We caught up with Wizards of the Coast during Pax East in Boston, Mass. for a first hand look at Avalon Hill’s new expansion to its popular cooperative board game Betrayal at House on the Hill. Widow’s Walk is actually the first expansion Betrayal at House on the Hill has received, despite the original base game making its debut over a decade ago.
In Betrayal at House on the Hill three to six players explore the House on the Hill, unlocking new rooms where they’ll discover items, trigger events, and omens. Players have four traits: Might, Speed, Knowledge, and Sanity. The items and events you run across will alter the values of each of those traits. Each time an omen is revealed, that player must make a haunt roll equal to or higher than the total number of omens the group has encountered. Eventually a player will fail a haunt roll, and the game transforms its core game play. You’ll line-up the name of the character triggering the haunt and room they are currently in to figure out what haunt scenario will dictate victory for character which has lost his sanity and for the group of survivors. This is a very brief oversimplification of the rules, and we encourage you to watch this Tabletop video to see an example of how the core game actually plays out.
Widow’s Walk adds a massive amount of content to a game that already has a huge amount of replayability. The core of this is with a whopping 50 new haunts for players to encounter. Because you only trigger one haunt per game, you’re going to have to play Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk many, many times in order to see them all. The new haunts have been written by an all-star cast of writers, including:
- Max Temkin and Eli Halpern, co-creators of Cards Against Humanity.
- Pendleton Ward, Emmy Award-winning cartoonist.
- Mikey Neumann, chief creative champion for Borderlands.
- Jerry Holkins, co-creator of the Penny Arcade webcomic.
- Angela Webber, one half of the nerd pop duo The Doubleclicks.
- Justin Gary, co-designer of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer.
In addition to the new haunts there’s also 20 new room tiles. The new tiles allow players to explore a new floor, the roof. There’s also 30 other new cards: 11 new items, 11 new events, and 8 new omens. 78 new tokens helps players keep track of everything that’s going on.
The demo we experienced during Pax East had its item, event, and omen decks stacked with the new cards from Widow’s Walk. In a typical game, you’ll just be adding the new cards from the expansion to all the normal base set’s. Aside from all the new items, rooms, events, and haunts, one of the biggest additions to the game is an additional mechanic with the dumbwaiter. The dumbwaiter allows you to move between any two rooms with a dumbwaiter for two speed points. Additionally, we stumbled upon a new room called the Tree House which allows you to put a plant token onto another floor’s room, connecting the two. Combined, these allow players to make transversing the mansion a bit easier, especially in a game that has gone long. Our game was cut short within four rounds when The Twins haunt was triggered, and the betrayer was quickly able to fulfill the scenario’s objective. In this case, putting a large number of rooms between the Twins before the survivors could kill either of them.
The real draw to Betrayal at House on the Hill is its flavor, and reading each of the cards out to the group as they’re revealed is part of what makes this title so fun. Widow’s Walk adds even more flavor and gamplay to a game that’s already oozing with it. Our half hour demo of Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk at Pax East felt way too short, and left use wanting to play it again. Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk will hit local game stores and online retailers on October 14, 2016. You’ll need to also own the base game Betrayal at House on the Hill.
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