Obsession: Pride, Intrigue, & Prejudice in Victorian England

Created by Kayenta Games

Victorian England, 1840. You are the head of a respected but financially troubled family estate; rooms are closed off to save on upkeep and heating, outside grounds have gone to seed, and the façade is in desperate need of restoration. It is far from the glory days of the estate, but you have new hope. A significant inheritance has made possible the restoration of the grand old manor house and rehabilitation of the family's reputation in the county of Cambridge! Obsession captures the experience of Regency and Victorian England—the beloved world of Jane Austen & Anthony Trollope—in a way that transports family and friends to that unique time and place.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Upstairs, Downstairs (an Obsession Expansion) and More
about 1 year ago – Sun, Apr 28, 2019 at 10:25:27 PM

Greetings, all! It's been 10 weeks since I've posted an update, and this will be a quick one. Obsession continues to prosper, having climbed and settled right around the top 1500 mark all time. 

April 28, 2019
April 28, 2019

Obsession was nominated for two national awards, one for theme and the other for solo strategy. Unfortunately, it didn't win, but I am pleased with the nominations—top five out of several thousand 2018 games.

Upstairs, Downstairs (an Obsession Expansion)

Late summer will see the launch of an expansion that introduces four new servants, the Hall Boy, Cook, Head Housemaid, and Useful Man:

Upstairs, Downstairs enables 5 players and adds the Howard family with their legendary cook... 

...and includes new service and improvement tiles along with a ton of new casual and prestige guests. The expansion components empower players to screen guests, work around prestige limitations, find tiles, refresh the market more easily, and enhance favours early in the game. The target date is September 1st!

Please Vote for Obsession for Best Solitaire Game of 2018! 

There are two more days of voting for Best Solitaire Game of 2018. Obsession made the top 9 and currently sits in 5th place :(   

My spidey-sense tells me some are packing the ballot box (there's no way a game called 1066, Tears To Many Mothers is leading ANY solitaire voting), so I thought I would do the same! Please follow this link and cast a vote for Victorian gaming; just log into BoardGameGeek and click on the thumbs up. 

Vote for Obsession for Best Solitaire Game of 2018!

While you are there, if you haven't rated Obsession, I would ask again to rate Obsession on BGG.


If you have an account, just click the number of stars (1 to 10) to record your rating. If you don't have account, it's free to sign up. It is the most important way to help a independent game designer establish a game. Thank you!

Dan Hallagan, Kayenta Games

Final Promotional Card Review and Voting...and 2019 Expansion Plans
over 1 year ago – Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 01:28:26 AM

Greetings! I hope everyone is well in the New Year!

Two items that I think deserve the attention of all Obsession Kickstarter backers:

Just six of 15 new guests vying to finish in the top two of the poll. Who will it be?
Just six of 15 new guests vying to finish in the top two of the poll. Who will it be?


Final Promotional Card Review and Voting

Details about the two promotional cards that owners of Obsession will receive for free can be found here—

Final Promotional Card Review 

Please visit the link and vote in the poll starting tomorrow!


2019 Expansion

This is the first official announcement that there will be a 2019 expansion for Obsession that will, among other things, add—

  • A Fifth Player
  • New Servants (cook, head housemaid, useful man, hall boy)
  • New Improvement Tiles
  • New Prestige, Casual, and Disreputable Guests
  • Two New Modes of Play
  • An Official Variant Rulebook
  • An Additional Round Track with a New Seasonal Game Style

The plan is for late Spring! 


Rate Obsession on BoardGameGeek (BGG)

This is your regular reminder to rate Obsession on BGG!   


If you have an account, just click the number of stars (1 to 10) to record your rating. If you don't have account, it's free to sign up. It is the most important way to help a independent game designer establish a game. Thank you!

Dan Hallagan, Kayenta Games

Obsession Post Kickstarter Update/New Game Modes
over 1 year ago – Tue, Nov 20, 2018 at 09:30:08 PM


As I mentioned in my final KS update, I will be infrequently using this line of communication for news related to the game. This post is on the longer side (I've been saving up items), so scroll down by header to see items of interest. Topics covered—

  • Promotional Card Update
  • New Cooperative and Solo Gameplay Released
  • New Expert Variant Gameplay Released
  • Game Ranking
  • Honors and Reviews

Promotional Card Update

As discussed in a previous update, Kayenta Games will be correcting two player aids at company expense. As an added benefit, there will be two promotional gentry cards included in the player aid mailer. That project is underway in the BoardGameGeek (BGG) forum, and users have developed all manner of interesting cards. The top two will be selected via popular vote.

I wanted to encourage those who do not frequent BGG to check out the promotional card ideas (and propose one of your own, if you wish). Here's a sampling (cards are rough mock-ups):

Most feature new actions/effects, as seen above. Here is the link to review the cards developed so far: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/2098836/promotional-card-update

New Cooperative and Solo Modes

A new fully cooperative mode has been developed for Obsession (no extra purchase or components required)! Players compete against a malevolent influence in the county and cooperate with each other to defend the honor of the Fairchild family. 

  • Family and dear friends attend the activities of other players
  • Servants can be loaned to help a family pull off a grand activity
  • Money can be loaned so that a neighbor can make a critical purchase from the market
  • Objectives are coordinated for the best chance at success

For those who love Obsession's theme but do not relish competitive games, Mutual Obsession is for you. The rules are out, but playtesting is ongoing, and I could use your help to fine-tune this exciting new mode before going to print. 

Using the AI developed for the cooperative mode, there is also a solo mode with a dynamic opponent (that does not require cards).

Rules: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2084377/announcing-new-cooperative-mode-and-dynamic-oppone

Expert Variant

In addition to a cooperative mode for Obsession, an Expert Variant has been introduced for those serious gamers who want to reduce the amount of chance in the game (most notably seen in the objective and victory point cards). The game was featured at the most expert of locations (using this variant), EuroQuest in Pikesville, Maryland (see below), and it was met with universal approval. 

Check out the variant here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2060110/expert-variant-proposal-kayenta-games

Game Ranking

Obsession now ranks 2,111 out of the hundred thousand games in the BGG database and climbing. It also ranks in the top 400 thematic games of all time.

As mentioned before, one of the ways a small game company can boost visibility is through user ratings and comments. About 1100 games ae now in the hands of backers (and those pre-ordering), and we are at 299 ratings. Please take the time to rate the game if you haven't already; if you have an account with BGG, you simply click the stars above once you've searched up Obsession and gone to that page. If you do not have an account, it is easy to set up (like any online account—create username and password, confirm on email, and you're a go!). It's so important to a game's success.

Thank you to those who have rated it already!

Honors and Reviews

I am proud to announce that Obsession was chosen to be the "New Hot Game" at EuroQuest, a serious gamers convention that took place in Pikesville, Maryland on November 7-11. The folks there are gamers above and beyond my average gaming ability, let me tell you! I couldn't make it this year, but I am hoping to next year (where I will get crushed at my own game). Check out the EuroQuest recap here: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/248545/euroquest-2018-recap

The game will be featured as a "Hot Game" in the First Look section of the upcoming PAX Unplugged convention in Philadelphia on November 30-December 2. If you're going, you'll find Obsession in the area light green section (my wife would say chartreuse, I think) right by the Info Desk and Skybridge. 


Excellent reviews from all over the world continue to be published, and here is a sampling of recent videos (French, Canadian, US):





US (go to timestamp 30m9s)

Thanks for your time! Sorry for the long communication.

Dan Hallagan, Kayenta Games

Final Update
almost 2 years ago – Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 10:18:29 PM


Thank You!

With this project drawing to a close, I am deeply grateful for the support from backers who looked past some bumps and bruises and saw a game that was unique in an industry that is churning out games at a record pace. Obsession is a somewhat heavy, theme-first Euro gateway game. No other project leaned so heavily on its backers, and I thank each and every one of you for your support and engagement!

Future Communication

I will use this Kickstarter update feature in the future (in a limited fashion) should there be any issue or news related to this campaign (such as with the player aid issue below).

Obsession Ranking

Obsession has journeyed past the rough prototype on display last November to receive several glowing reviews and the always difficult to obtain Seal of Approval from the Dice Tower. On BoardGameGeek (BGG), the game currently sits inside the top 3,300 games all time (in the top 500 thematic games) only 1 month from the start of fulfillment (there are over 100,000 games in their database). You share the credit!


Please Rate the Game

As mentioned before, one of the ways a small designer can boost visibility is through user ratings and comments. About 1000 games have reached the hands of backers (and those pre-ordering), and we are at 147 ratings and climbing. Please take the time to rate the game if you haven't already! It's so important to a game's success.

Thank you to those who have rated it already!

Fulfillment Debrief

Kickstarter fulfillment is complete, with less the five games that are being rerouted due to address issues. I remain available to anyone who needs a concern addressed or has technical questions about gameplay; my policy is 100% satisfaction. Going forward, I would ask you communicate directly via my Kayenta Games email: hallagan@kayentapublishing.com.

Pre-Orders, Orders, and Shopping Cart

Due to the pace of incoming orders, I haven't been able to launch my shopping cart for retail purchase or to formulate an online/FLGS distribution strategy. I am keeping my pledge manager open to handle the current orders, and I expect to have the shopping cart ready to go in late October.

Player Aid Correction & Promotional Gentry Cards

Errors were discovered in two of the player aid cards. Kayenta Games is committed to replacing those cards (not just posting an online correction), and since I will be making a production run to print those replacement cards, I have decided to have some fun (to make lemonade out of lemons)! On BGG, I announced the creation of two promotional gentry cards, designed by the community, that will be included in the replacement envelope with the player aids. That effort can be seen in this forum thread: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/2054287/player-aids-and-creation-two-promotional-cards-fre

When the player aids and promotional cards are complete, I will post an update for those who would like to receive them.


Thanks again, and I will leave you with my favorite photo of Obsession to date, a remarkable shot by user MattNManda, entitled Obsession Arrives Home! (thanks, Matt!):

The high-quality original can be found here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/4309321/obsession

Dan Hallagan, Kayenta Games

All Games Shipped
almost 2 years ago – Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 12:03:10 AM

Greetings! Thoughts go out to those getting slammed by the storm. Stay safe!

Eastern North American Shipping

I mentioned I would come back with a final shipping update. All games have shipped(!!), and I am hopeful everyone has their game by next Friday. Anyone who desires a tracking number, please email me at hallagan@kayentapublishing.com. I am certainly concerned about the hurricane as the trucks head north from Florida, but waiting was not a good alternative.

After reviewing the planned use of bubble wrap, I rejected that in favor ShipMonk committing to use sufficient brown crumpled paper to remove vacant space from around the game boxes.


Your game should arrive in the smallest box on hand—14x14x8—and secure. The real solution would be a custom box, but we were looking at another 10 day delay to order samples, check packing, and inventory that new box, and I didn't want that delay. At least you won't look like this on your porch: 


A New Scoring Paradigm

I wanted to present an edited excerpt from a forum post on BoardGameGeek (BGG) because Obsession employs a novel scoring system that creates a little consternation. As the eastern wave starts playing the game, a novel perspective will help a ton: 


Players react negatively to a large victory point spread difference between the winner and other players. This is understandable. People like to play close games. The problem here is that people are bringing paradigms from other games to Obsession. Victory point accumulation in Obsession is, for the lack of a better description, exponential. It accelerates. Almost every well-played game with a surprising spread between winner and loser(s) is very likely a close game in the sense that one or two moves changes the outcome. 

The butterfly effect dominates in Obsession, where early decisions—specifically Courtship decisions—are magnified, resulting in an accelerated accumulation of victory points. If this game was just another point salad game where players could min-max their way to a victory (choose reputation this game or tiles that game, etc.), the theme dies. You can't min-max your way around Courtship. Most themes are glued onto Euro games, but Obsession is an attempt to make to theme dominant. Either pay attention to what matters to the aristocracy of the 19th century—marrying up, reputation, who you know—or you’re going to be in trouble. 

The end score is qualitative, not quantitative; it is a tool for describing the success of your house to make the critical connection in society. To focus on score gap would miss the point; changing the game to shrink such score gaps would be to make equal all avenues to points and make the theme just pretty pictures and rolling hills. In reality, one card, one tile, one guest has the power to seize a courtship and shift the score by a vast number of points. That’s because the love interest is the focus, not integers. 

For every 10 games I play, seven are relatively close in absolute terms, and breathtakingly close in Obsession terms (when both players DO make good courtship decisions and don’t make any tactical errors). That is because more experienced players recognize the pitfalls of following the old point salad thinking in managing available victory points. Very, very dangerous. With your eye on the prize, you’ll find some wildly fun and thematic wins and losses; you really are playing a game with no points at all, just success or failure! 

I quote backer Dr. Gosburo Coffin from the same thread: "I agree with everything you said, Dan, and I'd like to clarify that the size of the score gap in my game came as a huge surprise to both of us when we did the final calculations. The game actually felt much, much closer to us, at least until the very last turn, when it became apparent to me that my wife was most likely in the lead."

The game was close, very close. The final verdict? Dr. Coffin lost the hand of Elizabeth Fairchild.

Thanks for reading!

Dan Hallagan, Kayenta Games