With nearly 20 years under its belt (appropriately gothic), Betrayal at House on the Hill is as close to an institution as board games can get. Because many of us already have a copy on our shelves, should you trade it in now that a 3rd edition upgrade is here?
To give you an idea of how they compare, I pitted the two versions of Betrayal at House on the Hill against each other in a metaphorical fight to the death. What is different? What is the same? And is there enough new content in 3rd Edition to warrant buying Betrayal again?
Artwork and design
As you’d expect, Betrayal at House on the Hill 3rd Edition has received a fresh coat of paint to mark the occasion, and it’s not just the cover that’s been given a makeover. Every token, card, character, and tile has received a refresh.
This gives a bigger impact than you might expect. I never thought Betrayal’s board was “dull” before, but putting the new and old pieces side by side is telling. The third edition is a lot, a lot more colorful than its predecessor, and it makes better use of lighting for a darker aesthetic. Seriously, the difference is day and night (well, not literally – it’s still weird enough to fit in with other Halloween party games).
I would say that the maps of the reworked version also look better. Along with new artwork and a slightly larger font, the card backgrounds now sport a pattern similar to the wallpaper found in Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. “Decaying grandeur” is definitely the theme this time around, and it’s a nice contrast to the grungy feel of the last edition.
The biggest change, however, is in the revamped miniatures of the third edition. These character models are at least a third larger than the originals, and while they don’t have paint to speak of (they’re left blank in case players want to try it out themselves), they’re so much more detailed. The bases also come with color-coded rubber covers.
That pretty much sums up the new Betrayal at House on the Hill 3rd Edition – even though it costs the same amount, it feels a lot more “premium” than before.
Mechanics and gameplay
Here’s where things get really juicy. See, it’s not just a reskin; everything about Betrayal at House on the Hill has been reworked from top to bottom, including the gameplay. Maps are a great example of this change. Although some events are identical, most are unfamiliar. The same goes for objects and Omens – they are largely unknown. And this is from someone who played to death in 2nd Edition.
There are also fewer tokens to manage. Luckily, the countless pieces of cardboard that seemed to have almost never been used in 2nd Edition have been replaced by bigger, more catch-all ones here. However, this has no negative impact on gameplay. On the contrary, it allows for a more streamlined approach with less stress; you’ll have no trouble finding the tiny tokens you need among a sea of others in 3rd Edition.
Of course, the characters are broadly similar and fall into the same horror tropes – jock, creepy kid, etc. – despite refreshed stories. And yes, Betrayal’s parts are mechanically the same except for some swapped icons (the coal chute has also been replaced with a laundry chute). But things are radically different where it counts. For starters, 3rd Edition features 50 entirely new scenarios to play. Also, the way these Haunts are selected is different.
Rather than showing up at home for no reason and wandering around until something bad happens like a member of a most haunted documentary, you’ll draw cards early in the game that give you an excuse ( be it a Scooby Doo-style paranormal investigation or mysterious invitation) for your group’s presence. You’ll then check everyone’s unique chart each time you get an omen. It ties the resulting mission together thematically, and it’s a neat update that should improve the narrative considerably.
There are also a handful of more subtle addendums. Namely, it is no longer possible to steal items unless the haunt specifically allows this action. In the same way, it is now an absolute rule that you must stop your turn after discovering a room. Oh, and the introductory text for traitors and survivors? They are read aloud for everyone to hear instead of being read in secret. You still won’t know your rival’s aim or what they can do gameplay-wise, but at least there’s narrative context behind any heel turn.
As a result, Betrayal at House on the Hill 3rd Edition feels like a worthy upgrade without losing what made its predecessors so special.
Should You Buy Betrayal at House on the Hill 3rd Edition?
If you haven’t tried Betrayal at House on the Hill yet, 3rd Edition is the perfect opportunity to fix it. You don’t lose anything by skipping the latest version, and I’d say this update has the game in better shape than it’s ever been.
As for those of us with the 2nd Edition, I’d say it’s more than worth picking up the new one. Along with improved artwork that blows the old version out of the water, it updates the gameplay smart enough to be a definite improvement. Moreover, these entirely new scenarios mean that it is a new experience rather than a rehash. Even betrayal veterans like me will get something.
So when can you get the 3rd edition? US readers can get involved from August 1, 2022, while UK fans can pick it up now from Amazon for £39.99 – it launched across the pond early.
Where can you get it then? Along with the official Hasbro listing, the game is available for pre-order and purchase from various retailers. We have listed a few below.
Want some recommendations to keep you busy until the latest edition of Betrayal comes out? Don’t forget to check out these board games for adults and board games for 2 players. It is worth taking a look at the best cooperative board gamesalso.