Betrayal at House on the Hill
How to Play the Betrayal at House on the Hill Board Game
Betrayal at House on the Hill Instructions, Rules, and Strategy
If youíve ever wanted to build your own haunted house while also fleeing in mortal terror from a former friend, then learn how to play Betrayal at House on the Hill. This suspenseful tile game allows players to construct a spooky mansion, deal with ghosts and monsters, avoid traps, collect items, and try to survive the onslaught of a former friend turned diabolic traitor.
My weekly gaming group breaks out Betrayal at House on the Hill at least once a month, and we always have a blast. The ability to play multiple characters with different abilities always keeps it fresh, and weíve enjoyed all the hauntings ranging from vampires and werewolves to cannibals and zombies. And while teamwork is important for the group of heroes to survive, I must confess a fondness for playing the villain and running wild through the dimly-lit mansion.
Below, I have tried to present a basic idea of how to play Betrayal at House on the Hill. Unless otherwise noted, Iíll be talking about the updated reprint released by Avalon Hill in 2010. Thereís also some Betrayal at House on the Hill strategy to round out the article.
Betrayal at House on the Hill Instructions
The Betrayal at House on the Hill instructions are easy to understand, especially considering that the game is suggested for those 12 years and older. Between 3 and 6 players can participate, although 5 or 6 make for the most pleasing gaming experience. Games usually last between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
When you open the box, youíll find the following items: Betrayal at House on the Hill instructions; 6 painted miniatures; 6 character cards; 80 cards for items, events, and omens; dice; over 100 game tokens; 45 room tiles; a Secrets of Survival book (for the heroes); and a Traitors Tome book (for the villain).
Each player will take control of a different character in the game, and each has their own strength and weaknesses. These characters include: Father Rhinehardt, Zoe Ingstrom, Darrin ďFlashĒ Williams, Jenny LeClerc, Ox Bellows, Vivian Lopez, Heather Granville, Miss Dubourde, Madame Zostra, and Professor Longfellow. As you might have guessed from his name, Ox Bellows is the strongest character, and he has become a favorite of the online gaming community.
Heroes have four traits to determine how proficient they are in various areas, and these range from 1 to 8 (with 3.75 being the starting average). Most will either focus on the mental, the physical, or a blend of the two. Prior to the start of the haunt, players will have a chance to increase their traits to deal with the coming threat, and itís not unusual to see someone reach 5 or 6 in a trait before all hell breaks loose.
Traits include the following:
Might - This trait is used for attacking and defending in combat. Youíll also take less damage with a high might score. This trait isnít useful before the haunt begins, but a character with a high might will be a valuable asset once the monsters start running loose.
Speed - This trait determines how many spaces you can move and how many opponents you can run by. Useful for avoiding ranged attacks, it also determines your success with the revolver (the gameís most powerful weapon). Your speed cannot drop below two points, and most start with a value of at least four.
Sanity - This trait is used in mental combat, and itís also the only trait that cannot be healed up once lost. The majority of the events in Betrayal at House on the Hill involve sanity, so donít overlook this trait when itís time to select a character.
Knowledge - Seven of the events in the game use knowledge, and itís also a must for wielding the Medical Kit or the Crystal Ball, both very useful items. While it has minimal impact in combat, it can still be beneficial in a teamwork setting. Also keep in mind that having the highest knowledge trait increases your chances of becoming the traitor.
Betrayal at House on the Hill Rules
According to the Betrayal at House on the Hill rules, there are two main phases to the game. The first phase is the exploration phase, where the heroes enter the haunted house and have a look around. As players move through the House on the Hill, new tiles are drawn to create the setting. When entering new rooms, players may also encounter Omen, Event, or Item cards.
Event cards detail something that happens, and the player might take damage or gain some sort of benefit. Items cards allow the player to pick up a new item, and Omen cards may also provide items. When a player draws an Omen card, they must also roll the dice. If the resulting number is lower than the number of Omen cards drawn to this point, then the haunt phase begins.
Once the haunt phase begins, a table in the Betrayal at House on the Hill rules determines the nature of the threat. The traitor is also determined at this time. The players will read through their manual to determine their conditions for victory, while the traitor will leave the room and look at their own manual on how to cause as much trouble as possible.
After both sides have read their respective tomes, gameplay continues as before. Heroes can still explore the mansion and draw new tiles, but both sides are now able to harm one another. There may also be monsters for the heroes to battle. In some cases, the traitor may be able to convert heroes to his side. Play continues until one side satisfies their conditions for victory.
Betrayal at House on the Hill Strategy
Much of the Betrayal at House on the Hill strategy you use will depend on the type of haunting that takes place. For example, the tactics used against a werewolf stalking your group and biting members of the party may be different than the ones used against a rampaging dragon.
Use the Mystic Elevator - Whether youíre playing the traitor or heroes, itís a good idea to take advantage of the mystic elevator. While the heroes will not be able to determine which floor they wind up on, getting in the elevator gives you a strong chance of escaping from pursuing monsters. The traitor can also use the mystic elevator to great effect, so anything you can do to deny them access will pay dividends.
Beware the Catacombs - If youíre on the side of the heroes, itís best to avoid the catacombs. Thatís because you must make a difficult sanity roll to move through them, while the traitor gets to ignore such rolls. If youíre playing the bad guy, this is an excellent way to shake pursuers.
Spread Bonuses - If youíre playing with a large group, I suggest spreading bonuses evenly among the group as much as possible. Even if one of the people benefiting winds up being the traitor, they are unlikely to receive a distinct advantage.
Mystic Slide - If youíre on the top floor of the mansion, donít overlook the mystic slide as an effective means of escape. While you wonít be able to choose where you end up, itís a great way to leave pursuers in the rearview mirror.
Crystal Ball - Veteran players will love the crystal ball, while beginners may not be able to get its full benefit. If you hold the crystal ball, youíll be able to place select cards on the top of the deck. This can help or hinder a player, depending on the wishes of the wielder and the placement of the cards at any given time.
If youíre looking to place items on the top of the deck that help players, I suggest the following: Rabbitís Foot, Revolver, Medical Kit, Angel Feather, and the Amulet of Ages. Helpful events include Locked Safe, A Moment of Hope, Possession, Secret Stairs, It is Meant to Be, The Voice, and Ni Egami Rorrim Eht.
Bad events include: Webs, Grave Dirt, Hideous Shriek, Lights Out, Whoops!, and Footsteps. Some bad (or relatively useless) items to place on the top of the deck for your opponent include: Bottle, Rope, Smelling Salts, and Skeleton Key.
Learning how to play Betrayal at House on the Hill will guarantee you hours of fun, although this isnít the type of game that most will want to play every few days. Itís best to limit the experience to once a month or so, thereby allowing the different haunts to play out over time and stay fresh. If youíre a fan of haunted house movies, owning this game is a must.
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