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Subject: Andean Abyss: Long and chaotic! Contribute your negative thoughts. rss

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Michael Sosa
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I feel compelled to put down my negative views of this game because all of the positive comments from friends and BGG folks are making me sick! I had the opportunity to play this game yesterday for the third and hopefully last time. The three games have been with the same four players, three of which enjoy the game and two even stating they rate it an 8. I am shocked by this because I lowered my own rating to a three, as in, I do not wish to play this ever again. Even more disturbing is that these same friends agree the game is long and has a lot of randomness….

First a few positives: Rules, component quality, and subject matter (theme) are all excellent. The way the event cards are chosen by the different sides is innovative and interesting. Unlike others I do not mind skipping every other turn. It doesn’t feel like you are skipping your turn really, as you are typically looking at the next event card and thinking what your phase in opponent will likely do and what your options are. These plans can be frustrated by the future event that pops up which may be of significant impact to your power and of course the actions of the current two players, but typically you can do some evaluating of your position.

Negatives:

Time Requirement: Everyone agrees, even its proponents, that the game is long. Now I like to think of myself as a war gamer, I do not necessarily mind long games if they feel epic. Thus I can spend 8 hours on Europe Engulfed, Pax Romana, 5 hours on Hannibal, etc. Andean Abyss does not feel epic. The things you build do not have permanence because most of it can be easily destroyed. As the Narcos I can have my bases easily popped by the government, or sniped by the AUC. As the FARC the AUC can snipe your bases, so it is a constant struggle to keep them from being undercover in the same location as your base. The game feels long because it is too long for a tactical game.

This last match was played with just three of the scoring rounds, so close to 30 cards were removed. The third scoring card was on top of the third pile (there were 15 cards underneath it) and everyone still felt the game was long! And remember, these are the same folks who like it.

Diplomacy: The game suffers more than other multiplayer games I like from the dealing and whining of diplomacy. The reason is that everyone can mess with everyone else. There are no set alliances, no forced agreements, and everyone is next to each other. Yes the factions do have an inclination to cooperate with one of the other factions, but it is a weak interest. There are games like Struggle of Empires where players have a say in forming formal alliances, and there are other games like Pax Romana where informal alliances are made but it is difficult for multiple players to easily combine their attacks on a leader. In AA all factions can easily interfere with each other and there isn’t much defense other than pleading, negotiating, or staying low and avoiding notice. I strongly dislike this.

Randomness: The game was designed so that multiple powers can be close to winning at the same time. This is an artificial way of adding tension to a game and I’m not sure how thematic. For example in this last game the AUC and FARC both met their victory conditions when the 3d scoring card triggered. How can that be explained thematically? A previous game I believe ended in a three way tie breaker. It reminds me of 3 player alliances winning Dune/Rex. Disgusting!

Since the end game is triggered in a random method, who will win is determined by who happens to be ahead among 2-3 leading powers when that last scoring card flips up. Yes there are some last minute maneuvering that can tip the balance, but it has a feeling of chaos. The abilities of the factions to easily interfere with each other, and the power of the event cards, just ads to the feeling of randomness.

Ahh, I’m sure there are other negatives of Andean Alliance, perhaps readers who dislike the game can post their own negative thoughts below. If you love AA please go post in one of the many positive reviews of the game. This thread is for haters only!

I would like to end by saying that I believe a strong game could have been created on this topic by following the standard CDG mechanic of each power having their deck of cards, as in Sword of Rome for example. Maybe it could have been done in addition to the innovative event flipping system. Then again I hate Sword of Rome too….




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Jonathan Harrison
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Belisarius88 wrote:
I feel compelled to put down my negative views of this game because all of the positive comments from friends and BGG folks are making me sick!

Somebody call a doctor!

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Jonathan Harrison
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Was that sufficiently negative?
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Phillip Edwards
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Belisarius88 wrote:


I would like to end by saying that I believe a strong game could have been created on this topic by following the standard CDG mechanic of each power having their deck of cards, as in Sword of Rome for example. Maybe it could have been done in addition to the innovative event flipping system. Then again I hate Sword of Rome too….



So are you saying that if the game had been designed so that each faction has its own set of cards, you would have hated it still?
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Rob White
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I haven't played it with friends yet (or enemies, for that matter). Might never, since not many buddies like super-long games. So I can't speak to the issues you've mentioned.

But as a solo-player experience, I've really enjoyed it so far. I enjoyed learning the system (took a while because the rule book and playbook total a lot of pages) and learning the background story. It's definitely not a game for everyone, but to people who like a long solo experience that makes the time fly by I would recommend looking into it.
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Jim F
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HuginnGreiling wrote:
Belisarius88 wrote:
I feel compelled to put down my negative views of this game because all of the positive comments from friends and BGG folks are making me sick!

Somebody call a doctor!



That pill's going to hurt wherever it goes
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Michael Sosa
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I hate SoR because of the open diplomacy, everyone can attack you environment. Having multiple decks with the ability to react to the efforts of your opponents would probably be better. Something like Kutuzov / Wellington for example, where you have two players collaborating but only one can win. I can see the AUC/Gov having a close game, but I can't imagine how AUC/FARC can both be close to winning.
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Stephen Stewart
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Belisarius88 wrote:
No, a bad joke. I hate SoR because of the open diplomacy, everyone can attack you environment. Having multiple decks with the ability to react to the efforts of your opponents would probably be better. Something like Kutuzov / Wellington for example, where you have two players collaborating but only one can win. I can see the AUC/Gov having a close game, but I can't imagine how AUC/FARC can both be close to winning.


How stable do you think is in the area and theme in which the game is portraying?

Drug lords, corrupt police, govt units, etc. That's why the Drug problem is not easy to solve.

If you obtain control of an area, you should have fear of losing it. This fear shouldn't always be quenched by simply having a card available for you to play, while your opponent has none.

Randomness? maybe, but when you have allies for the time being, you can overcome the randomness.

Length of the game is an issue...If it provides just a low fun rating with no real WOW moments in it, the length needs to be shortened.

Just because a game is long doesn't make it good.

I always like mechanics which allow for the lead player to get the crap beat out of him. This makes the players interact with others instead of just playing the most "optimal" strategy to beat everyone without speaking a word...like _______________(insert many Euros here).

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Michael Sosa
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Stephen those types of games reward social / manipulative skills more than anything else. Its a form of the classic Diplomacy. I hate those games.
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Rui Serrabulho
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Belisarius88 wrote:
Stephen those types of games reward social / manipulative skills more than anything else. Its a form of the classic Diplomacy. I hate those games.


Hi Michael

You hate a lot but you have my consideration for giving A Victory Lost a 9.
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Michael Sosa
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Haha, I'm really a lover not a hater! This is what happens when your friends force you to play games you don't like.
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matt way
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Thanks for the input, its always good to hear the flip side of a popular game.
I just won it on the charity auction so I can't comment on it yet.
Poliorcetes
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Joel Tamburo
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You think AA has a lot of randomness? Sorry, but repeated plays have shown me the opposite. The game actually tends towards an equilibrium point between the four players. Also, you need to remember that the four players are pretty asymmetric - they do not play the same.

Also, I have to wonder what was going on in your game. In order for FARC and AUC both to win FARC would have to have a lot of the board in Active Opposition. This of course leads to the inevitable question of what exactly the Government and Cartels were doing. Don't forget Cartels Terror never causes Opposition or Support - it drives the scale towards Neutral.

Finally, calling something a review and then saying the thread is for "haters only" is inappropriate. Either it is a review and as such is open to rebuttal or it is just a rant in which case this thread should be reclassified as General.
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Michael Sosa
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The target audience of my review is non lovers of AA. I'm not looking to get into argument with people who like random, bash the leader, diplomacy games like AA.

In this last game I as the Narcos hit the government hard, and was assisted by the FARC. I did not interfere with the AUC. The government and AUC punished me, so that AUC and FARC both achieved winning positions. I did not expect to have final scoring card on the top of the deck, and could not recover in time.

PS The government player and I had been fierce enemies as the AUC/FARC in the two previous games, and he had won as the AUC once. I needed to make sure there was no repeat!
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Chris Larkin
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I'm also leaning towards not liking this game very much, but I hope to get it to the table this week with 3 others before I finally make up my mind.

The problem for me is AA is a gang up on the leader type of game. Preventing someone's victory is always better than establishing your own. The problem is only you are working towards your victory but the others are all working towards preventing your opponents victory. This leads to a problem where someone has to weaken their position to prevent a victory from happening while the others get to ignore the issue. I've played as Govt twice and in both instances I had to make bad plays to weaken the leader, and the other factions took advantage immediately against me as a result.
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Joel Tamburo
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That's the whole thing. I contest the claim that it is random and likewise the claim that it is a Diplomacy game. does it have a diplomatic element? Yes, but they are not the dominant element. Thinking ahead and steering your play towards the VC for your faction is more dominant.

BTW, most multiplayer games inherently have diplomacy. The only exceptions are some Euros that are so heavily siloed in their design that in effect the players are playing parallel solitaire games. They may be good designs but personally I like more interaction.

As to randomness, with the player being able to see one card into the future advance planning is not only possible but necessary.

Now in your game example, you can indeed both hurt the Government and still keep FARC from winning. Use Terror to push FARC Opposition down enough to keep them short of their goal while using Bribe to take Government pieces off the board. Once Cartels hits and (usually vastly) surpasses its monetary VC they are frightening because of the Bribe power.
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Michael Sosa
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Yes Diplomacy is present in all multiplayer games. In games were there are no set Alliances and everyone can mess with everyone else, diplomacy becomes more important than in games like Struggle of Empires, were players have the power to determine the alliances and limit the ability of opponents to negatively impact their position. AA is a diplomacy heavy game because there is no other way to protect yoursf. Some people do not like these types of games.

That aspect also adds chaos to the game, as positions can change drastically by players moving about.

The randomness comes from the possibility of multiple parties to be in winning positions when the scoring gets pulled. Then who wins comes down to who happens to be active that turn and in what order.
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Jonathan Harrison
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Belisarius88 wrote:
The target audience of my review is non lovers of AA. I'm not looking to get into argument with people who like random, bash the leader, diplomacy games like AA.

In this last game I as the Narcos hit the government hard, and was assisted by the FARC. I did not interfere with the AUC. The government and AUC punished me, so that AUC and FARC both achieved winning positions. I did not expect to have final scoring card on the top of the deck, and could not recover in time.

PS The government player and I had been fierce enemies as the AUC/FARC in the two previous games, and he had won as the AUC once. I needed to make sure there was no repeat!

Belisarius88 wrote:
Yes Diplomacy is present in all multiplayer games. In games were there are no set Alliances and everyone can mess with everyone else, diplomacy becomes more important than in games like Struggle of Empires, were players have the power to determine the alliances and limit the ability of opponents to negatively impact their position. AA is a diplomacy heavy game because there is no other way to protect yoursf. Some people do not like these types of games.

That aspect also adds chaos to the game, as positions can change drastically by players moving about.

The randomness comes from the possibility of multiple parties to be in winning positions when the scoring gets pulled. Then who wins comes down to who happens to be active that turn and in what order.

I gotta say: I disagree with your view of Andean Abyss.

But.

You expressed your view based on multiple plays. And you give reasons for your opinions.

It's not possible to not respect that. Thanks for adding to the conversation here on the 'Geek.
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Belisarius88 wrote:
There are games like Struggle of Empires where players have a say in forming formal alliances, and there are other games like Pax Romana where informal alliances are made but it is difficult for multiple players to easily combine their attacks on a leader. In AA all factions can easily interfere with each other and there isn’t much defense other than pleading, negotiating, or staying low and avoiding notice.


18th Century and 1st Century warfare (not to mention politics) are very different beasts from the conflict that ravaged Colombia.

Apple, meet orange.
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Eric Williams
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Michael, fair enough. I'm yet to run into a game in over 30 years of gaming that everyone loves. Indeed, most of the top rated games here on BGG do absolutely nothing for me. So I can certainly understand that sense of "why do so many love a game I can't stand?"

However, some of your gripes aren't as clear cut as you're trying to make them:

Game length: How long does it take for a player to make a move? On the board I'd suggest less than 1 minute. So the game is as long as the players make it. Want to sit there pondering for 10 minutes? Negotiating every move? Then the game isn't at fault, those playing it are.

Diplomacy: Unless there are players in a group with the attitude of "I don't care if I don't win as long as you don't" I fail to see the games problem or fault here either. If all 4 factions are trying to win (as they should be) then diplomatic "suggestions" can be taken or disregarded depending on the situation. Yes, each faction can usually disrupt the others. That's a good thing otherwise the compaint would be "you can't chase down a leader...."

Randomness: Apart from some big events that can pop out at any time or not at all, I'm yet to find any randomness.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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There aren't enough "haters only" reviews on BGG.

It's like nude beaches for only ugly people: it's a niche, but do we really want to go there?
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Thanks for posing your review of Andean Abyss. I will echo Jon in saying that I appreciate you taking the time to collect and post your views on the game and I think your opinion is important.

One quibble: if you are going to do a review on an online forum, you should not try to prevent (or even hope) to keep those who disagree with you out. That seems sort of... well silly? Futile maybe?
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Michael Sosa
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These are all fair statements. I'd say though that I prefer games were it is difficult to catch the leader, but you are right that people complain about these games too. I don't think I've called Andean Abyss a bad game, my criticisms are things that my own friends disagree with or otherwise don't stop them from rating the game highly. I can think of one game that has similarities to AA that I enjoy, Dominant Species.
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I admit that one of my most fun Andean Abyss games was when I decided I didn't feel like being diplomatic. I was the Cartels and just laid low and accumulated money, then when I had enough I unleashed a Bribery fueled Reign of Terror on ALL THREE of my fellow players. They really had not considered the possibility and so it was fun indeed.

Ultimately they had to put aside their differences and band together to try to put a stop to it before I could declare victory on the next Propaganda card. They did succeed but man it was fun!

Ultimately Government won and I came in second.

BTW, there is a semi-official variant of AA with a simple change - each of the four decks has a couple fewer cards but the Propaganda cards go on the bottom of each deck. Makes a slightly shorter game but also one with a more predictable length.
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Volko Ruhnke
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Enjoyable thread! I have linked from the ConsimWorld AA discussion page at http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX/.1dd517eb.

Echo chambers are rarely helpful, however, so I'll join in contributing thoughts that may not be negative, albeit merely to address a few points raised.

Quote:
AA is a diplomacy heavy game because there is no other way to protect yoursf. ...

Without disputing that AA can be "diplomacy heavy", as I have seen it be so with players that like to conduct a lot if diplomacy, I will dispute that there is no other way to defend yourself. As noted in the review itself, the FARC can and should tactically protect itself from AUC depredations. The Cartels can indeed protect itself from Government eradication--there are multiple strategies. Early anti-Cartels measures can protect against Bribes, and so on.

It would be less fun for me to reveal too many defensive strategies in some sort of tip sheet. But I have frequently seen--among experienced players--multi-faction coalitions try and fail to bring down a lone leader, demonstrating that that leader had discovered means other than diplomacy to defend a position and win.

Quote:
For example in this last game the AUC and FARC both met their victory conditions when the 3d scoring card triggered. How can that be explained thematically?

This represents FARC and AUC carving up the country into left- and right-wing bastions and dominating the apolitical traffickers, all at the expense of national government sovereignty, as nearly happened historically in the late 1990s.

Quote:
too long for a tactical game...

For what it's worth, a quick-play scenario (less than half the length of the full game) is about to be published in C3i. Naturally, I don't know yet whether folks will like it.

Best regards, Volko



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