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This cooperative game takes its name from the Mouth of Hell, the mythical underground where evil reigns supreme; but if you're brave and strong, clever and intelligent enough to investigate the passageways and chambers deep in the bowels, into the depths of depravity, there are wondrous treasures to be discovered and a few deadly Insectoids to get past, plus of course there is the strange mystic cult that has taken up residence in the hope of summoning a demon. In the great Abyss that time has created way down even deeper than those bowels and depths, the demon waits, its patience lost in the millennia it has been encased in the tomb that the Abyss has slowly become for it. It only needs the cultists to "accidentally" discover the link to its freedom and then all hell will literally reign down on Earth (or would that be up on Earth considering the demon couldn't be much further down?).

PERDITION'S MOUTH: ABYSAL RIFT is an adventure into possibly the most interactive and detailed underground world you have ever set foot in. It is episodic if you wish to play it as a campaign, or you can explore each scenario singularly, there is a box of 24 specific exciting undertakings, plus there are 5 scenarios for "Witch's Grotto". My suggestion is that you do play it as a campaign, running through a scenario until the end and then taking on the next one or at least starting it at your next gaming period as a continuance. Although it is often useful to switch out one or two characters for one or two of the others, again unless you have a full complement of players. There is no requirement to play the scenarios in the order they are marked but it is probably best to do so, though don't expect to get through them in one session. Each adventure takes as long as it takes, there is no time limit unless of course all characters manage to die though it would take some very insane decisions for this to occur, at least early on in the campaign. 

  

Although this has the look of a role-play game you do not need a Games Master (for non-role-players a GM is the storyteller and the player's characters make their way through the tale deciding what to do and how according to their abilities and the information the GM gives them). For various reasons it's probably better to have one player read each scenario out aloud to the others. There is more than enough by way of components in the box for one to six players, thus making it a strong contender for miniatures games players who meet regularly at a home or a club. Because it takes up to 6 players and the large number of super plastic figures its popularity will grow exponentially among role-players who are looking for a board-game that will fill the difference between regular miniatures games and role-playing adventures. Abyssal Rift comes with four folded, double-sided, map boards that have been designed for specific scenarios - the adventure cards give you all the necessary information as to which board to use and everything else for the setup. Like all of the components, the map boards, cards (2 sizes), Rondels, Tokens, etc. are strong and durable making them usable game after game. If you get through every adventure in the pack you can make up your own (role-playing imagination will come in handy here) or change the parameters of those available - you only need to tweak them a little by adding a Cultist here and/or an Insectoid there, and perhaps changing the board and you have a whole new challenge. But as I said already, there is a box of adventures the majority of which will take a couple of hours to play, so the necessity of creating your own scenarios shouldn't come into question for a long while.

Each scenario is reasonably clear and detailed with the first (1a) being specifically designed for players to learn the basics; the scenarios are numbered according to the game-board required, so that 1a is played out on board 1 "Entrance". The prologue to each scenario can be found on one side of the scenario sheet and within its text are the actions of some of the characters. You should take this as an indication of which characters to use, unless of course there are six of you playing in which case you will be using all six.* Apart from the map board number the scenario sheet also lets you know if it is a Standard or Hard adventure.
* Note: If you play Witch's Grotto first and rescue Aisha there is a 7th playable character

  

There are three double-sided reference cards. One covers the Keys to the game's counters and both Friendly and Enemy Actions, and Icons. As icons are used a heck of a lot throughout the book of rules and the scenario sheets. The "Action" reference card is particularly useful when learning the game. Icons are colour coded and have easily determined shapes for quick identification and for colour blind players. The two other reference cards are for the Insectoids and the Cultists. Each of these has information for Standard scenario on one side and Hard scenario play on the flip side; your choice which side to use and when - you can mix & match between Standard and Hard. They show the Movement, the Range, the Hit Points, the Attack, the Defence and any Specials they might have. This is a quick example on how to read these sheets. The Acolyte Cultist has 2 movement towards the Acolyte Exit, a Range of 1, 1 Hit Point, 1 Attack, 1 Defence and no specials - just read horizontally across the sheet.

Basically follow these points:
Agree to use or not to use Hero card HARD rules
Agree to use or not to use HARD rules on scenario’s
Change difficulty Response deck
Agree on enemy difficulty
Also the rule-book provide (provides) some rule variants
House rules where you deem necessary 

  

It should also be noted that two of the characters are regarded as easy to play, two are moderately easy and two are quite difficult. Here is a rough breakdown of the available characters in the order just mentioned; easy, moderate, hard. There are three male characters and three female characters. Characters do not rise in experience levels from adventure to adventure or by the amount of killing they do. When a new scenario starts the characters are reset and it is taken that they have rested prior to embarking on the next part of their journey. However the players should have gained personal experience on how to manage their characters and also the Treasure items, weapons and other objects they have gained are kept until discarded/used but while in a character's possession they can make them better in the way "going up a level" in an RPG does. Note that it is possible that characters with wounds may be less efficient.

Bastian is a Male Human Warrior in gladiatorial armour, he has a special melée Cleave attack. Niffil is also a Male Human Warrior with Range attack and the ability to take a Rest during the action.
Tyra is a Female Human Warrior Berserker. Elisa is a Female Elf with Range attacks and Magic skills. Simma is a Male Halfling Priest, also with Range attack and Clerical power. Olazábal is a Female Dwarf Priest with melée skills.

The two Human Warriors are the easiest to play because they are the characters that need less thought to play. They like to hit things either from close up or from range, usually with point metal weapons.
Tyra, the third human, accepts no help from others though is likely to build up on adrenaline and enter rage mode to help others, unfortunately once the Berserk Rage has subsided fatigue takes its toll. 

  

It is advised that you begin by playing scenario 1a and then 1b, although experienced players assisting someone who hasn't played before, may like to start with the "WITCH'S GROTTO". The introductory text to some of the scenarios, "W1" being one of them, is graphic, descriptive and quite adult at times without resorting to the use of foul or abusive language, though there are times when it comes close. Character sheets work like the ACTION reference sheet in as much as you read across them horizontally for their current attributes. The difference is that it isn't the character name you read from it is the hit point situation, you read across from where your Life Marker is sited on the central ladder.

Each scenario (role-players may think of these as quests, tasks or missions) is printed in 5 sections, the first and largest of which contains Rules Reminders and/or Special Notes including Goals and additional rules for Hard scenario play. The next largest section is the SET UP that tells you where to put and which counters and miniatures to use on the selected board, plus where the Adventurers enter, all by number and letter cross reference - map spaces are A-Q and 1-17. The final three sections are the Primary Spawn, the Secondary Spawn and the Reserve Supply for the Cultists and/or Insectoids. Everything is brief but succinct, just enough information without padding so that the players can act accordingly.

  

In a way, and pun intended, there are two Rondels around which the game circles. There is the Enemy Watchstone, which dictates how the enemies act. Then there is the Stone of Destiny on which the characters decisions are determined; the characters cannot do anything without first selecting an Action on the Stone of Destiny. 

There are 8 sections on the Stone of Destiny, Move, Bash/Aimed Shot, Rest, Charge, Defend, Sprint, Attack and Special. Each has one, two or three peg holes into which the players place their ID Pegs (shields with their ID symbol on them) facing point out. You have to move your peg on the Stone and you have to use an Action Point (all characters have an AP value on their sheets) per section to do so, except if the section is filled by other pegs in which case it can be skipped over at no AP cost. You may only move your peg clockwise, though as this is a game of collaboration you can discuss what to do with your other players and plan with them so you all make the best actions for the party. Note: The order of play is not fixed as long as each player has a turn each Round.

Enemy actions are determined by the games intelligence system which is simple but smart. Two enemy markers are placed on the Watchstone on the blood spots during set up, then on the enemy's turn a Response Card is drawn and the icons on it determine what the enemy will do. 
Example A: the "EYE" symbol means that two enemy figures are moved from the Reserve, one to the Primary and one to the Secondary Spawn pools.
Example B: the number on the Response card decides how the enemy markers move on the Watchstone Rondel, determining what Actions the enemy will take - each enemy mini on the map takes each available Action.
     

Both Rondels work excellently though they can be a mite frustrating at times, especially the Stone of Destiny when the player going before you (the play doesn't use a specific Turn Order, but you can't start the next Turn until all players have been) has a marker blocking the space you really need to get on. As I said previously, you can discuss with the other players about actions etc and thus in most cases you should be able to ensure that doesn't happen, but even then there are times when someone either makes a mistake or a misjudgement, or even simply made the correct move on their turn but it meant that you were left with very little choice when the turn came round to you.

In the majority of the scenarios the players aim is to get their characters from Entrance to Exit doing what is required as they traverse the maps and through the passage out and onto the next scenario. Characters do not have to attack if they can bypass a conflict, and they do not need to search, mainly because this is not a computer or role-playing game, though there are Treasure Chests to be found on occasion and these can hold useful items, but watch out for traps. Dead creatures do not give up anything, useful or not, but saving Innocent Victims (treat these as unwilling participants in whatever it is the Cultists are planning or maybe just food or sport for the Insectoids) will give a strong numerical boost to the characters.

I have another rules wrinkle about Treasure. You can spend an AP to give a treasure to another Hero character but only on your Turn, they cannot take (request?) one from another character on their Turn. When you open a Treasure chest you take a treasure card but if that is the last action of your Turn do you have to hold onto it or can you leave it in the chest for the next character to pick up ? This isn't made clear, although there is a rule (another one I am not understanding) that allows you to drop an item/treasure from your backpack but another character cannot then pick it up on their Turn. This appears to conclude that if you open a chest and take a treasure (card) then you cannot leave it there to be collected by another player. If this is the case and you already have a full backpack then by following the non-logic of the ruling, the treasure just disappears; I just cannot see the sense in this. 

    

PERDITION'S MOUTH is a miniatures based board-game with both role-playing and war-game tendencies and yet although it isn't riddled with inconsistencies it does have too many for a game that has been in the making for many years. It's almost like these are "Because we say so, rules" rather than following what I consider as logic.

I do believe that there must be reasons for what I am saying is illogical as the game has been so well play-tested and tried that it must be me missing something, but at this moment I cannot fathom what that is. There are 37 full-glossy rules pages, each with point to point detailed instructions and clarified with sidebars, examples and illustrations. Naturally I have read them through more than once and also flipped through them section by section but somehow whatever it is I am missing is evading me.

PERDITION'S MOUTH ABYSSAL RIFT is never a walk in the park, except perhaps for Scenario 1a. It is harsh and violent, quick and deadly, but unlike many other games of this genre it is not a dice rolling clambake or a series of cross referencing over numerous charts. Good planning, tactics and strategies along with a little luck make each scenario an exciting and tough challenge. Perdition's Mouth is more complex than the majority of Fantasy Miniatures based board games, being quick to play and adrenaline rousing as any figure-action game I have played. If you play scenario after scenario in the same session it can feel "samey" but barely any more than other games played back-to-back. I think part of the "problem" (if indeed problem is the correct word) is the lack in variety of enemies. It's this that helps create a large portion of the "samey" feeling. If a fantasy role-play party entered a dungeon and it only had Orcs, Goblins and an Ogre in each of its passages and chambers they would soon be bored with it unless the GM did something to make the adventure more exciting by adding other distractions. In fairness that is what the authors of PERDITION'S MOUTH ABYSSAL RIFT have done; they've included a myriad of extras and diversions in an attempt to keep each scenario fresh, and for the best part, it works.

I would have preferred the scenarios to be more like missions, having definitive goals. The preamble prior to each adventure (on the flip side of the scenario cards) sets the scene okay but it does so by saying what certain characters (who may not even be in your party) have done on the lead up to when you are about to enter the next venture. They are good though brief but are better (still brief though) if the characters mentioned are indeed in the party, although at that point they are putting words and actions into the character that the player (of said character) may not agree with. I think PERDITION'S MOUTH ABYSSAL RIFT is somewhat torn between its want to be a role-play game and its actuality as a board game that features miniature figures.

  

There are several expansions to the base game of PERDITION'S MOUTH: 

Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – The Hideout (2016)
Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Traitor Guard (2017)
Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Soul Spire (TBA) Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Gamer's Bundle Edition
Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Wound Deck (2016) 
Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Promo deck (2016) 

  

The author of the game has, on Boardgamegeek.com, mentioned that many questions asked by players have been answered in SOUL SPIRE a Perdition's Mouth expansion. However with all the playtesting Perdition's Mouth had many of these wrinkles should have been ironed out prior to its public release. This is what Timo Multamäki, the author had to say:-

" . . . . you'll be surprised when you see what Soul Spire comes with, as it has many of the things listed:
* Hero progress (albeit different than in games where you progress after every few kill, which we still consider wholly unrealistic)
* Faction (not profession) related booster/downer cards
* Permanent positive, negative or just different cards that change your deck

And why didn't we bring these in the original PM:AR? How many of you honestly think that it wouldn't have made it too much to digest. Even now, the fact is that many (if not most) of players have had to first unlearn quite a lot of what they thought that they knew of dungeon crawlers as that isn't useful in PM:AR. 

We were wisely suggested by game testers to streamline and introduce these additional mechanics once our player base has levelled up. We're now waiting [sic] see when large enough percentage of PM:AR owners is level 2 PMAR players.

And then you can provide your own feedback on fine tuning these new features.

We *do* listen [sic​] our fans. Possibly more than a few other companies, but we also do consider some things in advance as opposite of being just reactive. This is one of those cases, where we did decisions a long time ago, which some are still seeing as arbitrary. Rather few things in PM:AR *are* arbitrary."

- Timo

  

I would have preferred the scenarios to be more like missions, having definitive goals. The preamble prior to each adventure (on the flip side of the scenario cards) sets the scene okay but it does so by saying what certain characters (who may not even be in your party) have done on the lead up to when you are about to enter the next venture. They are good though brief but are better (still brief though) if the characters mentioned are indeed in the party, although at that point they are putting words and actions  into the character that the player (of said character) may not agree with. I think PERDITION'S MOUTH ABYSSAL RIFT is somewhat torn between its want to be a role-play game and its actuality as a board game that features miniature figures.

There are several expansions to the base game of PERDITION'S MOUTH: 

  Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – The Hideout (2016)     
 
  Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Traitor Guard (2017)
 Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Mogba'gh (2017)       

     Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Hero Trait Deck (2017)

 

  

  Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Wound Deck (2016)     
  Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Promo deck (2016)

Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Soul Spire (TBA)                                                           
Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift – Gamer's Bundle Edition                                      

   

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© Chris Baylis 2011-2015