Game Review: Betrayal at House on the Hill

pic828598_mdBetrayal at House on the Hill
Wizards of the Coast, 2004, 2010

Betrayal at House on the Hill is the ultimate haunted house mystery game. The game starts as with cooperative play, as the players explore the house, creating the game board by placing tiles for each room in the house. As the players explore, the encounter creepy events, find useful items, and uncover evil omens. When the players discover an omen, they make a haunt check by rolling 6 dice (each as 2 blank sides, 2-one pip sides, and 2-two pip sides). They must meet or exceed the number of omens on the table or the “haunt” happens. As players uncover more rooms and discover more omens, this roll gets harder, and eventually someone will fail. Each player has a character card and stats which tell them how many dice they will use for their rolls, and determines their speed of movement through the house. Will you play the mad scientist, the little girl or the brute? There are 12 characters to choose from (6 double sided character cards).

When the haunt happens, based on the room that the player was in, and the omen that happened, the game takes a sinister turn as one of the players at the table becomes the betrayer. A chart in the book determines the scenario that will play out from that point. The betrayer takes the betrayer tome and discovers their goal for the rest of the game. The rest of the players take their scenario book and determine their goals for the rest of the game. The gameboard gets set up with scenario specific detaila and the game restarts with the player to the betrayer’s left and play continues until either the players or the betrayer meets their winning conditions.

Between the variations possible through the large number of room tiles, and the over 50 scenarios that can happen, the re-playability of this game is near infinite. You may play the same scenario more than once, but due to room configuration, missing rooms, different number of players, item discovery and other variables, it will play out very differently every time. The creepy wording of the cards and the thematic rooms give a fantastic horror movie feel. If you like creepy horror, then this game is sure to become an instant hit that you will bring out again and again. It is well-balanced and almost every game is a tense race to the finish. It is possible and even probable that your character may perish during the game. We usually play with the house rule that if you die before the haunt happens, you may turn your character over and start again with the other character. That way everyone stays in the game until the fun really starts to happen.

It can happen that the haunt roll fails early, which gives the betrayer a distinct advantage, but this doesn’t happen often and can still offer a very fun experience for the players. Want an extra creepy game? Play by candlelight in a dank basement, at night. This is an awesome game that is a must have in any game library, and is especially fun to bring out for a Halloween party. A definite MUST play!

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