Thursday, January 26, 2023


The 14th greatest board game of all time is, Abyss!

Abyss – Uploaded by Jean_Leviathan – Board Game Geek

In Abyss players compete to take over as ruler of the undersea world. They do this by exploring the depths, requesting the support of the council, and recruiting lords. All of this represented by cards. Abyss is a card game with a central board that's used to make the card play more intuitive.

The central board works really well. When exploring the depths you play cards at the top of the board turning them face up one at a time until you find one that you like. (This card is then added to your hand.) In an interesting twist, you must offer each card flipped up to your opponents before you can take it for yourself. That's not as bad as it sounds, your opponents must pay you for the cards they take, and you can do the same thing to them on their turn.

When you finally pick a card, any cards that weren't chosen, go to the center of the board. These are organized by card type, and this represents the council. When you request support from the council, you go to the middle of the board and take any one stack of cards there. You can potentially get a lot of cards of one type, but the numbers on the cards will generally be of lower value.

All the cards that you're collecting act as currency for the action at the bottom of the board, recruit a lord. While the other cards in the game are mini-sized cards, the lords are big beautiful tarot sized cards. These provide you with special powers and victory points. You want these cards.

There are a few additional actions. At the beginning of your turn you can pay one pearl (Pearls are the other kind of currency in the game. Mainly you use them to pay other players during their explore the depths action, but they can also be used to help pay for recruiting lords.) to add a lord in an empty space at the bottom of the board. Lords cards aren't added automatically, unless a certain threshold is reached, then all empty spaces are filled at once. Usually, this isn't the best when it happens on your turn because it tends to help your opponents more than you. However, you do get two pearls when you trigger this as consolation.

That's an interesting thing about Abyss, you spend a lot of time exploring for cards you want in order to recruit lords, but both of these actions have the potential to help your opponent as much as yourself. This is known in the board game biz as "positive interaction." I love this kind of thing in games.

Once a player has recruited their seventh lord, this triggers the end of the game and the player with the most points wins. There are a few details that I left out, like the push your luck aspect to exploring the depths (You may have to face the Kraken!) and how most lords have key icons on them. When you collect three of these keys you must select a location board. These location boards grant victory points but they are placed on top of the lords who triggered them and those lords lose their powers. 

Abyss is a great card game. The game board keeps the decisions in the game organized and intuitive. The positive interaction in the game keeps everyone involved all the time, and the art on the tarot sized lords cards is beyond stunning. I may have neglected to mention how beautiful Abyss is. The game is loaded with beautiful paintings by french artist Xavier Collette, aka Coliandre, and it's all amazing!!

All of these great things come together to make Abyss the 14th greatest board game of all time!!

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(Except where noted, all images copyright Bombyx all rights reserved.)

1 comment:

  1. I think the artwork on this game is amazing and would love to learn to play it someday.