PAX East is not all about video games or nerd culture; it also has a robust tabletop and roleplaying experience that is easy to lose hours in, if not days, during the conference. At this year’s show I was able to try the upcoming expansion of the classic game Betrayal at House on the Hill called Widow’s Walk. The original game, released nearly 10 years ago, is still played regularly all around the world. The expansion adds more of everything that is great about the game and expands the experience in a natural way that is appreciated.
The premise of Betrayal at House on the Hill is that you are a group of strangers exploring a creepy house one room at a time. In this tile-based game, as the characters move they add room tiles to the house, making the game unique every time you play it. The base game had a basement, main floor and upper floor; the expansion adds a fourth floor in the form of a roof/attic level, and dumb-waiter icons that allow quick travel between floors. The extra level (which includes a room called the Widow’s Walk, of course) adds a further level of depth to the game, as you can have interactions across four levels of the house.
The tiles you lay down have icons that represent events – scenarios that will have various effects on the player; omens, which are supernatural powers or events that trigger the key moments in the game; or dumb waiter icons, which allow inter-floor travel. As you play, events or Omens trigger the exposure of items, creatures, or ghosts that greatly impact the game. Also, each character who draws an Omen has to roll a set amount of dice and get a number higher than the number of Omens in play; on a failed roll, the Haunt is revealed, which is where the Betrayer(s) (one or more of the characters) is named and the end game scenario is put into motion. Once the Betrayer(s) are revealed they are given a mission to accomplish and the other players given details on how to stop it. When the Betrayers are killed, or succeed in their mission, the game comes to an end.
Over the course of my playthrough we played a few dozen rooms and had a number of characters take damage or adjustments as they progressed. I ended up getting the role of Betrayer with a partner, and in a lucky (or unlucky for the others) twist of fate we were able to win the game (and destroy the world in the process) in a few quick moves. It was a terribly fun experience even though half the party (myself included) had little experience with the original game. We were able to pick up the flow very quickly.
The Widow’s Walk expansion to Betrayal at House on the Hill contains nearly a full game’s worth of content, with 30 new room tiles, including the new roof floor tiles; 30 new cards, including 11 items, 11 events, and 8 Omens; 78 new tokens, including a new set of possession tokens that allow you to track your explorer’s progress; and 50 new Haunts written by veterans from the card game, literary, and music industries. The expansion will be available before Halloween this year and will be well worth adding to your core Betrayal experience.