Abyss, Steam and Zombies

A fun start to the evening with Zombie Dice from Steve Jackson Games.

The idea of the game is to collect as many brain symbols as possible without busting by being “shot” 3 times. There are 3 different coloured dice with 3 different symbols with different probabilities attached to each colour, on your turn you take 3 dice and roll, brains are VP’s, footprints are rerolled along with enough dice to take your rolled dice up to 3.

 Zombie dice, shot down again and not a brain in sight

Zombie dice, shot down again and not a brain in sight

On the whole I found this game to be heavily luck based, which dice you draw is random and the limited probability knowledge available is not sufficient to balance off that luck or in my case lack of luck. 

Seven of us then split – four to play Abyss a 2014 release from Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier and three to play Steam from Martin Wallace.

 The Abyss box

The Abyss box

The idea of Abyss  is to collect victory points, these are on “Lord” cards and land tiles. On a turn you get to do one of three things, collect a cash card, take a stack of discarded cash cards (usually singles) or purchase a Lord card with cash cards.

 Cash cards

Cash cards

Cash cards come in various types and you must collect the correct cash cards to purchase a Lord card.

 Three Lords

Three Lords

As you collect Lord cards they provide in game benefits one of which is keys, collect 3 keys and you immediately collect a land card which gives additional victory points but immediately nullifies the benefits of the Lords used. The game is well balanced has nice mechanisms, the graphics are atmospheric and all those that played enjoyed the game immensely.

 A Land tile in Abyss

A Land tile in Abyss

I joined two others on another table to play Steam, the successor to “Age of Steam” (AoS) to which it bears many similarities. Steam is a railway game where players take turns to lay track between towns and then move goods along those links, in moving the goods you earn cash or victory points; the cubes are the key to the game and the mechanism of taking a special action each turn is how you get influence over them.

 A 2 link track between Syracuse and Scranton

A 2 link track between Syracuse and Scranton

Our game played well with us all within a few points of one another for the majority of the game, it was only by protecting a monopoly of cubes at the end that one of us gained an advantage. This was my first time with Steam my previous games having been with AoS, there were not many differences between the 2 games but those that were there did make the game play quite differently.

 One of the differences twixt AoS and Steam, the latter has a resource cube track from which you can take a grouping of your choice, this is limited and not refreshed.

One of the differences twixt AoS and Steam, the latter has a resource cube track from which you can take a grouping of your choice, this is limited and not refreshed.

Gone was the angst of knowing how many loans to take out and gone was the careful cash calculations, instead I felt a carefree attitude towards the cash and loans. The other major difference was the game end, in Steam it felt “messy”, in AoS because of the cash restraints every build is done with a purpose and must be cost effective in Steam there was no such constraint, random building took place and the specialist actions were of little use. On the whole I will remain an AoS fan, although I expect with its more user friendly cash and scoring system, those who have been brought up on Steam will prefer that version.