The house had been abandoned for years, but we were determined to find out the secrets it hid behind its walls. The air inside was musty, along with the underlying stench of mildew. The boards creaked as we tiptoed through from room to room, our flashlights pendulating back and forth. Outside, the wind rattled the windows and the cool autumn air swept leaves across the lawn*. The house seemed to loom over us, watching, as we made our way from room to room, searching for any clues as to what could have been causing the recent paranormal disturbances. Just then, a shout came from upstairs: it was Kris, and he'd stumbled across a cursed talisman! We rushed up the stairs to find he'd uncovered...
Oh. The "statue" haunt. Again. Okay, that's cool...
*Okay, so it was winter. And we were in Georgia, so it was still over 70 degrees outside. What can we say; we like to pretend.
If you're as big of fans as we are of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, you'll know that, despite having 50 original haunts, the game does have diminishing replay value. Upon first playthrough it seems to have endless possibilities, with different combinations of haunt scenarios, but many times you'll end up repeating scenarios before getting through them all —you'd have to have the world's best luck to go through all 50 haunts without repeating any, in which case please pick out our lottery numbers for us (we'll cut you in, we promise).
The new expansion to Betrayal (Widow's Walk) adds 50 new haunts, 20 new room tiles, 30 new cards, and 78 new tokens to add to the original core set. The cards include 11 events, 11 items, and 8 omens. Among the room tiles are a completely new level, the Roof, as well as two new symbols: a dumbwaiter, which allows you to move up or down a floor (for a cost), and a question mark that allows you to draw a card from the top of any of the three decks you choose.
The roof is an entirely new area of the house, which starts with a “Roof Landing” tile that goes above the “Upper” floor. The Roof floor can be created with both "Roof" tiles, as well as "Upper" tiles, making for hilarious results: halfway through the game, we'd constructed a nice roof layout, complete with a… bathroom.
On the roof.
In the open.
Man, what a weird house this is...
The addition of the roof as a whole new level to explore was great, as was the new cards, the ability to move up or down a floor using the dumbwaiter, or drawing mystery cards. However, what really got us excited were the new haunts. Avalon Hill has gathered over 40 writers to create all-new haunts, which adds to the replay value of the game overall. But it wasn't just the new addition of haunts that got us, it was several of the new haunt’s mechanics that got us excited. Although, in this case, we couldn't say how excited we were. Not out loud, at least.
The haunt we got was called "Shush," and it instructs the players (not the characters, but the actual players themselves) to stop talking immediately. The heroes/survivors were then to pass the haunt instruction book around from person to person and read them silently. For the rest of the game, or until we were told otherwise, we weren't allowed to talk. At all.
Involving the actual players into the game with a mechanic such as this created a whole new level of play; instead of just watching our characters move around the board, we actually were the characters, trapped in a house, with an evil fairy chasing us, with no way to communicate with our other survivors, or even to tell if they understood what our objective was.
While not all the new haunts contain mechanics or instructions like this one, we can confirm that many of them do, and even the ones that don't are still exciting and inventive. There's even a system that marks off certain haunts, and once you've played through these haunts with enough characters you can then play the "final" haunt (a "final boss," if you will) where you confront an extremely-hard-to-defeat witch. This creates an end goal to the entire game itself, which in turn increases its replay value.
New cards, a new floor, new mechanics (not to mention a Final Boss) bring a refreshing excitement to an old favorite. If you already own Betrayal, this is a must-get. If you've been thinking of picking up both the base game and the expansion, we say go for it.
Enter into this dark house, if you dare, and shiver when the floor creaks beneath you, scream when the walls start to bleed, and go insane when you discover…a bathroom on the roof!!!