It’s too late for your friends. They belong to the house now. Frankenstein, doppelgangers, voodoo dolls, and the blob: these are just a few of the things you might face in Avalon Hill’s Betrayal at House on the Hill, a tile-laying horror game that is different every time you play.
You and up to 5 of your friends take on the identities of 6 people who entered the House on the Hill. As you move through the house, each of discovers new rooms by placing a tile each time you pass through a door that hasn’t been entered. Those rooms might contain useful Items, horrific Events, or Omens of the darkness to come. Each character has four different statistics: Might, Speed, Sanity, and Knowledge. These attributes come into play as the players move through the house and do their best to make it out alive.
As they explore the house, the adventurers discover areas like the Underground Lake, the Conservatory, and the Bloody Room. Some rooms have special tests requiring the players to roll dice. Others trigger Items, Events, and Omens. Each time an Omen is drawn, the player that discovered that room must roll 6 dice which contain sides with 0, 1, and 2 pips. The player must exceed the number of Omens in play with the roll, or the Haunt begins. There are 50 different Haunts in the base set of Betrayal at House on the Hill; which Haunt gets played is determined by which Omen triggered the Haunt and what room it was found it.
In most cases, the adventurers discover that a traitor exists amongst them when the Haunt is revealed. Which player is the Traitor is also determined by which Haunt is being played. The Haunts have different stories, enemies, goals, and rules. In rare cases, there are hidden traitors or no traitor at all. At this point, the game jumps into action. The players must do their best to foil the plans of the traitor, all while fighting off the monsters or evil that’s been summoned to devour them. Can you make it out alive?
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a favorite among my friends and hits the table fairly often. The replay value is high thanks to the 50 Haunts available, and each are different enough that it feels like a whole new game each time we play. Thankfully, the rules of the game are straightforward and easy to get the hang of, and this has served as an introduction to tabletop gaming for a large portion of our friends. The modular set up of the house and the large number of Haunts keeps this game exciting and fresh.
The art on the room tiles is beautiful and lend to the horror feel of the game, as does the art of the cards, and character tiles. The tiles are thick and sturdy. Sadly, the rest of the components are not at the same level. The cardboard markers for monsters and items are nothing special and the sheer amount and small size of them make them easy to misplace. The stat trackers that came with my copy of the game don’t stay on the character tiles, though the trackers that came in 2 other copies I’ve played on don’t seem to have any issue. That speaks of quality control issues in regards to the components. The prepainted miniatures that come with the game seem cool, but could do with a better paint job as they look a bit tacky.
Another issue our group has run into is the range in difficulties of the Haunts. Some Haunts favor the Heroes, and the game ends shortly after the Haunt begins. Others are weighted towards the Traitor, and there are some which seem impossible to beat. This has caused some frustration among our more competitive players. Despite this problem, we’ve not experienced any disappointment from the game. Even a devastating loss leaves a smile on our faces and makes us want to come back from the dead for one….more….game.
We love Betrayal at House on the Hill and we think that at a price of $35, you’ll love it too. We give it a 4/5.