Betrayal at House on the Hill is Literally Warped

Either these tiles are warped or they each have their own individual space-time dilation effect.

I didn’t really think about it while punching the tokens, but I did notice at the time that many of the tiles in the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill began to warp upon tearing open the shrinkwrap, especially the character tiles, pictured right.

It wasn’t until I saw the thread on Boardgamegeek discussing the extent to which some people’s copies are warping, both cardboard tiles and some plastic figures  — the blue figure has been nicknamed “Ilene Back” by some owners. Check out this post in particular for a photo of a particularly bowed example of the starting tile.

Given this game was ultimately published by Wizards of the Coast, I’m surprised that such a widespread issue like this would slip through. It sounds like the whole print run was affected, which suggests they decided it was more cost effective not to do anything about it and deal with unhappy customers than fix the warping issue. In light of some of their recent board game products, particularly Castle Ravenloft, which seemed like a solid home run in terms of a well-made game, it’s surprising that Betrayal at House on the Hill would turn out like this.

Or is it? Betrayal had some factors working against it: the first edition sold horribly in stores; it was reportedly on clearance for a pittance in Wizards of the Coast’s retail stores for a long time before it gathered a cult following that drove up secondhand prices. Nor is it attached to a high profile intellectual property like Dungeons & Dragons as Castle Ravenloft is. I can imagine both those considerations leading to a situation where not only did this problem slip through the production process unnoticed, but the decision to handle the problem by replacing warped components as requested — with tiles from the same print run, mind, so they’re equally likely to warp.

I have elected to take this opportunity to explore the customer service process. I wrote Wizards a letter expressing my disappointment in the apparent lack of quality control, sending a copy via their email contact form, as well printing it out to send via traditional mail. Within fifteen minutes, I received a reply from a weekend customer service representative . . . seemingly didn’t read my letter very closely, as it included all the information requested in the reply. Less than two hours later, I had an email saying a replacement set of tiles would be sent out promptly.

The letter hit the mail box Saturday evening. As I wend my way through this replacement process, I’ll keep you updated as to how it goes — and how far it goes, as I’m not going to settle for a second warped set of tiles. Just you wait.

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[Tuesday Night Board Games] Betrayal at House on the Hill, Second Edition

Comes the Hero . . . way too late to save Munk and Nonny from John the traitor (left).

I rhapsodized about a couple times Betrayal at House on the Hill before the second edition was announced. So I don’t think it surprises anyone that as soon as I acquired a copy of my own — after having put the contents on display for the world to see; more about that later, too — it hit the table at Tuesday night board games at Quarterstaff Games.

An Invisible Traitor stalked her prey for an hour and a half.

This night, I only got one and a half games in, as I ducked out to see some friends perform up the street in a singer-songwriter competition. There’s really nothing spectacularly different about the second edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill. The graphic elements are mostly unchanged; the doors seem to be a brighter shade of yellow, probably to aid people picking them out from the backdrop of the rooms.

The gameplay is also very much like what I’m used to. Before this second edition hit, we played with Alex’s copy, for which he printed out the rather extensive errata document that Wizards of the Coast published after the game was initially released and sharp-minded players started finding the flaws and omissions in the published rules and haunt scenarios. We still found some points of uncertainty, which might have been cleared up in the glossary in the back of the book that I haven’t read thoroughly yet, like do Omens that are physical objects count as Items? Last night, we assumed that they did.

I can’t say much about the sessions of Betrayal themselves, as I’m kind of fanatical about not spoiling haunts before others have played them. The first ended a lot more quickly than the second, but I think that was as much the heroes of the first haunt having no luck at all finding any of the items required to win as the traitor of the second game starting off with cool gear in addition to a pretty significant advantage over the heroes.

In other news, Patrick from Asmodee Games visited us, which was pretty cool. As Andrew recounts, he taught three games: Intrigo, Gosu and Water Lilies. I didn’t get the chance to find out what brought Patrick down from Montreal, but getting a visitor like that is pretty cool.

Unboxing Betrayal at House on the Hill, Held Action Edition

Deciding to try my own hand at documenting the unboxing of an eagerly anticipated game, I present the story of my thoughts as I cracked open the second edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill, as record last Wednesday, no more than an hour after acquiring the game. Check out the pictures behind the jump.

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The Waiting is the Hardest Part

 

This copy? Not damaged. Not real, either, but still.

Quarterstaff actually received the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill this week, but both copies were damaged beyond saleability. Curses!

Waiting for this game has become such delicious torment. Next week, I have to skip Tuesday night board games, so I won’t even get the chance to play it for two more weeks, unless we convene an emergency game session before then. Which I may just do, quite frankly. It’s October. Horror games must be played.

Unboxing Betrayal at House on the Hill

Boardgame News posted a video today unboxing the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill. It looks pretty much like the original version, which is unsurprising. Most of the changes probably went into incorporating errata and generating content, such as putting the underground lake in the basement where it belongs.

Two physical changes I liked were reducing the number of tokens and color-coding them, as well as the introduction of a plastic tray to the box. The original version of Betrayal at House on the Hill used a cardboard tray divided into six sections, which in practice meant all the pieces were shuffled up and mixed together if you ever did more than let the box lie flat on a shelf. The new tray looks like it go a long way to keeping the bits more organized, although the monster tokens will certainly still need baggies, if fewer.

I’m really looking forward to finally getting my own copy of this game, as well as exploring the content changes from the original. Haunts have reportedly been improved, or replaced with new haunts — hopefully more robustly tested than the last batch.

More News of Betrayal at House on the Hill

"Jinkies, gang. That's a spooky old house. Let's check it out!"

Boardgame News posted an announcement with more details for the new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill — and that’s a link to the refreshed web page at Wizards of the Coast — including box art, pictured to the right, and a release date: October 5th, 2010. Not only does that provide ample time for Halloween themed board gaming, but it’s also a month ahead of Carnage. That should make Alex happy, as he planned to run it there, one way or the other.

Other highlights of the new edition include new haunts, modified original haunts, new items and redesigned tokens. Hopefully “redesigned” means that not only will it be easier to pick out the rats from the tentacles, say, but the two sides will stick together.

I’m going to snap this one up more or less game unplayed. I know I like the mechanics and theme. I’m indifferent to the first edition bits — we usually just grab whatever’s convenient, rather than the specifically named token; Rocketship the Dog is a popular feature in our play sessions — aside from the way all the tokens fell apart, so if they’re improved, my opinion can only go up.

It’s gonna be a long wait until October. I’m torn over whether to get in some more plays of the original version of Betrayal at House on the Hill, or fast completely, to really savor the experience of the new edition.

[Tuesday Night Board Games] From Cold Space to the Fiery Abyss, By Way of the Neolithic

This was a red letter date in gaming for me: I actually declined a game of Arkham Horror — mostly because of the stuff I had lugged to Quarterstaff. Since I had lugged it, I was damn well going to play it.

Andrew mistakenly fired the rocket tube allocated to Crewman Amber as a sleeping berth.

I appear to have a comfort plateau in Space Alert. I brought the game to Quarterstaff for the second week in a row, thinking that now people knew the game, we could move on to more difficult missions. Instead, given my own lack of familiarity with the next lesson in the tutorial book, we just played through two scenarios we’d already done, both of which I think we lost for want of sufficient coordination.

It was a disappointing experience for me. I feel like I haven’t learned the game well enough to lead other people through it, so playing well relies on playing with the people who more readily grasp the programming and resource management. They were off playing the new Neuroshima Hex: Babel 13, so it was the newbies and non-programmers bumbling around on board the Sitting Duck.

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Loot

For Christmas this year, I got a couple game-related items. First and most obvious was my very own copy of Dominion, to which I promptly added the Envoy and Black Market decks I picked up last month. That now makes at least four copies of the game in the local board game community. It may be time to organize some kind of Dominion tournament at Quarterstaff Games.

I also received a couple of gift certificates, one to Barnes & Noble’s online store and Quarterstaff Games. The game store certificate I think I’ll bank for a while; there’s nothing out at the moment I especially want. The new edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill is the next board game release I really want and that’s probably going to be late 2010, at least. The Extraterrestrial Sourcebook for Conspiracy X has been variously stuck at the printer or on the boat for months now, so maybe I’ll use it on that if it ever appears. There’s also Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space which has tempted me somewhat, but I have philosophical issues with the notion of that purchase I’ll get around to explaining sometime soon.

The Barnes & Noble certificate I’d like to use rather more sharpish, as I imagine these end of year deals will, well, end with the year — which makes the decision tough, because Barnes & Noble’s game selection is much more limited. I’m considering getting the Pathfinder corebook, for example, which I think would be a kick in the pants to participating more in the Wednesday Pathfinder Society games, or maybe the systemless Pirate’s Guide to Freeport as a general purpose resource, or even another Changeling: The Lost supplement, assuming it’s in stock. I could just get a Lovecraft anthology as research for an upcoming project, but really, that’s what Paperbackswap.com is for.

Regrettably, their board game selection is rather light at the moment. I couldn’t even pick up a copy of Carcassonne if I wanted.

So I don’t know, really. Anyone have suggestions of a gaming-related item to get from Barnes & Noble?

[Tuesday Board Game Night] Betrayal at House on the Hill

Alex, Sascha, Luke and Nonnie (left to right) all look on at the house on the hill in all its Escherean architectural glory.

Alex, Sascha, Luke and Nonnie (left to right) all look on at the house on the hill in all its Escherean architectural glory.

Board game night this week was a real treat. In honor of the Halloween season — and the fact we hadn’t played it in pretty much a year — Alex brought Betrayal at House on the Hill, an Avalon Hill title dating from the days when Wizards of the Coast actually published games under the imprint that aren’t Axis & Allies.

Let me be frank up front: I adore Betrayal at House on the Hill. And by “adore,” I mean “squeal gleefully as it’s unpacked.” It has everything I love in a board game: strong theme, cooperative play, utterly unexpected twists and a delightful sense of humor.

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