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Board Games

Betrayal at House of the Hill – A Perspective

You find yourself standing in a long hallway. The air is dusty and dry, and a silence takes hold as the center of attention. The house seems abandoned and empty, but you only see several closed doors and a tall staircase in the hallway. As you turn around to leave, the front door is locked. You and your companions are trapped, but maybe there’s a way out somewhere in the house. You set out to explore, but will soon discover one of your friends is not who they say they are…

Thus begins one of my favorite games of all time, Betrayal at House on the Hill. You and your group are faced with a haunted house and must explore it to find a way out (if there is one). What you and your characters don’t know, is that one of you is a traitor. This game comes in two parts, both of which have their own twists and turns.

Image result for Betrayal At House On The Hill

Now, you may wonder right now why am I talk about a game that came out in 2004 with a 2nd edition that came out in 2010. Simply because there’s so much to this game, it’s taken me this long to play all of it. This includes its one expansion (6 years after the remake), and a D&D spin-off which actually added improvements to the core game (I’ll get to this later).

Later this year in October we will be treated with a Legacy version of the game. A version where the haunted house changes with the choices you make over decades of the story. I am SO EXCITED.

What makes Betrayal one of my favorite games is how much it has to offer in stories it tells. There 50 scenarios (known as Haunts) in the base game and 50 more in the expansion, with Baulder’s Gate having even more. Each one makes the game unique to that night (don’t tell me you play this during the day like a wimp).

The best moment of each Haunt is having a different person become the traitor and revealing the true nature of the friends you have. The mistrust and doubt among the closest of friends is an experience I have seen few other games have. This makes me want the Legacy version even sooner.

So let me talk about that for a second. Legacy games, if you’re unfamiliar with them are board games with a story arc (with spoilers) that spans multiple plays of the game. The one that comes to mind (and best in my opinion) is Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. This game starts just like the original Pandemic, but very quickly begins to evolve into a game that is unique to you and your friends. Pieces change, stickers are added, characters get deeper backstories, and a full story is unveiled.

If Betrayal Legacy takes these hidden mechanics, ever changing rules, and character development into the game of Betrayal at House on the Hill, I will be enthusiastically pleased and won’t stop recommending it to everyone I talk to. Apologies to the significant others of my friends, we will be taking some time to complete this, maybe more than once.

There hasn’t been much that has been shared so far (and as far as I want to know to avoid spoilers), but I will ultimately be speculating these next parts. What I do know is that Betrayal Legacy will take place over many decades. *Speculation begins!* Characters will have their own cards and thus own stats, powers, faults, and/or what else the game might throw at us. The first game will likely be similar to a game of regular Betrayal, but the Haunt you encounter will be very limited. What I would love to see in this Legacy game would be an element we haven’t seen before in Legacy games. Maybe an app that tracks your decisions like a TellTale game or a QR puzzle where each square is put in place with your choices. There’s so much that board game can do now with technology that I expect to see Legacy games take them into account, but that’s another blog post.

For now, I love Betrayal. It’s a classic and a staple in my collection. Each group of friends I play with act in completely different ways. Each card drawn adds a unique twist to the story we craft and that’s without our decisions affecting future play-throughs. So I hope that even if you’ve had a bad game of Betrayal or if you’ve never played for the fear of it not being great, TRY it. Try it with new friends, with strangers who might become friends, or even try it as a date night (can confirm, not the worst idea).

Magic the Gathering

Boros Prison in Legacy

In early April we had our first ever unsanctioned Legacy event at The Village Geek. Since the event was unsanctioned, playtest or “proxy” cards were allowed meaning anyone who wanted would be able to play! We had an ok showing of 10 people for the first event and more importantly 10 archetypes were played, and miracles didn’t even get played (not that we have to worry about that now). We had everything from all-in combos like BR reanimator, Sneak and Show, and Leylines, to grindy decks like Maverick, Enchantress, and Lands. The event was an absolute blast to play in and the next one is scheduled for late May. I hope everyone is able to make it out, and once again it will be unsanctioned and proxy friendly.

Here is a breakdown of the Wr prison deck I took to a draw in the finals of the April event. I played this deck because it has a pretty even matchup against just about everything, a good knowledge of the meta works in your favor, nobody really knows the deck (I love coming out of left field), and I just plain like prison decks (sorry not sorry).

The heart and soul of the deck is the combination of Land Tax and Scroll Rack. If we somehow find ourselves with less land than the opponent Land Tax lets us search out three basics from our deck and put them into our hand. We can then use Scroll Rack to turn them into “real” cards and with a shuffle effect (like Land Tax) we get a fresh set of cards each turn.

So how do we get fewer lands on the table than our opponent? The best way is to use Mox Diamond for our mana and just not play as many lands from our hands, even skipping just one land drop against most decks will keep Land Tax drawing cards. Another way is to use Path to Exile as our removal rather than the Legacy standard Swords to Plowshares, if the opponent decides not to get a basic or doesn’t run basics it is a one mana removal with no drawback. Finally, if things get rough or you need Land Tax triggers, Zuran Orb can guarantee you have fewer lands.

The deck runs two different win conditions in the main deck. The first is the combination of Rest in Peace and Helm of Obedience. Helm of Obedience is worded just right so that with a graveyard exiler in play like RiP or Leyline of the Void you only need to activate it for 1 mana to exile your opponent’s entire library. The second is Goblin Charbelcher. You can easily pull all the basics out of your deck while stalling the game so Belcher hits a mountain or no lands at all. I was able to deal an opponent 48 damage from an activation one game.

A motley crew of prison cards that hold the deck together and your opponent off while you set up your win-condition. 3 Wrath of God effects, Ghostly Prison, Humility, Solitary Confinement, Ivory Tower, and kicked Orim’s Chant contain most creature decks. Trinisphere, Blood Moon, Orim’s Chant, and Pithing Needle can shut down a lot of combo decks and some Oblivion Rings round up the controlling elements of the deck.

To tie the deck all together it runs a full playset of Enlightened Tutors. The tutors make the deck quite consistent and flexible as nearly everything you want can be found with them. Early game they can set up the Tax/Rack combo, later they can find whatever will make your opponent groan loudest, and if everything is under control, they find the win. It’s like running 7 or 8 of your favorite cards and the full playset of the silver bullets.

The mana base is one of the least expensive you will find in Legacy; 15 plains, a mountain, and two plateaus means you can spend your money on other parts of the deck (like Mox diamonds).

The sideboard has a smattering of protection like Leyline of Sanctity, and Pyroblasts, some different win conditions like Baneslayer, and Assemble the Legion, and addition hate cards. I never felt like Nahiri was what I wanted so I may be adjusting the sideboard for the event in May.