Monthly Archives: September 2014

Betrayal at House on the Hill, board game analysis number two.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a board game with two phases. In the first phase you and the other players work together to explore the house and find all the things that is hidden inside. In the other phase one of the players will turn into a traitor, he or she might turn into a monster or maybe he or she will create a monster haunting you. Or you might all still be friends and the house turns on you and you have to work together to get out. There are a lot of different things that can happen in the second phase depending on which room he or she is standing in and what omen he or she triggered it with (I will explain this later in this blog).

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Items

In the game there are some items that you have to keep an eye on:

Character stat cards

Every player chooses one character they want to play and each character has a character stat card. On this card there are some stats – might, sanity, knowledge and speed. Each category has 8 numbers in descending order ending with a skull, not necessarily from 8-1 rather the same number appears several times in a row. Might and speed are physical stats and sanity and knowledge are mental. If you take physical damage you can choose to split this damage between the two stats and the same with the mental stats. You have one marker for each stat that points on the number you’re currently at, if you take damage this marker moves one step towards the skull in the bottom.

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Room cards – At the beginning of the game the room cards are shuffled and laid upside down in a stack next to the beginning rooms (the hallway, the upper landing and the basement landing). They have different symbols on them deciding if and which card you will draw when you enter the room. They have different names and can be put on specific floors, this is shown on the back if it can be put on upper, ground or basement floor or if it can be placed on any of them.

The cards

  • Item cards – The items on the item cards can help you or make the situation worse. It can add or remove stats for the player carrying it. Sometimes
  • Event cards – In some rooms there is an event happening when you enter it, if you are the first person entering the room you draw an event card telling you what happens. You might fall through the floor down to the basement, taking physical damage, or you might run into a ghost telling you something. Often you need to roll a dice to see if what happens to you is good or bad, if you lose a stat or if you gain one or more.
  • Omen cards – Among the omen cards there are some companions you can find, and there are some items and some events. You can be bitten and have roll to see how much damage you take. The companions might give or take away some stats or both. After you draw one of these cards you have to roll a number of dice to see if the next phase – the haunt – will begin or not. If the eyes on the dices are equal to or more than the amount of omen cards drawn the haunt will not begin yet.

 

A play through

The first phase – the exploring phase

In the exploring phase the players may move as many rooms as their speed shows. If you move through a doorway and there is not already a room there you draw the first room card in the pile that can be placed on the floor you are currently on. Then you place this room with one of its doorways connecting to the doorway you just went through and place your character there. If the room does not tell you to draw a card you can move on exploring new rooms or passing through already explored ones. If it tells you to draw a card you draw the type it says – item, omen or event – and do as it says.

In some rooms there are additional instructions that should be followed either when you leave the room or when the first person ending his or her turn in that room.

If two players are in the same room they can steal items from each other or trade them. When we played the first time one of our players got an omen card saying the batteries in his flashlight were out so he could only take one step each round until he found a candle or was in the same room as another player that could give him some batteries. So this is a game where you help each other but at the same time can backstab your friends by stealing their things and hurting them. This might be bad as they might die really early in the next phase so they can’t help you kill the monster/s if that is what appears in the haunting.

If someone fails the haunt roll (the roll with 6 dice after an omen card has been drawn which I described earlier) the second phase begins.

 

The second phase – the haunting

The haunt phase starts with the player drawing the omen card checking who the traitor is. This depends on which omen card was drawn when the haunt roll was initiated and in which room the player is standing in while drawing the card. The player that becomes the traitor gets a special manual with all the possible scenarios. Which haunt is going to happen is decided exactly like who is the traitor. The traitor then leaves the room and reads in on the haunt, what will happen and how. Meantime the heroes (the other players) read in another manual what will happen on their part, what they have to do to win.

When all know what is happening and what they have to do the traitor return to the others and prepares the haunt. In the two times we played the traitor ones became a snake with two heads and the other time she created Frankenstein’s monster. To win the heroes had to kill the two heads of the snake or to kill Frankenstein’s monster. For the traitor to win she had to kill all of the heroes or with the snakes heads have been in sixteen rooms. So this game has a lot of different and interesting endings

 

Core game system

We discussed this in the group and found it extremely hard to decide which the core system throughout the game was since it has two phases. But we decided that it was exploring new rooms in the house. Since you can do this in both phases and it is what basically triggers the haunting phase.

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The best

The best things in this game are the storytelling, the multiple endings, the dice and the randomness. The dice have 0, 1 and 2 eyes on its sides which make it possible to take no damage at all since the damage is based on dice roll. The storytelling, randomness and multiple endings makes it fun to play this game over and over again since it’s so different every time, you will probably never get the exact same gameplay twice. With the randomness I mean during the exploring phase – the rooms appear in different order and places, and the cards are drawn randomly.

 

The worst

The worst part of this game was the characters being so unbalanced, one of the characters was just dominating both of our gameplays. And the stats between the characters are not balanced, some hade very low numbers on their stat cards and others (specially one) had very high numbers. These numbers decide how many dice you get to roll in each skill check which makes it very much easier for some of the players to make these.

 

Both good and bad

In the exploring phase you mostly explore new rooms and most of the rooms makes you draw a card and can’t take any more steps. This is both good and bad since it makes you feel very slow, but you won’t get an advantage if you start.

 

Most interesting system

The most interesting system in this game is the haunt since it varies the so much. There are about 40 different haunts and in some of them the traitor isn’t a traitor but still a hero and the house is against the heroes. It’s just so many different scenarios and it makes the game interesting every time you play it.

 

Target audience

The target audience for Betrayal at House on the Hill was over 12 years. We agree that the players should not be under 12 years since they probably don’t have as much patience and understanding as someone over 12. But we do think that the age should maybe be a bit higher than 12 since if the one who becomes the traitor is 12 years it might be hard for him or her when all the other players are against him or her, and it might be hard to keep track of everything alone for such a young person. This could be fixed by a parent or older friend or someone like that chooses to help so there are two traitors instead of one.

 

Summary

So this game is all about the story and exploring. It is fun because there are so many different endings and gameplays and it’s probably enjoyed by everyone who likes storytelling and probably role-players as well.


Kill doctor Lucky, board game analysis

“Kill doctor Lucky” is a game for 3-7 players where the player who succeeds to kill the doctor wins. Moving around in his mansion you have to make sure that no one can see you while you’re in the same room as the doctor, that’s when you can strike and make an attempt to kill him. Although his dog follows him everywhere, and can actually prevent a murder on the doctor, he has short legs and sometimes falls behind as the doctor rush through the mansions many rooms.

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The components in the game

Modifiers

The modifiers are the cards and tokens that modify things within the game. There are:

  • Room cards – If you use one of these cards you can teleport either yourself or the doctor to the room which the card shows.
  • Movement cards – When you play this card you can use it to move either yourself or the doctor as many steps as the card(s) shows.
  • Weapon cards – When you make a murder attempt you can play a weapon card which gives you extra murder points. Some weapons are stronger in specific rooms and gives more points.
  • Failure cards – When someone tries to kill the doctor it can be stopped by the other players, if the sum of all the failure points, shown on the cards played, exceeds the murderer’s murder points the attempt fails.
  • Spite tokens – After a failed murder attempt you get one of these tokens which you can use in another attempt of killing Lucky. They give you plus one murder point per token you use. They are then discarded from your hand when used.

 

Players

You can in one turn move one step, try to kill the doctor (or his dog) and play one or more cards from your hand. At the end of your turn you get to draw a card – if you have not used a card this turn or tried to kill the doctor.

Rooms

The different rooms in the doctor’s mansion have different names and numbers. Not all the rooms have names or numbers. The numbers determine where the doctor will move next, he jumps from one room to the one with the next number. If a room does not have a name the player in that room may not draw a card at the end of his or her turn.

NPCs

The NPCs in this game are the doctor and his dog. The doctor moves from one room to the other using their numbers to determine where to go. His dog moves one step at the time always the shortest way towards the doctor. The rooms the doctor jumps between aren’t always placed right next to each other, which makes the dog fall behind.

npcs

The best

The Line of sight (LOS) system

If someone is in your LOS they can’t make an attempt to murder the doctor, even if they are in the same room. Your LOS is all the rooms that are connected with doors to the room you are in. Your LOS persists to the next room if there is an opening in the same height as the first door. In the picture you stand in the corridor marked with yellow and can see in all the rooms where the green arrows point, but not in the room with the red arrow since that door is not in the same height as the first door.

line of sight

In some rooms you can see almost half of all the rooms in the mansion, preventing a murder attempt in all those rooms, but if you see someone they can also see you – preventing you from murdering the doctor. In other rooms almost no other room are in your LOS making it easy to kill the doctor. This system made it easy to prevent a murder one turn and in the next turn step into another room and try to kill the doctor yourself.

The dog

The dog did almost always stop you from killing the doctor with his LOS (if he saw you, you could not make an attempt to murder the doctor). He made the gameplay much longer – we played once without the dog and it was much easier to make a murder attempt. It also made us move more and not stand still in a room with less LOS and wait for the doctor to come to us instead. Even though we all wanted the dog murdered so it would be easier to kill the doctor it was quite hard, since you can’t kill the dog if someone sees you (the doctor didn’t care, you could be in the same room and he wouldn’t notice a thing).

The room cards

When played – a player or the doctor suddenly was in another part of the mansion, maybe disrupting your evil plan for the doctor.

The worst

The change of turns

When the doctor enters the room you’re in, it is automatically your turn. If you can move into the room he is going to next you can farm cards, as you may draw a card after your turn is over (with some exceptions I have already mentioned).

As the turn then continues as usual, to the next person, it might result in someone not getting any turns, no cards and no chances to kill the doctor. We discussed this problem and came up with the idea that the player which room he enters only gets a chance to kill the doctor and not an entire turn. And then the turn continues from the person who last had a turn. We didn’t try this out, but it would be interesting to do.

The weapon card balance

Some weapons have bonus damage in some of the rooms. This bonus is somewhat not balanced, one might think that the rooms with the greatest chance to get seen should have the highest bonuses. This is not the case, the room with the biggest bonus is the room where almost no one can see you, not really high risk high reward rather – low risk high reward. Even if it would take a rather long time getting to those rooms if you had the room card with that room you would be there in one turn.

Movement

The movement of the players is too slow which encourages camping (staying in the same room just waiting for the doctor to come to you), and the low amount of movement cards doesn’t help, neither the fact that you may not take a card in every room (only the rooms with a name, so no corridors or stairs for example). The players may take one step every turn so it might take a very long time getting to the room you want to go to. You might miss the doctor since he moves after every turn, then you have to wait for the doctor to make an entire lap around the mansion, hoping that no one teleports him right before he gets to you.

The most interesting

The system we all thought was the most interesting in the game was the Line of sight system which I described earlier. This is partly because you could see very far and, by just taking one step, you could see almost nowhere. In some games your LOS is just to the rooms next to you, we all thought it was pretty interesting when we first read about the system in the rule book.

Target group

The target group for this game was families and people of ages 10 and up. We all agreed with this target group since it is a very social game where the people you play with can make the game fun or just simply boring. The line of sight system and the dog’s movement and role in the game might be hard to understand for younger children. This makes the age suggested very appropriate.

The artwork in the game is sort of dark but the colors are at the same time very bright. This captures the dark motive in the game (killing the doctor), but also lightens it up with the strong colors making it somewhat more child friendly.

Summary

This game reminds me of the late nights at home playing “Cluedo” with my family, though the motive in the game is quite the opposite, instead of finding the killer you want to be the one killing.

I think the game really benefits from the line of sight system and the dog since it lengthens the gameplay. There should be less failure cards because after a few failed murder attempts it wasn’t as fun anymore, and when we tried to play with less failure cards the gameplay was shorter but more intense.

There are a couple of different tactics in this game, you could just attack the doctor every time you get the chance and always use your spite tokens forcing everyone to play their failure cards. You can also be the one attempting murder all the time but without spite tokens, collecting them and make one big strike hoping that the others already have played most of their failure cards. Or you just wait, not attempting any murder, lurking in the shadows seemingly innocent and when you see that all the failure cards are played you strike when everyone expect it the least.

I do believe this game would be more fun with fewer players. You would get to do more and not wait for so long for the chance to get close to the doctor. But that would also make it easier to camp and avoid others LOS which would lead to less movement.

players