences regularly occurred.
The board game also focused on the paranormal, challenging players to select one of several perilous paths on the board and successfully navigate from start to finish.
The Dark Shadows game featured a colourful playing surface containing a series of spooky illustrations.
To start, each player chose one of four playing pieces and placed it at the Start space on the gameboard. Players were dealt four cards each, with the remainder of the deck placed in a draw pile at the center of the board. Cards were used to control movement in the game along one of several available paths selected by the player.
To advance across the board, players had to discard one of their cards that matched the symbol in the square adjacent to their playing piece. If a player had no matching card, they were required to discard anyway but could not move forward. Players were also not allowed to move backwards or jump to a different path from what was chosen at the beginning of the game. The first player to reach the Finish space was declared the winner.
Strategy in Dark Shadows was driven by two factors: the path chosen and the luck of the draw. Some paths called for cards that matched a specific colour (red or black) or number (1 or 2), while others required matching a particular symbol (chalice, dagger, spider, bat). Two special vampire cards were also included — one generic and one tied to Barnabas Collins, the iconic vampire from the series.
IN THE BOX
A complete game included a 2-feet x 3-feet paper game board, ; four cardboard playing pieces (tombstone, grandfather clock, wolf, candle) with stands; 52 cards (13 of each suit: chalice, dagger, spider, bat) where each suit has 5 “1”s, 5 “2”s, two generic Vampires; and 1 Barnabas card. Instructions were printed on the underside of the box top.
Used copies of Dark Shadows can be found on third-party auction sites like eBay and Etsy. The size and construction of the paper game board made it susceptible to creasing and tearing.
In 1969, Milton Bradley released a second game based on the series called Barnabas Collins Dark Shadows.