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Betrayal at House on the Hill» Forums » Variants

Subject: Shorter Exploration Phase Variant rss

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Stefan
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This is a simple variant for those who feel that the exploration phase (before the haunt is revealed) takes too long.

Variant: Ignore all Event symbols on room tiles before the haunt is revealed. This implies that movement is not stopped if an explorer enters a room that only has an event symbol. This way more room tiles may be revealed during an explorer's turn.

I came up with this variant because I felt that the main purpose of the exploration phase is to lay out the room tiles and to distribute some items before the haunt starts. This purpose is still achieved with this variant in less time. Moreover, drawing lots of event cards may get repetitive if you already played the games several times. Finally, events have more purpose once the haunt is revealed since they put additional pressure on the explorers by slowing down the progress to find a room that is needed to win the game or by triggering events such as trapping an explorer in a spider's web.

Btw, this variant addresses a lot of the criticism of this review video by UndeadViking.
 
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Michael Z
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I can understand some of the reason for this, but just feel:

*won't see as many events
*if you don't stop exploration until omen or item room is revealed (or out of movement) - the omens will come out much faster leading to an earlier trigger of the haunt.
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Stefan
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zayzayem wrote:
I can understand some of the reason for this, but just feel:

*won't see as many events
*if you don't stop exploration until omen or item room is revealed (or out of movement) - the omens will come out much faster leading to an earlier trigger of the haunt.

These two points are exactly the purpose of this variant.

Quote:
won't see as many events
In my opinion that's a good thing since the events in the exploration phase change the explorers' stats up or down a bit but have little effect on the haunt phase.

Quote:
if you don't stop exploration until omen or item room is revealed (or out of movement) - the omens will come out much faster leading to an earlier trigger of the haunt.
This is why this variant shortens the exploration phase. However, this does not affect the balance/experience of the haunt because when the haunt starts the same number of rooms will be laid out and the same number of items will be distributed.
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Michael Z
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I guess I just find the "exploration" phase of the game part of the experience. You build up the tension slowly, you don't want to rush right into the action.

The +/- to stats helps set the characters up for when the haunt is revealed. Additionally it creates the creepy house atmosphere as closets, secret passageways, mystic slides etc. appear in this previously non-threatening house.

I'm regularly playing with new players, so also helps with rules acclimatisation.


I feel you might be suited just as well to have players place 4-5 rooms each, pick a random location and then start a random or preselected haunt from that point.
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Kip Kwiatkowski
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Bethel Park
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The gigantic glaring hole in this is that some haunts spawn monsters which attack you, and some of them are pretty difficult to beat (especially if you are playing one of the weaker characters). Some events give decent bonuses, or net items that help with the fights (or even other end tasks), personally I'd rather take the time and encounter the events, than take on some of the haunts with base stats.
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Stefan
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kgk4569 wrote:
The gigantic glaring hole in this is that some haunts spawn monsters which attack you, and some of them are pretty difficult to beat (especially if you are playing one of the weaker characters). Some events give decent bonuses, or net items that help with the fights (or even other end tasks), personally I'd rather take the time and encounter the events, than take on some of the haunts with base stats.
Are you sure that explorers get a lot of bonuses from event cards before the haunt? In my experience, many events let you do a trait roll, which results in increasing the trait stat if the roll succeeds or decreasing the trait stat if the roll fails. Hence, it's likely that strong traits are improved while weak traits are weakened. It's even possible (although unlikely) that players get eliminated before the haunt starts. In contrast, omen and item cards almost always give an advantage to the explorers (except the future traitor obtains powerful items) and thus help to prepare for the haunt.
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Pete Hornburg
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Portland
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I can't see ever skipping the icons on the cards. This helps build the story in the game.

Also, one thing: Players cannot be eliminated before the Haunt begins.

If something occurs before the haunt that would require you to take your characters trait to the skull, you stop at the slot above it.

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Michael Z
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petegrey wrote:

If something occurs before the haunt that would require you to take your characters trait to the skull, you stop at the slot above it.


I think they are trying to avoid this situation.

A character with a trait just above skull might as well be dead for some haunts.

But again to me this is story building. If you are playing betrayal as a primarily tactical game, there are much better choices.
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Stefan
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zayzayem wrote:
But again to me this is story building. If you are playing betrayal as a primarily tactical game, there are much better choices.
If you feel that drawing events in the exploration phase is an essential part of the overall game experience then feel free to not use this variant.

As written in the original post, this variant is intended for people who feel that the exploration phase takes too long and that the event cards don't add much to the haunt story. In my play group there are people who think this way and it is also part of the criticism of this popular review video by UndeadViking.

I also think that this is more of an issue if you play the game often since you then know all event cards and the main fun comes then from the haunt story.
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Michael Z
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hyperbolicus wrote:
zayzayem wrote:
But again to me this is story building. If you are playing betrayal as a primarily tactical game, there are much better choices.
If you feel that drawing events in the exploration phase is an essential part of the overall game experience then feel free to not use this variant.

As written in the original post, this variant is intended for people who feel that the exploration phase takes too long and that the event cards don't add much to the haunt story. In my play group there are people who think this way and it is also part of the criticism of this popular review video by UndeadViking.

I also think that this is more of an issue if you play the game often since you then know all event cards and the main fun comes then from the haunt story.


Thanks. I probably won't.

I'm also not try to make you not use your variant. It's your game when its on your table.

I'm just chiming in as to why this variant may not be the best idea for everybody. It's a bit funny how people use the exact same reasons to come to different conclusions
 
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Stefan
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zayzayem wrote:
I'm just chiming in as to why this variant may not be the best idea for everybody. It's a bit funny how people use the exact same reasons to come to different conclusions
Sure, it's interesting to find out about other peoples' personal preferences. Speaking of which...

zayzayem wrote:
I feel you might be suited just as well to have players place 4-5 rooms each, pick a random location and then start a random or preselected haunt from that point.
That would be another option but I still like the feeling of exploring an unknown house by letting my explorer go through doors. There are also some room events that are triggered when entering a special room like sliding down to basement when entering the coal chute and I don't want to get rid of that. I also like the tension of haunt rolls and the possibility that the haunt may come sooner or later.

I even think that this variant makes thematic sense since you first explore a rather normal house where you find some strange items and omens and as soon as the haunt starts, the house "awakens" and suddenly strange things start to happen from event cards.
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Kip Kwiatkowski
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hyperbolicus wrote:
kgk4569 wrote:
The gigantic glaring hole in this is that some haunts spawn monsters which attack you, and some of them are pretty difficult to beat (especially if you are playing one of the weaker characters). Some events give decent bonuses, or net items that help with the fights (or even other end tasks), personally I'd rather take the time and encounter the events, than take on some of the haunts with base stats.
Are you sure that explorers get a lot of bonuses from event cards before the haunt? In my experience, many events let you do a trait roll, which results in increasing the trait stat if the roll succeeds or decreasing the trait stat if the roll fails. Hence, it's likely that strong traits are improved while weak traits are weakened. It's even possible (although unlikely) that players get eliminated before the haunt starts. In contrast, omen and item cards almost always give an advantage to the explorers (except the future traitor obtains powerful items) and thus help to prepare for the haunt.
True, there is a chance that you fail, but there is also a chance that you get stronger or items. BUT you can shore the fails up if you get the rooms that give bonuses. I'd rather worry about shoring up stats and such during the calm instead of during crunch time. ESPECIALLY if you get one of the haunts that stop you from drawing cards.
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Chris Tannhauser
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hyperbolicus wrote:
I came up with this variant because I felt that the main purpose of the exploration phase is to lay out the room tiles and to distribute some items before the haunt starts.

This is like saying the purpose of a game of chess is to determine a winner.

Betrayal is mechanically hinky and dramatically lopsided—which makes it thin game-wise, but girthy from an improv/storytelling perspective. I would say the purpose of the exploration phase is to tell the ludicrous story of the band of idiots who stumbled into an actual haunted house just before all hell breaks loose—Acts I & II of a three-act farce. The last act is almost always a blowout in one direction or the other, so much so that I've never been in a hurry to get there, preferring instead to luxuriate in the storytelling chops of my friends.
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