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Oh the Places Your GPS Will Go: an Explorer's Guide to Betrayal at House on the Hill
All you wanted to do was get to Aunt Jebedissa's house for some homemade banana pudding, but a late evening lightning storm and your bargain bought GPS of doom has decided to call bananigans on your plans as it leads you instead to the front door of the unnamed House on the Hill where you find yourself in the company of a priest, a fortune teller, a little girl with a teddy bear, a boyscout, and that one random lady you met in the lawn and garden section of the local Walmart and got the nerve to ask out but she smashed your heart into a section of succulent cacti and walked away to the express checkout. I think it's obvious who the betrayer is, but you'll have to learn the hard but fun way in this one to two hour board game for three to six players by Avalon Hill.
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a modular board game where the house you and your "friends" are exploring literally builds itself upon your movement. Each player is assigned a character card with varying stats in both physical (speed, strength) and mental (knowledge, sanity) traits that they must manage while they take turns moving about the creepy mansion they have become locked in. Your movement is based on the speed of your character, and the house changes in every play through as room tiles are randomly drawn and placed once you move through a doorway. You never know ahead of time what you may be walking into and what may be lurking in the shadows. From seemingly safe dining halls to basement laboratories, you will find items, face events, and uncover omens that will affect your game and characters in varying ways. Stumble upon a mirror with a familiar image from the past, get bitten by an unknown creature in the shadows, adorn yourself in a dusty suit of armor, equip yourself with an antique revolver, and watch your back as your companions either suffer physical and mental terror or perhaps begin to amass an arsenal of weaponry that would make them a force to be reckoned with should they choose to let the evils of the house corrupt them.
Generally midway through the game, an inevitable haunt will occur where the house and one (or perhaps more) of your friends turn against you. The mechanics of this game allow the randomization of 50 different scenarios to occur that alter the gameplay completely. At this point, the betrayer and the survivors are given special books that are kept confidential where they learn what their endgame objective is and begin an epic showdown where either the betrayer wins and the survivors suffer a horrifying fate, or they solve the mystery of the house and put a stop to the evil that is fast encroaching and get to live to see another day.
From 100 different experiences as either a survivor or betrayer to numerous other official and non-official haunt expansions to an ever changing house of different room placements and scenarios, Betrayal is a fantastic tabletop experience that you'll want to play over and over again. Personally, this game gets credit from me as the game that is responsible for my new addiction to board games having only been a student of the traditional variety (Monopoly, Clue, etc) in the past and now being exposed to the numerous immersive and interactive masterpieces that have been emerging over the past decade or so. There is something about board games in comparison to video games. You're given a social experience that is less dependent on technology and more personal and face to face that I can only compare to intimate family get-togethers of days past or early Halo LAN parties where everyone was physically present while gaming together and making memories. As the leader of a worldwide, multiconsole video gaming crew, I sincerely encourage all of you to unplug once in a while and try games like these out, and I'll be featuring more in the near future to entice you with.
Betrayal at House on the Hill gets a 10 for experience and fun, an 8 for the various stories, far beyond a 10 for replayability, and a 7 for the mechanics due to a bit of complexity when it comes down to gray areas in the rules of the various haunts. The board itself also has the potential to take up quite a lot of space, so be prepared for that possibility! I truly hope you get the chance to pick up this gem in the near future, as it will especially be a great game to play close to Halloween! I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Aaron JD Sturgill
(For the official review, please visit http://wyldgaming.wixsite.com/news/single-post/2016/09/12/Oh...)