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What Was the Very First Board Game in America?

The History of Board Games in America

Today, board games are a family favorite. From Monopoly to The Game Of Life, many of us have some of our fondest memories of playing these games throughout our lives. Board games have become a time for family and friends to come together to have fun and have some friendly competition. It is interesting to think how these board games must have begun.

So, what was the very first board game in America? The very first board game in America was the Mansion of Happiness. This board game is believed to have inspired many of the board games we have today, such as Monopoly and The Game Of Life.

Keep reading to learn more!

How It All Started

The Mansion of Happiness board game was the first board game ever created. The game was designed by George Fox and was brought to the United States in 1843.

Here it was published by W. & S. B. Ives. The Parker Brothers bought the rights to this game soon after and republished it as the first board game in the United States.

Mansion of Happiness was not designed as a board game. It began as a children’s puzzle that could be assembled into a three-dimensional house. Eventually, someone got the idea to add a set of rules and turn it into a board game.

The Mansion of Happiness went through several versions throughout time, starting with a square box design to a round box design back to square again.

It also went from being marketed as an amusement or pastime activity to being marketed as something educational for children at schools and Sunday Schools.

The Current Version Of The Game

Mansion of Happiness quickly became popular and was widely played throughout America. It was so popular that several variations were created over the years. One such was called The Game of Happy Families, and it was a version of the board game that could be played by an entire family.

The Game of Happy Families is currently in its 12th edition and is still being created today. It has been called one of the most popular games in the United States, second only to Monopoly. Many people believe The Game of Happy Families was inspired by Monopoly.

The Mansion of Happiness board game is basically like The Game of Life™, except that there are other ways to win other than getting married and having children. You can also win by living virtuously, or you can lose all your money in investments and become bankrupt. This makes it more similar to modern life, where not everyone ends up happily ever after.

How To Play

The game is a strategy game that is played on a square board with a grid of squares. The object of the game is to move your playing pieces around the board and collect as many happiness tokens as possible. The player who collects the most happiness tokens wins the game.

The game can be played by 2 to 6 players at one time but is most commonly enjoyed by 2 to 4 players. It takes about 30 minutes to play the game.

Each player starts with one playing piece and $3,000 in cash. If you are playing with more than two people, then each person will automatically get $500 more starting money.

Each player has colored tokens that represent them throughout the game. The tokens are color-coded to match the player’s playing pieces, which also have numbers on them.

The game is played by spinning the spinner to see what you will do that turn. The result of the spinner could have your token move forward one or more spaces around the board, or it could mean you lose all your money and get another piece. If you should land on a “?” space, then you choose between two choices for how you should play until your next spin.

Before You Start

At the start, everyone needs to decide who will play the role of the banker. The winner of the game becomes the bank and collects all the money in the game when it is over.

Once you have established that, then you can choose how many happiness tokens each person has to collect to win. The standard of the game is 9 tokens, but you can adjust the rules to how long you want the game to last. Tokens are placed in different spots on your board depending on what color token you’re playing with.

Additionally, players choose whether they want to be virtuous or immoral in hopes that their decision will help them win the game during multiple rounds. These decisions include whether or not to steal from other players, whether or not to marry someone who has been divorced or widowed, whether or not to go to jail, etc.

How To Win

The game is played over a series of rounds until one person has collected nine happiness tokens and is declared the winner. You can also win by landing on the Start space after spinning a double six. If you lose all your money, then you are out of the game.

Three types of squares will affect your token:

Green Happy Spaces: Let you move forward some number of spaces

Red Losing Spaces: Take all the money from your bank account and give it to another player. If you have no money, then move forward with some number of spaces.

Blue Chance Spaces: Read the text on the card and follow what it says; if nothing is written on the card, then put it back in play and move forward some number of spaces.

The Rules Of The Game

What Happens If You Land On Another Player’s Token 

If you land on another player’s token, then you take it from them and put it in front of you. The player who has the most tokens at the end of the game wins.

Movement Rules 

Your token can only move to an adjacent space unless you are landing on a Chance or “?” space, which will tell you what to do. If there is no number on the space, then your token cannot move there. You cannot move onto a red, lose space, or go backward on the board.

Jail & Getting Married 

If you land on the Jail space then you have to either pay $1,000 to get out, or you have to go to jail for three turns. If you are in jail, then you cannot move, and you cannot collect any happiness tokens.

If you land on the Marriage space, then you must either get married or pay $1,000 to get out. You cannot do both. If you get married, then your token is moved to the Start space, and you receive seven happiness tokens. If you choose not to get married, then your token is pushed back two spaces, and you lose $1,000.

End Of Game 

The game ends when one player has collected nine happiness tokens or when a player loses all their money. At the end of the game, the player with the most happiness tokens wins.

What You Will Need

To play the game, you will need: 

  • One board
  • Six playing pieces
  • One spinner
  • One dice
  • 31 cards (16 chance cards, 15 losing space cards, and seven marriage space cards)
  • Money in different denominations (e.g. $1, $5, $10, $20)

Now A Collectable

The Mansion of Happiness board game is a rare find today and is considered to be a collector’s item. If you can find a copy of the game to purchase, you will likely need to spend a few hundred dollars. The game was last manufactured in 1994 and has been out of production for over 20 years.

If you are lucky enough to find a copy of this vintage board game, it can be worth a lot of money. A complete set in good condition can sell for over $1,000 online. The game can be challenging to find, but many people are willing to pay a high price for it, so look around before deciding if you want to sell your copy.

The Deeper Meaning

The Mansion of Happiness board game is also an educational tool. The game can also help teach kids about taking turns and following rules. It teaches players about the inevitability of death and the opportunity to seek happiness through faith.

The chance to find true happiness in this life is symbolized by the happiness tokens that are won during the game, while unhappiness tokens symbolize false hope. The goal of the game was for players to win as many happiness tokens as possible to ensure their eternal salvation after they died.

Players also learn about important life choices that they will have to make at some point, such as whether or not to have children, how much money to save, what career to pursue, etc.

Go Find It!

The Mansion of Happiness board game is a great entertaining and educational tool for people of all ages. The game has been around for many years, but it’s still as fun as ever. The Mansion of Happiness board game can be a lot of fun for adults or kids who want a way to pass the time while having fun. If you are lucky enough to find one, grab it and play this timeless game that has inspired many of the games we now have all enjoyed today.

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