Over the past few weeks I’ve managed to have three games of Andean Abyss, which I mentioned a few posts back.
Initial impressions were of a complicated game to that wasn’t subsequently borne out. Brian and I went through the very well written and comprehensive tutorial and we found a card driven game that is actually very easy to play. Like the best games its challenge is working out which strategy to employ in a session. It is easy to form a plan but different card driven events can offer a different path, and that’s before you try to counter the machinations of the other players. The game can be played with between 1 and 4 players, one player is always the Colombian government, the other player fores are the FARC (and other left wing guerrillas such as the ELM), the AUC (right wing paramilitaries) and the Drug Cartels (even though they are many in the country they are all lumped together for ease of play). Game play resolves around gaining forces and conducting operations against the other players, building bases, controlling areas and resources as well as general scheming; this is countered by the variable turn order sequence and any events that might be played from each turns card.. That is one thing I like about the game- there are no rules for diplomacy, players make make and break deals as they see fit.
Each side has its own set of victory conditions meaning it is possible that one or more sides might win at the same time, accordingly the Government player has the hardest job trying to thwart 3 other players simultaneously; they are manily playing for themselves….
In our three games the first went to a quick victory to the FARC, the second was to the AUC, and the third was a joint victory to the Government and the Cartels (some sort of deal with one playing off the other not to attack at a crucial juncture).
The game is amply supported with designer’s notes, strategy tips and an explanation of each event card in the game, plenty to give you enough info to play the game. I did however find an bibliography that got me scurrying off to Amazon for some more reading material. I can definitely recommend M. A. Murillo’s ‘Colombia and the United States: War Unrest and Destabilization’.
The game is the first in a planned series of COIN games, with Cuba and Afghanistan being lined up as pre orders already. Given the quality of this game I’ll be picking the others up in due course.