Title: Betrayal at House on the Hill
Designer(s): Rob Daviau, Bruce Glassco, Bill McQuillan, Mike Selinker, Teeuwynn Woodruff
Publisher: Avalon Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill was the game which got me back to board-gaming after a close-to-decade-long hiatus. Before that, the limits of my board game knowledge was kept within the confines of Scrabble, Monopoly, and Cluedo (I still love Cluedo though). However, when I saw the replayability and strong story behind this game, I was hooked.
Betrayal’s setup is pretty straightforward – you choose your character, set up the entrance and pathway to the upper floor, the upper floor tile, and the basement tile. After that, you pick your character, place your minis at the entrance, shuffle the floor tiles, and you’re ready to escape the house.
Within each box, you have:
The game is for 3 to 6 players, with each player choosing any characters they liked. Usually, we’d randomise our characters to diversify game play.
STORY OF THE GAME
On a clichéd, dark and stormy night, a rag-tag group of people find themselves seeking shelter in the only place they happen to believe exist – a run-down house that looks to be the stuff of nightmares. With little choice (and probably egging from someone who knows no consequence), they step in. The doors shut, lightning strikes, and the worst idea of their lives begins to unravel.
Players: Myself, Max a.k.a. The Tiger, Lyn, Lina, Raven Silvers
Each of us took the role of people who have entered this mad house (probably with Sarah’s poking) – a couple of kids, a couple of young adults, a medium / soap-loving aunt, and a professor / priest. Depending on which you’d prefer, each archetype had a different character on either side of the character card.
This was one of the first few haunts we played with Lina’s new set.
For this particular game, it took us about six omens before the haunt started, with our Haunt being United We Stand – a haunt about the traitor and his/her ability to absorb the bodies of their friends. (Or a nicer / less messy way of cannibalism. LOL.)
So I was traitor, and everyone else were supposed survivors – let the games begin.
The first thing the group did was to head straight to the basement, with the exception of Raven, who stayed in the garden.
At the end of the game, the survivors won, though Lyn decided that her characters were going to stay away from the basement for a while.
A game which converted some of my friends into board gamers as well, Betrayal at House on the Hill has immense replayability with 50 different haunts, with each house having a different layout because you shuffle the tiles with every game. It promises fun without fear, and tons of laughter (the right kind).
Betrayal at House on the Hill is published by Avalon Hill and has an expansion called, ‘Widow’s Walk’. You can find out more about this game here.
Title: On Making Madeleines
Author: Wena Poon
Publisher: Sutajio Wena
I make it no secret that I’m a fan of Wena Poon’s works. Last Singapore Writers’ Festival, she gave some of us a copy of her latest book, “On Making Madeleines”. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
In summary, the story speaks about Wena’s process while baking the French classic, with all her distractions and thoughts interjecting between the steps. When I spoke to her about it, she said it started as a recipe and process for her mother-in-law and the more she wrote, the more she realised its potential as a short story.
“The thing about baking French things like madeleines is that you can’t rush them.”
The literal first line of the book sets the scene. Each step closer to those delicate pastries brought new jests and “distractions” that we can all point and go, “Ayyy” at. (Especially the point she made about having the TV playing in the background while you potter about in the kitchen)
Once again, her writing continues to entertain. This piece is quick to get through, with snippets of conversations (between herself and her husband), musings, and whatever happened to go on around her in the middle of baking injected between the steps. One of my favourite parts had to be these lines:
“Don’t overmix and push all the air out of the eggs. You want the madeleines to be fluffy. Julia Child said once that it is preferable to have unmixed bits, than to overmix and deflate the batter. Julia Child lies. If you have unmixed bits, they will bake and taste exactly that – unmixed. You just have to learn how to fold and mix evenly without letting all the air out. If you don’t know how, it takes practice, don’t worry God help you.”
You read On Making Madeleines to be entertained. You read it to laugh and nod at how baking is not as many cookbooks say it is. You read it to have a glimpse at how something seen as an everyday task can become an adventure or a comedy sketch. And you will not be disappointed.
As a bonus, read the story all the way to the end. It’s a great Easter Egg especially for cake lovers and fans of Wena’s other pieces. (I was presently surprised yet again. Especially at how versatile Wena continues to be in her style of writing and storytelling) With that, I’m going to leave it to the rest of you to find out – get the book and read it with your morning coffee (and some cakes, if you’re able!)
On Making Madeleines is now sold on Amazon. You can find out more about Wena’s other works and escapades on her website here.
Author: Anna AB & Wayne Rée
It’s 2017 and I thought I’d start of the year with a prompt to inspire and a nudge to get started.
According to Wayne, this collection of stories was put together while he and Anna were travelling in Cambodia and got inspired. With each prompt encountered, both authors present their own interpretations of Graffiti, Time Travel, Frustration, Day Off, Smoke, Sacrifice, and Last Days.
Each story was constructed according to its theme and the auras you’d find in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Thriller genres permeated their words. Each story was a fine balance between reality we can relate to and the what ifs of life should our parallels be different.
The writing from both authors was impeccable. Words flowed, conveying sincere stories that provoke thought, reflect society, and above all, entertain. While I did get lost in some of the shorts, being distracted by the details in exposition and losing the story halfway, the straightforward execution had me back on track.
My favourites from the both of them include Where I End and You Begin by Anna and Admin by Wayne.
Admin sets a twisted idea in a scene we all know too well. Marrying bureaucracy and the lure of the dark, this story had me laughing from the start, especially when the idea of sections and forms came into play in the middle of a summoning. With the familiar faces and voices of office drones, it is difficult not to laugh at how this could be if we lived in a world of Lovecraft instead. (P/S – Wayne, can I do a reading of this story, please?)
Where I End and You Begin was one of those stories which had me increase the width of my smile as I read along, only to have me go, “YES!!!” with a fist pump by the end. The idea is not new, but it gives me a whole lot of relief when a story about time travel speaks about its paradox and leaves no loopholes. The writing here is emotional, tight, and enjoyable, and I hope you will have your mind blown at the end too.
Prompt was written by Anna AB and Wayne Rée. Check Wayne out here and Anna out here.
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.