The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library.
You are an explorer investigating the abandoned house on the hill with your friends. As you delve into the depths of the house, you begin to realize that it may not be as abandoned as you had been lead to believe. As for your friends, well, they might not be friends at all…
Theme: Adventure, Exploration, Horror
Number of Players: 3-6
Game Time: 60 minutes
Age Appropriateness: 12 and up
Game Type: Horror Game
In Betrayal at House on the Hill, players take on the role of explorers who are investigating a creepy abandoned mansion. During their turn, each player will add room tiles to the mansion, expanding the house’s floor-plan. As players venture further into the mansion, they will pick up various items, encounter terrifying events, and be faced with omens foretelling their doom.
Each explorer begins by taking a miniature and the matching explorer card which contains four different traits including: strength, speed, knowledge, and sanity. On a player’s turn, they can move through rooms up to their speed and explore one new room. They can also make use of any items that they have collected along the way. When they explore a new room, they add a room tile to the house, corresponding to the floor that they are currently on. Then, they draw either an event card, an omen card, or an item card depending upon the symbol indicated on the newly placed room tile. The card may ask the player to make a trait roll to avoid the bite from a giant spider, avoid amnesia, or go a little mad from encountering the paranormal. When players are asked to make a trait roll, they roll a number of dice equal to the current trait value indicated on their explorer card.
As the house is explored, one of the players – determined as the game progresses – will betray the other players and try to kill them. This special end game scenario is called “The Haunt.” Once the haunt begins, one player, determined by the omen cards, will read from the Traitors Tome (away from the others). This allows the other players, who are now heroes, to conspire and figure out a way to defeat the traitor. When both teams are ready, the traitor will return to the game, place any new tokens, and explain any new rules. The rest of the information, including how each team wins, is kept secret from the other players.
There are 50 haunt scenarios each with their own unique flavor, monsters, and ending goals. Some scenarios have the players running from a horde of zombies, banishing baleful spirits, or contending with hell itself or worse.
Component Quality: The game comes with six pre-painted miniatures representing the explorers. Each room features fantastic art work that gives the game an eerie, creepy feel. The cards are of heavy card-stock and are very durable. Our copy at the Malted Meeple can attest to that! The tokens feature generic art so that they can be used regardless of which scenario is being played. Early print runs had some issues with the cardboard room tiles warping; however, this problem was rectified in later printings and Wizards of the Coast issued replacements to those who had damaged components.
My Take: This game is one of my very favorites. I bought it when it was first released way back in 2004 and was one of the first in my collection. Years went by and I saw that Wizards of the Coast was reprinting it. I loved the game so much that I bought a second copy just so that I could have all of the updated rules and tokens. My only complaint is that the rules for the haunt scenario can be a little complicated. And because each team has secret goals it is hard to help a player who does not understand how they are supposed to win without revealing their secrets to the other players. With veteran players this is not a problem, but for newer players this can be a source of frustration.
Expansions and Replay-ability: One of the things that is important to me when evaluating games is replay value. This is something Betrayal at House on the Hill has in spades. No two games will ever be the same. Period. The game contains: 12 different characters, 50 unique scenarios, and a house that is never the same twice. With all of this variation, you can be sure that you will always have a good time with this brilliant horror game. As far as expansions go, twelve years after its initial print run, there is finally an expansion in production for Betrayal at House on the Hill! The expansion – Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk – adds twenty new room tiles, including a whole new floor: the roof! This expansion will also add new cards, tokens, and 50 new haunts! Paired with the base game, that means that there are 100 unique haunts to enjoy! The expansion is due out in October of 2016. And I can’t wait!
Karington Hess is a lifelong gamer whose passions for hospitality and all things game-related led him to Ravenwood Castle, where he served as an Innkeeper before joining The Malted Meeple. When not pouring beers, crafting milkshakes, or teaching boardgames, Karington can be found behind the DM’s screen, weaving intricate stories for his fellow gamers.