How to Play Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill Board Game Full Overview
Copyright © 2019 Matt Halvorson. All Rights Reserved.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is the amazing thematic haunted house adventure board game. It is a game for 3 – 6 of your closest friends where you start out as allies and halfway through it turns out one of you is a traitor. You are along for the ride of the many well-written stories (50! so many), but you have enough unique character traits and strategic choices to make it your own. This is how to play Betrayal at House on the Hill.

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WHAT IS BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL?

In Betrayal at House on the Hill, each player chooses an explorer to investigate a creepy old house. As you explore the house, you discover new rooms. Each time you enter a new room, you might find something… or something might find you. Explorers change over the course of the game (for better or worse), depending on how they deal with the house’s surprises. The house is different each time you build it.

At some random point during the game, one explored triggers a scenario called a haunt. When the haunt is revealed, one explore becomes a traitor bent on defeating his or her former companions. The rest of the explorers become heroes struggling to survive. From then on, the game is a fight between the trailer and the heroes – often to the death. 

The object is to explore the house and make your character stronger until the haunt begins. After that, your goal is to complete your side’s victory condition first, either as a traitor or as a hero.

HOW TO PLAY BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL – STEP BY STEP

Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play Betrayal at House on the Hill the popular thematic adventure board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

  1. SETUP | Choose a Character

    Start out by choosing a character for your journey. Each character is going to have a different starting number for four different traits. Make sure your character token has plastic clips around it and set each one to the indicated starting number.

  2. SETUP | Shuffle and Put Out Cards

    Shuffle up and make separate stacks of the different cards face down.

  3. SETUP | Put out Key House Starting Tiles

    There are three floors to the mansion – the “Basement Landing”, the “Entrance Hall / Foyer / Grand Staircase” and the “Upper Landing.” Find these tiles and put them out spaced decently far apart. These are the tiles you are going to build off of during the game.

  4. SETUP | Put Out Room Tiles

    Shuffle up all the room tiles and make a few stacks with them facedown, only showing the backs that show highlighted options of the three floors.

  5. SETUP | Put Out Dice

    You will need lots of dice throughout the game, make easily accessible stacks.

  6. SETUP | Add Characters To Starting Tile

    Take all the active player figures in the game and add them to the “entrance” hall space. That is the first spot on the long three-room tile you put out to start.

  7. SETUP | Determine Who Goes First

    The book says that the person with the closest upcoming birthday goes first.

  8. GAMEPLAY | Understanding Dice Rolls

    Manh times during the game you are going to need to roll one to several dice. Each six-sided die has faces with 0, 1 or 2 dots. The type of roll you will need to take will be told to you in whatever activity you are partaking in and will correlate to one of your four traits. Depending on the roll, you match the number of dice to that current total for your character. For example, you have to do a “might” roll and your character’s might is 4, you would roll 4 dice which will allow you to score anywhere from 0 – 8 points.

  9. GAMEPLAY | PART 1 | Action – Moving

    On your turn, you can move up to your character’s current “speed” trait. Going from room to room costs 1 of your “speed” total. You can do other things like using items that split up your movement, but once you are forced to draw a card, you no longer get to use any movement.

  10. GAMEPLAY | PART 1 | Action – Discovering New Room

    When you move through a doorway with no room on the other side, you “discover” that room and need to lay a new tile. Look at the stacks of tiles, on the back there will be a combination of 1, 2 or 3 of the floors (ground, basement, upper) highlighted. Take the top tile that matches the floor you are on. Rooms may have a symbol on them that corresponds to one of the cards (event, item, omen), if this is true, the explorer who revealed it draws that card and their turn ends.

  11. GAMEPLAY | PART 1 | Action – Using Item or Omen Card

    All explorers can use items at any point during their turn, monsters sometimes can too. This obviously includes “item” cards but tends to include “omen” cards as well. In addition, a player may drop an item in a room, pick up an item in a room or trade with someone else currently in the same room.

  12. GAMEPLAY | PART 1 | End of Turn Haunt Roll

    In any turn where you draw an Omen card, you need to make a haunt roll attempt at the end of your turn. Roll 6 dice. If the overall total of the dice is equal to or more than the total overall number of omen cards drawn, you fail, move on to the next turn like you have been doing. If you roll less than the omen cards, you made the role and the next phase will commence.

  13. GAMEPLAY | PART 1 | Turns Repeat Until Haunt is Revealed

    Players continue this turn cycle until a haunt roll is made which will immediately trigger the second and final part of the game.

  14. GAMEPLAY | HAUNT SETUP | Determine the Haunt & Traitor

    When a player makes a haunt roll and starts the haunt, that player (the haunt revealer) looks at the haunt chart on the first two pages of the “Traitor’s Tome” booklet that came with the game. The chart will show the haunt number and who is the traitor.

  15. GAMEPLAY | HAUNT SETUP | Traitor Reads His/Her Backstory

    The Traitor leaves and reads the haunt description in the “Traitor’s Tome” booklet that comes with the game.

  16. GAMEPLAY | HAUNT SETUP | Heroes Read Their Backstory

    Look up the haunt number in the “Secrets of Survival” booklet that came with the game. Read it together and discuss your strategy.

  17. GAMEPLAY | HAUNT SETUP | Do Any “Right Now” Actions

    Once both sides are prepared and are back together, look at the haunt and do anything that it tells you to do “Right Now” regardless of what side you are on.

  18. GAMEPLAY | PART 2 | Understanding Post-Haunt Turn Order

    The first turn always starts with the player to the left of the traitor. Then every “hero” takes a turn. After this is completed, the “traitor” gets their turn. After that, there is a “monster” turn where monsters the traitor controls are moved. This cycle repeats.

  19. GAMEPLAY | PART 2 | Still Can Do What You Did Before

    You can still perform all the actions you could from before the haunt including moving, exploring new rooms and using materials. There are just some new things to do, and you have a clear objective now.

  20. GAMEPLAY | PART 2 | Explorers Can Now Die

    If any of your explorer’s four traits moves down to the skull symbol, then that explorer dies. There may be some twists to this depending on the haunt.

  21. GAMEPLAY | PART 2 | New Action – Attacking

    After the haunt starts, you can attack an opponent or monster in the same room as you. Roll dice equal to your might and your opponent does the same. Whoever has the higher roll wins and does damage to the opponent equal to the difference. For example, you roll a 6 and the opponent rolls a 4, you would deal 2 damage. Monsters don’t die, they only become stunned.

  22. GAMEPLAY | PART 2 | Continue Playing and Rotating Turns

    By now you understand the key mechanics of the game and it is all going to come down to the specific parameters of the scenario. There are many different areas that may need further explanation and you can find those below.

  23. WINNING | Reach Victory Condition First

    The first side (heroes or traitor) who completes their “You Win When…” of the haunt wins. At least one of the heroes must survive in order for that side to win. That is not necessarily the case for the traitor.



KEY INFORMATION

TRAITS

Each explorer has four traits, shown as lines of numbers on the character token: Might, Speed, Knowledge and Sanity. Speed and Might are physical traits, while Sanity and Knowledge are mental traits.

Many cards, tiles, and other game effects adjust your traits up and down. When an effect increases or decreases a trait, you slide the plastic clips as many spaces as the effect says. You cannot go above the maximum number and you can’t go so low that you hit the skull symbol.

Damage effects these a little different. When you take “physical damage” you can divide it between Might and Speed as you see fit. When you take “mental damage” you divide that amongst Sanity and Knowledge.

DRAWING CARDS

If a discovered room has the spiral event symbol, draw an event card. Read it out loud. Follow its instructions, which might require you to attempt a dice roll. Then discard the card unless is says otherwise.

If the discovered room has a bull’s head item symbol, draw an item card. Read it out loud. Place it face up in front of you; you now have the item in your possession. You can use this once on every turn unless the card says otherwise.

If the room has a raven omen symbol, draw an omen card. Read it out loud. Place it face up in front of you; you now have the omen in your possession. You might have to do something immediately. Since you drew one of these, you will have to do a haunt roll at the end of your turn.

HOW MONSTERS WORK

Monsters behave differently than players do. In Betrayal at House on the Hill, monsters behave by three different rules unless the active haunt says otherwise.

(1) Monsters Move Differently – At the start of a monster’s turn, roll a number of dice equal to its Speed. The result is the number of spaces that monster can move that turn. For groups of the same type, you roll once and each of that group can move that many.

(2) Most Monsters Can’t Be Killed – If a monster would take any damage, it is stunned and misses its next turn. When a monster is stunned, flip its token over to the side with the “S”. At the end of the monster’s next turn, flip it back. Stunned monsters can’t slow an explorer’s movement.

(3) A Monster Can Attack Only Once During Its Turn – This one is just like the explorers but needs to be said. Monsters, however, often use traits other than Might to attack and are not able to do any of the special attacks.

THE TRAITOR’S NEW POWERS

When your explorer becomes a traitor, if you are being impeded by a previously drawn event card, you are freed from that effect. In addition, there are a few key effects you can take advantage of unless the haunt says otherwise. (1) You can use any beneficial text on a room tile while ignoring any harmful text. (2) You can choose not to be affected by an event card or the Bite omen card.

GAME CONTENTS

  • 1x Rule Book
  • 2x Haunt Books
  • 44x Room Tiles
  • 1x Entrance hall/foyer/grand staircase tile
  • 6x Plastic explore figures
  • 6x Two-sided character cards
  • 30x Plastic Clips
  • 8x Dice
  • 1x Turn/damage track
  • 13x Omen cards
  • 22x Item cards
  • 45x Event cards
  • 149x Tokens

IN CLOSING

I hope you can now all say you know how to play Betrayal at House on the Hill. It is one of the best games in its field. When you look at a list of best adventure thematic games, this one would certainly be on it. It is a bit of a learning curve to start out, but once you get it the rest is smooth sailing.

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