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Subject: From shrink-wrap to victory! (We get spooked in the dark) rss

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Tim Seitz
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Glen Allen
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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From shrink-wrap to victory! (We get spooked in the dark by Betrayal at House on the Hill)


Shrink-wrap
For our game night this past week, I sent out the invitation to the regular crowd and added: “Don’t forget to bring your flashlights!” Flashlights?! What do we need flashlights for? We’re playing a game, not going out for trick or treat!

The brilliant plan was to play Betrayal by candlelight and thus enhance all of the spookiness the game has to offer.

But first we had to break open the shrink-wrap!



My daughter was supposed to get ready for bed, but she wanted to stay up to play one more game. It was past her bedtime, so we let her pose with the box for a photo instead.


Setup
We left the lights on while opening the box and made the decision to NOT punch out all the chits, since we knew we would only need a few of them for each scenario. Leaving them unpunched would make subsequent searching for them easier. We separated out all of the room, event, item, and omen cards. We fixed up each of the character cards with the plastic sliders, and handed them out to the players. There were four of us: Jenny, Flash, Dr. Rhinehardt, and Zoe.

We spent most of our game setup time actually setting the ambience. We turned out all the lights, and lit several candles around the room. Everyone had their own flash light which they could use to see the board and read their cards.

Just prior to playing, we visited the Avalon Hill website and played through the online demo to get a feel for how the game would play. This short-circuited a lengthy rules discussion, since none of us had ever played before. (As an aside, this is a great tool for learning a new game, and I wish every publisher had the resources to do this. However, I’ll bet the online demo costs eating into Hasbro’s earnings were one of the contributing factors in their decision to write this game off. You’d have to sell a lot of games to make up for the relatively high cost of the flash programming.)

Now we were ready. Everyone was excited; this was going to be so spooky!




Playtime
We all started off in the foyer. But right away we could tell something was wrong. Jenny’s human controller suddenly felt nauseous and had to be escorted from the game. Suddenly, we would be down to three. Flash’s human would have to play both Jenny and Flash together.

We moved around the House, searching the rooms, looking for items to buff up our characters, nervously hoping to avoid all the omens. Flash found only one good item – the Spear omen, giving +2 attack. Meanwhile Dr. Rhinehardt was finding all the treasures having amassed items and potions that raised almost all of his attributes to their max potential. He even had the Toy Monkey! Flash was beginning to worry what they would do if the good Doctor were suddenly possessed by the House. Flash decided to stay nearby the Doctor while bouncing between 2 rooms that increased both of his mental abilities.

Speaking of mental abilities, this game has a TON of reading involved. A bit tricky to both play AND read while handling the little flashlights...


The Haunting
Thus it came to pass that Jenny happened upon the Pentagram chamber and the House took possession of … not the Doctor, but … Flash!

The heroes huddled together to review their new-found objectives, studiously trying, but failing, to ignore the hideous cackling laughter emanating from the other room.

Rats! The house was suddenly full of rats and Flash was controlling them. The heroes were troubled. Should they try and kill the rats, or should they just stop Flash from completing his wicked scheme? Seemingly well positioned to prevent his escape, and hoping to harness the power of the Toy Monkey, the well-armed Doctor decided to attack Flash and trap him in the Library. The Toy Monkey struck! But… it was a speed attack … and Flash had maxed out speed! Flash returned the attack with the Spear, but the Doctor’s Armor prevented any damage. It was a stand off.

Except for the rats.


Victory
Flash called for all of this rats to converge on the Doctor and he was instantly overwhelmed and neutralized. Jenny and Zoe abandoned their blockade plan and rushed back to save the Doctor. But coupled with the Flash and his Spear, the rats were now too powerful and both of the remaining heroes were killed. Flash could turn his attention back to the Doctor. He finished him off with a final cackle and thrust from his spear!



From tearing off the shrink-wrap to cleaning up the game, it took us about 2 and ½ hours. Part of the extended time was due to playing the demo and also playing with the lights out. What was intended to be fun and spooky actually turned out be slightly painful as there is a LOT of reading to this game. In fact. It is ALL reading. You read the room cards. You read the event cards. You read omen and item cards. And then, you read the scenario objectives for both the heroes and the traitor. Not such a good game for playing in the dark.



While everyone enjoyed it, we decided that it would have been more fun, and a lot faster, if we had played it with the lights on. Oh well, next time then. Based on this session, I’ve rated it a 7 – it’s a good game, and I’d usually be willing to play.

Just play it with the lights ON!
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Todd Goff
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Be sure to download the revised tomes. It fixes issues with some Haunts. Also, some Midnight Syndicate music is good for atmosphere. Probably better than playing in the dark.
 
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Dave Wilson
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out4blood wrote:
Flash decided to stay nearby the Doctor while bouncing between 2 rooms that increased both of his mental abilities.


Were you increasing your abilities each time you stopped in one of the rooms? I think the rule is that you get one increase per character per room, so you can't go back and forth between the two rooms and get an increase with each stop. I'm not sure that is in fact what you were doing, but that's kinda how I read it.

Still, it sounded like you all had fun, so no biggie. Just something to remember for next time.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Glen Allen
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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Re: From shrink-wrap to victory! (We get spooked in the dark
Yes. We had the updated tomes. (Thanks BGG!)

No, we were playing by the rules. :-) The two roomos were next to each other, so one of us kept ending our turn in the room, and picking up the increased attribute, rather than exploring new rooms.
 
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Tiago Ali de Oliveira Bueno
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You know, everytime I played this game or isaw it being played, the one with the Spear was revealed to be the Traitor. This happened about four times (without counting yours).
 
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Tim Seitz
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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Hehe. Our traitor was selected as the "person to the left of the Haunt Revealer" which just happened to be the one with the spear.

Funny coincidence.

Or is it?!
 
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Rob White
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Great write-up Tim!
Rob
 
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Jay T Leone
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No kidding! Pictures really help! Playing with flashlights... I'm so doing that next time: adds MUCH MORE to the theme. I bet it'll be awesome with my resident evil soundtracks. devilgooangry

Okay, finally a session report which made me excited about this game! Since we players know much of the card text, should be less straining on the eyes.

Btw, most of the fixes in the revised haunts are still imbalanced as hell. Doesn't really matter which version you use.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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Re: From shrink-wrap to victory! (We get spooked in the dark
So how did your session work out?
 
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Andrzej Stewart
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Quote:
No, we were playing by the rules. :-) The two roomos were next to each other, so one of us kept ending our turn in the room, and picking up the increased attribute, rather than exploring new rooms.


You may still be playing it wrong. Once a character has received an attribute bonus from a room, that character cannot get the bonus from that room again for the rest of the game. It's a one time deal. Other characters can still come in to the room and get the bonus (again, only once each).

I've played without this rule, and it screws up the game. Without the rule, if you've found an attribute-enhancing room before the haunt is revealed, it makes virtually no sense for the the team to do anything but park in the room until everyone's maxed out that attribute, since you don't know who the traitor is yet.
 
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