My First Mistake

After my epiphany, I decided that I would dive head first into board gaming. And some people probably think that I landed on my head jumping in the shallow end. I never get into hobbies half-way. No, no, no. I go all out! Board gaming would be no different!

Mere days after I made up my mind to be a board gamer, I was given a decent amount of money as a birthday gift from my church where I am on staff part-time. Since I hadn't cancelled the Amazon Prime, which my wife intended for me to do, I thought it would be best to reimburse our bank account with the first portion of this birthday check. The rest of it, however, I decided to devote to purchasing my first board games.

I didn't know where to look for what was good and what wasn't, so I went to my local Target store which always seemed to have a good selection. That seemed a good place to start. 

There is a wise saying that warns us not to judge a book by its cover. The same, I have learned, also applies to board games. But it's hard to overlook bad cover art and an interesting, attractive picture adorning the front can make even the wisest of us say, "That one looks good!"

As I scanned the boxes, my eyes were drawn to one cover in particular. It had a green-ish tint and a dark, ominous house that seemed to glare down hungrily at passersby. The title was as haunting as the grave artwork- Betrayal at House on the Hill. 

I read the back of the box and noticed that there were 50 scenarios to play through. This was important to me. If I was going to drop a substantial amount of money on a board game, it better have a lot of replayability. At this point I was still clinging to the notion that it was normal to pay $60 for a video game, but any more than $30 was atrocious for a board game. But, I thought I could overlook a higher price tag if it was going to be something that I routinely played. Plus, you could call me a vampire, because I'm a sucker for cheap, campy, B-horror. 

Actually, I'm not one for horror at all, but the darker themes do draw me in from time-to-time. Interestingly enough, however, the other game that caught my attention was One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

I went home, resolute on purchasing one or both of those, if I could. As soon as I got to my room I opened the Amazon app on my phone and searched. Turns out, according to some various list on Amazon, Betrayal at House on the Hill is the number one board game! That solidified my intent to purchase. Why bother with the others when I can go ahead and buy the best- for a discount, no less?! And it turned out that with the money I saved I also could get One Night Ultimate Werewolf.

It was only after I purchased these games that I thought to see what I could find on YouTube. For One Night Ultimate Werewolf I found a review by a chubby man with glasses and a thin mustache. He did the review with his daughter and a sub-standard camera and microphone. This random father/daughter combo liked the game enough, so I was pretty excited and confident about that aspect of my purchase. "Who was this reviewer man?" you might be asking. None other than Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower. It was my introduction to Mr. Vasel's reviews and the Dice Tower, which have become a mainstay on my YouTube viewing. 

Videos about Betrayal House on the Hill were much longer. I watched/listened to several. To tell you the truth, as excited I was about this game coming to me in the mail in a matter of days- two or less, promised Prime, there was a knot in my stomach about the theme. The more I learned, the more leery I became.

But that didn't stop me from punching out every bit after I unwrapped the cellophane from the box and organized each piece. It was then that I saw the bloodied "Pentagram Room." My wife was the most concerned between the two of us, but I attempted to lie to myself and say that it didn't really bother me. It was par for the course of cheesy horror.

The game never got to my table. First it was because of the complexity of the game. I don't think it was that complicated, but it would be a troubling teach for my family who seem pained by even the briefest rules explanation. Then, as the Covid Pandemic began to grip our country, I knew that it would be a time before I could assemble a group willing to play. My wife, who is a saint, refused to even try that one, and she usually will try anything that I ask. Eventually, I was honest with myself- I also didn't want to play the game because of the theme. 

The final nail in the coffin, so to speak, was watching the Tabletop episode on it. When Wil Wheaton was assigned by the devil himself for innocent blood, I knew the game had no place on my table. It didn't even belong on my shelf. 

So, I sold it. The first game I ever decided to buy once I got into the hobby was out of my house without even setting it up once. 

There have been other games that I got because of how interesting they seemed, but didn't quite live up to their end of the bargain- I'm looking at you, Jurassic Park: Danger and CV, you can't hide from me! But they are still on my shelf. They've been played. Once, but that counts. There is still hope for other plays for them both. Betrayal at House on the Hill? There is no hope for that game. It's gone to where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Metaphorically. I sold it to a guy on the East coast. 

But perhaps there will be redemption for Betrayal (I'm too tired to write "at House on the Hill" again). With the Scooby Doo version set to come out later this month, maybe some of the darkness will be taken by a lighter property. 

Maybe my first mistake is a redeemable one.


  1. Some good takeaways: (1) play to your audience/group; (2) no amount of research can completely factor in how your group will like it; and (3) a well liked game is not for everyone. Thanks for sharing! — @shuffledup on Insta


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