Betrayal At House On The Hill Review

Overview

This is Board Game Review 4 and is part of Halloween Week🎃

Betrayal At House On The Hill, or Betrayal for short, is a ridiculously fun game for 3-6 victi- I mean players. It’s perfect for Halloween, or anytime of the year, as you explore the old house atop the hill. You may have come to have fun, but one of you is set to betray you all. Can you make it out alive?

How To Play

This section is kind of a beast. There’s the way the rules are written, but going that route is a terrible plan. If you are up to it, you can find them here. However, I’ve found that each group uses it’s own house rules, or modified rule set, to play this game. The core things that need to stay consistent are how stats work, how the house works, and the traitor/good guy mechanics. If you keep these three things how they are in the rules you are golden.

The player pieces
Sample of house tiles

Players begin on the ground level of the house and are able to take their turns exploring it. There are 3 levels to the house:  basement, ground, and upper. Players are able to move freely between the upper and ground levels from the start but getting to the basement will take some exploration. You explore by moving through an open door way to an empty, or unexplored section of the house. Going through the room tile stack until a tile that meets your floor requirements is found; it is then added to the house. The room is resolved and that usually marks the end of a players turn.

On a players turn they may move and take one action. Players are allowed to move a certain number of spaces indicated by their “speed” number. They may move anywhere between 1 and the maximum on their turns, or until a room event is triggered (usually by exploring). At any time prior to starting, or after movement, a player may take an action such as attacking or stealing an item from another player.

An example of a character & stats

A player has 4 stats:  speed, strength, sanity, and knowledge. Each stat is used to determine the number of dice a player gets to roll for specific checks for room events or combat. For example, if your strength stat reads 4, you would roll 4 dice to see if you can pass a strength based event. The same is true for combat but it is slightly more complex, this is an area that is often house ruled differently so I will not be going over it. Your stats may tick up or down based off of certain events, if anything ever hits the skull, you are dead.

Betrayal cards photo betrayal_3_sm.jpg
The cards & matching symbols

Lastly, explored rooms will have one of three symbols on them:  item, event, or omen. Items are what they sound like. Events usually require some sort of skill check or modify the house in some way. Omens are like items except when you receive one, you roll the dice to determine if the traitor phase occurs. If the result is less than the total number of omens, the traitor phase triggers.

Referencing the player guide, one of the players is deemed the traitor. The traitor leaves the room with their own guide and the given scenario number. The remaining players then read the same numbered scenario from their guide. Each guide details the objectives for each team, which is secret (you can usually figure it out though). If there are any special rules, the guides will tell you what to do.

Though the guides try pretty hard to explain what to do, some scenarios are complicated and you might just have to fudge it some. Additionally, some scenarios (and by this I mean most) are pretty imbalanced but don’t let that scare you off. This game is a blast, so focus on the fun and don’t really worry too much if the rules get a bit jumbled or if it’s not exactly “fair.” Unfortunately, I can’t really help on how to modify the rules to work for your group, we play ours closer to an RPG but some play a lot harder to the rules. Just find what’s fun.

Final Thoughts & Where To Buy

This game is a blast, but the rules are awful. However, after a game it’s pretty clear what you need to do to fix the experience. If doing this little bit of work is going to put you off then just don’t even bother. That being said, if you can put up with the messy rules, this game will be a blast for any group. This is especially true around this time of year, put on some ambient music and have a blast with friends and family.

Some other points of note are that some of the components aren’t fantastic but they function. There are some people who go out of their way to upgrade and improve this game but I just use what’s in the box since it’s functional.

When looking to purchase this game, make sure you buy the 2nd edition. Edition one was garbage and had even worse rules and components. Seriously, new version here.  The game is published by Wizards of the Coast and is available at Coolstuff for $37.49.


This one was a bit tricky, doesn’t help that the rules are all over the place. If you enjoyed this please leave a like or comment. Consider following me here, via email subscription, Facebook, or Twitter @JS_Reviews.

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