Played my first two games of BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL a few weeks ago with pals Adam and Dave, and it was a blast. The board game plays like a haunted house movie.
It starts as an exploration game. Each player picks a character–I got Father Rhinehart–and together you explore a haunted house one revealed map tile at a time. The Abandoned Room, the Game Room, the Kitchen, the Laboratory and more on three levels–main floor, upstairs and basement. Each room has a symbol, which may be an Item (draw a card to get an item that will help you), an Event (something creepy happens that affects you) or an Omen (an item or happening). Every time an Omen is encountered, you have to roll–a poor roll triggers the Haunt.
There are many Haunt scenarios depending on the Omen and the characters in play. One of the characters becomes a Traitor, betraying the others to effect the Haunt, while the others become the Heroes, trying to stop the Haunt. In the first game I played, Father Rhinehart ended up being a hero, tasked with finding a statue and an item that animated the statue. Once Dave and I did that, we were able to animate the statue and slay the evil character played by Adam, who was actively hunting me as a human sacrifice. I appropriately fled screaming while Dave did all the hard work. We were saved by Adam ending up on the “coal chute” map tile and ending up trapped in the basement for long enough for us to find the items we needed to activate the statue.
In the second game, I played Professor Longfellow. The Haunt turned out to be these evil plant monsters that spread tentacles all around the house. Adam was strong enough to fight them while I was smart enough to whip up the plant killer spray. Unfortunately, through massive bad luck, my flashlight died, giving me limited movement, and I ended up doing the fighting while Adam grabbed the Book we needed and, through a miraculous die roll, got himself into the kitchen to make the spray himself. Meanwhile, I did just fine for a bit thanks to a stick of dynamite, but ended up being dragged screaming into the chomping maw of one of the killer plants and turned into bloody fertilizer. Again, I did a lot of screaming while my comrade did most of the heavy lifting, killing the plants for another win.
Overall, it’s a really fun game, plays quickly, isn’t too complicated, and captures the flavor of a haunted house movie perfectly.