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Scooby Don't - A Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion Review

W Updated May 21, 2022
 
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Scooby Don't - A Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion Review

Game Information

Publisher
Players
3 - 5
There Will Be Games

Misleader - You twisted things to satisfy
Deceiver - This greedy lust you can't deny, you can't deny

Betrayer
Betrayer”

Lyrics from Betrayer By Kreator

Is this too harsh to begin a review of a Scooby Doo game? I don't know, I think there is a level of rage that only a German Thrash Metal band can properly encapsulate.

Maybe it goes without saying, but Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion is supposed to be a family friendly/streamlined version of the Betrayal “System.” And if any system needed a streamlined/anything friendly version, it is Betrayal. When Betrayal actually works, it can be a glorious gaming experience. When it crashes and burns, it's a dumpster fire you end up muttering apologies to everyone at the table for exposing them to.

I flipped through the Scooby Doo rulebook at my local game store, stopping to read the “This game is different from other Betrayal Games” page. What was different leaped out at me: You can volunteer to be the villain before the haunt begins, there is no Haunt Matrix, players are not eliminated, Haunts may be learned together, damage is just general damage. Okay Scoob old buddy, you convinced me. Let's do this. 

How could I be so naive to believe all the lies you so easily told?
I think I've learned my lesson too late
The story took time to unfold

Lyrics from Betrayer By Kreator 

If you have previously played a version of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, picture the physical component of the game that, without question, needs to be replaced. Are you picturing these monstrosities?

Shite

Of course you are and they are exactly what greeted me when I opened the box.

These are one of the most reviled game “pieces” ever created. They obscure information, the clips tear at the cardboard, they are notoriously either too loose or too tight. The fires of Hell were likely started by discarded Betrayal player boards and the curses uttered at them. So, if you are creating a new version of Betrayal, OF COURSE you would bring these over unchanged.

And laying on top of these lovely game pieces are three manuals: Rulebook, Secrets of Survival and Monster's Tome. But Scoob old pal, I thought the haunts could be learned together? The “Keep this a secret even if learning the haunt together” disclaimer in the monster's tome should cover any emerging questions, right Scoob? Scoob?  

Okay, deep breath. It's all about good and clear haunts, right? You search around for the first few rounds of the game, gather some clues and items, and are thrust into a classic Scooby Doo episode. During each “episode/haunt” one of the meddling kids/players is usually stuck in a closet and becomes the “Monster” for the game. (Resisting the obvious “Velma being in the closet” joke that has been thoroughly explored on TikTok (Yes, I know it's an algorithm.)). I did enjoy picking who was going to be the baddy beforehand allowing for players who don't want to be the bad guy. Granted, we've been doing this for years in Betrayal and the new “rules” covering this is basically “The character you were playing is stuck in a closet. Remind us why you even bothered taking turns for the first half of the game since it has zero impact now that the haunt started?” But, I digress, it's all about playing some clear, entertaining haunts. And it is at this point that I check the front cover of the game to make sure it doesn't say “Legacy” anywhere on it because if Scooby Doo is doing anything, it's carrying on the legacy of typo-filled, unclear and even broken haunts. I'm talking extra lines of text in haunt's that make no sense, missing lines from haunts, component lists for the same haunt containing two different lists of required items in the Monster and Secrets of Survival tomes. Hell, Haunt two even tells you to place four skeleton tokens for a five player game when there are only three included in the game. And let's not forget you'll be finding this all out DURING the game when you stumble across it. 

And do you know what a good 90% of the “Family Friendly” people who buy/play this Scooby Doo game probably aren't going to bother with/know about? Going to zoinking Board Game Geek to find out how to fix or properly play a jinkies haunt! (And not with an official Errata but one compiled by BGG users). 

Ignorant
Twisted mind
Maybe it would help to think before you speak from time to time
Pretend to be a friend of mine
You would sell your mother if you could for less than a dime”
 

Lyrics from Betrayer By Kreator

You may be asking yourself “Why so much Venom?” I would remind you that the lyrics are from Kreator, a German Thrash Band, and not Venom, a English Black Metal band. Completely different.

But if you are asking why so much venom from me being thrown at this game? This isn't the first try at an improved Betrayal (Betrayal At the House on the Hill Second Edition) or the second (The Widow's Walk expansion) or third (Betrayal at Baldur's Gate) or even fourth (Betrayal Legacy). At some point, you wear out whatever apologetic good will that is earned from occasionally providing a memorable game experience. Especially when Scooby Doo might be viewed as a “Gateway Game” and it has the exact opposite effect, a stumbling mess of game you want to “Get Away” from. When over half of your 25 haunts have a typo, blatant mistake, or incorrect information. You do not get the benefit of the doubt from me, just the doubt. Color me bewitched, bothered and betrayed.

You can't deny.
You can't deny.
Betrayer.

Lyrics from Betrayer By Kreator

Photos

Scooby Don't - A Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion Review
Scooby Don't - A Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion Review
Scooby Don't - A Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion Review
Scooby Don't - A Scooby Doo: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion Review

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
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Scooby Doo: Betrayal At Mystery Mansion
Color me bewitched, bothered and betrayed.
Wade Monnig  (He/Him)
Staff Board Game Reviewer

In west Saint Louis born and raised
Playing video games is where I spent most of my days
Strafing, Dashing, Adventuring and Looting
Writing reviews between all the Shooting
When a couple of guys reminded me what was so good
About playing games with cardboard and Wood,
Collecting Victory Points and those Miniatures with Flair
It’s not as easy as you think to rhyme with Bel Air.

Wade is the former editor in chief for Silicon Magazine and former senior editor for Gamearefun.com. He currently enjoys his games in the non-video variety, where the odds of a 14 year old questioning the legitimacy of your bloodline is drastically reduced.

“I’ll stop playing as Black when they invent a darker color.”

Articles by Wade

Wade Monnig
Staff Board Game Reviewer

Articles by Wade

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hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #332789 04 May 2022 09:31
A friend of mine picked this up after playing Betrayal at my house. I have never heard if he has played it yet. Sounds like some proof-reading went awry.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #332790 04 May 2022 10:40

hotseatgames wrote: A friend of mine picked this up after playing Betrayal at my house. I have never heard if he has played it yet. Sounds like some proof-reading went awry.

I appreciate your diplomatic wording. Serious question: Do you prep before a game of Betrayal, making sure you select a good, clear haunt? When the haunt is revealed, is it a seamless 5 minutes of transition or is it 15 mins of questions and rule "debates"? How many times does it end with "I'm not even sure we played it correctly?" I WANT Betrayal to run smoothly (As the copies still on my shelf can attest), so when another version replicated almost every negative issue AGAIN, my goodwill toward it is exhausted.
jpat's Avatar
jpat replied the topic: #332791 04 May 2022 10:50
I'd stayed away from this game for similar reasons, even though (1) the theme is broadly appealing and (2) the theme seems like a better fit to the mechanics than the standard version. But it sounds like they just broke it, or finished breaking the design, by poor implementation, something that's, erm, haunted the game series since the beginning.

I feel kind of the same way about Betrayal as I did about D&D 3/3.5 stat blocks, which even the professional authors often couldn't get right. If your game is that messy, maybe the problem is the design.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #332800 04 May 2022 12:47
Velma is in the closet? Jinkies!

I haven't tried this version of Betrayal, but I've played the original a lot and the D&D one once. I disagree with a lot of the typical criticism of the original. The exploration half of the game is not a waste of time, it's the good part of the game, because it reliably offers a certain entertainment value for the kind of player who likes to explore. The wild variability of the game made the second half of the game difficult to playtest, though they should have had a ruthless editor to grind each scenario down to a flavor paragraph and some simple rules for the scenario. The Underground Lake doesn't need to be a basement title because the artwork depicts that the lake is some distance below the doors to that space.

The real problem with Betrayal is the unreliable entertainment value of the second half of the game. Certain scenarios become unbalanced if the house is too big or too small or if there is a bottleneck in the layout. When a scenario becomes unbalanced, one side or the other wins quickly enough that both winners and losers feel that the ending was anti-climactic.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #332803 04 May 2022 13:18

Shellhead wrote: I disagree with a lot of the typical criticism of the original. The exploration half of the game is not a waste of time, it's the good part of the game, because it reliably offers a certain entertainment value for the kind of player who likes to explore.


I totally agree with this. Which is what makes the "You can pick a player to be the bad guy before the game starts" portion of this not really satisfying. Because that player goes through the motions of exploring, knowing full well that once the Haunt starts, any items they accumulated are simply just locked away along with their character. It works much better if it is a random player who is the "betrayer" but if this is the solution to players not wanting to be the betrayer, it's lack-luster. (I don't know what the solution is, but I don't think this is it.)
HiveGod's Avatar
HiveGod replied the topic: #332804 04 May 2022 13:43
Betrayal has been a perennial favorite in my household and game group for 17 years. We approach it like an RPG funnel, a random story generator—sometimes the story is a back-and-forth nailbiter... and sometimes it's a slaughter. Either way we're entertained, and it's never been the same game twice.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #332805 04 May 2022 13:59

WadeMonnig wrote:

hotseatgames wrote: A friend of mine picked this up after playing Betrayal at my house. I have never heard if he has played it yet. Sounds like some proof-reading went awry.

I appreciate your diplomatic wording. Serious question: Do you prep before a game of Betrayal, making sure you select a good, clear haunt?


No, we don't prep it, although I think one time we fudged it to avoid a repeat. A long, LONG time ago, Betrayal was one of my favorite games. When it hits, it really hits. But it doesn't take too many bungled haunts to really sour you on it. It pretty much only comes down off the shelf now at Halloween, and everyone involved knows what they are signed up for; maybe something supremely memorable, maybe something we all want to forget.

For all of its warts, Betrayal is one of the few games with sessions I can still recall. People wanting a serious game definitely need not apply. One person in my group is a diehard Betrayal lover, and has the Legacy version, which we have never tried. I have heard it is really great, and would like to check it out. Unfortunately the group doesn't have a lot of players and we don't meet often enough to really make a legacy game work.

It's also my hope that my KS version of the Gothic Game shows up prior to Halloween so that I don't have to play Betrayal again this year.
HiveGod's Avatar
HiveGod replied the topic: #332809 04 May 2022 14:46

hotseatgames wrote: For all of its warts, Betrayal is one of the few games with sessions I can still recall.

From our most recent game:

Haunt 75.

It's not looking good for our heroes; the haunted part of the haunted house is cranked up to 11 and the traitor is cackling in the chaos—when he suddenly remembers he has the Dark Dice. And why shouldn't he roll them, in this, his moment of triumph? He rattles dem bones and they leave his fist, clattering along the baseboards...

...and come up full goose egg—a big, fat 0.

His stats drain to toddler-level, we converge on his position and stomp a mud hole in him.
Rliyen's Avatar
Rliyen replied the topic: #332812 04 May 2022 15:04
I just got an email from Hasbro Pulse regarding the 3rd Edition of Betrayal at the House on the Hill. They are changing how the haunt will be generated. Essentially, giving the investigators scenarios cards that gives the reason to go into the house and which of the fifty haunts you'll play. I took one look at it and said hard pass. They're still using the cardboard shredding pegs and they're providing unpainted minis "so you can be creative and PAINT THEM YOUR WAY!!!" *eyeroll*