Upstairs, Downstairs: an Obsession Expansion
A servant-focused expansion for the award-winning thematic Euro + 2nd printings of the sold out Obsession base game & Wessex expansion
Upstairs, Downstairs: an Obsession Expansion
A servant-focused expansion for the award-winning thematic Euro + 2nd printings of the sold out Obsession base game & Wessex expansion
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, October 16 2019 3:59 AM UTC +00:00.
- The pledges state "Shipping charged after campaign ends," but this has changed: please see Update #4.
- The daily Diary has been moved to the bottom of the page.
- If you are new to Obsession, visit the Obsession section just over 1/2 the way down the page, where there are detailed videos demonstrating gameplay.
Obsession is set in 1860s England, but it is a passionate tribute to much more: from Jane Austen's Regency era through the Industrial Revolution and the evocative literature of the Victorian period to Downton Abbey, the sublime creation of Julian Fellowes. The affection for this period is not for the high and mighty, but for the underdog. It's Lizzy Bennet and John Bates, Jane Eyre and Elinor Dashwood, David Copperfield and Mary Thorne.
Such rich material deserves to be celebrated!
Obsession has been honored with prestigious nominations and awards acknowledging both immersive theme and intricate strategy. It has been reviewed and lauded by the major personalities in the tabletop gaming business, including Ant Lab Games, Dice Tower, Heavy Cardboard, JonGetsGames, Rahdo Runs Through, Three Minute Board Games, and 16 more. Obsession (and the Wessex expansion) sold out over 3000 copies in less than a year.
This project expands upon the Obsession experience with a particular focus on the domestic staff. In the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion, four new servants enter play.
Before we get to know the Cook, Hall Boy, Head Housemaid, and Useful Man, note that this project will fund the following:
- First printing of the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion
- Second printing of Obsession
- Second printing of the Wessex expansion
- These three titles will be offered at between a 20% and 23% discount off of MSRP (not counting the 43% discount on the Loyalty Bundle), and the pledge levels will feature all possible combinations of these three games.
Important Note: Experienced Obsession players are here for the expansion, but others have come to learn more about Obsession. If you're a veteran, scroll down for the expansion content of Upstairs, Downstairs, but if you are unfamiliar with Obsession, here is an excellent video from 3 Minute Board Games to use as a frame of reference:
Kayenta Games Customer Service and Refund Policy
Kayenta Games' refund policy is simple: there will be perfection in your game experience or your money back. In the previous Kickstarter, we encountered issues common to a good-sized fulfillment project and solved them to the 100% satisfaction of our backers. Kayenta Games replaced boxes with slight splits from shipping, any component with an imperfection, even components that a gamer accidentally damaged (spilled wine!), and never one nickel charged.
After production was underway, two errors in player aids were discovered. Kayenta Games immediately committed to reprinting the aids, launched a promotional card project as an apology, and shipped the card packet free to every backer and owner of the game worldwide, an effort that cost over $10,000.
The game must be perfect.
"My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever." —Mr. Darcy (and backers of KS projects)
Obsession embraces the rich stories supplied by Victorian fate: shocking revelations, haunting tragedy, unbearable secrets, family dishonor. Navigating the twists of Victorian fate in Obsession is the story...and the tactical challenge.
Upstairs, Downstairs is an expansion that supplies gamers with new options for mitigating your fate. But true to the game's spirit, the mechanics are intertwined with the theme—specifically, in the unique abilities of new domestics: the Cook, Hall Boy, Head Housemaid, and Useful Man.
Meet the New Servants
Cook Ability: The cook enables a player to invite guests 1 or 2 levels above the reputation showing on the player board. In the example below, our player (the Howard family, reputation level 3) normally would be unable to receive the Marquess of Tetbury (prestige rating 5) in the Drawing Room; however, her extraordinary cook breaks down the social restraint of the marquess, who cannot resist Mrs. Puggins' larded oysters, which will be on the menu later that evening.
Hall Boy Ability: This young footman-in-training presents the butler with an excellent service option for a demanding guest pressed with personal and political affairs while staying at the estate.
The hall boy may be placed onto a gentry card showing a monetary favour to increase the pounds received during the Enjoy Favours phase of a player's turn.
Head Housemaid Ability: The head housemaid is the household's most well-connected domestic worker, with extensive contacts in and around Derbyshire. Since she is so well-informed, the head housemaid is able to supply critical information to the lady of the house to help ensure only the best people become acquainted with the family.
The head housemaid may be placed onto an improvement tile or gentry card showing an invitation favour to allow the player to look at an additional card when inviting guests.
Useful Man Abilities: The useful man is, well...very useful, and his abilities require a good understanding of Obsession. If you have familiarity with the base game, these abilities are as follows:
- Place the Useful Man onto the Private Study tile during a Village Fair round, thereby increasing the revenue from that Village Fair by £200 (either from £0 to £200 if the Study Tile has not been flipped or from £300 to £500 if the Study Tile has been flipped).
- Place the Useful Man onto any tile in the builders’ market when making a purchase, thereby decreasing the cost of the tile by £100.
- Place the Useful Man onto any improvement tile located in the player’s organiser (only tiles that can be played on the player’s family board qualify), thereby temporarily decreasing the prestige rating of the tile by one.
- One Time Use: Remove the Useful Man from the game to refresh the builders’ market.
- One Time Use: Remove the Useful Man from the game to allow the player to search the tile bag for a specific tile (monuments excluded) and place it in the £800 rightmost space of the builders’ market (the tile currently in the £300 space is returned to the bag, the remaining five tiles slide to the left, and the new tile is placed in the £800 space, where it can then be purchased normally).
Team Cooperative Play (New Video!)
Competitive Upstairs, Downstairs Play
The Upstairs, Downstairs expansion adds all the necessary components to enable five players.
Player Board (with reputation counters/marker): Two-sided player board* with improved Order of Play. One side contains an integral improvement tile organiser (shown below) to enable play without using the separate Country Estate Organiser (if space is at a premium).
The Howard Family
Country Estate Organiser and START Tiles
Guests: The inclusion of 33 new guests (16 prestige and 17 casual) expands the supply for five players and balances the guest mix as follows:
- There is an emphasis on guests of prestige rating 2 to de-emphasize unsavory guests, which have a high concentration in the original Obsession casual deck
- There is an emphasis on guests of prestige rating 3 to increase the utility of early prestige guest draws (and support the Expert Variant guest display)
- Seven new starter guests are added to increase variety (and support the Expert Variant guest display)
- There are no guests of prestige rating 6 in the 33 new cards, which thematically increases the rarity of these special guests
- There is an increase in the frequency of monetary favours as pounds can be critically tight early in a game
Prestige Guests (sixteen)
Casual Guests (seventeen)
Servants' Hall Rule Change (new tile): The original Servants' Hall is overpowered—particularly in a 2 player game—and needs correction. With the release of the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion, this is addressed as part of a formal rule change for this tile.
New Rule: In order to spread gossip and "steal" reputation from an opponent, an available servant must be placed onto the Servants' Hall tile in the player's organiser. Any available servant—including the butler and housekeeper and the new servants from the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion—may be the source of the gossip and rumours, but the servant used must be expended and rotated normally back to available service.
Upstairs, Downstairs also comes with additional player aids; you are ready to play Obsession with five players!
Modified Extended Play Round Track & Tableau Round Track
The Upstairs, Downstairs expansion comes with a two-sided round track. On the front side is the modified extended play track that relocates the National Holiday to make it more relevant.
On the reverse side, Upstairs, Downstairs comes with two completely new modes of play supported by a single round track that removes courtship and places the focus on building your country estate. The ruleset for the competitive game called Tableau Obsession is currently being edited and will be posted before the project concludes. For more detail on the solo mode—Solo Estate Challenge—visit the Solitaire Spot at the bottom of the page.
NEW! A playthrough of Tableau Obsession.
Official Variant Rulebook
An official rulebook that collects into one place the approved and playtested variants will be included with Upstairs, Downstairs. Rules for the Expert Variant, Dynamic Cooperative Mode, and other designer and user-developed content will be in one location, some with additional components (in the game box) and dedicated player aids.
See Update #17 for details on the Box Storage System!
Revenue stretch goals, 7 of 9 achieved!
And now for a 51 second video interlude:
A new video from 3MBG, with a GREAT finish:
You are the head of a respected but troubled family estate in mid-19th century Victorian England. After several lean decades, family fortunes are looking up! Your goal is to improve your estate so as to be in better standing with the truly influential families in Derbyshire.
Obsession is a game in which players build a deck of Victorian gentry (British social upper class), renovate their estate by acquiring building tiles from a centralized builders' market, and manipulate an extensive service staff comprised of butlers, housekeepers, underbutlers, maids, valets, and footmen to support elaborate social gatherings.
Each turn, players choose a building tile representing a renovated room or outdoor space in and around their 19th century British country house. The tile chosen dictates the event that can be hosted and the guests to be invited, and players must carefully plan to have the proper staff available to service the event and support guests as needed. The reward for success is new investment opportunities permitting further renovation of the estate, an increase in reputation in the county, an expanding circle of influential acquaintances, and a larger and highly-trained domestic staff.
Throughout the game, a competitive courtship for the hand of the most eligible young gentleman and lady in the county presents specific renovation and reputation objectives. The player who best meets these objectives may win the hand of the love interest and the game.
For extraordinary detail on Obsession gameplay, the following videos do a superb job teaching and demonstrating the game:
New Features in the Second Printing
There are several new features in the second printing of Obsession:
Tile Numbering System
The builders' market is populated with improvement tiles according to their rank. The sorting system in the first edition of Obsession proved non-intuitive and made setup, as well as in-game refreshing of the market, a daunting task. The 2nd printing of Obsession introduces a numbering system that eliminates the needs to memorize or look up the tile rankings.
Each tile now has a small number in the lower right quadrant. Tiles drawn for initial population or a market refresh are then placed in numerical order. Consider these six tiles drawn randomly from the tile bag during a market refresh; normally, the rank of these tiles (two service, two prestige rating 3, two prestige rating 5) would have to be looked up in the Glossary.
With the new tile numbering system, simply sort the tiles by the small number (circled in yellow) and place them into the builders' market in ascending order.
Player Board Upgrades: The player boards (family boards) have received a facelift. The Order of Play has been expanded to include a check of pre-turn events/actions, and the boards are now two-sided, one which has an intregral country estate organiser (pictured below).
Modified Extended Play Round Track: The Extended Play side of the original Round Track had the National Holiday located on round 17, which is not an ideal location. The Extended Play side will now feature the National Holiday on round 11, which greatly improves the flow of play.
Additional Enhancements to the game include:
- Four Objective Cards have been balanced and one card removed and replaced.
- The value 6, 7, 8 Victory Point Cards have been eliminated; all VP values are 3, 4, and 5 and the frequency of certain cards adjusted.
- The Box has been increased to be 76mm deep (up from 68mm deep) which will make it possible to store all expansions in the main box, if desired. The white cardboard box insert will be eliminated (there will be a stretch goal for an alternative storage system).
Wessex Family Player Board: The Wessex expansion adds a fifth, two-sided player board with the updated Order of Play. The Wessex family advantage is that they have the largest estate and begin the game with either the Breakfast Room or the Tennis Court in their organiser.
The Wessex Family
The Wessex Family Advantage Tiles: Note that in the original printing of the Wessex expansion, the two tiles below—provided specifically for the Wessex family advantage—were placed in the main Obsession box due to an issue with the die cut. This has been corrected. These two tiles will now come in the Wessex expansion box with the player board.
Second Printing Bonus Tiles
The creation of a diecut to move the two Wessex family advantage tiles to the Wessex expansion box affords the opportunity to add bonus tiles! All 2nd printing copies of the Wessex expansion will contain the Morning Room and Retiring Room tiles:
The Morning Room introduces a variable invitation tile as well as the first ESSENTIALS tile with a prestige rating of 1. The Morning Room was a sitting room in a great house situated to receive the morning sun; this room was a favorite location early in the day to review menus and plan the day's activities.
The Retiring Room's single female invite can extend a deck, supply critical reputation early, and provide powerful flexibility in the first two seasons. The 'Retiring' Room was a temporary designation for an existing room set aside for visiting ladies to repair damage to dresses and appearances generally (a maid would be on hand to facilitate these repairs). This introduces the first tile where a lady's maid is the essential activity servant.
Prestige Guests (five)
Casual Guests (eleven)
Solitaire Cards (for extended solo play): The base game of Obsession comes with twelve solitaire opponents, four at each level of difficulty. Those twelve opponents are for a standard length game (12 turns). The Wessex expansion brings six new solitaire opponents (two at each difficulty level) for extended play competition (16 turns).
Hello! Dan Hallagan here; I am going to speak to my fellow solo players directly. Forgive my alteration of the Anthony Trollope quote immediately above (I changed 'book' to 'board game'), but what could be more civil than settling in for a solo game on a wintry afternoon? I am sure Mr. Trollope would agree.
I have a special place in my heart for solo play. I play every game I own solo (sometimes 2-player solitaire if there is no solo mode), because there is no better way to learn a game before going on to teach it to others. When teaching (and I am always the one who teaches), I am pulled in many directions; the feel and play of the game takes a back seat. Solo is when I enjoy the luxuriousness of high-end board games and appreciate the designer's attention to detail.
Both the base game of Obsession (standard play) and the Wessex expansion (extended play) have solo opponents in the form of cards that provide a specific tactical challenge during gameplay.
Obsession solitaire win the 1 Player Guild fan vote for2018 Solitaire Game of the Year, was nominated by Every Night is Game Night (ENGN) for Best Solo Strategy Game of 2018, and debuted in People's Choice Top Solo Games at 156.
In addition, a dynamic opponent has been created that employs a clever and powerful AI for a unique challenge. This ruleset is being formalized in an official game mode and variant rulebook that will be published online as well as printed for the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion.
For those new to Obsession, I am going to let Liz Davidson from Beyond Solitaire teach today. Then I am going to show you a special solo creation that is part of the Upstairs, Downstairs expansion!
Upstairs, Downstairs introduces a new solitaire game: Solo Estate Challenge. Here, the focus shifts from courtship to tableau-building; the solo player is in total control with all options open to them, but can she finish in time and craft the right tableau to win?
A complete playthrough of Solo Estate Challenge in two videos (apologies for some technical difficulties):
- September 19: Cook, Hall Boy, Head Housemaid player aid.
- September 20: Useful Man player aid.
- September 21: (no post)
- September 22: Meet Feifrau von Ludwigstorff.
- September 23: Meet Sir Wallace Carter, Bt.
- September 24: Meet Glencora and Plantagenet Palliser.
- September 25: Meet Dr. Richard Clarkson.
- September 26: A new non-revenue Stretch Goal! The storage system is back!
- September 27: Meet Sherlock Holmes.
- September 28: Meet Thomas Fuller.
- September 29: Meet Isobel Hawthorne.
- September 30: Meet Alastair Leese.
- October 1: Meet Sir Charles Fitzwilliam, Bt.
- October 2: (no post)
- October 3: Meet Jane Booth.
- October 4: Meet Ross Carne.
- October 5: Meet Sara Forbes Bonetta.
- October 6: Meet Margaret Fairchild.
- October 7: Meet Thomas Allen Hurt.
- October 8: Meet Aston Webb.
- October 9: Meet Lady Mary Shelton.
Friendly shipping to the US, Canada, United Kingdom, EU, Australia, and China.
Shipping costs are included in your pledge (please see FAQ #1 and Update #4). Due to an error during setup, shipping was left on, and that shipping charge has been adopted.
Note that Obsession is a heavy game with a large number of components, weighing just under 7 pounds (3 kg) in its shipping box. Bundles including Obsession can exceed 9 pounds. Shipping is now heavily subsidized.
Playtesting/Graphic Design Support—Thank You
Special thanks to big brother Tim Hallagan, who has always been supportive and a source of great ideas. Thanks to Maricel Edwards (there from the beginning—you will do great tomorrow!), David Buckland (more knowledge about 19th century England than can be believed), Mariya Meshcheryakova (smart and the most honest gamer I know), John Weber (Obsession's champion), and Frank Calcagno (always insightful).
Risks and challenges
First time projects always carry a "learning curve risk." Having fulfilled our first project on time and without major issues, Kayenta Games learned from that experience and has a comprehensive understanding of the potential pitfalls in a similar but larger project:
► Thinking that the manufacturing process can be rushed
► Not realizing the scope of the manufacturing project; the weight of the ~3400 games in the first Kayenta Games production run was 5 tons!
► Not validating graphic design before the Kickstarter began
► Using a fulfillment partner new to crowdfunding fulfillment
► Underestimating the cost and time of moving many tons of games from one part of the world to multiple other parts of the world
All graphic design is complete. The artwork is validated. Two weeks are set aside for graphic design tweaks before production. The schedule has been reviewed with the manufacturer and the timeline confirmed. An experienced fulfillment partner has been retained (Quartermaster Logistics).
Of course, risk is never zero. There will always be unforeseen developments in manufacturing and logistics that are beyond our control. Barring natural disasters and other acts of God, we expect to fulfill the project in February 2020, beating the safe estimate of March 2020.
Refund Policy: See policy statement at the top of this campaignLearn about accountability on Kickstarter