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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Mike, Sean and Jeff came over to try out three new board games: Archer, Legendary, and Betrayal at House on the Hill (above). Of the three I'd say Archer, while amusing, has the simplest game mechanic and the lowest replay value, but it's a quick diversion and supports up to eight players, making it a good nominee for Gaming & Guinness. Each player takes on the role of one of the ISIS agents from the animated series; the object of the game is to get the upper hand on your fellow employees. Booze and sex challenges test your mettle, and hurling insults at other characters is crucial to gaining upper hand points. I think this game might be more engaging with a full complement of eight players for maximum snark and chaos. 

My favourite of the night was Betrayal at House on the Hill, which uses the build-the-game-board-as-you-play mechanic I've enjoyed since discovering Zombies!!! many years ago. Players take the role of one of several pre-generated characters, each with an alter ego, which is important because at some point during the game one player is revealed as a murderous traitor. The goal is to survive your exploration of a haunted house (or, if you're the traitor, to ensure the others don't live through the night. It's a very atmospheric game, with trap doors, mysterious noises, ghosts, secret rooms - all the essential elements of a good haunted house story. 

I also enjoyed Legendary, a so-called "deck building" game set in the Marvel comics universe. We almost gave up on this game because its hundreds of cards came packed in no logical order, requiring us to spend about an hour on setup and learning the rules. However, once we figured out the mechanic, the game flowed quite smoothly. There's quite a bit of strategy involved in building a solid hand of heroes to face the menace of the various masterminds plotting to rule the world, and the game is quite fast-paced. Plus it's fun to imagine sending Spider-Man and some hapless SHIELD troopers in together to fight a Super-Skrull or a legion of HYDRA agents, particularly when innocent bystanders are at risk. 

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