Betrayal at the House on the Hill: One of my All-Time Favourite Board Games!
If you're a fan of team building games, then you will love this!
Betrayal at the House on the Hill — oh, what a game! I enjoy playing this game everytime I play it!
It consists of deck "room" tiles, some being for the upper floor, some for the ground floor and some for the basement. Players build their own haunted house whilst coming across events, items, or omens. Events take place inside that designated room, which require you to roll some dice, and what happens next corresponds to your die result; sometimes good, sometimes bad. Should you reveal a room tile with the item symbol on it, you acquire the item you first reveal from the top of the item deck. Omens are where it gets tricky. If you reveal an omen, reveal the first card you pick up from the omen, and then you must roll six dice. The result must be equal to or higher than the amount of omens in play. If you fail to get that, then the haunt starts. I will go into a bit more detail about the haunt further down in the article.
Each character plate has stats that track their Might, Speed, Knowledge and Sanity. These are highlighted green, and vary from character to character. However, for example, if you were to lose points off one of your traits, only that trait is affected. In some cases, there are duplicates of the same number on each trait, but, that will still bring them closer to the skull symbol; resulting in death.
Breakdown of Gameplay
The game consists of two parts: "standard exploration phase," where all characters are allies and work together, then there is the "haunt phase." This is where at least one player (if not more than one) will become the traitor.
During the "standard exploration phase," players can move around the house, exploring tiles as they go, as far as their character's speed stats take them. Whilst drawing room tiles, they must match with the current floor on you. So, if you are on the ground floor, and want to explore a room on that floor, you must draw a "ground" tile in order to continue. If you happen to run out of tiles, just take the discarded tiles and shuffle them to reuse them. Drawing a tile with an event, item, or an omen ends the player's turn immediately. There are also some special rules on some room tiles. One example is rolling a 3+ in a room in order to continue moving, or gaining points of a certain trait should you end your turn there. For example, in the library, you gain an extra knowledge point if you end your turn in there.
Once events, items, and omens are triggered in those room tiles, they do not need to be triggered again. It is only upon revealing the tile.
The "haunt phase," is where things really begin to get creepy. As I mentioned earlier, if a player fails to roll a result equivalent or greater than the amount of omens in play, the haunt starts. Once this happens, there is a special book which determines what the haunt will be. So, if a player picked up the book as their last omen, and started the haunt in the chapel, players would look for those two phrases in the book and it will point out a number haunt. It will then also specify who the traitor will be. In most cases, it is the haunt revealer. In other cases, it could be the person with the highest knowledge, or the player on either side of the haunt revealer. Once this is decided, the traitor must then leave the room with his/her special "traitor handbook" and figure out what they need to do in order to win. The remaining explorers must then read through a separate book and figure out how they need to win.
There are many different types of scenarios; including creepy crawlies, zombies, rats, mice, and even the house moving around itself. There are also some cases where other players could become traitors themselves. For example, being transformed by a vampire or werewolves, or swallowed by big pink blobs. Whatever the case, the traitor will find a way!
Once both the traitor and other explorers know what they are doing, they regroup and do whatever they can to win. Both the explorers and traitors have special rules in order to help them do so. They do not need to reveal what those are, but they can drop subtle hints as to what they are doing. The game then proceeds back to the exploration phase, to which the traitor can only play once the other players have had their turns. Players can now attack the traitor, and vice versa. When attacking, if the traitor rolls a 5, and a player rolls a 4, they take the difference of the damage. So, they would take 1 damage of any trait of their choosing. The game continues until either the explorers or traitors achieve their goal.
Overall Thoughts on the Game
As a big fan of this game, I must say, it is very well thought-out. I highly recommend it to anyone who is into strategy and logistical games. There is a lot of strategy especially when teaming up against the traitor! I have only been the traitor once myself, and it is a very enjoyable experience. You will never have the same house, it is different every time I play. The haunts are always different, too. There are around 50 different haunts to choose from, which makes it a lot more fun. A new expansion pack was released last year for this, adding an additional 50 haunts, and some new room tiles. I'm hoping this game gets bigger and bigger. A lot more people need to know about it!
If I ever feel the need to nerd out over a game, it would be this one. Thank you all for taking the time to read this. So until next time: