Obsession and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, neither of which has made it to the table very often since I reviewed them, but for very different reasons; let’s take a look.
If I have a game in my collection that doesn’t get the time dedicated to it that it deserves, then it’s probably this one.
Obsession is a good, solid game. It’s easy to learn and play, requires a reasonable amount of thought, and doesn’t outstay its welcome. It also has an excellent solo mode, which offers a challenge and is quite rewarding.
So then, why doesn’t it get any playtime?
Well, after much deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all down to the theme.
Hear me out here, and I will explain. Obsession’s theme isn’t your normal run of the mill Fantasy, Sci-fi, or Horror trope. It isn’t all war and glory, it doesn’t involve killing things, chasing things, or even trying to catch things… Obsession is something a little different.
You’re basically renovating your large country estate, and in the process hoping to gain the hand of one of the Fairchild siblings, a sure sign that you’ve arrived in the world of class snobbery!
Now, I’m going to compare an evening of gaming to a usual movie night involving a group of friends, it may go something like this…
“So, let’s see what the choices are tonight. Well, there’s the latest Marvel movie; we have a jaw dropping special effects, all hero action movie; a horror film that’s 5-years old; an old, black and white war film; a bit of a gory gangster; and, oh, there’s the new Downton Abbey film too!”
“I’m for Downton!”
“No! It’s Marvel all the way!”
Now, nothing against Downton Abbey, in fact we have the complete collection, but it’s the kind of thing you watch with your loved one, curled up in front of a roaring fire and a bottle of wine already half empty.
Obsession is exactly the same. Getting together for a gaming session, and deciding what to play, well, the theme just isn’t one you’d normally gravitate to, and that really is such a shame.
It is quite different to the other games in my collection. It has nice blend of worker and tile placement, seeing the workers distributed around the player’s own cards and board rather than a central game board. Fulfilling the requirements of service can see you pulling in favours, increasing your prestige, and, of course, bring in the dosh!
It makes a good family game, one that is especially welcome around the dinner table post evening meal, and it’s competitive in a non-aggressive way. It also quite often leads to a little bit of play-acting, though maybe that’s just me!
As a solitaire game it plays quite quickly, and gives a sense of satisfaction when, you not only beat your AI opponent, but also smash your high score in the process.
One year on – Obsession is a good game, and one that will remain in my collection possibly forever, as I can’t really see anything replacing it. It is, however, likely to be constantly overlooked for something that sounds a little more exciting, so, I must make the effort to get it to the table more often. Actually, just writing this has made me want to dig it out and explore the solo game again… ah, but what about that latest Cthulhu game, and then there’s Gloomhaven to finish…!
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Each time I play Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, it disappoints me; it becomes a long, drawn out slog, and fails to instil any thematic feel of the subject.
I’ve played it a couple of times since the review, and the last time will probably be the last…
The cards available in the market were dire, no help at all, and after using the supplementary rule to replace all the available market cards, things didn’t really improve.
This was just the beginning of our woes, though, as we saw all the really tough villains come up at the start, which progressed the locations on at a pace that we were unable to contend with.
We did fight back a little towards the end, but the poor deck building options at the start, combined with the punishing Dark Arts cards, meant we were always going to be on a hiding to nothing.
And this is the main problem with the game; you feel as though the game is playing you, rather than the other way around, and no amount of skill on your part is going to overcome its shortcomings.
The randomness of the villains dictates the difficulty, especially combined with the later Dark Arts cards, and a few of the tough ones turning up right at the start, before you can put together any semblance of a decent deck, can see you playing catch up almost immediately.
Of course, that presumes you can actually put a decent deck together. Card availability in the market is very hit and miss, and as you progress through the games the amount of cards in the Hogwarts deck grows to vast amount, leaving you with a reduced chance of getting cards that work well together.
This is impacted on by the fact that there is no way to trash cards from your deck, so, if you do end up with a stale market, even after replacing everything in there the one time you’re allowed, then someone is going to have to start taking cards they don’t really want, just to reveal new market cards.
I’m not a Harry Potter fan, and I wonder if this is the reason why I can’t get any attachment to the game; it doesn’t make me feel like I’m a spell slinging wizard in any way at all, and I just find it all a bit boring!
One year on – For me, this one is going on the ‘for sale’ pile; there are many, much better deck builders out there with more reliable game mechanisms, and a theme I can get my teeth into. Harry Potter fan? Then it might be worth taking a look at, but try before you buy!