Giant mechanized warriors compete for scarce resources on a desolate world in Toy Vault's new game, Abaddon.
In Abaddon, two factions are pitted against each other for the control of a rare mineral. Their weapons of choice are Links — heavy, medium and recon grade assault robots that fight with a variety of weapons, and smaller regular infantry units. Several different scenarios allow for differences in setup and terrain and offer unique challenges and victory conditions to each side.
At the beginning of each turn, players roll activation dice that allow them to either move units, collect necessary weapons cards or utilize other features. The Links must maneuver throughout the game board to gain line-of-sight on enemies before firing. Using a weapon card, the firing player rolls a specific dice (D10, D8, or D6, depending on the Links' grade), and the defending player can roll to deflect the blast. With each hit, the Links lose power crystals and eventually are removed from play.
There is a lot to like about Abaddon. First of all, the Links themselves are beautifully sculpted miniatures that are a lot of fun to play with. (Let's face it, miniatures are always more fun to play with than cardboard chits.) Additionally, the science-fiction theme here is a lot of fun and generally succeeds in immersing the players into the world of Abaddon.
Unfortunately, some of the other components don't quite match up to the miniatures. The various terrain features of forest, village and city and simply cross-cardboard stock seem a little chintzy next to the fine miniatures. Unless I missed something, there is also no real distinguishing characteristics between the three terrain features that make them unique.
Game play is generally fun and fast paced, though it is never really as intense as one would hope. Having to rely on the activation dice really limits strategic options in the game. One can spend a few turns maneuverings Links into position, only to be frustrated by an unlucky roll. Additionally, not possessing the right weapons cards can significantly derail a strategy.
For two to four players, Toy Vault's Abaddon is a decent light war game, though not a great one. I suspect younger players or those new to war gaming will really get a kick out of it. I'll probably play it again somewhere down the road, but I'm in no great hurry.
Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at Salt Lake Community College. He is also the co-developer of the History Challenge iPhone/iPad apps. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org