Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom: The Beginning

Only ten days remain before the night of all horrors descends upon the cowering masses.  I love this time of year.  The offensive heat and humidity of summer is supplanted by the cool, dry airs of autumn.  The leaves turn to their dying hues of red, orange, and gold.  I'm sitting at my computer with a bag of candy corn (I love this shit).  The call of night sings in my blood, seducing my thoughts as darker things rise in my mind.  With that in mind, I kick off my tribute to all the games, movies, music, and books that get me in the mood for the season.  Welcome to Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom.

I'm going to start things off with a game I just played recently.  A couple of good friends from Iowa came down last weekend and they brought Betrayal at the House on the Hill.  It's a very unique board game that nicely captures the suspense and terror of horror movies.

What makes it so great?  Well, the game actually has two phases.  In the first phase, all of the players are exploring this haunted mansion.  Everyone wanders around, exploring rooms, trying to find items that can help them.  This game uses tiles, instead of a standard board, which has actually become a staple in a lot of horror board games (I'll show you more at a later time).  The players start at the entryway and must go through doors in order to reveal the other rooms of the house.

Some rooms that are laid down trigger certain cards to be played. Event cards are, usually, minor spooky things, like blood on the walls, a slimy thing grabbing your leg, etc.  These events can slowly wear down your physical and mental attributes, bringing you a little bit closer to death, or they can steel you for the real, inevitable terror.  Items cards are exactly as advertised.  Some are weapons, some are items that boost your attributes, and some are talismans that help you out in certain rooms.  Finally, and most importatly, there are Omen cards.  When these are triggered, the active player get a (sometimes) important item, but each time an Omen card is drawn, a haunt check needs to be made.  You roll some dice and if the combined number is above the number of Omen cards in play, then everything continues as usual.

If the combined number is lower than the number of Omen cards in play, then things change, quickly.  This is where the second phase of the game comes in, because one of the players becomes "the traitor."  This player is now the monster in the game and everyone else must defeat him in order to win.  Usually, all the traitor needs to do is kill the other players to win, but they could also win by other conditional objectives.

If that sounds too easy, there's more.  You see, there are multiple factors that dictate how the second phase is played.  First off, there are 50 scenarios in the game.  Each scenario has the traitor become a different monster.  The first time we played, one of my friends became the leader of a group of cannibals.  In the second game, I turned into a giant, two-headed serpent.  Another thing is, that no one, not even the one who becomes the traitor, knows who the traitor will be until the haunting begins.  Top it off with special rules for each scenario, such as the monster is invulnerable until a character uses an Omen card to weaken them, and you have a very interesting game every time.

This game is great fun.  Not knowing who is the traitor and when they're going to strike certainly adds to the suspense.  When the traitor reveals themselves, everyone else must strategise and use teamwork to survive.  Sometimes, the game can be one sided - there are too many zombies for the survivors to kill, or the survivors already have all the items needed to kill the monster.  It's pretty much up to circumstance, but that's part of the joy, because a part of you has to prepare to fight the monster and part of you has to prepare to be the monster.

My wife's trying to get a copy of this game.  Supposedly, it's out of print.  But I have seen some places online still selling them, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

That's all the terror for today, boys and ghouls.  I'll be back soon to let you all back into the Crypt.

Maybe, I'll even seal you in there, forever. (maniacal laugh)

Until then,
Kaiser out

1 comment:

  1. Oh good you guys are looking for the game, I was going to break down and buy it used if someone else wasn't.