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Can a "legacy" Betrayal At House On The Hill game work?
Head in the Clouds
Updated: Monday, Nov 27, 2017
Hello, I’m Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise. The Legacy genre of games was introduced fairly recently. For those unfamiliar with this tabletop category, a legacy style game is one where a unique continuity is created over the course of several play sessions by introducing changes that permanently alter the game’s rules and modify its components. At the end of a legacy campaign, players are left with a different game than when they started. Several legacy style games have been produced, starting with Risk Legacy, followed by Pandemic Legacy, SeaFall, and Charterstone. Three of these four games were designed by board game design veteran, Rob Daviou. And several days ago, another Rob Daviou designed legacy game was revealed to add to the list when it was announced that he would be developing a legacy version of the story-driven horror game Betrayal At House On The Hill.

This version, currently scheduled for a late 2018 release, starts with Betrayal At House On The Hill’s original concept of a cooperative investigation that triggers a betrayal by one of the players at some point - pitting the remaining investigators against the player-turned-villain - and adds in legacy elements.

And while the legacy genre is one of my favorite recent innovations in board game design, I must admit, I have my reservations about a legacy version of Betrayal At House On The Hill. Here’s why. Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy, and Charterstone succeeded in part because they start with a game engine that’s relatively simple, well-known, or both. The legacy system then builds upon that simple core game, introducing new rules and wrinkles over time as new content is unlocked. In my opinion, SeaFall failed because the game it started with was an original, comparatively complex one. There was a lot of game to learn, even before adding the legacy twists introduced throughout multiple play sessions.

Is Betrayal At House On The Hill simple enough to successfully receive the legacy treatment? The game is fantastic fun, but can also be notoriously fiddly, especially certain storylines. Additionally, Betrayal At House On The Hill is a story-driven game. Would a legacy system’s evolving ruleset interfere with the variety and versatility of incredible scenarios from the original version?

I’m wondering if the legacy approach is best applied to a very specific type of game. A game with a very simple set of mechanisms at its core, that the legacy system can then build onto while constructing its story - not the other way around.

But what do you think? Is a certain type of game that naturally lends itself to the legacy environment? Or others that are incompatible with the legacy treatment? Are you looking forward to, or concerned about, the upcoming legacy version of Betrayal At House On The Hill? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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