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We Played Betrayal At House On The Hill’s Huge (But Affordable) Widow’s Walk Expansion

by Mike Futter on Apr 27, 2016 at 04:07 AM

If you’ve ever seen pictures of my board game closet, it’s filled with complex games with fiddly rules and attractive miniatures. There was a time I didn’t know about this vast world of board games, though. I owe my passion for them to one game: Betrayal at House on the Hill.

After playing it for the first time with wide eyes at what a tabletop game could be, I immediately purchased it for myself. That game has been the one I use to ease friends into the board gaming scene.

Its cooperative playstyle, horror atmosphere, and accessible rules make it easy to grasp. The sudden and inevitable betrayal of one or more of your comrades makes it thrilling.

For those who haven’t played Betrayal, the concept is simple. You explore rooms by walking through doors, drawing tiles, placing them, and then following the instructions on them. Certain tiles have an “omen” icon, and each time one of those cards is drawn, you are more likely to trigger the second phase of the game, the Haunt.

At this point, the betrayer is identified and must read privately from a book containing one-half of a number of scenarios. The heroes then huddle, reading their half. Both sides keep their win conditions secret, though as play unfolds you can start to uncover how the other side operates.

The haunts come with unique rules and challenges, drastically changing the experience from game to game. The result is something with extensive (though not infinite) replay value. There are 50 haunts in the main game, and the fun is not knowing how they work.

A new expansion, titled Widow’s Walk, will be out on October 14. It brings 20 new rooms, 30 new cards, a variety of tokens, and 50 more haunts written in part by celebrity contributors. These include Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins, Borderlands writer Mikey Neumann, and Max Temkin and Eli Halpern of Cards Against Humanity.

Widow's Walk adds new ways to move about the mansion, rooms that offer one-time benefits, and haunts that refresh the game for the first time in 12 years. It will be priced at $25, though you need the core game in order to make use of it.

The new haunt we played (which I won’t spoil), split the party in two. The betrayer and one other person drafted teams of three, making the fight more than the typical one-versus-many.

With a release due this October (just in time for Halloween), there’s good reason to return to Betrayal at House on the Hill or visit for the first time. It isn’t a perfect game, but regardless of its stumbles, its accessibility and straightforward rules make it a great one to have on hand for parties that might not include those familiar with tabletop.