Board Game Review – Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill by Wizards of the Coast is one of the best board game purchases we have ever made.


In Betrayal, you play as a group of adventurers who are exploring a mysterious house. Players take turns moving around the house discovering rooms and drawing cards for Items, Events, and Omens. Items are useful things, such as a magical tool or a weapon.  Events may cause the player’s stats to be increased or decreased by a lucky (or unlucky) dice roll. Lastly, the Omen cards will force the player to make a haunt roll. An unlucky dice roll will trigger the second stage of the game, the Haunt.

Betrayal gameplay example

When the Haunt begins, the specific Omen that the player drew will trigger a specific horror-themed scenario. (such as a ghostly possession, vampire attack, mad scientist, etc). Based on the specific scenario, one player of the group may turn into a traitor. The traitor will actively work against the other characters. The remaining heroes must work together to survive and meet the criteria to win.  All while the traitor will attempt to kill off the heroes or prevent them from succeeding in their task.

Betrayal scenario books

There are 50 different scenarios in the original game, and +50 more with the expansion. Each time you play the game you will encounter a new horror-themed trope.

Betrayal character tokens

Our Experience:

The original game is very smooth to play, and the written rules for each scenario are easy to understand. You can tell that it was extensively play-tested to make sure everything was clearly explained. I love that each Item, Event, and Omen card has a short little story to set the scene. The creators put a lot of time, effort, and attention into thinking of all of these horror themes and spooky events.

In our experience, the Widows Walk expansion is not as smooth and did not seem as extensively play-tested. The rules for the expansion scenarios are more difficult to understand and there seem to be some minor errors and inconsistencies. However, I like the new room tiles and new Item/Event/Omen cards and love seeing them when they are drawn in the game.

One downside to this game is that the original box does a poor job of keeping the various cards/figurines/tokens/etc organized and accessible. I finally invested in two Broken Token Box organizers (one for House on the Hill, one for Baldur’s Gate). Although the box organizers were an expensive investment for this game, they are worth every penny!

Betrayal game pieces in the broken token box organizers.
Betrayal Box Organizers by Broken Token
Broken Token Box Organizers

The best part:

The best thing about this game is its replay value. With 50 different scenarios in the original, and 100 total with the expansion, you will always be able to find something new in the game. We have had the original game and the expansion for several years now. Even though we play it frequently during game nights, we still have plenty of scenarios left. The basic rules of gameplay stay constant across the scenarios. It is pretty easy to adapt to the changes for the different individual scenarios.

Players and ages:

This cooperative/hybrid game is for 3-6 players. The manufacturer recommends ages 12+. The rules of this game are slightly different for each scenario, this is a pretty accurate age recommendation. Each round of play is 60-80 minutes, depending on how much discussion your group gets into during gameplay.


Recommended Accessories:

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Board Game Review – Forbidden Desert

I’m excited to talk about another fantastic Gamewright game, Forbidden Desert. Just like Forbidden Island that I wrote about in a previous post, Forbidden Desert is a very easy to learn game. It is quick and simple to play, and we use it as a mini-break after finishing a more complex game.

Forbidden Desert Game Start


In Forbidden Desert, your goal is to find four pieces of a Leonardo Davinci style flying machine and escape from a desert sandstorm. Players must work quickly to figure out the location of the missing parts. The location tiles slowly (or quickly) get covered with layers of sand. The players must also keep an eye on their water supply, as dehydration is a killer. Sharing water with each other becomes necessary for survival.

Forbidden Desert - Gameplay Example

There are different item cards that allow you to do things like protect yourself from the sun or remove multiple layers of sand from a location tile. Each player is assigned a different character role. The different roles will help you move quicker around the board, remove sand from location tiles, or share water with teammates.

Forbidden Desert - Player Roles

Each player will begin their turn by taking actions such as moving, searching, or removing sand. Next, that player will then draw cards to move the eye of the sandstorm around and add sand to location tiles that shifted. All players win if they can find the missing parts and gather together to escape. All players lose if all of the sand tiles run out, or if a player dies of dehydration.

The best part:

Forbidden Desert is a great example of a game with easy-to-learn rules and mechanics. It is a fantastic way to teach “board game logic” to an adult or child new to gaming. I like Forbidden Desert more than Forbidden Island, and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because the location tiles move around on the table. Possibly because the dehydration factor adds some complexity to the game. It could just be the adorable flying machine.


I am a big fan of the company that makes Forbidden Desert, as they are a great publisher of family games.  I use Gamewright games frequently in my job as a speech pathologist and always snap them up if I see them at a thrift store. Another really cool thing is that many of their games use the same basic game play rules as the cooperative game Pandemic. Pandemic is insanely successful and  spawned a huge series of expansions, stand-alone games, and legacy games. So, if you learn how to play Forbidden Desert,  you can easily transfer your knowledge to other Forbidden games and the Pandemic suite of games.

Players and ages:

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game is for 2-4 players. The manufacturer recommends ages 10+. Because the game is so simple to learn, it is very appropriate for children aged 8+. Each round of play will last about 30 minutes.


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Board Game Review – Forbidden Island

I am excited to talk about a fantastic board game called Forbidden Island by Gamewright. This is a great game for both adults and kids. It is very easy to learn and quick to play. Forbidden Island won multiple awards in the years after it was published. Gamewright also published two other similar games; Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky.

Forbidden Island - Board Setup


In Forbidden Island, you play as a group of explorers who work together to find hidden artifacts and escape to safety. The group must work quickly to locate the missing items before the island sinks.

Forbidden Island - Charater Roles

Each player selects a character role. The different roles will help you move quicker around the board, prevent the island from sinking, and help you find the artifacts. Each player has several actions to choose from on their turn. They can move, search for an artifact, or shore up a tile. To find an artifact players, must be on the appropriate tile and have 4 of a kind of the matching artifact cards.

Forbidden Island - Artifacts

At the end of the players turn they will sink the island by drawing cards to “flood” (flip over) or “sink” (remove) location tiles from game play. All players win if they can find the missing artifacts and gather together on the helicopter pad tile to escape. All players lose if the tile that holding a missing artifact or the helicopter pad tile sinks.

The best part:

I am a huge fan of games that have very simple game mechanics, and Forbidden Island is a great example. For this reason, this game is ideal for adults and children new to gaming. 

Players and ages:

This cooperative game is for 2-4 players. The manufacturer recommends ages 10+. This game is so simple to learn and is appropriate for children aged 8+. Each round of play will last about 30 minutes.


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Board Game Review – Mysterium

Today I am going to share Mysterium by Asmodee. We first played this game at ValorCon 2016, and our friend liked it so much she bought it that very day. It has since become her favorite game, and travels with her frequently to gaming weekends. 


In Mysterium, you play either as the spirit of a ghost, or as the psychics that are trying to solve the ghost’s murder. The ghost can only communicate with the players by giving them vision cards with strange, surrealistic drawings. The vision cards suggest clues to the identity of the murderer, the location it took place, and the weapon.  The psychics can discuss their interpretation of the different cards with each other. To win the game, all psychics must guess their individual suspect, location, and weapon (original) or motive (expansions) within the first 7 rounds. They must then determine  which psychic has found the truth  of the ghost’s murder in the last, final round.

The ghost:

The ghost is never allowed to speak with the other players. He or she can only give clues to their murder through the vision cards, or by giving a yes/no signal to tell players if their guesses were correct or incorrect. He or she cannot do anything that might accidentally give a cue to the psychics.  However, the player characters can speak freely to each other, including friendly trash-talking about the poor quality of the ghost’s visions. Since the ghost is unable to use any rude gestures to respond to friendly trash-talking, he or she will have to be satisfied with a reproachful glare in response.

4 Player Ghost Setup With first Hand
4 Player Ghost Setup with First Hand

 What I like the most:

What I like the most about this game being part of the cooperative debate  several other players. And the more players, the better! The most fun time we played this game was during a New Years Eve party with a full set of 7 players.

Our friend loves this game so much she invested in a box insert to keep things better organized. The artwork is lovely and there are several expansions that add more vision cards and different clues.

Players and Ages:

Mysterium is a cooperative game for 2-7 players, and is great for larger groups. It will take about 40-50 minutes to play one round. It is recommended for ages 10+, but older elementary-age children should be able to play without difficulty. 

Games and Expansions:

Recommended Accessories:

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