Friendship on the House on the Hill

One of my favorite board games is Betrayal on House on the Hill. It’s a semi-cooperative board game. The game has two phases. In the first phase, the players work together in exploring an old house. After a random event occurs, the game shifts into its second phase: One players’ character is randomly chosen to be a traitor. The traitor works to kill off the other players’ characters, while the other players work together to escape that fate.

I enjoy playing the game, but I’ve never been cast in the role of the traitor; the random factors never when that way. I always wanted to see how the game appeared from the traitor’s perspective, but I never got the chance.

Last night I played Betrayal with a couple of other friends. The second phase began, and we looked at the randomly-chosen scenario for the second phase. The rules said that one of us was a “hidden” traitor. We would all be appear to be working to escape the death trap, but one of us was secretly working to hinder the other two. Our characters worked our way through the house, looking for the items that would enable an escape.

I watched my fellow players carefully. One of them way playing a traitor. But who was it? Everyone seemed to be cooperating. One of them was doing an excellent job of bluffing. It was almost too easy to get through the scenario.

Finally the last item was discovered, and the final character was freed. We had won! But who was the traitor? In the spirit of the game, we initially decided that we wouldn’t know who it was. The mechanism for determining the traitor was to be given a token that came with the game; the traitor was indicated by the number “1” on the token. The game had gone so smoothly that the one who selected the tokens had doubts: Maybe she hadn’t looked carefully enough and didn’t include a token with a “1” on it.

So without revealing them, we handed the tokens to one player who mixed them up and looked at the tokens. He reported that there was a token with a “1”. One player said, “I had the 3 token.” Another said, “I had the 2 token.” They both looked at me. I took another look at the tokens. I’d thought mine was blank. The number “1” was tiny, in a corner of the token, and I missed it. I was the traitor and never knew it! Instead, I was the one responsible for freeing the other players!

I’m still chuckling over it. Stories like this are why I’m a gamer.

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