Column by Scott Thorne
Posted by Scott Thorne on June 4, 2018 @ 1:09 am CT
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.
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.
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.
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