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Subject: Andean Abyss first impressions after a few plays rss

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Theme
Columbia in the 1990s, something most people don't know a lot about, at least not in an in-depth level. As such the choice of this theme seems a bit of a gamble. On the other hand who wouldn't want to step in the role of a druglord trying to outplay the government? When I first got Volko's other game, Labyrinth in my hand, I was itching to take on the role of the jihadist. Both of Volko's recent games have a risky theme choice, but Labyrinth didn't get buried under the pressure of the anti-jihadist atmosphere, and proved that it's a great game with a great theme. The same happened to me with Andean Abyss, as I started to look at the geography, the factions and the cards, I got more and more immersed in the history of the events, and the game taught me a lot about guerilla warfare and the politics of Colombia.
15/20



Gameplay / mechanics
Although this game classifies as a CDG, it is not one in the common sense of players holding cards in their hands and playing them. The concept of having only a single card define the entire round simplifies the strategic choices, but makes the gameplay more streamlined and easier to follow. Seeing one card into the future nicely offsets this, and accounts for some really heavy decisions. The propaganda phase also very well fits in with the rest of the rules and the theme. The only thing that bothers me, is the fact that all factions become eligible after the phase is complete, regardless what card was played before the propaganda phase, or what card is coming. Executing two cards in a row can be a real killer in many situations, and can often mean big punishment, especially if the government is taking the beating from a double FARC action.
Once again we come back to Labyrinth, as there are a lot of common things between that game and Andean Abyss. Just like in Labyrinth, the government plays totally different from the insurgents, and, while the other three factions have more or less the same actions at their disposal, their objectives are totally different, which leads to different tactics and choices for them.
17/20



Rules
As with most of GMT's recent games, the rulebook is quite good, well-written and clear at most points. Unfortunately as GMT is not making games with 3-page rules, the rulebooks tend to be a bit complex, and for the unschooled eye they are quite disturbing. Andean Abyss' rulebook suffers from this as well, but thanks to the absolutely brilliant playbook that is included in the box, the rules suddenly become clear and understandable.
17/20



Graphics / Design / Quality
The board is great to look at, the map is absolutely gorgeous. The wooden bits do look cool with the embossed stars and the coca-leaf, however the fact remains, that this game is slightly abstract, so you will not be pushing finely sculpted armies with heavy weapons in their hands across the battlefield. The abstraction is just about the same as in Labyrinth, with little cubes and hex-shaped wooden bits representing mostly everything you command. for me this doesn't pose a big issue, the theme is enough to carry the game, and I don't really care that my armed guerillas are made from a wooden block. The quality of the components is the usual GMT standard. The cards are very thick and sturdy, unlikely to bend or break from normal use. Despite this I still recommend sleeving them, to make them last to (almost) eternity. The map is mounted, this is for everyone to decide if they like it or not, I prefer mounted mapboards over normal paper any time. The counters are thick cardboard, making for long lasting components.
18/20



Playability
The game is best with 4 players, but I have also played with 2 player both with robots playing, as well as taking on a 2 faction vs 2 faction game. While the AI flowchart is quite good, it slows down the game too much for my taste having to check the charts every time (this is something that will get better as I learn the flowcharts, but this will require many plays). All in all the game is good with 2 players and 4 players definately, I have yet to play solo or with 3, so I cannot say anything about that. Replayability seems quite good, like with other CDGs, as the oder of the cards is what defines the flow of the game.
17/20



Final rating: 84/100


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Tiggo Morrison
United Kingdom
Bridgnorth
Shropshire
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"The wooden bits do look cool with the embossed stars and the coca-leaf"

I really did not know that was a coca leaf! I do now though, thanks.

I liked the review and I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Robot flowcharts.
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Andres F. Pabon L.
Colombia
Bogotá
DC
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Auriea wrote:
Columbia in the 1990s


It's Colombia, unless the USA started having the same FARC trouble we have over here...
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Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
Cundinamarca
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It’s true hard work never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance? - Ronald Reagan
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bacusgod wrote:
Auriea wrote:
Columbia in the 1990s


It's Colombia, unless the USA started having the same FARC trouble we have over here...


What he said
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