Avalon Hill and Hasbro’s classic horror game Betrayal at House on the Hill is back with a stunning new 3rd edition, and if you already own one of the previous versions, the question is whether the upgrade worth it. 3rd Edition features a number of gameplay changes and a major visual upgrade, as well as 50 different hauntings to discover. While the core gameplay and loop remain, the updates to the winning formula and superior artwork and aesthetics are more than enough for me to recommend bringing the new edition into your collection.
Betrayal at House on the Hill: 3rd Edition brings back the core gameplay tenants and refines them further, so longtime fans will feel right at home with the overall theme and flow. Players will always explore a haunted mansion that expands as you lay out the tiles, and once the haunting begins a traitor usually emerges and shakes up the game until the heroes can achieve a given goal .
While all of that is still intact, the scenario cards bring a new flavor to every playthrough, as you now have some context to explain why you’re here and what you’re looking for. These scenario cards are also directly related to the haunting, as the omen that starts the haunting and the person who casts it are connected to this card. Since you can start the game with one of many different scenario cards (5 in all) and each has 9 different omens on the back, your given decks should have some welcome variety to ensure a fun and above all fresh experience. , especially since some of the games may continue to be cooperative or involve a traitor, and the constant pull and pull of a traitor-centric game keeps players involved and constantly on their toes.
The various hauntings can range from involving monster dogs and a house that wants to kill you, to cults and ghosts and everything in between. The way you activate a Haunt has changed a bit but shouldn’t be too shocking to previous players, although some take a minute to adjust to the removal (at least in most cases) of item theft to enemies, which helped you hoard more items during the Haunt phase. He’s still there, but only in specific situations that the game hands you. It’s not really a game-impacting change for me, although I see some lamenting its removal. That said, if an explorer dies, someone can recover their omens and items, which is somewhat balanced.
The biggest draw of the 3rd edition however is the visual improvement from the previous edition. The 2nd edition illustrations simply pale in comparison to the shimmer and depth of the 3rd edition. The 2nd Edition carried with it an almost vintage quality to its tiles and overall aesthetic, but the 3rd Edition is simply stunning, with each tile featuring immaculate detail and absolutely vibrant color. Once you start laying them all out and creating your own location, you can’t help but see the big difference between the two versions, and even the Events, Objects, and Omen cards have been given a similar shine. The thumbnails are fairly par for the course, but the character board art assets have also been given a shine, providing a much more immersive experience overall.
There are a few things to keep in mind when adding Betrayal to your regular rotation. The first is that the game is deceptively a space hog, because once you factor in the varied way the mansion can expand, the character decks, the various bridges, and the two tomes you have need to keep track (plus an optional counter), a standard table might still struggle to keep track. When it comes to challenges, things can go wrong pretty quickly, and if you don’t consider all of your options and run where appropriate, you could very well find yourself down for the count. I feel like weapons could be a bit more effective in helping to balance this out a bit, as even a chainsaw only outruns you by one dice, but even those obstacles didn’t stop me from enjoying experience.
Betrayal at House on the Hill 3rd Edition doesn’t rewrite the experience you’ve come to love, but it easily presents the sleekest, most replayable version yet, and the massively improved visuals and unique storylines are what really put this new edition on high. It’s not a must if you already own the previous versions, but if you haven’t jumped into Betrayal yet, this is definitely the edition you should buy. If you already own them but want a version that offers the classic gameplay with some welcome enhancements and more visual polish, then this will definitely fit the bill.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Published by: Hasbro and Avalon Hill Games
Designed by: Dave Chalker, Banana Chan, Noah Cohen, Bruce Glassco, Brian Neff, Will Sobel and Jabari Weathers
Designed by: Henning Ludvigsen