I mentioned this just this week, but back at the beginning of April the Army of Toy Soldiers (of whom I am a member) ran a weekend long charity gaming marathon.
I spent most of the weekend glued to my PC playing various games, sometimes with friends and sometimes solo.
We had blast, but the thing that really sticks out for me this year was the Saturday Evening Boardgaming Event.
This was simple, we invited a few friends over, set up a few cameras and streamed a few games.
We started off with Exploding Kittens, which I will discuss at another time for now I want to talk about Betrayal at the House on the Hill.
In the future I plan to record a video of the game for a Horror based project I plan to start, but for now you’ll just have to read my thoughts.
So, if you take a look at my list of reviews in the past you’re going to see a disproportionate amount of horror titles, both zombies and supernatural, if only someone made a board game for me, right?
Well, someone did.
Betrayal at House on the Hill (I’ll just call it Betrayal from here out) is a game for 3 to 6 players, but I am certain you could stretch that out to more if you wished with minimal work.
You start off selection a colour token and from there you get a choice of two characters, one which is more generalised and another which specialises in a specific trait, these characters are on opposite sides of a character token which features specifics about your character like age, date of birth (sort of a mini-character sheet) but also features four sliders for the stats in the game.
Speed, Might, Sanity and Knowledge.
These stats control how you behave in game.
We’ll start with movement and exploration.
Everyone starts out in the entrance of the house, from there they can head off on their own in any direction and explore, uncovering every new room as they enter it (so each play through is different), you can easily reach the basement or second floor and put everyone at different ends of the house in a matter of moments.
The only limitation on you at this point is your speed, your speed value dictates how many rooms or actions you can take in a round.
Your round ends when you uncover a card.
Cards cover various topics such as Items, Omens and Events.
Items are just what you might expect, things like Guns, Armour or one off stat boosts.
Events are those creepy little things that occur in any good horror film and leave you shouting at the TV “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE”, mist cascading down the walls, the skeletons of a mother and child cowering in the corner of a room or a creepy voice that might be offering you help.
Omens are really where the game comes to its own.
Omens are a mixture of Item and Event that can essentially trigger a haunting.
The haunting is what it’s called in Betrayal when the game enters the second phase and you are no longer exploring.
As you go through the game and discover a room with a Raven icon, you draw an Omen card which usually consists of an item and its description, at the end it always states “Make a haunt roll now”.
The haunt roll is simple, you take 6 dice and roll (the dice are all 0 to 2, just to forewarn you), if you roll a lower number than the amount of haunt rolls attempted, then a new haunt is started.
This means as you go further into the game and uncover more of the house you are more likely to start the haunt, but it is still possible to roll a 0 on your first attempt.
Various cards and even rooms will require you to make rolls against your stats in order to progress or attain some bonus, rolling for these are usually taking as many dice as your stat is currently set at and trying to roll more than a specific number, usually a win allows you to increase your stat while a loss will lose you points on that stat.
Now things get a little crazy, you have to look in the rule book and see which room you discovered the omen card in and which omen card you have, using these two items you have randomly selected which haunt you are playing from a list of about 50.
One of the players gets split up from the group, they are now the Traitor (hence the game being called Betrayal, get it?) with their own objective and rules.
The Traitor goes off to study the rules in the Traitors Tome, as the Survivors read their equivalent passage in the Secrets of Survival.
The Survivors do not know what the Traitor needs to do, nor does the Traitor know what the Survivors need to do, so as you play things start getting tactical and after a few games you begin to form an analysis for every move your opponent makes.
My own history of Betrayal is obviously brief, having played 4 games to date and having been the Traitor once, I will focus on that experience.
I won’t give you the details of my Haunt, but the triggering item was a Ring and featured a Ghost.
While in the planning stages I thought to myself that the Ring would be important and maybe if I could steal it from the player who held it, I might hold it long enough to win.
(Combat is simple, roll as many dice as you have might, highest number wins however if you roll 2 more than your opponent you can steal an item from them)
In the end I turned out to be right, the ring was important but not for the reason I thought, I managed to steal the ring but rather than rush off with it (a course of action that may well have let me win) I hung around and lost the ring in the next combat.
After all my careful planning I lost, but I came so close to winning that I would have had victory in a single round, I was only a player away from taking my final turn.
Now, I think it’s about time you saw the game in action, so without further ado (and you’ll get a brief run down of the rules again) here you go.
Finally, if you do end up buying Betrayal, just be aware that it seems in October (2016) an expansion is going to be released.
A new expansion, titled Widow’s Walk, will be out on October 14. It brings 20 new rooms, 30 new cards, a variety of tokens, and 50 more haunts written in part by celebrity contributors. These include Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins, Borderlands writer Mikey Neumann, and Max Temkin and Eli Halpern of Cards Against Humanity.
You can go read the full details over at GameInformers article.