It is 1:00 AM. There are four of us huddled around a piano bench on the porch of a cabin in the middle of the woods.
Our group was quiet, because the wives were asleep in the cabins. We are – quietly – building a haunted house, only to find out soon that one of us is a traitor.
This past weekend I stayed at Ravenwood Castle with my wife and 13 of our friends. My wife and I both turned 30 this year and we wanted to celebrate by staying at the castle. We stayed at a part of the castle called The Huntsman’s Hollow. It is a private area that we had all to ourselves because of the size of our group. There are five cabins in the Hollow, that can sleep about four people per cabin.
The game we played the most during our stay was Betrayal at House on the Hill. It is an exciting game where the players place tiles to represent the exploration of the house. Players draw cards as they explore the house that affect one another. Over time, one of these cards and a paired dice roll will trigger “The Haunt”. Once “The Haunt” is revealed, one of the players will become the traitor, and their goal will be to defeat the other players.
We had all enjoyed our time with the game so much that we had to play it one more time before bedtime. Although we loved the game, our wives were more interested in sleeping than participating. Because of the need for sleep, we were subject to playing under porch light, with the beers that were leftover at the end of the trip. Sure, we could have walked to the castle and played in the pub and selected from the great beer menu. However, the charm of the porch and piano bench kept us in the Hollow.
At the end of our late night game, the players defeated the traitor. However, regardless of victory or defeat, it was a magical experience. It was magical because of the beauty of the Hollow, the playing of the games, the enjoying of drinks, and the people.
There may never be a time when I can wrangle that many of my friends together again. However, the memories of playing by porch light at 1:00 AM will last forever.
Dana Miller has embraced the nerd culture his whole life. Starting from a passion for collectible X-Men cards to feverishly saving the princess from Bowser on his NES. He has managed game rooms, blockbusters and restaurants. He loves cooperative and team based activities, learning new board games, comic book films, League of Legends, and trying different craft beers.