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Perdition's Mouth: Abyssal Rift» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First Impressions - Abysmal Rift it is not rss

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Paul Kellett
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I got my friend to pick this up from Essen for me and it arrived in my hands on Wednesday.

Wow, the box weighs a tonne and is packed full of top quality components.



I unpacked everything on Thursday, read the set up pages of the manual, bagging all the different tokens and card sets.

I have all my paints at work and paint minis during my lunch hour so I painted the hero shield tokens before applying the stickers. I also managed to get 2 creatures painted (the pic doesn't do it justice)





The rule book is very comprehensive and well laid out. Bold red titles make scanning for a particular rule quite easy and there are sidebars on each page with quick hints and references. Certainly a lot easier to use than FFG books.

I have set up and played the intro scenario, losing to a lucky defence draw and a lack of boost cards.




Really liking this so far, the rondel mechanism really raises this game above the rest of the dungeon crawlers. The hero rondel has you planning more as you can't just run around smiting things, you need to work together to make the best use of your actions. The enemy rondel adds another element of tension. You draw a card from the resolution deck and the number on it dictates hoe many actions through enemies take.

There are no dice in this game - everything is done and resolved using cards in a couple of different decks. Each hero has their own specific deck which will give you different abilities as well as number cards to boost actions.

When combat (or certain other things) happens and you have chosen your cards, the enemy draws from its deck and adds the value to its base stats which you must beat to succeed. If an enemy wounds a hero, a wound card is added to that heroes hand diluting it as well as adding bad effects.

I'm definitely excited to get this to my group and get stuck into the campaign.
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Timo Multamäki
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Great to hear that you've been happy with your purchase. I'm sure everyone would love to follow up how your campaign goes. At least I would.
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Paul Kellett
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Thanks Timo It feels heavier than Descent - you really need to be spot on with your tactics or it will eat you! Loving the mechanics though - no random dice rolls, you can plan and mitigate anything you want to do if you have the cards.

I'm trying out the first Hideout scenario today (second attempt - my first one saw the bartender die in about round 5). I'm probably going to run the campaign starting with this one then go to the main game.

Don't worry, I will be posting up all my session reports (I do the same for Secrets of the Lost Tomb) for you to enjoy

Cheers
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Thanks for the pictures! How does everything fit back into the box after you punch it out? How is the insert (if there is one)?

Take care and have a great day!

Michael
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Paul Kellett
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No problem.

The inserts are made of thin card and create 2 narrow partitions along 2 edges of the map boards. I have all the figures bagged by type and most of them fit in one partition, the card decks and counters fitting in the other.

Then there is a divider which sits on top of the boards/partitions and divides the top part of the box in two. This is big enough to put the scenario tuck box on one side and the bigger creature bags on the other.

It's a tight fit but it does all go back in. There are very few tokens and they don't take up much space at all.
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AnimalMkIV wrote:
No problem.

The inserts are made of thin card and create 2 narrow partitions along 2 edges of the map boards. I have all the figures bagged by type and most of them fit in one partition, the card decks and counters fitting in the other.

Then there is a divider which sits on top of the boards/partitions and divides the top part of the box in two. This is big enough to put the scenario tuck box on one side and the bigger creature bags on the other.

It's a tight fit but it does all go back in. There are very few tokens and they don't take up much space at all.


Great! thanks for the reply. Does that include the expansion material too?
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Paul Kellett
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Yes. Hideout & Witches' Grotto boards, extra minis (except Mogba) and cards
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Thanks again! I am really looking forward to this one! Let us know how it plays solo..
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Jo Bartok
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The rondel sounds like 100% mechanics and 0% immersion aka like d2E. :/
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Sebastian Beck
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It is immersive.

The immersion is supported by the narration text at the beginning of each scenario and by the interesting choices to make because of the rondel mechanic.

It feels very dark. According to the theme this game blows D2E out of the water (but that was not that difficult, right?).
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Paul Kellett
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If you just want to run around throwing fist fulls of dice and bashing everything in your path, then this isn't your game.

However if you want an immersive tactical skirmish game which requires more in depth planning and cooperation, then this is up there with the best.
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AnimalMkIV wrote:
If you just want to run around throwing fist fulls of dice and bashing everything in your path, then this isn't your game.

However if you want an immersive tactical skirmish game which requires more in depth planning and cooperation, then this is up there with the best.


Are you or have you played this solo? If so how many characters are you playing with and how easy is it to control multiple characters?

I am really looking forward to this--one of my most anticipated games due to the theme and unique mechanics!
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Paul Kellett
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I've only played this solo so far - I will be playing with 3 of my group on Wednesday.

I've played 4 games controlling 3 characters and 2 with 4, I wouldn't like to play with more than that (I've no more room on the table for a start).

It's reasonably easy to cope with - each hero has their own specific deck of cards with general buffs and character specific skills so you have to have multiple hands of cards. I just lay each hand face up rotated 90 degrees on top of each character's deck. It only takes a moment to quickly scan through the cards to check if there is anything you can use.

I'd say it's easier than things like Descent where each character has half a dozen unique items all with different stats and even when you have gathered a bunch of treasure, each character can only carry 2 or 3 items and you will be a good way into the campaign before that becomes something you have to think about.

It's a very thinky game. The way the rondel works means you need to spend a little time at the start of each round running through various plans to try to get the optimal use of actions. That's when you will be scanning each characters' hand of cards to see who can do what the best.
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AnimalMkIV wrote:
I've only played this solo so far - I will be playing with 3 of my group on Wednesday.

I've played 4 games controlling 3 characters and 2 with 4, I wouldn't like to play with more than that (I've no more room on the table for a start).

It's reasonably easy to cope with - each hero has their own specific deck of cards with general buffs and character specific skills so you have to have multiple hands of cards. I just lay each hand face up rotated 90 degrees on top of each character's deck. It only takes a moment to quickly scan through the cards to check if there is anything you can use.

I'd say it's easier than things like Descent where each character has half a dozen unique items all with different stats and even when you have gathered a bunch of treasure, each character can only carry 2 or 3 items and you will be a good way into the campaign before that becomes something you have to think about.



It's a very thinky game. The way the rondel works means you need to spend a little time at the start of each round running through various plans to try to get the optimal use of actions. That's when you will be scanning each characters' hand of cards to see who can do what the best.



Thanks for the information Paul! I imagine I will try to play with as few characters as possible ( 2-or 3 if needed to have a better outcome) I am limited by table space as well...

great to know that the game is complete and ready to go so hopefully we will see it mailed out before the end of the year
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Jo Bartok
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Beckikaze wrote:
It is immersive.

The immersion is supported by the narration text at the beginning of each scenario and by the interesting choices to make because of the rondel mechanic.

It feels very dark. According to the theme this game blows D2E out of the water (but that was not that difficult, right?).


Flavour text doesnt imply immersion through gameplay.
Android (The Board Game) is full of flavour text. You can pretty much ignore it and play. However D1E: Road to Legend has almost no flavour text and yet is deeply immersive because the mechanics transport the theme and thus create immersion.

And you are right, against D2E that's a low bar in terms of "feeling the game", "immersing yourself into it",... wonder how it goes against Doom (2004), D1E, Level 7 Omega Protocol, SWIA, Gloomhaven.
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Jo Bartok
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AnimalMkIV wrote:
If you just want to run around throwing fist fulls of dice and bashing everything in your path, then this isn't your game.

However if you want an immersive tactical skirmish game which requires more in depth planning and cooperation, then this is up there with the best.


Sounds like I want to play Gloomhaven then. Which I will.
That aside, I wasn't saying dice make it a lot better, I am just wondering if "gaming the rondel" makes immersive, thematic gameplay - and I highly doubt that.
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Tristan Brunet
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ionas wrote:
AnimalMkIV wrote:
If you just want to run around throwing fist fulls of dice and bashing everything in your path, then this isn't your game.

However if you want an immersive tactical skirmish game which requires more in depth planning and cooperation, then this is up there with the best.


Sounds like I want to play Gloomhaven then. Which I will.
That aside, I wasn't saying dice make it a lot better, I am just wondering if "gaming the rondel" makes immersive, thematic gameplay - and I highly doubt that.


But that's exactly the reply you got. Everyone who answered you told you that they felt immersion while "gaming the rondel". That you doubt it doesn't change anything to their experience and feeling.

I completely agree with you when you speak about flavour text or even art. They're not the most important tool to convey a theme (they mostly convey an atmosphere). Mechanics are.
But you seem to assume that some mechanics are somehow objectively linked to "theme" (while they mostly "historically" are), while others are definitely dry, "euro-ish", abstract. I find it a strange way of seeing things, especially since it doesn't take the "emergent", "serendipitous" (is that a word ?) nature of theme into account.

Theme can come through surprising means.

What is the rondel in PM ? It is an action matrix. Ie, it is a filter which you have to go through to make your character act the way you want, or the best she/he can. It surely limits and shakes up the link between what you intend your character to do and what he can (or how effectively he can) end up doing. It can feel like an artificial limitation. But it actually makes a wonderful, very thematic thing : it approximates - through its own abstract mean - the limitations of a real time experience. You see, most dungeon crawlers (or tactical games) allow characters to act sequentially, to do what they want to when they want to, while others are waiting (in line, most of the times) to do their own thing. That's not exactly how I envision things happening in a dark, mostly narrow dungeon. Mistakes are made, miscommunications, people (and foes?) get in the way of others, people get frightened, their attention is disturbed by the proximity of monsters... Coordinating your actions is important. In the same vein, exhaustion just prevents you to do the same "move and attack" pattern efficiently and infinitely. The rondel is a gamey way of approximating all that.

The rondel also reminds us that teamplay - working efficiently as a team - actually makes a team better than the sum of its parts. Which I find to be a perfectly acceptable preconception of human capabilities.

From my experience, the rondel ends up shaping up tense, evocative and dramatic situations on the board. In this regard, I think it is perfectly thematic.

Of course, that doesn't mean YOU won't end up feeling the rondel detracts you from the theme. To each is own, yadda yadda. But that will only mean that the way theme is enforced in this game didn't resonate with your own experience and expectations. Not that the rondel is apostate to "themed" gameing.
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azza rein
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ionas wrote:

That aside, I wasn't saying dice make it a lot better, I am just wondering if "gaming the rondel" makes immersive, thematic gameplay - and I highly doubt that.


A rondel is as thematically immersive as dice (ie, no link to theme at all). If you don't complain about dice, why complain about a rondel?
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Sebastian Beck
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ionas wrote:
Beckikaze wrote:
It is immersive.

The immersion is supported by the narration text at the beginning of each scenario and by the interesting choices to make because of the rondel mechanic.

It feels very dark. According to the theme this game blows D2E out of the water (but that was not that difficult, right?).


Flavour text doesnt imply immersion through gameplay.
Android (The Board Game) is full of flavour text. You can pretty much ignore it and play. However D1E: Road to Legend has almost no flavour text and yet is deeply immersive because the mechanics transport the theme and thus create immersion.

And you are right, against D2E that's a low bar in terms of "feeling the game", "immersing yourself into it",... wonder how it goes against Doom (2004), D1E, Level 7 Omega Protocol, SWIA, Gloomhaven.


Flavour text does not mean anything. But this game has a lot of it which surely helps (for me) bringing me into the setting.

As mentioned above, the depth of the decisions brings this game to life - and the rondel totally supports (better: causes) that.

According to D1E, Level 7 OP and SWIA, I find PM:AR the much better and much more flavourful and thematic experience.
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Mark T
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ionas wrote:
AnimalMkIV wrote:
If you just want to run around throwing fist fulls of dice and bashing everything in your path, then this isn't your game.

However if you want an immersive tactical skirmish game which requires more in depth planning and cooperation, then this is up there with the best.


Sounds like I want to play Gloomhaven then. Which I will.


Not sure if you're looking to Gloomhaven for the bashy-smashy or the dice rolling, but as far as I know, there are no dice in Gloomhaven.
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Christopher Senn
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mydnight wrote:
ionas wrote:

That aside, I wasn't saying dice make it a lot better, I am just wondering if "gaming the rondel" makes immersive, thematic gameplay - and I highly doubt that.


A rondel is as thematically immersive as dice (ie, no link to theme at all). If you don't complain about dice, why complain about a rondel?


I kind of agree with ionas in regards to theme and the rondel.

Most RPG games, for the past 30 years, gives the player options to move squares and attack, and then you roll for attack. The rondel is something completely different. It kind of says you cant attack this turn, or you can t move this turn, because the peg is in a different hole.

Dont get me wrong. I like the Rondel and I will probably play this game just because of that feature.
Finally some strategy to a dungeon crawler! But since it breaks tradition of just about every RPG game out there, I agree that it is hard to relate the theme to such an abstract mechanic.

But like I said, I prefer gameplay over tradition.
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Timo Multamäki
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Grove123 wrote:
mydnight wrote:
ionas wrote:

That aside, I wasn't saying dice make it a lot better, I am just wondering if "gaming the rondel" makes immersive, thematic gameplay - and I highly doubt that.


A rondel is as thematically immersive as dice (ie, no link to theme at all). If you don't complain about dice, why complain about a rondel?


I kind of agree with ionas in regards to theme and the rondel.

Most RPG games, for the past 30 years, gives the player options to move squares and attack, and then you roll for attack. The rondel is something completely different. It kind of says you cant attack this turn, or you can t move this turn, because the peg is in a different hole.

Dont get me wrong. I like the Rondel and I will probably play this game just because of that feature.
Finally some strategy to a dungeon crawler! But since it breaks tradition of just about every RPG game out there, I agree that it is hard to relate the theme to such an abstract mechanic.

But like I said, I prefer gameplay over tradition.


I might be slightly biased, but I find it very abstract that you'd have always a chance to hit and move, on a real dungeon crawl.

I'd advice making a test. I'd bet that *any* approximation mechanic
is better than "you always get to have two steps and then you attack and roll a die"... in terms of how much the mechanic actually represent something realistic.

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Paul Kellett
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I think Timo has referred to it before as a dance.
Think of it like this - you go in for a straight attack, then, rather than just standing there slugging it out, you sprint to the side while your partner comes in for a strike before also dodging out to let you come back in for another strike, etc.

Much more interesting and dynamic than just standing there hacking at each other.
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Timo Multamäki
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Well put, Paul. Thanks.
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Jochen Wiesner
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Eridis wrote:
I might be slightly biased, but I find it very abstract that you'd have always a chance to hit and move, on a real dungeon crawl.


I second that. Simpler mechanics usually have a higher level of abstraction. Simple attack/defense roll mechanics are very abstract. The problem people do have with the rondell is that your options are limited not by the situation on the game board but by the situation on the rondell. This is what I'd call a meta rule. It's not an abstraction from the situation on the board but mostly decoupled from that.
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