The House On The Hill has always been there, beckoning. It holds something forbidden inside; secrets, mysteries, evil. Tonight, you and your friends are going inside the house…and one of you will become the villain trying to claim those dark treasures for their own.
Since 2004, thousands of players have found themselves exploring the spooky confines of Betrayal At House On The Hill. Players lay down tiles that represent rooms of a spooky old house, collecting items and triggering scary cards called omens. When enough omens have appeared, the game literally changes.
Betrayal At House On The Hill was one of the first games of the current era that showed players what board games could do beyond Monopoly and Clue. The game has seen an expansion, adaptations into the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons and Scooby-Doo, and even a legacy edition that lets players build their own house and story. Now, the game returns in a new edition, and Avalon Hill sent along a review copy for me to check out.
Step Into The Parlor
One of the players becomes the traitor trying to win the game on their own while the rest of the players try to win together. Each side picks up a book and reads a randomly determined story about what’s really going on at the House On The Hill. It could be anything from ghosts to vampires to alien abductions causing the strangeness.
It’s the sudden shift in a storyline that keeps players coming back. No two games are hardly the same and the game is just long enough that playing a second time in an evening to experience a different storyline won’t eat up all of board game night. The stories are a mix of difficulties that appeal to different ages and skill levels.
A New Coat of Paint
The third edition of Betrayal At House On The Hill offers several cosmetic upgrades. The rooms stand out more on the table and the figures that represent the players are more detailed. Even the Traitor’s Tome and Secrets of Survival look like artifacts someone might find in the cursed old House On The Hill.
The gameplay has been streamlined as well. The players choose a scenario card that offers a reason why the players are at the House On The Hill with a handful of haunts connected to each card. This adds a little more structure to the story and might even encourage some light roleplaying; every time I played using the Paranormal Investigators setup, my friends and I started cracking jokes like Ghostbusters.
The haunts are all new with some changes to the format. Some of them play out as sequels to haunts from the original edition. There are also some haunts that don’t have a traitor, keeping the game completely cooperative, or offering the option to pass the mantle of the bad guy to someone who wants it. A few even keep the traitor hidden, maxing in the deductive play of games like The Resistance or Battlestar Galactica to the new edition.
Is It Worth Returning?
If you already have a favorite version of this game or played the heck out of your original version, the new additions might not be enough to make this version worth picking up. I know folks who have yet to play through every haunt in the edition that came out in 2010, much less the Widow’s Walk expansion from a few years ago. Try this version out at a local game store or a friend’s game night first.
But if you’ve never owned your own copy or are looking for a gift for someone that’s never played it, the new edition of Betrayal At House On The Hill keeps the best parts of the original with a few gameplay upgrades that make it run a bit more smoothly. The door to the House On The Hill is waiting for a few more guests.