Thursday, December 6, 2018

Super early impressions of The Abandons

My ‘big’ PnP project for December was making a copy of The Abandons, a solitaire tile laying game that I backed at the PnP level on Kickstarter.

It’s fifty cards but they are big, square cards with wide margins so it was easy to cut out the cards, laminate them and then cut out the laminated cards. No fussy cutting with scissors. All quick cutting with a paper cutter. So I was done by the fourth and have already gotten in a few plays.

(And this really will be my biggest project this month, even though I’m already done. Once the holiday stuff really starts rolling, my crafting time will go away. In fact, that’s why I made sure I got it done in week one!)

The Abandons is a tile laying game where you are creating a maze/really twisty passage way. Here’s the basic idea. Each room, other than dead ends, has one to three exists marked with one or more diamonds each. Pick an exit. Draw that many cards and discard all but the last one and add it to the maze. If you get to the bottom of the deck, you get the exit tile and get out. There are also staircases, collapses and item cards to make the game more interesting.

The game was a bit ink-heavy by my standards but the artwork is nicely atmospheric and fits with the idea that a strange compulsion dragged you to the maze/dungeon/basement of an abandoned industrial building. The graphic design definitely works for the game.

What the Abandons initially reminded me of is Ambagibus, an older, free PnP which also has you building a maze out of tiles. I think Ambagibus has an illusion of choice. Often times, you don’t have a placement choice and there’s usually an obvious best choice. Despite that, I find the game very relaxing and play it a lot.

The Abandons, on the other hand, seems to have the illusion of no-choice. That’s because the game seems to be about path building and you don’t seem to have a lot of choices. But the fundamental mechanic of the Abandons is actually push your luck. It’s still pretty random but I think there are more choices than flipping a card and hoping you don’t lose. It’s going to take more plays for me to make up my mind but I think the Abandons is more game than Ambagibus.

The Abandons is a light, little game that takes maybe ten minutes to play. To be honest, that puts it in my wheelhouse for solitaire games and I’m glad I made it and I will keep playing it. It’s better than I was afraid it would be. I am curious to see if I’m right and I have more control than it initially feels like.

The gaming world is full of light, little solitaire games. Thanks to PnP, I’ve played a couple dozen. The Abandons isn’t the first one I’d recommend if you’ve never played any and want to check the genre out. But it is one I’d recommend if you are already into light solitaires.

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