Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne thinks that the great interest by customers in Gloomhaven was driven more by scarcity than by actual gameplay and worries that may be the same reaction with Betrayal Legacy.

In case you missed it, Wizards of the Coast came out with some more information about the Legacy version of Betrayal at House on the Hill that the company announced last year.  The design for Betrayal Legacy, as WOTC is referring to it, comes from Rob Daviau, one of the designers of the original Betrayal at House on the Hill and designer of the Legacy series of games:  Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy Seasons 1 and 2 and Seafall.  All of these are, for want of a better word, customizable boardgames.  In fact, as far as I am aware, Risk Legacy paved the way for what could be called the customizable board game, a campaign style of game in which the board gets modified permanently, cards get altered or destroyed and the players wind up with an individualized, but still playable, game.  Games in a similar vein include Charterstone and Gloomhaven.

As you play the game, over time you wind up with an individualized version of the game.  The Legacy version of Betrayal is projected to include a prologue and a thirteen chapter story arc covering several generations in the history of one family that occupies the House on the Hill with player characters aging over the course of gameplay and even descendants of the original characters making appearances in later stories.

However, based on recent experience, I am not particularly sure how well this version of the game will sell.  Risk Legacy did pretty well, but the game established a new category and games that create their own product niche always dominate that niche until competitive arises (see Dominion and deckbuilding games).  Pandemic Legacy Season 1 did pretty well but nowhere as well as Risk Legacy and I do not think we have moved a copy of Pandemic Legacy Season 2 yet.  As far as Seafall, we still have our original copy on the shelf and I noticed Asmodee/ Plaid Hat Games had the game listed on their annual Christmas clearance sale last year.

Charterstone has done OK, moving quite well when it first came out, but sales have slowed down on the game since Stonemaier Games dealt with the out-of-stock problems it had when the game first released.  Cephalofair Games has not managed to overcome the horrendous out-of-stock problems it’s had with Gloomhaven for the past year.  This, however, has not affected demand for the game as, of this writing, it still ranks number one on BoardGameGeek’s Hotness Index and sports a 9.0 ranking on the website.

Much of the demand for Gloomhaven is driven by the scarcity of the game.  Since stores have been told they should see much of the scarcity problem alleviated when a new printing arrives this summer, it will be interesting to see if demand for the game stays at the same level it is now, with copies selling for over $400.  Pre-sales of the new printing indicate a drop in interest as some stores are taking preorders for as little as $92.

Based on this, it looks to me as if the great interest by customers in Gloomhaven is driven more by scarcity than by actual gameplay and I worry we may see the same reaction with Betrayal Legacy.  The original Betrayal still sells well, as does the Widow’s Walk expansion, but Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm among customers.  Given WOTC’s supply chain management, I do not expect to see any shortages in Betrayal Legacy, so demand for the game will be driven by customer perception of gameplay, not scarcity.  Will be interesting to see what happens.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of