About a eighteen months ago I caught up with my mate Mr B. and his lovely wife and some friends of theirs for an evening of gaming. It was a great new game I hadn’t played before – Avalon Hill’s “Betrayal at House on the Hill”. Avalon Hill have long been known for their tabletop war games, but this is firmly in the horror camp.

It was fantastic. Then I went to my local game shop to see if they had it. No 😦. It was out of print. Pretty expensive on the second hand market… like $100+ gah!

So I kept one eye out for it… and then, what do you know, just before Christmas I saw that it’s now been reprinted by Wizard’s of the Coast… with the addendums rolled in… a Second Edition if you will. So Santa sent it to Me and #1 😃 . A couple of weeks ago some game playing friends came over and I got to introduce the game to them.

Setting

It’s set at a dingy old house that you and your companions have entered for a dare and adventure. The house carries the stains of evil, it goes without saying…

Cast

You and your companions pick our characters – tough, boffin, chick, boy, girl etc. Think of a slightly more diverse version of the Scooby-gang. They have different attributes that affect their abilities in the haunted.

Mechanics

The game is split into two phases, roughly characterized as exploration and conflict. During exploration you move through the house, drawing room tiles to randomly build out the locations. This really adds to the replay value of the game, even with experienced players, as the locations and distances change from game to game.

As you explore you come across special locations and items, and a madness meter get’s added to. You roll against the madness meter and when one in the group loses, you are plunged into the next phase…

The Twist in the Tale

Someone in the group cracks, and they turn against the rest of you …

Once again, there is a lot a variety as there are a whole bunch of scenarios that can occur. Then the player who’s been driven mad is given secret objectives and the sane ones are given different objectives, on top of survival. Lots of variety in the scenarios means lots of fun!

There is a simple attribute system that determines conflict or misadventure resolution – you don’t need to be a hard-core game geek to master it.

Other info

  • Set aside two hours for your first play through
  • Lots of little tokens mean fun, but not great for little kids. Themes would freak them out anyway.
  • Great game to drink and play, if that’s you thing.

Hell yeah!