This past week we played Betrayal at the House on the Hill. In this game, each player chooses a character with specific abilities, two mental and two physical. These abilities have a numbered rating which allows players to move around as well as take other actions throughout the game. The goal is for the players to explore the house, which is created by placing a new tile once a player enters a doorway that doesn’t have an adjoining room. There are 3 floors as well, so you can expand the upstairs, main floor, and basement. This setup allows each and every game to develop a house of a different style. During a turn a player moves as many spaces as their speed rating allows and they can add new rooms. If a player enters a room with either an omen, item, or event card, they must end their turn there. If an omen card is pulled, that player must attempt what is called a “haunt roll” at the end of the turn. The game continues this way, developing a house, until a haunt roll results in the sum of the dice rolled being less than the amount of omen cards that have been drawn. At that point the game changes, and 1 of 50 different scenarios occurs, with a typical theme of one player turning into a traitor and trying to defeat the other players who are now called heroes. However, there are different situations, and they all have rules for each player (the traitor and/or the heroes).
So this game is semi-cooperative in the fact that at the beginning everyone is on the same team and trying to discover the layout of the same house. The part that has always been most difficult for me about this game is that it’s hard to pick a good strategy. This is because no one knows which of the 50 situations will occur. In some situations it might be beneficial to be by yourself, in others it might be beneficial to be near others, or it might even be helpful to be in a specific room of the house. In the haunt my group played out, no one was the traitor, but our house was picked up by a giant bird, and the only way out was by parachute. Of course there were only 3 parachutes for the 6 heroes left, so it was every person for themselves. Unfortunately for me, I began the haunt, and in the next 3 turns all 3 parachutes had been picked up and 2 of the 3 had been used. There was only 1 parachute left, and I was much too far away in the house to do anything about it. The game ended quickly and only 2 of the 3 parachuters survived. I really struggled with the uncertainty of the situations.
Within this game, being a leader can be difficult since it is semi cooperative. For the most part it is in everyone’s best interest to work together and discover as much of the house as possible. However, there are situations where it could be helpful to not cooperate and leave another player in a situation that they cannot get out of. For me personally the trait of gaining and reciprocating trust was important for this game. One of the other players from this past week was stuck, and couldn’t move more than 1 space unless they ended up in the space room as another player. Without hesitation I moved next to the player and did my best to help him. Unfortunately my room was moved, and my good intentions were destroyed by the nature of the game. In talking to that player after they were surprised at my immediate help, because it was very possible that he could have ended up a traitor and not helping him would have been beneficial to me in that case. This thought hadn’t really crossed my mind, because a leader really needs to gain the trust of people so that there can be cooperation. In a situation where you need the help of another person, it’s very important to be able to lean on other people for support.
This is a game that I think my friend Lucas would really like. It is a game you can play a lot with many different scenarios playing out, which is always really fun. He’s the kind of person that I could see getting wrapped up in the different haunts. Each individual haunt is so intricate, that I think he’d really appreciate and enjoy getting to experience them.