Doug's Dungeon - Betrayal At House On The Hill
Happy Spooktobe- whaddya mean halloween just went? Okay who cares. We need a spooky game for this slot because that’s. The. Social. Contract. Okay? The only way to keep order in this world of ours is if all businesses drape a spooky skin over their brand for like… a week? The lazy of course have skipped straight to christmas (lookin at you Harvey Norman… what do you guys even do now?). So for my part, I present a board game that is a transcendance of the horror. Of the spook. Of the nickelodeon slime. I present: Betrayal at house on the hill.
Now the name sounds like someone had to edit it down to fit into an unnecessarily strict text box, but don’t let that fool you. What lies within these green walls is sure to give you the heebies. And maybe even the jeebies. Disclaimer: no product can one hundred percent guarantee the production of heebies and/or jeebies. Since no two humans are alike, this would be a foolish claim to make. If I were to describe the game in a sentence, it would be: Betrayal is just a big bunch of horror memes. Each player becomes a character in a horror story being played out on the board. Thing is, you don’t know what the story is until the haunt begins.
There are two stages to the game: the exploring phase, and the haunt. From the start of the game, players fan out (in typical horror fashion) a spooky mansion, laying tiles as they go. The tiles carry events, omens, and items to be discovered. Whenever an omen shows up, the finder of said omen rolls the dice. If the result is lower than the number of omens revealed, the haunt begins. This is where betrayal shines. There are two manuals that are given out here. A survival guide and a haunt book. In all there are 50 different haunts that can occur. It all depends on what omen was found, where, when the haunt started.
You might discover that one player is a servant to an elder god and must be stopped before they can summon their dark lord. Or perhaps there is no traitor, but a bloody free-for-all occurs over a treasure hunt. Whatever the case, the haunt splits the players into desperate victims and dastardly villains. Each haunt sets a bunch of new game rules and gives goals to the traitors and heroes. Whoever completes their goal first wins! Or you could just be the red guy with an insane might skill and punch my traitorous face dead. Oh yeah each player has a set of skills.
These come into play in a variety of different ways. Akin to dungeons and dragons, the game will often ask you to make a bunch of skill checks. You roll dice equal to a stat (might, speed, sanity or knowledge) and see if you pass over a particular threshold. While not exactly the deepest mechanic, betrayal is not supposed to feel like a tactical combat game. Betrayal is an interactive story with a very strict dungeon master who doles out more curse than boons (And, AND won’t let you call your elf “blood star” because no elven parents in their right mind would be that edgy). There are ways to upgrade your character in a given game, but these are few in number and may not be drawn from the tiles.
Heroic moments are rare. What you’ll spend most of your time doing is losing these stats, taking damage to your body and mind. Treacherous room tiles and poorly executed events will do that to you. Less knowledge and sanity make you more vulnerable to the spooks, but losing your might and speed affect combat and how fast you can escape. Things get particularly harrowing when you note that if any stat should fall below its minimum value (after the haunt begins), you’re DEAD. So try to avoid that.
Combined with the randomly-generated-each-time house, the 50 haunts give this game a really high level of replayability. There’s tokens forever, so bring baggies to pack this beast. If you like story-driven games, I think you’ll find Betrayal to be your game. The expansion gives it ANOTHER 50 haunts to tackle, so you’ll never have to stop playing. Soon to come to our little land spit is the dungeons and dragons edition, ‘Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate’ which I’m particularly excited for. This game seats 6, which is only one 111th of the spooky demon number!
It’s scary because math is scary.
I'm an avid lover of all things table top. I also have a growing collection of board games which inspire me to create my own. I put my loud and expressive personality to good use as a dungeon master for my friends, having run many campaigns through 4th and 5th edition D&D.
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