Betrayal at House on the Hill, the campy horror board game set inside a haunted mansion, has long been a go-to title for introducing new players to modern board games. But the original is not without its flaws, including droopy miniatures, delicate cardboard components, and a subset of rules that don’t quite work. While the second edition smoothed out many of those issues, the newly formed team at Hasbro’s Avalon Hill is doubling down on the franchise’s popularity with an all-new edition.
Betrayal at House on the Hill 3rd Edition will be released later this year, just in time for the annual Gen Con tabletop gaming convention here in the United States. Polygon has the first details on the game — including two new trailers.
Betrayal was first released in 2004, and later revised with a second edition in 2010. In it, players explore the multiple floors of a haunted mansion, building the floorplan with randomly selected tiles as they go. Mystery lurks in every corner, represented by Omen cards that slowly ratchet up the tension of the game. Players gather items and continue their exploration until the final phase, called the Haunt, gets triggered. That’s when the cooperative game turns adversarial with one player, dubbed the Traitor, working to kill the others off before time runs out. The game received an expansion in 2016, a Dungeons & Dragons-themed edition in 2017, and a legacy-style campaign version designed by Rob Daviau in 2018.
According to Chris Nadeau, senior director and product development lead at Avalon Hill, this new edition features 50 brand-new haunts, including sequels to old favorites. They’ve all been designed to run more smoothly at the table, and collated into five different thematic buckets. That will help to streamline the experience while giving it a more thematic tone.
“We felt the house is really the main character of the story,” Nadeau said in an interview last month. “And so getting a little deeper into fleshing that out — What does it look like, sound like, smell like, taste like? What are the kind of visuals that aid that? — [can] really build up a little bit more flavor here. [...] We want to give some of those foundational elements [to players] and build upon that going forward.”
The goal, Nadeau said, is to treat Betrayal more like a game system than a one-off boxed product. He said fans should expect many different expansions down the line. It’s the same model used for the recent reboot of HeroQuest, which includes multiple expansions and the promise of more to come.
“Making sure that they have a limitless appetite of new haunts,” Nadeau said, “being able to introduce more story into where those haunts are going, and be able to allow players the opportunity to go beyond the core game are all things that we were looking at going forward.”
Nadeau told Polygon that Betrayal’s third edition will include redesigned sliders and character cards, which should improve usability out of the box and contribute to durability down the line. It will also include heroic-scale miniatures — that is, characters with larger facial features, hands, and held items — perfect for players who want to paint them up. They also won’t be quite so bendy as previous editions. He said that this time around his team has opted for the same style of harder plastic used in the recent HeroQuest. The game will also include new rules for a “reluctant traitor,” which will allow new players to sidestep the game’s more challenging haunts and gracefully hand off the reins to more experienced players if they choose to.
“It can be a very difficult experience for somebody who is sitting down at the strategy gaming table for the first time with their friends on a Friday night and suddenly you roll them as the traitor and they’re isolated out from the rest of the group,” Nadeau said. “We want to [...] delicately give them the option to be able to opt out of that scenario, to put the second half of the game in the hands of one of the veterans at the table in a fair way that’s not going to embarrass that person or make them feel any less for being the newb at the table.”
Like HeroQuest and Risk Shadow Forces, a new legacy-style game arriving this year, Nadeau said that this third edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill is intended to reassert Avalon Hill’s authority in the hobby games space — and to give modern board gamers more of the richly themed experiences that they’re looking for.
“We know from a lot of our data that I think gamers are starting to get tired of collecting thatch, and wood, and stone,” Nadeau said. “They want a little bit more reason for being. They want a little bit more substance to their gameplay, and so we want to be able to deliver that. We want to be able to give that part over to every one of the games that we create.”
Betrayal at House on the Hill will retail for $55.99. It will premiere on April 1 in Europe before releasing to the rest of the world on Aug. 1. Fans can pre-order the game directly from the Hasbro Pulse website starting March 1, and at Entertainment Earth and Big Bad Toy Store.