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Subject: Into the Abyss, yet again! rss

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Stephen Michael Hickey
New Zealand
Auckland
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I bought the game 4 years ago and we had a dire experience on our first play. My recollection was that as everything found was useful, it was pointless targetting anything in particlar and building was as much an advantage to your competitors that we felt: why bother? In fact our first play was so poor that the game has been gathering dust until recently.

However, I'm pleased to say that has all changed for the better.

Recently, my kids had taken a shine to the components and they convinced me that there was nothing to better to do on a cold wet Saturday evening but to resurrect the Nautilus. Oh hum!

Well thirty minutes into the game and my opinion of the game was utterly transformed. Everything about the game had suddenly come to life. The intensity of the game came from the following.

Firstly, re building, players were strategising carefully over which building to build and whether it was better to build but not place this turn. By doing so, more of your modules could be added with more men and at the same building cost next turn. It was critical to take note of the turn order so that you didn't place your buildings, if your closest competitor in that technology would have the opportunity to move into your building before you. (Preventing your opponents from gaining 3 points in the 5 technological developments is critical to success). There's usually somewhere where you can place a technology building so that your opponents can't access it before you do and it may that you have to pay one or two more nemo to build in deeper waters to achieve this. If your main rival can only move 3 hexes, then just find somewhere to build it 4 away from them. Also use the solid walls to block the access from connecting rooms where other players are located or at least play the tile in such a way that they can't play a tile to connect to your lab. Once you have reached the lab first, you are likely to be well on your way to gaining 3 points in that technology. Let your opponents use up valuable moves getting to your lab and pay you rent for the privilege.

Next in the area of discovery, the aim is clearly to target the 1 point tiles over the 0 point tiles and espicially the ones that you know you can promote to 2 points at the end of the game. In fact, gaining the 0 point tile that can be promoted to 1 point at the end of the game is also valuable as it helps you detect the 3 gold tiles (worth 2 points each) that are hidden in the abyss and where excavation costs are doubled. Gaining a number of these 2 point Gold tiles can add significantly to your score and contribute to a win.

Another factor that adds to the suspense is the competition for gathering the most Atlantis artifacts. Here competition was close to get the maximum number of artifacts or at least get the highest valued artifact which would settle a tie. Finding a 14 in the deep or a 15 in the Abyss is a cause for celebration. The leader in this area gains a factor 5. In fact, it is at the end of the game that radar comes into play big time. There are major costs and major rewards for excavating in the abyss and the radar can help get you to the Gold and number 15 Atlantis artifact ahead of the competition.

So in the end we experienced an intensely close game having to manage 3 areas: do I build and or place and if so, where to guarantee a lead in the technology; where do I find the Krill/Urchin that I can promote to 2 points at the end of the game, the treasure chests that offer 4 Nemo and the 4 Gold worth 2 points each and the 14 and 15 point Atlantis tiles. Moreover, you really want to avoid the more common Conch or Scallop that cannot be promoted and will be worth nothing at the end of the game.

If you can, its best to balance your efforts between Building and discovery as a score of 20 points split 10 x 10 yielding 100 points is a much better total than the same score split 6x14 = 84 points. Scoring for buildings is much harder and more limited than scoring for discoveries for which there are many opportunities. So targetting the 3 point Technology leads is critical to success.

So the bottom line is don't give up on this game if you have one bad experience. The strategies are there and the game does offerplenty of suspense and intensity of competition to those willing to re-explore it's depths.
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Andrew MacLeod
Canada
London
Ontario
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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Sound advice, Stephen! I also find that it can help just not to plant non-living quarters modules: let the other blokes shell out the nemo, and then move your intrepid researchers in to their modules to activate them.
 
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