What One Thinks: The Mansion Of Happiness

Pea green is the new black!

It’s been a slow week for video games (almost as slow as last week, in fact), so I’ve taken it upon myself to review the Parker Brothers’ new entertainment, The Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement. Designed by a clergyman’s daughter, Miss. Anne Abbott, this game seeks to amuse and teach Puritan virtues at once! Yes, Puritan. Marvellous…

First, I shall announce that I am currently engaged in talks with a dour and aged sea-captain to learn if we can come into the possession of foreign games sooner. Perhaps some day we’ll be able to present our reviews to you within the year! I am sorry, I shall stop with these flights of fancy. Mother always said I was a dreamer.

“The first board game ever published in America,” cries the box of The Mansion of Happiness. Is this true? Perhaps we should not investigate the point, and simply let them have it. What item could possibly benefit from an American heritage? They might as well write “The first board game to ever give you dropsy.”

Being of fine constitution and immune to disease, I opened the box, and I am glad that I did! The board of The Mansion of Happiness is a marvel, hand-coloured by assembly line. I was bemused at first to find a numbered spinning top as opposed to dice, before the “penny dropped”, as it were. Dice are associated with sin and gambling! Oh, Miss. Abbott, you must calm down a bit!

Here is what the instruction manual says.

“WHOEVER possesses PIETY, HONESTY, TEMPERANCE, GRATITUDE, PRUDENCE, TRUTH, CHASTITY, SINCERITY…is entitled to Advance six numbers toward the Mansion of Happiness. WHOEVER gets into a PASSION must be taken to the water and have a ducking to cool him… WHOEVER possesses AUDACITY, CRUELTY, IMMODESTY, or INGRATITUDE, must return to his former situation till his turn comes to spin again, and not even think of HAPPINESS, much less partake of it.”

There you have it, sirs. You are not even to think of happiness. I daresay us English will have little trouble with that! Ha! I am saying that we are a miserable people.

What we have here is a roll-and-move game in the adored style of Indian game Paramapada Sopaanam, or “Snakes & Ladders”, with specific gaols for each sin. If you are Idle, your playing piece is moved back to Poverty. Committing Crimes sends you to the Prison, and being active on the Sabbath sends you to the Whipping Post!

It is here that I must admit to an error. I did not realise that there were spaces on the board referring to each of these sins, and instead thought that your piece was moved when you committed these sins yourself, as a player! A strikingly inventive idea. And so it was that I had my manservant, Albumen, send invitations to four of the most notorious reprobates in my address-book for an evening of brandy and gameing.

It proved to be an excellent evening! Not ten minutes after we had begun Mr. Buchanan thought it would be a good idea to accuse Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian artist, of immodesty. Giuseppe, being a go-getting gentleman, immediately leapt clean across the table to deliver a slap to Buchanan’s cheek that silenced the room. I tried to restore order to the situation by playfully accusing Garibaldi of cruelty, only for him to turn his murderous Mediterranean gaze on me! Cooly, I reminded myself that he was an artist and shot him. Everybody agreed that it was a good shot, and a polite round of applause followed.

What did I learn from playing The Mansion of Happiness? Perhaps I should read the rules more closely next-time!

That is all.

The Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement is available from The Parker Brothers’ Entertainments’ Overseas Office for 2s 9d.


  1. Choca says:

    I dont’ need no stinking happiness !

  2. JackShandy says:

    Mr. Smith,

    Allow me to state my claim as the first member of the public to forward correspondance in response to this particular news-item.

    • JackShandy says:

      Alas! The direties of the english postal system have rendered the writings of that Scoundrel Choca above mine! My place in this list of correspondance has been usurped as if by the mysterious stealth-men of the orient themselves. I hereby withdraw my claim.

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Except you are not.

      Furthermore, your correspondence contains nothing of substance, beyond the debunked claim. I think it should be stricken from the record and you should hang your head in shame.

      Good day sir!

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Mr. Jack Shandy,

      We have instructed the community on more than one occasion to desist with this childish race. I am at present writing a letter to our lawyer to see if anything can be done about you.

      If not, I intend to hire a large man from Cornwall to push you into a bog.

    • McDan says:

      We men of Cornwall are a proud and peaceful race! We would do no such thing!
      Besides, bog-pushing is reserved for the second tuesday of every other month between the hours of 12-4:30pm sharp. Followed by a gentlemanly dinner of pipes.
      Good day to you Sir!

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I can’t do victorio-speak so just wanted to say I love RPS comments :) Veritably my good sir. Or something.

    • Orija says:

      Now, what do we have here? A tramp who refuses to employ his brain to make use of English as she was meant to be used. You, sir, do not deserve to be in this gentlemanly club of Rock, Parchment, Musket and a good day to you.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      “But my lord, I’ve been with your family for decades”

      “So has syphilis”

    • Temple to Tei says:

      I believe the Mr S.N. Power is being too humble for he writes fair in reply to another missive.
      (far, far fairer than I fair)

      Also, in agreement with him regarding the difficulty of the Marbles at a young age, indeed at any age I am far from skilled at it (I do feel it is meant for the lower classes, so am not too troubled), hence the sobriquet ‘Marble Madness’ I believe.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      I would like to thank you, Mr Temple, for your kindly remarks, and to show my gratitude with this excellent missive from Red Dwarf’s “Pride and Prejudice World” which seemed relevant to the overall proceedings link to youtube.com

    • Orija says:

      Well, Baldrick, syphilis, may the Lord be merciful on our piteous grandfather’s testicles, never uttered a single word that soiled the fair lady that is English like you have with your moldering tongue.

      And I shall offer a brisk nod to you if your negligible brain matter was able to glean what I, if I am say so myself, subtly referred to.

    • Bret says:

      I say!

      How can one bother with such chicanery as in the Americas, one suffers a most unfortunate economic downturn, compounded by accusations of carpet-baggery!

      It is stuff and nonsense, good sir!

  3. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    What odd little amusements those unfortunates in the Americas have come up with to while away their dreary hours!

    Have they not got any gin? Poor fellows!

    • Crane says:

      *slams fist on table*

      Gin? MOTHER’S RUIN, SIR!
      Do not speak of that ill-fated beverage in these august halls, lest I be forced to beat you soundly with my riding crop!

  4. idespair says:

    I played three games of The Mansion of Happiness. Women are impressed by me.
    A Traditional Victorian Gentleman’s Boasting Song

  5. SuperNashwanPower says:

    No DX11 support.

    Will not buy

  6. jimjames says:

    A fine read this! For you have the obstinance to neglect the immutably sound investment of time! For only after seventy man hours of play can one deduce the worthiness of such pleasureable pass time as Mansion of Happiness.

    Good day to you Miss and may your impertinence go unheeded. Good day INDEED.

  7. Stompywitch says:

    I believe that your periodical could benefit from a “My Considered Opinion” “tag” for such articles, as you no doubt intend to make a regular occurrence of them!

  8. Meneth says:

    I must say I’m truly upset about how you at Rock Paper Shotgun ignore the rest of Europe.
    I receive your truly great newsletter by boat every week all the way from Great Britain to my homeland, Norway. Yet, in near every newsletter you refer to your readership as “English” or “British”, which must clearly be intended as a grave insult to citizens of the rest of Europe.
    If this practice continues, I might have to ask for the honorable sailor delivering the newsletter to stop.

    • Mana_Garmr says:

      Why must you spread these vile fabrications? It is well known to all honourable and upstanding individuals that if you are not a citizen of the Empire then you cannot read. The very fact that you put pen to paper exposes the deceit you attempt to play upon us all.

    • Curvespace says:

      Europe, Sir, is but a list of conquests yet sought. Once your despotic and barbaric leader is dethroned you will find that your post shall arrive promptly, daily no less, by hand of one of the Queens men. Along with regular instruction on how to become an upstanding gentleman of the Empire.

      Good day to you.

    • Meneth says:

      My proud nation of Norway has a longstanding tradition of teaching our young men how to read.
      We are long past the barbaric days of Viking conquest.
      Good day to you too, sir.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Please; you are merely kicking up a lot of fuss over nothing, as our American cousins refer to it. You well know that speaking English is the provision of educated gentlemen only, and that the ruffians who constitute most of the world’s population would not understand this fine publication even if it were addressed to them.

    • Curvespace says:

      The truth is, we want your gloves. They might be crude and frightfully unquaint, but the winters here grow harsh and our fingers numb. Just the other day I found my hands to frozen to even discipline the stable boy properly, so we found ourselves having to swap roles. A dreadful business and not one I should imagine I shall forget in many a season.

      So, your gloves. Perhaps we can come to some arrangement… How are you off for tea?

    • Meneth says:

      Yes, we could certainly trade shipments of magnificently crafted Norwegian gloves for shipments of the truly great British tea. Maybe some biscuits as well, sir?
      I do fear we’re straying far from the topic of this article in the newsletter, and should return to it immediately, sir.

    • Curvespace says:

      I concur.

      Good day.

  9. Nemon says:

    Multiplayer, I guess?

  10. Gap Gen says:

    I refuse to pay heed to this distraction until such time as the manufacturers provide a demonstration reel for my edification and delectation. I am not likely to be fooled again after the tardiness of the release of Archduke Trinitrotoluenem from the Realms of the Third Dimension.

  11. ad_hominem says:

    I hereby denounce this game as being tailored towards the unsavoury elements present in the port area of our towns, and as such has been stripped down to more suit the lacklustre intelligence and monetary dissonance of the inhabitants there.

  12. Nighthood says:

    I am appalled by the quality of this so called “opinion” piece. How are the public meant to glean any reliable information about the discussed game, without a numerical indication of its quality?

    Missing out on such percentages causes this periodical to lose a great deal of my respect, and I shall be unsubscribing forthwith!

    • qrter says:

      Numericals are for the working classes, surely. Was it not mr. Samuel Butler who said, I quote: “Oaths are but words, and words but wind.”

      Wait, that does not sound right.

    • Vanderdecken says:

      Numericals may be for the working classes, sir, but lack of correct capitalisation is a common trait of the peasantry.

  13. Tulse says:

    Although I am interested in the game, at 2 shillings and 6 I think it very dear. I believe I shall wait until a public demonstration is scheduled in the South-East, or until the price is lowered as part of a promotional bargain. Thank you for your considered review.

  14. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Is it true what they are saying, the game is too hard?

    • qrter says:

      Temperance, dear fellow, temperance.

    • Chris D says:

      Too hard, sir? Tis more proof, if any more were needed,that these modern amusements are leading to the inevitable decline of the puritan values our fair empire was founded on. If the young ruffians today must amuse themselves between shifts at the mill can they not do so by tormenting the smallest of their number as nature intended?

    • The Tupper says:

      Indeed, Sir.

      In matter of fact, I think it not too much of an exaggeration to state that the future of Britannia herself is in jeopardy of the direst order of magnitude thanks to these so-called ‘games’.

      The normally upstanding Rock, Paper and Shotgun pamphlet, of which until late I have been an avid consumer, should henceforth dissasociate itself from such fecund distractions, which can only lead to Hunnish practises.

      Shall no one think of the urchins?

  15. sonofsanta says:

    I fear that these foreign imports will do much to lessen the moral values of our youth and induce in them an unsavoury desire to seek out similar foreign material that will inevitably lead them towards the path of Republican treachery. Such inadvisable pasttimes would do well to be banned, and a healthy game of British Bulldog be prescribed in their place.

  16. HermitUK says:

    I was most distressed to learn that regular dice are unsuitable for use with this otherwise fine board game. I own a fine set of ivory dice, gift from my father, who served with the East India Company for a time, and it is my penchant to use them whenever we find ourselves playing games of an evening. I had intended to enter correspondence with the manufacturers, with a view to purchasing a copy. instead I regretfully find myself cold to the very thought of handing over even a small part of my vast fortune for this product.

    One only hopes that some sort of addendum to the rules will be published in due course that will allow honest players to use their own dice with this product.

  17. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Talking of retro games, I found a flash version Marble Madness remake on the webbernetz the other day. Bloody hell its hard, I had to rage-quit at one point. Sure I didnt do that when I was 7 :(

    EDIT: Sorry, this is off topic. Erm, Copperfield! In the barn! There, thats better.

  18. McDan says:

    And Lo, from this day forth it shall be known that The Rock, The Paper and The Shotgun daily news piece is the greatest entertainment news piece ever published.

  19. Al Ewing says:

    ‘Tis my opinion that such ‘casual pursuits’ as The Mansion Of Happiness – wherein one lives vicariously through a ‘simulated’ personage – are fit only for the weaker sex. I have nothing but contempt for Fear-The-Lord Wright and other purveyors of idle ‘casual pursuit’ phenomena. What is next, I beseech thee? Idly cavorting with an angry bird, perhaps? Frivolity, sir, was ever the downfall of man.

    The ideal gaming pursuit, in my opinion, would involve the player himself involved in realistic shootings of men and children, which he would narrate loudly to all assembled company in the first person. For this reason I never play a hand of whist without a pistol in my hand, which I periodically discharge into a match-girl to re-create the noble thrill of battle. I also loudly denigrate all other players as sexual inverts.

    • Chris D says:

      Bravo, sir! Bravo!

      And, while the subject is at hand, bravo to this excellent newsletter and all her contirbutors on this fine day.

    • The Tupper says:

      Indeed, Mr Ewing.
      Without wishing to ferment an intemperant humour, I must relate, regretfully, the testimony of Philomena (our scullery maid) who has intimated that this ‘casual gaming’ blight has also spread to The Book of Faces.

  20. Brendy_C says:

    Dear Sirs,

    Aphrodisiac spices from the east made affordable for the discerning gentleman. The sun never sets on the wives of the British Empire. A notable exception being at night. Purchase forthwith and receive aphrodisiac spices aphrodisiac spices aphrodisiac spices.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Ah, for shame. I had quite the mind to purchase some new footwear -possibly named after a goddess?

    • The Tupper says:

      I write on a matter of the utmost urgency with a warning to fellow readers.

      The blackguardly popinjay hiding furtively behind the nom-de-plume ‘Brendy_C’ (whom one will find hawking tawdry wares in the page above) is NOT a tradesman of repute. Indeed, I have reason to believe that his membership of Her Majesty’s Trading and Commodities Exchange lapsed some months ago.

      I must confess to having succumbed to his dastardly scheme in the past, ordering by return of post one vial of ‘African UmBongo Juice for the Treatment of Dispeptic Priapism’. On analysis of the proffered goods, not only did I discover it to be merely a concentrated distilation of Bolivian coca leaves (as one would find in any high street apothecary), but my Reference of Creditworthiness appears to have been counterfeited. I cannot dismiss the serendipitous timing of these two events.

    • Brendy_C says:

      I refute all allegations and pronounce those responsible for my ill-founded reputation as being of the highest order of Scoundrels and Miscreants.

    • The Tupper says:

      Fie, Sir, Fie!

      I’ll take the bloody whip to you for that!

      Just as soon as I have completed my current transaction with a Mr Ngoto of Northwestern Africa. Of interest to those who wish to extend their portfolio (and one would be a toriwizzle to ignore the potential ‘Token of Mammon’ presented here), it appears that this jolly chap is, in actuality, of local nobility! Whilst regional unpleasantness has temporarily symied his liquidity, he assures me that with a modest investment I stand to gain an impressive share of his impending repatriated wealth!

      Whilst admittedly the Dark Continent can never harbour a Royal Lineage to compare with our own ‘Reginum Ad Astra’, the sheer fact of hereditary rule surely means the man can be trusted.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      This tract of missives fairly had me in gales of laughter. A veritable feast of comedy, and make no mistake. The word-play on modern communication-borne irritants is both intellectually dextrous and relieving in a way that only the most biting satire of Sir Francis Drake’s exploits can replicate (Potatoes! Not in my name!).

      Also, I LOL’d

    • amishmonster says:

      I guffawed.

  21. Mari says:

    Sir, I must protest.
    I understand that you only get a distant echo of the events here in the Continent in your Island, but to ignore that Giuseppe Garibaldi is NOT an artist is most disgraceful.
    The gentleman in question is, actually, one of the men responsible for Italy’s recent unification. In any case, he is a simple man whose sense of art and beauty is easily satisfied by the kind of scribbles usually found on privy doors.

    Signed: An outraged Italian lady

  22. Matt says:

    This is clearly the product of an English rogue, as the inimitable Parker Brothers did not begin their trade until the Year of our Lord 1883.

  23. Lambchops says:

    Dear Sir

    2s 9d is a gross over valuation of the worth of this so called game.

    Pardon my crude venacular but I would not wipe my arse with this game for a mere thruppeny bit.

  24. Flint says:

    Bah, I say. This fad of ‘board games’ is a detriment to the joy that games are. The industry’s focus on creating simple and pretty visuals so as to attract the fleeting attention of the lowly peasant masses is harmful to the creativity of medium. Games such as the legendary Hopskotch or Hoop & Stick did not need fancy pictures in order to marvellously occupy a gentleman and his friends for hours and hours, and to this day they have stood the test of time perfectly. I cannot fathom that this, or its like, will have the same longevity.

  25. The Army of None says:

    My goodness, sir, this does indeed sound spectacular.

  26. Fwiffo says:

    I must telegraph my disapproval sirs, for I am surely not the first to notice your editorial staff lingering somewhat on such narrow fields. It is readily apparent that these obscure and frankly Deviant foreign works I have had the displeasure of viewing are a far cry from the true populist gaming medium: reenactments of great military battles from the Crimea to the Franco-Prussian wars of today.
    Such generous and ready approval of these Fops and Dandies and their espousal of Good Gaming Play and their supposed ‘independent’ proclivities are an affront to Her Majesty’s Government and Public. Current and British tradition in Gaming is to Realistic Artistic Fidelity shooting of Men from various chest-high barricades, not these minor and trifling “works”.
    I sincerely implore you to give the genre of the shooting of Men from various chest-high barricades the attention its popularity merits, or I will have to insist to my fellows in my local gaming society that your telegrapghed news outlet suffers from perfidy most foul.

  27. quickfire809 says:

    Dear Sirs,
    Having recently discovered a copy of your publication in these beautiful United States of America, I must say I was compelled to wire a response to this article. It is with joyful glee I finally scry a British publications succumbing to the inevitable. Finally, some among your stuffy country realize where the future of gaming lies, in my beloved United States. Any objective individual undertaking a thorough analysis of the companies involved in the making of games discovered long ago that the British Empire has rapidly been falling behind in the quality of the games it produces. Clearly, the fact that your publication has begun reviewing the games of my country, your editors have begun to realize this fact for themselves.
    If your fine publication manages to keep acquiring and reviewing excellent titles such as “The Mansion of Happiness”, I may even see my way to having your output shipped to me on a regular basis.
    That said, I daresay you may want to find some new reviewers if you hope to appeal to the vast audience of these United States, as the style of Mister Smith may be quite laughable to many in my country.
    In closing, it is a fine thing indeed to see you backwards British finally beginning to catch up to those of us on the forefront of gaming techniques, and I predict we shall see the residents of the British Empire fall ever farther behind in this most gentlemanly of areas. In fact, I would not be surprised if producers of the finest gaming products begin to release their titles here first, and mayhaps we will even give your colonies, such as Australia, access to these games before we deign to send them to you. Oh, what a laugh that would be.
    Quick of the Fires, 809th of that laudable name

    • Daiv says:

      Sir, your crowing is unseemly. Were you a nobleman I would challenge you to a duel. Unfortunately your patent of nobility – if you ever had one! – was rendered null and void by your ancestors’ frightfully ungrateful rebellion against the Crown.

      I bid you good day, sir! Good. Day.

  28. TsunamiWombat says:

    Fashioned by a Woman you say! By jove, how piquant.