Betrayal at House on the Hill is pure homage to the horror genre. Players start by exploring a haunted mansion filled with strange events and items to find, before someone - or something - catches them unawares in a dastardly plot. These plots are called haunts and are directly inspired by all sorts of horror tropes, from the genuinely disturbing to the downright ridiculous, and make up a good chunk of the board game’s appeal.
Just as horror has seen its fair share of highs and lows, so do the haunts in Betrayal. After all, you can’t always expect an Alien. Sometimes you’ll get a Hellraiser: Hellworld instead. None of the haunts in Betrayal present quite as torturous an experience as watching Hellworld, but there are a fair few that miss the mark when it comes to concept and gameplay - which is to be expected considering there are 50 included in the base game alone.
To help players figure out which ones to skip and which to dive into headfirst - you are able to select a different haunt from the one you find in the table - we’ve compiled a summary of the best, worst and weirdest haunts found in Betrayal at House on the Hill. For now, we’re not including any of the haunts found in the game’s excellent expansion, Widow’s Walk, though we may come to it sometime in the future because there are some doozies in there. There will obviously be spoilers for several haunts in the game, so stop reading if you want to experience them with fresh eyes.
Without further ado, here are the most notable haunts in Betrayal, whether for better or worse.
Best Betrayal at House on the Hill haunts
The Mummy Walks (#1)
A restless undead pharoah is looking for his bride
Let’s start off with a classic scenario. The Mummy Walks is the very first haunt in Betrayal’s Secrets to Survival and Traitor’s Tome rulebooks, which is suitable considering that it’s clearly inspired by one of the earliest popular horror stories. If the name doesn’t give it away, The Mummy Walks sees the traitor teaming up with an undead pharaoh to reunite them with their lost love - who is distinctly not on-board with the plan. Whilst the traitor has control over the Mummy and must unite them with their unfortunate bride in the room containing the Sarcophagus, the heroes will be attempting to discover the pharaoh’s real name.
This haunt is great because the heroes and traitor aren’t simply trying to off each other or other minions, but have their own separate goals across the mansion. Also, it’s so clearly a playable version of the many onscreen iterations of The Mummy, right down to the fact that the pharaoh wants to make a mortal woman into his undead bride and the heroes have to use ancient knowledge to vanquish the villain.
The Séance (#2)
Will a wandering spirit find peace or be made to unleash their wrath?
Another iconic horror setup, The Séance is a haunt wherein the heroes and traitor find themselves attempting to summon a spirit. The unique element here is that both teams are racing against each other to achieve exactly the same goal, but for very different reasons. While the heroes want to put the wandering soul to rest, the traitor seeks to use the vengeful ghost against the other characters in the mansion. Both the heroes and the traitor will need to attempt a séance in order to summon the ghost, but that’s only the first part of the haunt.
Whoever manages to summon the spirit first gains control over the ghost, with the heroes looking for the bones they need to bury and the traitor gleefully using the entity’s abilities to defeat the heroes. What’s unusual about this haunt is that it will be very different depending on whoever manages to get the ghost first. The heroes must race against time to perform the burial, otherwise the traitor will gain control of the spirit - causing the very mansion itself to start collapsing. It takes an otherwise very tropey scenario and makes it something special.
The Abyss Gazes Back (#22)
The house's occupants find themselves on a one-way trip to hell
“Hang on everyone! We’re goin’ to HELL!” Is what the heroes hear at the very beginning of The Abyss Gazes Back. Honestly, could there be any better way to announce a haunt? The Abyss Gazes Back is a demonic scenario that sees the mansion literally sliding its way into the bowels of Hell, with the traitor doing everything in their power to help it along. The heroes will be desperately attempting to avoid this dreadful fate by running from room to collapsing room, in the hopes of reaching one of two locations where they can perform an exorcism.
In the meantime, the traitor will be gradually demolishing the very mansion itself by turning over a gradually increasing number of room tiles at the end of each player’s turn. As the heroes find themselves trapped in the crumbling house, they’ll have to make a speed roll to prevent from being engulfed along with the room they’re standing in. This Betrayal haunt isn’t just a novel concept; it also plays around with the very structure of the board, with each destroyed room tile being turned over and made unpassable, which is an awesome visual feast for the eyes.
Invisible Traitor (#41)
A killer who cannot be seen stalks their former friends in search of blood
It’s too often the case in Betrayal at House on the Hill haunts that the main threat to the heroes is a collection of uninspiring minions who don’t do an awful lot, so it’s refreshing when you stumble across something different. Invisible Traitor is a haunt entirely focused on the traitor, as they suddenly gain the ability to walk unseen. Undergoing this process seems to have turned the character against their friends, as they experience the sudden desire to commit murder. The traitor removes their miniature from the game board, instead writing their current location on a piece of paper and updating it as they move throughout the mansion. Thanks to their invisibility, the traitor can attack players and steal from them without instant retaliation - remaining out of sight as long as the heroes fail to spot them.
The heroes must attempt to discover the traitor’s whereabouts by successfully passing a knowledge roll at the end of the traitor’s turn, if they happen to have attacked. Should the traitor ever roll a zero when attempting to steal from another player, the heroes gain an opportunity to deduce their current location. This makes for an intense game of cat and mouse between the two teams, with the traitor needing to pick off the heroes and the other players advised to stick together.
Worst Betrayal at House on the Hill haunts
The Web of Destiny (#4)
There's nothing so unoriginal as a giant spider
Spiders. They can be scary. Using spiders as a central threat in a horror scenario is nothing new and can seem rather trite if approached without imagination. The Web of Destiny haunt certainly doesn’t try to do anything fresh with the concept. Instead, it presents a very by-the-numbers storyline where the heroes must destroy the various eggs and webs spread across the mansion. The traitor is in control of the particular giant spider responsible for said eggs and webs, with their main goal being to murder all the heroes before they can escape.
Pitting the heroes and the traitor directly against one another in such a straightforward way - the traitor has access to better stats than the individual heroes - makes for a decidedly dull haunt. The Web of Destiny lacks any unique hook, both in its underlying concept and in its mechanics, resulting in the kind of Betrayal at House on the Hill haunt you’d be better off skipping.
Tick, Tick, Tick (#45)
This particular haunt is far from being 'the bomb'
The idea behind this haunt seems, at first glance, to be a rather intriguing one. Tick, Tick, Tick sees the heroes confronting their former friend-turned-explosives-enthusiast before the bombs strapped to their chests blow them to kingdom come. Meanwhile, the traitor is busy working on an even bigger bomb somewhere in the mansion, with the goal of holding out long enough for either all the heroes to be destroyed or their creation to be complete.
This haunt is unfortunately very dull for the traitor, as they do not move for the entire scenario, instead rolling dice to attempt to get more than an eight so that they can activate one of the time bombs attached to a hero. Things get a little more exciting once the heroes manage to deactivate their bombs - which they’ll need to do to even enter the same room as the traitor - but then the traitor simply becomes a sitting duck to be picked off. For the heroes’ part, one roll of the die and their character is instantly destroyed. Betrayal has always been heavily luck-based, but this scenario is a prime example of how not to use luck as a mechanic.
Carnivorous Ivy (#7)
Nobody wants to go on a fetch quest in the name of weeding
Haunts in Betrayal are at their absolute worst when the players are expected to either fulfill a list of very basic requirements - in the case of this example, find some items and go to a room - or just murder a collection of pretty standard minions in order to succeed. Carnivorous Ivy features both of these tedious approaches to haunt design, with the heroes expected to collect the ingredients they need to make some plant spray, which they can then use on the creepers gradually taking over the mansion. Think Jumanji, but infinitely less entertaining.
As for the traitor, they’ll be controlling the creepers in an attempt to grab the heroes and hold on to them long enough to turn them into mulch. Alternatively, they can try to destroy the plant spray and essentially put the heroes into a fail state because they can’t make any more. Carnivorous Ivy comes across as being a particularly cruel haunt for the heroes, as not only are they tasked with doing some pretty boring things, but the creeper’s ability to instantly mulch victims at the beginning of their turn and the aforementioned fail state make it especially mean.
Weirdest Betrayal at House on the Hill haunts
Frog-leg Stew (#3)
Double, double Toil and trouble. Heroes ribbit and traitor grovels
As a horror trope, witches are rarely successful at scaring their audiences because the way they’re presented has a tendency to very easily swerve into camp territory. Frog-leg Stew is an excellent illustration of exactly this. The portrayal of the witch is clearly meant to evoke amusement rather than terror, with the way she scolds the heroes and nags the traitor being akin to a pantomime dame. The heroes in this haunt will need to explore the mansion to find some specific ingredients in order to cast a spell against the witch, so they definitely get the short end of the stick in this scenario.
Whereas the traitor has the ability to cast spells as the witch, one of which can turn the heroes into frogs - a fate that presents a very irritating situation of the heroes attempting to reverse the spell’s effects, otherwise the newly amphibian character can do diddly squat. Should the traitor manage to get the witch’s cat in a room with a frog, the creature will consume the poor thing, which is something you certainly should not allow in real life.
An army of oversized invertebrates are taking over the mansion
We’ve already talked about why Betrayal at House on the Hill haunts where the heroes have to acquire items and attack minions are boring, but Bugs offers something a little more unique in this regard. Whilst there is a spray to create and creatures to destroy, Bugs is still much better than Carnivorous Ivy. Firstly, it’s far fairer, as the enemies the heroes will be fighting against cannot instantly kill them and the players have an opportunity to make another spray, as long as they have enough ingredients. Secondly, the prospect of fighting giant bugs is a more interesting and terrifying concept overall.
As in Frog-leg Stew, the traitor is going to have most of the fun in this haunt because they’ll be the ones controlling the titular bugs. The oversized insects will appear depending on which rooms have been discovered, meaning that the traitor will want to make their way through the mansion in the hopes of finding the right locations. Each bug has its own set of stats and some of them will even have unique abilities and restrictions. Should the traitor win, they’ll be crowned the ruler of their own bug army, just like that bit in Antz.
Here There be Dragons (#15)
The mythical monarch of lizards chooses to make the heroes its next meal
Dragons are unlikely to be the very first monster people jump to when thinking about horror creatures. They’re more associated with horror’s sibling genre of fantasy. However, the designers of Betrayal at House on the Hill decided that they’d include a haunt featuring one of the scaly beasts. Here There be Dragons presents perhaps one of the strangest haunt setups, with one of the heroes remembering how much they wanted a dragon as a kid and immediately encouraging the creature to eat their friends as soon as their wish is fulfilled.
The heroes will be looking to explore the mansion in order to gather the equipment they’ll need to slay the dragon the ol’ fashioned way, resulting in one character wielding armor, a shield and a spear in a dramatic finale. On the other team, the traitor will be ordering their enormous pet to use their unique abilities to burn and bite the heroes to death, with each new round further strengthening the already formidable beast. Both the concept and execution of this haunt definitely makes it one of the weirdest in the entire game.