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Board Game Review: Betrayal Legacy

Let me start by saying I’ve never played Betrayal at House on the Hill.  Despite that, when Betrayal Legacy was released, I jumped on it. Horror themed legacy game designed by Rob Daviau? YES PLEASE.

As soon as we got the game, we rounded up a team of friends to play through the 13 game campaign with us. Two of them had played Betrayal at House on the Hill  before and the other three of us had not. Having at least one player familiar with the standard game is helpful, as they can help explain the nuances of the gameplay, but don’t take that as some sort of requirement to play or enjoy Betrayal Legacy

This is a narrative driven game. Each time you sit down to play with your team, the story picks up with a return to the same setting (the haunted house) and you might be reprising the same character you played in the last game, or one of their descendants. The story is tracked in the back pages of the Traitor’s Tome booklet – you’ll need a volunteer to journal the events.

Excerpt from our custom narrative:

Thirty-three years later, Genevieve and the others returned to the house or saw their descendants return. At the start, the Cubbins fellow coerced the whole lot of us into the basement. Left to ruminate in the mildewed room, Genevieve connected on the spiritual plane with her ancestor Madeline who, in her fury, brought forth Suzanne to hasten the collapse of the house …(snipped to prevent spoilers).

The hijinks take place on a grid of tiles representing the inside and outside of the haunted house; the game begins and various events, items, and omens are revealed on the tiles as they are uncovered and explored. These are detailed on cards that are drawn from their respective decks when instructed on a tile.

Players spend the first part of each game exploring and accumulating resources along the way.

Each time an omen card is drawn, the team moves a step closer to being fractured. Eventually, most sessions devolve into a cat and mouse game between a different evil haunting the house who has begun to make their presence known and is working in league with one of the players, and the rest of the players who must band together to fight the evil.  At that point, the player in cahoots with the great evil picks up the Traitor’s Tome and silently reads the entry corresponding with the haunt revealed by the campaign deck. The rest of the players need to read the haunt entry in the Secrets of Survival book and discuss their strategy. To aid in the secrecy of everyone’s planning operations, the evil aligned player will physically retreat to a separate room  for 5 to 7 minutes. Once the player is welcomed back to the game table, the two sides battle it out on the grounds of the house until one is victorious. 

One thing I really like about the game is that the narrative accommodates characters coming in and out of the story, so if you want to add or drop a team member between plays you can do so without any dire consequences. 

The components are a mix of cardboard tiles and tokens, plastic coated cards, dice, four paper booklets, and plastic player tokens (which come prepainted – hurrah!). There isn’t an abundant amount of detailed artwork showcased on the game components but when illustrations are used, they fit the theme.

The rulebook is written pretty well; we only had a few questions that we felt it didn’t answer adequately and needed to look up on boardgamegeek.com. And of course because this is a legacy game, the rulebook sees additions each session of the campaign as secret compartments are opened and the gameplay changes. 

We didn’t see a ton of analysis paralysis during our games. Most of the time the next action for a player is limited and obvious, although before the haunt begins there is more freedom to wander about the house and grounds aimlessly.

Rob has designed Betrayal Legacy  with replayability  in mind. Once the campaign ends, players can replay the game as many times as they’d like in stand alone sessions using the instructions provided in the back of the rulebook. There are 49 haunts available in the game and we know only 13 of them are used in the campaign, so that leaves a great deal of adventures yet to be played once players are in free play mode after the campaign is over.

We had so much fun with this game. One of our players was worried going into the campaign because he had some problems with Betrayal at House on the Hill. Specifically, he noted that sometimes the haunt would begin and the traitor would already have what they needed to win (so the game would instantly end in a letdown) or even worse, the traitor would have no possibility of winning. Fortunately, neither of these problems cropped up in Betrayal Legacy, so if you’re new to the Betrayal franchise, I’d recommend skipping over Betrayal at House on the Hill and going straight for Betrayal Legacy  which perfectly pairs an unfolding narrative with semi-cooperative play. This is a game that definitely deserves a spot in your game library, especially if you are a fan of horror. For a special treat, I recommend a delightful evening of friends gathered to play a game of Betrayal Legacy  followed by a screening of a classic paranormal horror movie.

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Publisher: Avalon Hill
Players: 3-5
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): 1 to 2 hours per session; 13 sessions in the legacy campaign
Game type: cooperative, traitor, grid movement, dice rolling, tile placement, narrative driven

review-OUIOUI

Rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.

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