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ABYSS: 
A dungeon crawl style boardgame from Finland's top boardgame company, ARCTIC UNION and designed by Timo Multamaki and Kevin Wilson (known for DESCENT and his work with FFG)  I believe this will be up on KICKSTARTER around the end of March 2014. It is a very good and quite different variation on fantasy gaming.

Today at Spiel in Essen Fran and I were able to experience a short but volatile adventure through the basic game of ABYSS with Timo Multamaki as our guide. Fran took on her favourite role aa healer character and I was cast as a thief - not too sure why Timo considered me as a sneaky little backstabber; he obviously doen't know my better sides. The characters are miniatures that move on a square-based map that represents a dungeon, haunted house, castle or whatever your storyline requires. This map comprises of various shaped an sized sections that butt together and can be added to as the play progresses. Character sheets are postcard size laminated cards that show an illustration of the character, its name and all of the important information about it - abilities, health, action points etc - the card is concise and clear with no necessity for additional information.

The players are told a short story to set the scene before the game begins; this can be any type of fantasy tale, lost treasure, kidnapped maiden, revenge, you know the sort of jobs adventurers are usually hired for. Then the game begins and the beauty and brilliance of a true role-playing board game comes to the fore. There are NO dice to roll an no GamesMaster to trick you or mislead you. Instead you hav a double mechanic, one rondelo for the players and one for the denizens of the dungeon.

The players rondelo costs one action point per space moved around it, with no allowing to stay on the space you started on, unless you have enough Action points to do go completely round the track - you don't have so don't even think about it. The spaces on the rondelo offer different actions, such as attack, sprint, move, rest etc and the action chosen is the one your character will perform this turn. So if you want to fight a monster make sure you have selected (and landed on) the space that allows you to fight - one space allows you to move and fight while another space only allows you to move, so if you choose the wrong action you may find yourself running up to the monster waving your weapon but not being able to do much except blush, say hello and hope it ignores you - which it most likely will not.

Players and monsters only have one turn per round, but the players can decide amongst themselves the order in which they take their actions. This means that cooperation is definitely the only way to play if you want to be successful, but then players are supposed to work together in a role-play game, ABYSS ensures that they do.

The monsters/adversaries have their own rondelo and also a sort of rage-o-meter. Monsters moves and actions may be a little random as they are controlled by cards and a monster reference sheet. Monsters off the board are in summoning boxes and are brought into play via summoning and the rage-o-meter.

We only had a brief 20 minutes or so walkthrough but in that short time we really got a good feel for the game and learned the basics. It is a game anyone of a reasonable age can learn to play quite quickly yet will have endless possibilities as each character is different in skills and abilities and specials.

I apologise for the lack of photos but I didn't bring the right lead to connect my phone to the latop.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015