If you’re looking for a great
Halloween or ghost story type game this is a really good one.
Publisher: Avalon Hill Games
Designer: Rob Daviau
Designer: Noah Cohen
Designer: JR Honeycutt
Designer: Ryan Miller
Designer: Brian Neff
Designer: Andrew Veen
Artist: Scott Okumura
Artist: Ben Oliver
Game Type: Narrative, exploration, dice rolling, hidden traitor
Initial Year of Release: 2018
Age Range: 12+
Expected Playtime: 45-90 minutes
Number of Players: 3-5
Theme and What is it?
People look at the house on the hill from time to time and wonder. No one lives there anymore and yet occasionally there are lights in the windows. It’s probably just squatters.
The house has a history. Folks around here tell stories passed down from their grandparents. Some stories go back further. They’re just stories though. Right?
The house has a history going back generations. Rumors of death, hauntings, murders, and worse. If you spend enough time here you might get someone to tell you one. Stay too long and you might be a part of one.
Betrayal Legacy follows the history of a haunted house. The story evolves as you play, each game taking place one generation after the last. You play a family whose members are drawn back again and again. Can you survive the horrors of the night? Will you see the dawn? Or are you the one who betrays the rest?
Betrayal Legacy is a reimplementation of Betrayal at the House on the Hill adding legacy mechanics on top of the base gameplay. At its core Betrayal is a game of exploration, traitors, and story. If you’re familiar with Betrayal I’ll discus the new features down a bit lower.
Most of the time you spend your turn exploring the house. This is done by using a speed value to move a number of spaces. If you enter a space where no room exists you draw one from a stack of tiles. When you reveal a room you will typically draw from one of three decks: Items, Encounters, and Omens. Items give you things you can use to overcome obstacles, fight other players, or give you special actions you can take. Encounters give you colorful moments that flesh out the story of the game or give you challenges and dangers to face. Omens are powerful objects that also push forward the clock of the game by forcing a Haunt Roll.
Whenever you find an Omen you make a haunt roll. This is done by rolling a number of dice discovered during the game by all players. Depending on the chapter of the story you’re at you’ll trigger the endgame based on your roll.
Once the end game is triggered you will use a couple of different methods to determine the Haunt or monster for that session. It’s at this point the game goes from being fully cooperative to something else. Depending on the haunt that’s triggered one, some, none, or all of you will turn evil and be turned against the rest. There are around 50 haunts. Each with their own rules and victory conditions. Two books: the Survivors Guide and the Traitors Tome detail what team each person is on and the various rules and conditions for the rest of the game.
A LEGACY GAME
This is a legacy game and if you’re not familiar with that I’ll cover that here. This game has a built in story that unfolds over a prologue and thirteen chapters. You begin the first game with a small number of cards, rooms, and mechanics. At the beginning and end of each chapter you’ll be instructed to add cards and room tiles to the various decks. The story of the house advances at the beginning of each chapter.
There is a permanence to a legacy game. Stickers are used on various pieces to denote permanent changes to the game. These can place landmarks, conditions, or a number of other things. There are also some things that are removed from the game. When this happens they are destroyed. You will rip cards in half. There will be some push back to this but I will say that once you’ve finished all the chapters the game becomes a standard all be it custom copy of Betrayal. So while you will be removing things from your copy you will be essentially creating a unique copy of the game. I’ll have a little more on this in the conclusion.
If you’re already familiar with Betrayal you may want to know about some of the things they’ve changed from the standard version of the game. Some of these changes are distinctly quality of life. In the original game in order to find the basement you need to find the stairs down. The basement in unreachable until one of a small number of tiles locates it. In this version the basement is available from the beginning. It’s located in the main hall by the stairs to the second floor. Because, as the designer points out, “That’s how houses work.”
The room tiles have always been denoted as being from a specific floor. Now the item and event cards share this feature. It’s nice because certain events can only happen on the second floor or the basement.
Another change that’s been added is that now you can explore the grounds. There are now cards and room tiles designated as outside. This gives you access to more areas and interesting places to explore. As well as some new events and items.
One final change is that when the haunt is revealed both the traitor and the survivors have something to read aloud from their books and set up instructions to do before separating. This helps with that moment when everyone sits at the table again and the traitor doesn’t start changing things forcing the survivors to rethink their strategy.
I like Betrayal at the House on the Hill and I enjoy Legacy games. I have been bitten in the past by a few legacy games that weren’t well implemented. Since then I’ve gotten more focused on the game being good without the legacy aspects. Because I like Betrayal I was excited for this. I also liked the changes that were posted for the game that I listed above. Some of those were problem areas for the game.
Going through the rules got me excited to try the new changes and additions. I was really looking forward to this game.
Game Build Quality
Everything here is really great quality. The cards are nice and felt pretty good. They’re not great quality since you’re meant to destroy some of them and it could be difficult if they made them to solid. You could sleeve them but will need clear sleeves so you can see the backs.
The cardboard room tokens and player boards are good quality and didn’t warp, a problem with older versions of the game. All of the pieces are clear and easy to determine the details.
The miniatures are fine. The plastic is okay and the paint jobs are fine. This isn’t really a game that focuses on that sort of thing. They give you colored bases to denote which mini goes with which player. On my copy the purple base kept falling off the minis and we ended up using magnets.
The rulebook is a little rough. We had a couple of questions that weren’t explained well. There is a decent FAQ I’ll put a link to above. If you have any questions I recommend starting there.
The art in this game is exactly what it needs to be. It’s good quality for what it is. But the majority of it exists on the room tiles. These are clear and have some fun details on them if you have time to look. The item and omen cards all have images on them and they look good. Overall the art is good but not particularly fantastic or pretty. However, they went for clarity here and this game needs that.
This is a fun game of exploration and spooky happenings. Think campfire ghost story. You’ll explore and hear the story, I recommend when reading the cards to cover all of the quotes and flavor text to really get into the game. There is a strong chance that there will be a traitor and someone will turn against the rest of the group. However, I don’t feel that it digs to hard into take that territory.
Age Range & Weight
The box says 12+ and that’s probably pretty good. The fact that the traitor has to go off on their own and learn the mechanics they’ll need to win can be difficult for little kids. Thematically there are a couple of bits that might also be a problem for younger kids. Trying not to get into spoilers here but there are one or two things that can crop up.
I really like this game. I enjoyed going through the story and its various twists and turns. There are some really fun moments of story that just pop up and made me laugh, gasp, and even a couple of what the hells. The mechanics are pretty solid and the game feels like the right amount of time is passing. I often wanted to play again right after finishing to see what happened next.
One of the things here is how well the game plays against type. I have one friend who doesn’t like horror games and another who doesn’t like competitive games. We’re all having a great time. The game hits a nice spot where everyone is comfortable at the table.
There can be player elimination but it happens near the end. Players aren’t allowed to harm one another until the haunt happens and not always then.
There are a couple of other problems the haunts don’t all feel balanced. That’s to be expected since you’ll never know exactly who will be the traitor or what condition they will be in when it happens. We’ve had the traitor be on the verge of death or buffed to the nine hells. Plus the board layout will make some haunts easier than others.
I know the legacy aspect is going to bug people but I think this is probably one of the better versions of it. Once you’ve finished the story you’ll have a game that is uniquely yours. There are cards, items, events, rooms, and stickers that are only in the game because of things we’ve done. When you flip over the card REDACTED I can tell you exactly what John did to cause that card to be in the game. It’s a story that my game has. Things have names that we gave them, that have meaning when we play those cards.
If you’re against the idea of destroying cards or putting stickers on them and want to sleeve things and such. I don’t feel it’s possible here. I will also say that the first legacy game I ever played we tried to do that. Tried to figure out how to not mark, destroy, or deface anything. I took less than thirty minutes before it got annoying. In the end tearing things up actually becomes kind of liberating. It’s fun to tear a card in half. It’s even more fun to make someone else do it for the first time. If you’re absolutely against legacy games I’m not going to change your mind.
Finally, I cannot say enough good things about this game. My niece wants to play through the story and I’m honestly thinking about getting another copy to play with my family. When it’s on sale. If you’re looking for a great Halloween or ghost story type game this is a really good one.
Normally I recommend you try before you buy and I don’t know how to do that without spoiling anything here. The very nature of the game makes that seem impossible. The only thing I can think of is to play the original Betrayal and see if you like that. If you do and you want to have a custom copy of the game then this is a pretty good way to go.
Now if you’ll excuse me there’s a small child in my reflection and I need to go…