Betrayal at Baldur's Gate

A neat little twist on an old classic, with some additional game play features.

Betrayal at Baldur's Gate is, at its heart, a re-skin of Betrayal at House on the Hill -- if you know how to play one, you know how to play the other. But because it does have a unique setting, different scenarios, and some different gameplay elements, it doesn't feel like a repeat of the original. 

Selecting Your Character

Betrayal at Baldur's Gate comes with some fun miniatures and, like Betrayal at House on the Hill, lets you select a character -- each of which have a class, such as cleric or mage. Like Betrayal, Baldur's Gate has dual-sided characters with slightly different stats but the same general appearance. The Orc in Betrayal at Baldur's Gate can either be a naive, youthful cleric or a gruff, war-torn paladin. We assume that one is before going through betrayal and one is after.

Each character you choose has their own mental and physical stats, which include the speed that you traverse across the board and the sanity that you'll lose throughout the game. This is where one of the major changes comes into play: characters have special abilities. Some of these are fairly underpowered (the paladin can heal a hit point of damage twice per game), but they still add an interesting twist to the old classic.

Playing Out a Scenario

The second major change in Betrayal at Baldur's Gate is how the traitor -- or 'haunt' -- comes out. In the original Betrayal, each person rolled dice along a dice counter. In this version of Betrayal, the number of dice increases with the amount of haunt cards pulled. This makes the game a little more rapid, as players are in direct control of how likely it is for a haunt to come out. 

In our scenario, there actually was no traitor! Instead, there were cultists we had to fight.

The Final Verdict

The main issue with this game isn't that it's just a re-skin of Betrayal at House on the Hill, but rather that the theme doesn't fit. As you explore the streets, buildings, and catacombs, it feels like you're playing two different games -- the "mystery" feeling doesn't easily translate into high fantasy in the same way. The RPG elements don't add anything to the game in particular.

Because the theme is forced, the gameplay also feels forced -- an RPG smashed into a creepy haunted house mystery. But it's still an interesting game to play for those who loved the original Betrayal.