PAX East Preview: Betrayal at House on the Hill – Widow’s Walk

It’s been twelve years since the original release of Betrayal at House on the Hill by Avalon Hill. Twelve years of dark basements, unexplored hallways, haunts, and betrayals. Twelve years to wander through the fifty original haunts, scaring up trouble and narrowly escaping death. On October 14, Betrayal at House on the Hill will debut its first expansion, Widow’s Walk, and introduce new horrors for fans to experience.

Betrayal at House on the Hill was one of the best parts of PAX Prime 2015 for me. Over the course of the three nights that we were there, we played the game no less than eight times. We were good and hooked. Since then, we’ve introduced the game to variety of our friends with great success. It’s an experience that’s worth having over and over again — a game you must sit down and play.

Widow’s Walk introduces 20 new rooms, a new floor (the Roof), 11 new items and events, and 8 new omens. In addition to shiny new rooms to explore, there are fifty new haunts to experience, penned by more than a few well-known names, including Max Temkin, Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins, Angela Webber from The Doubleclicks, and even Pendleton Ward (of the Adventure Time persuasion). I had the opportunity to experience one of those haunts during my time at PAX East this year.

I was swept behind black curtains in the tabletop area, firmly sequestered from the rest of the convention. A few other journalists joined me and as we chose our characters and introduced ourselves, Mike Selinker, the lead designer on the originalBetrayal at House on the Hill, introduced himself and the what to expect of Widow’s Walk.

The game began relatively quickly, with a couple of haunt rolls under our belts by the time we got to the second turn. (We got close to a haunt in the first turn, thanks to those nasty blank dice.) A couple of us made for the roof, eager to pit ourselves against the terrors of the new rooms. The introduction of a new mechanic, the dumbwaiter, allowed us to move from floor to floor with much more ease than the base game had allowed us. Sure, there’s always the Mystic Elevator… but good luck controlling that nonsense with any accuracy. (Oh hai basement. Oops.)

In addition to new rooms, omens, items, and events, the game gave us new tokens to play with: explorer tokens. So, whenever an explorer would enter a room that would trigger a change in stats, you’d be able to locate your explorer token (in your character’s colour, with their face on it) and place it there. Ah, no longer will we have to be worried that someone is cheating their way into more time at the gym. You only get to lift once, bro.

We were a good chunk into our hour of gameplay before the haunt was revealed, splitting us into two teams. I won’t go into too much detail, because spoiler alert, but just know that my team wasn’t allowed to talk above a stage whisper and often giggled to ourselves about lyrics to Darkness songs. It was truly the forces of good and evil working to overthrow one another. (And yes, I was evil. C’mon. You’re not surprised.)

Though we weren’t able to get through the entirety of the haunt — busy writers, busy schedules — the new content was a lot of fun to explore. The additional rooms, items, events, and omens added even more personality to an already charming game.Pitting the explorers against each other was an unexpected delight and I was pleasantly surprised by how easily the group fell into step with one another after the haunt was revealed.

Betrayal at House on the Hill stole my heart a year ago and Widow’s Walk has danced its way onto my Must Have wishlist. This Hallowe’en season will be fraught with delicious peril as we explorers devour everything Widow’s Walk has to share. Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk will be available on October 14.

(Original Post: The Daily Crate)

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