Friday, February 3, 2017

Betrayal at House on the Hill, a game review.

This was out for purchase a what feels like a long time ago and I never bought it. Now it is (or has been) back on the store shelves and I grabbed it for our home.

Betrayal at House on the Hill.

A co-op, but suddenly not co-op game of searching a creepy house. A game that is right in the wheel house of me and my lady.

Players grab one of  multiple characters to use to explore the creepy House on the Hill. Why? Well because it is a creepy house that needs exploring that is why!

The house is made from various tiles that are placed as you search. There are rooms for the basement, first and second floors. A tile, from the pile, is added each time a room is searched. Thus making for a completely rando house every time the game is played. Players find items, people, traps and weapons as they rummage about trying to discover why they are in this house.

Eventually the player exploration will reveal an Omen card. Once these are found there is a chance that each successive turn, that the game will change from simple exploration to survival horror adventure. This is known as revealing the “Haunt” when it happens and it changes the game drastically.

The player that activated the Haunt is now the villain in the game. They consult a book, the Traitor’s Tome , to consult a chart based on the Omen card and room where the player is. This tells the ,now traitor, player what diabolical plan they are trying to achieve. This can be anything from raising a mummy, unleashing a Frankenstein-like monster, human sacrifice, ghosts, killing the party with vampire bats, and well other creepy horror missions to survive.

The remaining characters then consult their own tome, the Secrets of Survival. This will detail what they need to do to survive/stop the event that is unfolding before them.  Now everybody has a secret mission to do. The fun bit is that the good guys and bad guys are not sure what the other is doing. They both get some shared information (i.e. there is a mummy, look vampires, a walking dead guy, zombies and stuff) about the “haunt” but that is all. It is a pretty cool system and adds a good deal of tension to the game.

Now the game changes to doing a bit more of combat along with exploring. This is done via dice rolls compared to character stats. Oh yeah! Each character has a set stat of might, speed (the physical )sanity and knowledge (the mental). You roll dice depending on the stat to attack/defend. If damage is taken then a chosen statistic drops a point. If any statistic drops to zero, then that character is dead. Of course these can be altered by game effects or items found while exploring the mansion.

Speaking of the characters they fill a  lot of the horror movie tropes: jocks, final girls, science guy, holy man and troublesome children. They all have differing stats based on their trope: jock= mighty, science= knowledge, holy man= sanity. You get it.
Related image

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a pretty fun  game. It moves pretty quick. Has a lot of replayability (well until you run every haunt in the game). The house build is completely random and so no game set-up is the same. The six Haunts we have played so far are all pretty good. I have only won two of the six games so far and have only been the traitor for one of the six games we have played. The four games I lost were very difficult due to the lack of house exploration ahead of time. My people were either poorly or completely unarmed/prepared for the situation that was revealed. Still a good challenge, but it was an uphill battle at best and a pants down spanking at the worst during those other four games.

Now for as fun as this game is there are some drek. First the character models are awful. I didn’t expect super high quality figures, but these look terrible. A minor bitch I know, but for the cost I surprised how bad they looked. I am now using LAst Night on Earth minis as proxy for this game.
 It looks way better!
Image result for betrayal at house on the hill models
At least they aren't just tokens, but unpainted grey plastic might have looked better.

These are now in our Betrayal box.

There are a ton of fiddly tokens here too. I didn’t expect so many tokens. I have no idea if they all will ever get used, but I expect that some will get lost over the lifetime of the game. There are monster tokens, room tokens, item tokens, letter tokens, tentacle tokens, monster face tokens, ghost tokens, black goo tokens, stat tokens, and too many tokens! You get it. It is another minor bitch, but still be prepared for token punch out and token pile madness!

Just a small glimpse of the fiddly bit madness.

At times the revealed Haunt feels unwinnable. This seems to happen if the traitor is revealed early before there has been enough time for exploring the house. These games are very fast and have a wildly unfair feel to them. We don’t seem to mind, but it could be discouraging for people to not have a fighting chance at victory.

I know these are minor bitches, but they are the only real negatives I have after a half dozen games played.

Betrayal at House on the Hill. The newest addition to our game library. A good time if you enjoy exploration and horror survival type games.

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