Playing Inside: Betrayal at House on the Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill, 2nd Edition
Bruce Glassco - Avalon Hill
Play Time: 1 Hour
I've never liked being scared, but the allure of the horror genre is hard to ignore. I don't think I'll ever categorize scary things as 'fun', but I did enjoy the general spookiness that 'Betrayal' provided. Maybe now I'll be brave enough to watch New Nightmare all the way through.
Game Overview: 'Betrayal at House on the Hill' is a tabletop game that blends strategy, luck, and a healthy dose of anxiety to create a constantly rotating play experience. Players must explore and escape a creepy old house by placing room tiles, discovering omens, and surviving haunts. Eventually one of your group will turn traitor and you will have to survive them as well.
What's Inside: I hope you like punching out cardboard! With the exception of the figures, dice, and stat markers everything is made of a thick and sturdy, sticker-ed cardboard. Small plastic figures represent each character color, with a simple but effective paint job. A couple of the plastic pieces arrived looking like they were involved in some serious limbo, but I bent them back into place easily. The only gripe I have about the game components is that the coffin shaped stat markers are unreliable and slide around if you so much as look at them. I tried a few different ways to keep them secure, but in the end I just got a notebook and kept track of my stats the old-fashioned way.
Who to play with: If you have RPG-loving friends, invite them over. Your character choices are limited, but if you come prepared with a backstory and a commitment to storytelling this game can really shine. That being said, I have played this game with board game novices and they absolutely loved it.
This game can be played with 3-6 people, but my best playthroughs were with at least 4 characters on the board. The more players you have, the more interesting The Haunt becomes and the more strategy can be used to complete your objectives. You know what they say, "Friends that escape a house falling into hell together, stay together." Or something.
Jumping In: Your first game will leave you flipping back and forth through the guidebooks, but after your first haunt everything falls into place. The play mechanics are simple and the rules are easy to remember both before and after The Haunt. Setting up the board is a quick task, so you can start playing right away. Or at least after you punch out all that cardboard.
Play Time: Prepare to be stressed the hell out, but in a fun way. Playing the hero is just as much fun as playing as the traitor and trying to get one step ahead of your opponent is a fun challenge (especially when you don't know what their winning conditions are). Players can die, but by that point you will be so entrenched in what is happening that the 'dead' players will still feel involved. Victory will bring sweet satisfaction.
Value: I paid around $50 for 'Betrayal' at my local game stop, but you can currently find a copy online for around $30-$40. With 50 different haunts and the layout of the house changing with each play, this game offers a lot of replay value. In the 2 months that I've owned the game, I've gone through 7 or 8 different scenarios, each of them unique experiences played with wildly different sets of people.