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Review: Betrayal at House on the Hill


It’s October! Since it is the month of Halloween we decided it would be fun to keep with the Halloween spirit and play “horror-based” games. So far, we have played Castle Ravenloft and Pandemic: Cthulhu. Last night, we kept it up and broke open Betrayal at House on the Hill for the first time.

betrayal

Betrayal is not a new game by any means (although a new expansion is due out soon) but it is one our group has never played. Betrayal was originally released in 2004 by Aval Hill Games. It is currently published by Avalon Hill Games and Wizards of the Coast.

Betrayal was designed by Rob Daviau, Bruce Glassco, Bill McQuillan, Mike Selinker, and Teeuwynn Woodruff. The art for the game is done by Dennis Crabapple McClain, Christopher Moeller, and Peter Whitley.

Betrayal is an adventure game that draws on several mechanics including cooperative play, modular board, player elimination, storytelling, and variable player powers.

Set up
Set up for this game is easy. You take the first tile, it happens to be the longest one, which is labeled Entrance, Foyer, Grand Staircase and place it on the table in front of the group. Next shuffle the Omen, Item, and Event cards and place them on the board. Then have each player chose which adventurer they want to be. Each player will then affix tabs to their character card to be used to show the adjustment of stats.

Once this is done, each player needs to look at their adventurer card to determine whose birthday is coming up next. That player will be the person who goes first and play will continue to the left. Keep in mind, this process of deciding who goes first is interesting but shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule. If you have a preferred way if determining who goes first, go or it.

After you decide which adventurers are going to played, place the corresponding miniature on the Entrance.

Take the remaining tiles, shuffle them, and place them on the board.

Game Play
At this point, I usually like to break down the rules. In the case of Betrayal, that’s a little difficult as the rules can change based on the Haunt. So instead, let’s talk about the steps of a turn.

During your turn you can do the following actions: Move, Discover, Use, Attempt a die roll, and Make an attack.

To move, you move the number of spaces equal to your characters speed trait. You can move your maximum number unless you are discovering a room. At this point, you will draw a tile of the tile deck and place it on the board. You character will move into that room and their movement will come to an end. Make sure the tile you place corresponds to the floor you are on. In other words, don’t place a tile designated for the basement on the top floor.

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After drawing the Event card, this room gained a Slide to the basement.

After you move into the new room, if there is a symbol on the tile, you will draw a card from the corresponding deck.

When you draw a card, you need to read the card aloud and follow the directions on the card. If the card you drew is an Omen card, you will need to make a Haunt roll at the end of your turn.

To make a Haunt roll, roll six dice and add up the numbers. If it is less than the number of Omen cards in play, the Haunt begins. If not, play continues.

Once the Haunt begins, you will need to reference the chart in the Traitor book to determine which Haunt you are playing and which person in your group is the traitor. This is something we messed up on as we had our Haunt reveler (the person who failed the Haunt roll) be our Traitor. According to the book, it should’ve been the person to his left.

Open the Traitor book to the Haunt number and then have the Traitor leave the room and read the Haunt. Read only the Haunt revealed. This way you do not spoil any of the other adventures in the game.

The remaining players will then open the Survivors book to the same Haunt to see what they need to do to win the game.

From there, you continue play as normal except now someone could possibly be out to kill you, and you them.

Conclusion
Overall, this game is a lot of fun. The one complaint I heard from one of our players was it seemed the game took a bit to get going. Once the Haunt began, the game took off and the horror film feel set in.

There are a lot of pieces to this game. I strongly suggest you use some sort of plastic bag to keep them all together.

I didn’t like the look of the miniatures, either. With games like Castle Ravenloft and even Blood Rage doing an exceptional job with minis, I felt the game fell short in that department.

Will it stop me from playing this one again? Absolutely not.

If you don’t have this game, we highly recommend it for your collection.

Score 8/10

 

 

 

© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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