Board Game Recommendation: Betrayal

So, this weekend was mostly spent relaxing and unwinding, which I desperately needed. Stress has been a bit out of control again, so sometimes even I need to take a break. With that said, my fiance had a couple friends visit, which meant we were able to play some board games! I decided I’d talk about one of my favorites today.

So first off, let me just say that I am a huge fan of co-op board games. They tend to be my favorite types. I don’t mind their being a “traitor” element later on, but or even it be more a split into teams type deal, but I thoroughly enjoy games that you are truly not playing on your own. One of my favorites that we did a session with this weekend is “Betrayal At House On The Hill.”

The premise behind the game is pretty simple…you are explorers adventuring through a mansion. As you move, you unlock new rooms and find new things. The initial mechanics of the game are just about exploring and gathering stats and items for the second portion of it. I also have the expansion, so instead of just the basement, ground floor, and upper floor, I also have the roof as well (it was our first time using the expansion). Your character has a various number of stats, including two physical (speed and might) and two mental (sanity and knowledge). Your speed determines how many rooms you can move through. Once you discover a room, your movement automatically stops. Some rooms have effects, and some are linked to cards like items, omen, and events (and some are completely empty). The events can be a myriad of different things, from stat ups and downs to item draws to even moving things about or adding stuff to a room. Items can be useful in rolls, and become super useful in the second portion. The omen cards dictate when the second portion, the “haunt” starts. Each time an omen card is drawn, the omen counter is moved forward and six dice are rolled. Once the dice rolled equals to lower than that number, the haunt starts. The omen cards have similarities to event and item cards.

The second portion is where it gets even more interesting. The haunt is determined based on what room and what omen started the haunt (aka, where the player was and what card they drew when they rolled and botched). The original game has 50 haunts included with it, and Widow’s Walk added even more. Based on those, you go through the rule book to determine which of the number of haunts begin. There are two other books, a Traitor’s Tome and guide that help set the haunt. Once the haunt has been identified, at least one of the characters is registered as the traitor and has to look at the Traitor’s tome to figure out their role. We split into different rooms so the traitor can read theirs in silence, while the explorers (now “heroes”) can read and discuss their half. Each side gets enough information to win or lose, but doesn’t have all of the information. Once everyone has had time to go through it (generally our traitor just leaves), we call them back in. Then the game resumes, this time trying to complete specific tasks to win.

During the haunt mode, combat and items come into play. It’s all based on dice rolls, so the items help bump dice rolls in your favor. Often, the traitor’s goal is to eliminate the heroes, but other times their goals will be more complex. The heroes goals are to stop the haunt, which can be anything from combat to getting a specific item into a specific room, or even just making a set number of dice rolls. I won’t give any specific examples so I don’t spoil anything. But it’s a unique game in that there are so many different haunts it’s easy to get a new trial you haven’t tried yet, and even if you get a repeat, playing with different people and different characters changes the mechanics. Plus since room exploration is pretty much random, and the cards are always shuffled, you never know what you will end up with.

I also find this game pretty easy to set up and play. There have been a few times we found some weird loopholes in the game (namely, the companions), but we house rule when necessary. Overall the mechanics are fun and easy to figure out, and there are plenty of different play styles to make use of.

If you like co-op games and some silly spooky fun, I definitely recommend it! The expansion seems pretty solid, too, so far.

What are some of your favorite games? What would you recommend?

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