Today I’m going to review a game that’s been around for a while, yet surprisingly few people I know have played it – Betrayal at House on the Hill. This is one of the first “non-traditional” games I played. The group I played with back then was kind of diverse, but everyone loved this game and the fact that it was constantly different. This game was also one of the first things my boyfriend and I bonded over (it’s his favorite game and definitely one of my top picks and he was thrilled to meet someone else that had actually heard of it.) In this game players explore a haunted house, one room tile at a time. As they venture further into the depths of the house someone becomes a traitor and then the survival countdown begins.
This game seats 3 – 6 players. Each player picks their character and marks the starting points of four traits on their player board. The characters have four meters that are used to track the character’s physical stats (might and speed) and their mental stats (knowledge and sanity). Throughout the game players will gain and lose levels in these traits. A player dies if any of these traits drop to the skull mark on the player board.
The house starts with the main level consisting of a large tile with the front door, foyer, and stairs, and separate upper landing and lower landing placed on the table. Players can use the stairs to explore upstairs right away, but getting downstairs requires finding special tiles or cards. Players use their speed to explore the house, which is done moving through doors that lead to an empty space, and then flipping over pieces from the deck of room tiles marked as either upper, ground, or basement. Some tiles can be placed on more than one floor and are marked as such. The player must play the room tile in the way that makes the most sense by lining up doors when they can be lined up.
Room tiles may have certain symbols on them; these symbols represent the three sets of cards in the game – item, event, and omen. Once a card is drawn, unless otherwise stated on the card, that player’s turn ends, even if they had additional movement left over. Players only draw a card when a room tile is first played, unless otherwise stated on the tile; the players ignore the card symbols when passing through the rooms. Items are usually items that can help players, but not always. Some room tiles require certain conditions be met before you can leave the room.
Items can be freely traded with other players in the same room as you and can be dropped when a player dies. Events usually require the player to make a dice roll and that roll determines if the event was good or bad. Omens usually provide some benefit, but at a price to the player. After completing the omen card, the player must make a haunt roll. This roll consists of 6 dice, marked with 0, 1, or 2. If the player rolls less than the amount of omen cards in play, then the haunt is triggered.
Once the haunt has been triggered, use the special tables in the rulebook to determine which scenario will be played out. Typically, one person becomes a traitor. The traitor should go to another room and read their set of rules while the other players read their set and come up with a strategy.
When the game restarts, the non-traitor players go first and game play proceeds similarly to the beginning with exploration, card draw, etc. Non-traitor characters may choose to attack the traitor or the traitor’s minions (if they exist) on their turn. The traitor goes after all of the other players have had a turn and can also attack the other players. The game is over when either the players or the traitors achieve their victory goal.
The theme of the game really gets me here. I love horror and horror themed things. I also like the fact that the board is always different and that even if you’ve played a particular scenario several times it doesn’t ever play out the same way.
Another big plus for me is that there are rarely questions about what something means or if something is against the rules or not. It’s a seriously straight forward game…I can’t remember the last time I played another game like that.
This game has consistently stayed at a 9+ for me (9 when I am the traitor and 10 when I don’t get that “honor”). So, this is another game I’d rank at a 9.5/10, but with solid staying power.