3-5 players, Semi-Cooperative, Story-Based, Legacy
Designer: Rob Daviau
Artwork: Scott Okumura, Ben Oliver
Publisher: Avalon Hill Games
Overview of Gameplay
Betrayal Legacy is the newest version of the small batch of Betrayal games that have been released. You will be playing through a campaign of an ongoing story of different relatives of the same families over the course of many, many years. In this one you are playing much the same as its predecessors only this is a LEGACY game. Which means that there will be changes made to the game as you play it that will completely change it going forward. But basically you and others will be moving around some tiles that are flipped of this creepy old house until the Haunt Phase is triggered a couple of different ways. Once this happens the game takes a sharp turn and you must reference a particular story segment in the accompanying booklets to set up the second half of the game.
This second half varies wildly based on previous choices that were made in the game. The further you progress in the overall campaign of the game, the more different it will become when compared to other copies of the game out in the wild. From this point you will follow the directions on whatever story you are playing and attempt to complete your required objective. It usually boils down to a one vs many type of scenario but I have seen full co-ops and free for all’s as well. Once a particular party/person completes their objective that story ends and massive changes occur to the game. I’m talking some cards may go away forever, others are added. New board tiles are added/taken away, new items and abilities may appear. This really gives the game an incredible dynamic and once you finish the campaign you can take your uniquely crafted game and continue to play basic one-off games of Betrayal going forward.
The components are pretty good, nothing super outstanding or premium but they are absolutely workable. The player minis you get are painted but again they are not super detailed or painted to perfection either. The game board tiles are decently thick and I haven’t had any issues with bowing tiles yet. The artwork on the tiles are decent enough to show interesting locations of different rooms in the house and even outdoor locals.
Now as far as the EXCITEMENT I get with the components, that’s a different thing. The thrill of opening things and finding new stuff to add to your future games is overwhelming. There are tons of new things to find and experience as you explore all the chapters of this lengthy campaign. At the end of each story you will add a batch of new tiles to the stack of facedown tiles you can explore. Now whether you go ahead and look at these as you add them or not is entirely up to you but I suggest just adding them and mixing them up without looking. It makes each new game that much more exciting and unique as you never know what new area you will find.
I touched on this a bit earlier but the box has a decent insert that has a spot for everything. It’s not perfect but I appreciate how it attempts to mostly hold everything lol. What I mean is that there are spaces for specific things such as cards and tokens but as you progress through the campaigns stories it will get more and more complex on how to store the cards to make sure you are not getting things mixed up. This is a minor squabble but could also serve to increase setup time as well depending on how you organize everything. The box size itself is very reasonable and sitting next to the other Betrayal games is the exact same tallness. Its length has been increased however to fit everything the game comes with but can still fit easily in most shelves.
Visual Appeal /Theme
The theme is where this game rises to match the coolness of its legacy aspect. I don’t think I would be remiss to describe this game as a Horror game. I wouldn’t exactly call it scary per say but it does incorporate many of the same unique qualities that most horror medians do. And as such this does create some pretty tense and surprising moments. Visually the game tiles and cards go a long way to add to the overall horror feel and the choices you end up making further enhance that. Overall I am very impressed with the theme and I think all the components fit very nicely with adding to that theme.
The rulebook is not the best and unfortunately it’s made even more confusing due to the Legacy aspect of the game. The funny thing is, this game is SUPER simple to play but I felt that the rulebook made it more complicated than it needed to. On your turn you can move up to your characters speed trait. If you discover a new tile and draw a card your turn is finished. I mean that is super simplifying it but there it is. I think they tried to cram everything at you quickly and it just made the game confusing. And the rules that I really want to know about, they are hard as heck to find in the book. For example how many dice do you roll for the Haunt? This rule changed from betrayal at the house on the hill to betrayal at baldurs gate and I can never remember which rule is used. Finding that little tidbit in the rulebook is much harder than it should be.
And then the rules for each Haunt. There are TONS of different haunts that could happen in the game and they have come a LONG way in improving the basic formula to explain how the traitor works but it’s still very confusing at times. There is one instance where the wording was off (and this was touched upon in the bgg forums) and it lead to the traitor winning the story whereas if he was playing correctly, he would have lost. This is pretty huge. Then again if you come into the game with a loose state of mind for rules and are not a super stickler then you will probably enjoy the game a whole lot more.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
This one is massive. The table talk is constant in this game where you will always be discussing random occurrences and specific tiles. For example in one of our groups very first games I was on the Hanging Tree tile outside digging up an artifact I found, when all of a sudden another player came up behind me and clubbed me in the back of the head, killing me. For every game after that anytime I stumbled upon that hanging tree I would exclaim about it and we as a group would reminisce about that time I was “minding my own business” when my friend murdered me. Eventually I got to the point where I would seek the tree out JUST to bring up old memories.
THAT is what this game is all about, the memories. You will create an avalanche of memories through you and your friends actions. And you may not survive every game and you might play a particular rule incorrectly that might change the outcome, but you will have a blast doing so.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
All 5 players all the way. The more players you have playing, the more exciting possibilities the game opens up for you. And not through any mechanics or extra pieces or anything, through player interaction. There is no telling what is going on in the heads of your teammates. Are they plotting against you? Are they trying to help you but it seems suspicious……Who knows!
Replayability is the highest it’s ever been right here. Beyond the campaign that will take many, many nights to complete at a couple hours each game, once the campaign is finished you have a fully realized Betrayal game that can be played over and over again. In the story manual there are separate sections of flavor text for individual games not a part of the campaign. So even when you are finally finished with the legacy aspect of the game, rest assured that you can continue playing the regular game for years to come. This is no simple play once, throw away game.
Positive Final Thoughts
I’ve played a number of Legacy games such as Gloomhaven and Charterstone and this is my favorite. The way items are unlocked and how they add to the overarching story is spectacular. The player interaction is superb and each game is unique. If you have never played a Betrayal game then THIS is the edition you want to get as it can be played over and over again but you also get the excitement of the Legacy aspect. And if you have played the other Betrayal games and enjoyed them then this is a version that I highly recommend getting as well.
Negative Final Thoughts
The rulebook and overall varying rules are sometimes a chore and those rules sticklers out there will more than likely be put off by them. This game also begs you to role play a bit as you create your family from scratch and this again might not be for everyone.