Publisher: Avalon Hill
Year Made: 2004
Platforms: Tabletop - Board Game
Content Areas: English
Suggested Age Level: High School
Play Length: 60 minutes
Number of Players: 3-6
Difficulty Rating: Medium
"The group entered the haunted house on the hill and crept inside. Little did they know that a traitor was among them..." This could be the start to a number of classic horror stories and films, but it is also the start to Avalon Hill's Betrayal at House on the Hill. In this game, players initially work together to explore a haunted house and help one another, but eventually at least one traitor is revealed to be hidden among them. In the second half, the group and the traitor work against each other to achieve conflicting goals and it is up to the players to escape the house on the hill.
The biggest challenge for Betrayal at House on the Hill is that it can be such a long game all depending on how soon the betrayal happens and which betrayal is unlocked. Sometimes it lasts over an hour, sometimes less, but it is long. Players may need to either cut the game short or resume at a later date to fit with a school’s bell system. However, if you have blocked classes or no bell schedule, then carry on and play. Just be aware that the game can be a long one. Another challenge is that the plastic pieces that help keep track of different attribute points tend to move around. Players might choose to instead write the numbers on a paper. Either everyone can keep track of the points individually or one person could be tasked with the tally. It’s a bit of an annoyance, but it has a simple fix. Finally, players will want to keep the rulebooks on hand, especially for the second half of the game when minor rules could change the outcome of the game.
Betrayal at House on the Hill fits well in an English language arts class for a number of reasons. First, the players have to do so much reading that they might as well have read two or three short stories by the time they finish. Players read from the rules, the cards, the survivors’ guide, and the traitor’s tome. Along the way, they are also helping build and shape a horror story. Players could easily write from their characters’ point of view or at least write the story of what happened in their venture to the house on the hill. Players are immersed into the horror genre (without actually seeing any gory or inappropriate scenes) and it could be a great addition to a unit on a writer like Edgar Allan Poe, comparing how the game and his stories both create tension and a creepy atmosphere.
Despite its length, Betrayal at House on the Hill is an excellent experience for students given the wide range of possibilities and how well the game creates a creepy atmosphere and tense conflict just as some of the most famous writers have done before it.
Educational Rating: 4/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 8/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)