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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Boards & Brews at Home: Betrayal at House on the Hill

  Happy Halloween Everyone!  

Light your candles, grab your crucifix, and stay close together because tonight, four brave souls will be lurking in the dark, dank hallways of a haunted mansion.  The floorboards are creaking and groaning under their feet, the light is swallowed by the dampened, dark corners of each room and the cold chill from the breath of the wind seeps through the cracks of the decrepit walls within this evil edifice.  Which one of us will turn against the others?  Will we survive the horrors within, or will the pain and suffering of the dark entities swallow us up? 
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a 3 to 6 player horror-exploration, tile-placement, dice-rolling game with cooperative mechanics.  The objective is to explore the house and make your explorer as strong as possible before the haunt takes place.  After that, your goal is to complete your sides' victory condition first, either as a traitor or a hero.  As you select your explorer at the beginning of the game, each explorer has their own traits to utilize during gameplay and this is determined on a scalable interface that will vary depending on what happens throughout the game.  While exploring the house, you draw various cards such as Omens, Items, or Events.  The game consists of room tiles that are revealed and placed as you move through the house based on your own modular design.  When you play a room tile, it will display what type of card you will need to draw and proceed through the game in your possession.  During the game, a haunt will take place and one of the players secretly betrays the remaining players at the table.  This can happen as quickly as 15 minutes into the game, or an hour into the gameplay.  It depends on the omen cards that are drawn and then finally confirmed by a dice roll.  At this point, the betrayer is out to end the lives of everyone else at the table, and the remaining players will work together cooperatively to go after this person and kill him or her. 
Tonight, Levi and Abi joined us for the exploration in darkness.  Levi was Linus from the peanuts gang and Abi was the pumpkin patch, making up The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  Claire and I were Shaggy and Velma from Scooby Doo.  Claire ended up losing the roll for the haunt and turned into a cannibal.  The scenario was #46, (The Feast) so she was out to have us all for dinner.  Claire had to leave the room with the traitor tomb handbook to read over her tasks that she had to complete against us, while Levi, Abi, and I had to remain in the dining room collaborating together on our tasks from the survivors handbook.  The three of us had to work together to save some others in the mansion, then all three of us still had to make it out alive before Claire got to us.  We did successfully manage to win tonight and not get eaten though!  
As for the overall gameplay with Betrayal, it is creative and engaging with a versatile flavor.  However, the inconsistency of when the haunt takes place is a drawback for me.  I wish it was not so randomized per game, but I understand that it's due to the random drawing of the omen cards and rolling of the dice.  Unfortunately, that still doesn't remove the fact that the game can significantly end quicker upon every new game that begins.  In terms of quality components I would say that they are mostly average.  One of our miniatures right out of the box was badly bent, but we were able to heat it with a hair dryer and bend it back into place and it has successfully held together since.  Apparently this is common with a lot of their miniatures that get shipped which is really unfortunate.  The same can be said for the coffin markers that came with our game, except that these are much worse.  Again, we had to heat and then bend the coffins in order for them to properly squeeze the hexagonal player mats to prevent them from sliding around.  However, even then we noticed the coffins had a much higher chance at breaking rather than bending the way we needed them to so we chose to not bend all of them.  Board games should not require modifications from the consumers.  We depend on the publishers and designers to do their job so that we don't have to make modifications to the components in order for them to properly function.  Since we had to attempt multiple times at fixing our components without achieving fully functional pieces, this does significantly affect the way I view this game because of how poorly designed these components were made.  Other than that, the remaining components are printed well, nice artwork, and the miniatures come pre-painted which is really nice!  Regardless of some of the poorly made components, I still think this is a pretty good game.  I feel that the setting and modularity of the tile placement provides a varied approach that gives gamers more replay ability.  I also see the drawbacks in this game both physically with some of the components, and cognitively with the gameplay.  However, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives for me and I believe that because of it's diversity and creative executions, it creates a fun, strategic, and suspenseful experience for the gamers at the table and I would recommend it as a good halloween party game for your collection.

Betrayal at House on the Hill
Overall Pumpkin Rating: 7/10

Disagree or have other thoughts? Leave a comment below.


  1. I love Betrayal this game is awesome! You guys did such a great job with the presentation and overall explanation too! I Love your costumes!