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Kickstarter Preview – The Abandons – Labyrinth Escape Card Game

2018 May 21
by Michael Schroeder

I’d like to talk about a project I’ve been working on. A card game project to be exact. It’s called, The Abandons.

The Abandons

I’m extremely excited to be able to share, The Abandons, with you. A campaign to raise funds to be able to produce the game will be coming to Kickstarter in June or July. The Abandons will be our first game project, published by my company, Puzzling Pixel Games and by designer, Michael “Dmitri” Blascoe.

The story behind the game:

Have you ever felt like someone was calling you but nobody was there? A voice deep within the crevices of your mind that you typically give little attention. You felt that voice this morning, but this time, it was clear – it was calling you! The voice became loud enough to gnaw at your sanity yet you need to find out where it’s coming from.

You run to your home and grab your satchel, which contains some odds and ends. As you start moving west towards the setting sun, you turn around to face your home, possibly for the last time. You don’t care. The need to escape is too much. The need to escape the voice is even greater. Yet, the need to follow the voice is consuming! You’re ready for an adventure. You’re ready for the unknown. Little do you realize, you may end up alone. Welcome to…THE ABANDONS!

In the above image, that adventurer is you and that menacing structure? That’s the exterior of The Abandons. The Abandons is a place yet alive – it is a living labyrinth. The Abandons has called you to the challenge. Will you be able to escape or will you be a permanent addition?

What’s inside the box?

Our game is extremely simple! It only consists of…

  • The Box
  • Rulebook
  • 50 cards

How does the game play?

The Abandons is extremely simple to play. A turn consists of…

  • Decide which path you wish to take
  • Look at the number of card icons at the doorway to that path
  • Flip over that number of crds from the draw deck, without looking at them as you draw – any cards you draw before the final number that you need to draw, immediately get discarded.

Here are some examples of passage cards…

  • When you reach the matching number of cards you need to draw, turn that face face-up, look at it, and if it’s a passage card, lay it adjacent to the open passage you just took. If it’s a dead end and your most recent played intersection does not have any openings, game over! Otherwise, keep playing until you draw the last card, the exit card! For example, if you choose to go right, in the 4 way intersection card above, you will draw 2 cards off the draw deck (don’t look at them), and the 3rd card, you flip over.
  • During play, if you happen to flip over an item card…

Item Card

…hold onto it for use later in the game. Depending on how many of the item cards you hold onto, you can use the Map, Bomb or Magical Mirror to help you on your journey. Discard these cards after play.

  • Map (1 Item Card) – while at an intersection, look at the top 3 cards in the draw deck; place them back in the order they were.
  • Bomb (2 Item Cards) – use to blow a hole through a wall, such as a dead end or other wall that may be blocking your way
  • Magical Mirror (3 Item Cards) – discard all cards in play except for the entrance and start the game over again, however, you only play with the existing cards that are left in the draw deck.

Stairs Card

The Stairs card gives you a choice – either continue on as you were, and discarded this Stairs card or decide to take a new path (“level”). This is done by placing the Stairs card over the existing entrance card and discarding all of the other cards in play. It’s essentially deciding to start over. Just keep in mind, you’ll lose a lot of potential points that goes towards your hi-score, if you make it out!

 Collapse Card

The Collapse card forces you to scrap all the cards in play and start over (except for the entrance). This may be a good or bad thing.

Why did I chose to publish this game?

There’s a multitude of resons why I may decide to publish a game…

  • As a first time publisher, I was looking for a game that was light on components. Baby steps. I didn’t want to take on too much.
  • I love mazes and labyrinths! The Abandons is a re-implementation of a game called, Dead Ends. As a publisher, the games you bring out are often a vision you have. The focus of my company, or a large focus, is bridging the gap between what I consider, the golden age of video games (At least to me – the 80’s and early 90’s) and board games. The theme of retro, Legend of Zelda would fit perfectly for this game.


I decided to base the art of, The Abandons, loosely inspired by Retro Legend of Zelda.

  • The game is addictive. While the game is extremely simple in nature, it can be challenging and it’s quite addictive! The game can last as little as 5 minutes, ands because the setup/breakdown and the simplicity and fun of the game, you’ll be playing a multitude of games in one sitting.

Where the game stands now:

As we speak, the PnP files are done and are in final review. As soon as that is finished, I will be releasing it to a limited number of reviewers that would like a copy.

I am also currently in talks with some print on demand companies to have review/prototype copies made. I will also be sending these out to a very select group of reviewers. Because we’re on a limited budget, at this phase, I will only be able to produce a limited number of copies. I ask for everyone’s understanding on this. I would like to get all the copies out in May, so they can be reviewed.

Stretch goals: Yes, the Kickstarter will have stretch goals! This will consist of some extra cards, likely 6. I am currently working on these unique cards.

Campaign: In the midst of all the other work, I’m doing the administrative end of getting the campaign setup – it’s a lot of work! But I love it!

Thank for you taking the time to read up on, The Abandons. Let me give you some links so you can follow up and keep in touch with the game.

We look forward to seeing you at the campaign!

BGD Podcast – Gen Con Pre-Game

2017 August 5
by Michael Schroeder

Board Game Review – Imhotep

2017 June 11
by Michael Schroeder

Who would have known that sailing other people’s ships of stone would upset them so much! That’s what you get in Imhotep, by Phil Walker-Harding.

Number of players: 2-4

Age: 10+

Playing Time: 40 minutes


What’s the game about: A description from the publisher…

Imhotep. The legendary architect of the Egyptian monuments. His awe-inspiring structures and brutal tactics earned him divine status among ancient Egyptians. Can you match his ruthless determination to build the most revered monuments?

To do this, you will need to transport stone blocks on ships from your quarry to different construction sites. But you alone do not choose where the ships go. Your opponents have monumental plans of their own and want to prevent your success. A fierce competition for the precious stone resources plays out. Only with the right strategy and a little luck can you succeed.

In Imhotep, the players take on the roles of ancient Egyptian architects. Over six rounds, they try to transport their stone blocks to end up in the most valuable positions at five construction sites: pyramid, obelisk, chamber tomb, temple, and market. But a player can only choose one of three actions in a turn: excavate a new stone block from the quarry, load a block onto a ship, or move a ship to a construction site. From there, the massive stone blocks must be unloaded in order from bow to stern and placed on the sites in preset sequences. Depending on where the blocks end up, players earn different point values either immediately or at the end of the game.

In each turn, you must weigh your options for getting your own stones into place and thwarting your opponents’ placement plans. You must get your blocks to the right places, in the right order, at the right time to be the greatest architect.

Basic idea in my own words:

In Imhotep, you are attempting to get the most points by the end of the game by delivering your color stones to different construction sites. The problem is, your opponents are attempting the same thing so you’re not always going to get what you want. The focal point of the game is a mechanism of delivering stones from the quarry on randomly drawn ships and timing the ships movement for your own gains just right. At the same time, it’s wise to keep note of what your opponents are trying to do and screwing them over. There’s a lot of screwing over other players in this game.


Imhotep board game

Setup (paraphrased):

  • Give each player a sled board, these boards have spaces for 5 stones of a particular color – this color determines the player color
  • Each player will use stones of the color on their sleds, but don’t give the stones to the players really, they can be set aside. Depending on what the player order will be, this will determine on how many stones can initially be set on the sleds. One stone per spot on a sled.
  • Determine which side of the construction sites you will use, A or B. Then place all the sites of that side out in the middle of the playing area.
  • Separate the boat cards and the market cards. Shuffle the market cards and place them as a face down stack next to the market board/construction site
  • Place the score board aside and take 1 stone of each color and place on the 0 spot on the board
  • Go through the boat cards and you’ll see a player number icon on them. Only play with the boat cards that represent the number of players you’re actually playing with and put the rest away in the box. Randomly shuffle the boat cards you will be playing with and set them down in the playing area, face down.
  • The game is going to start soon so it’s time to turn over the top 4 market cards and place them on the open spots on the market board
  • Finally, turn over the top boat card – this shows you which boats are in play. Place them opposite the construction sites on the sides with the notches in them (the boats are sailed and land in the notches on the boards)

Imhotep board game

How the game plays or, “a turn” (paraphrased):

You can do one of 4 different actions:

  1. Sail 1 ship to a site – Take a ship that has not already been sailed and sail it to a construction site that has not been visited by a ship yet. Another rule though, is that there must be the minimum required number of stones on that ship – this is denoted by a small marker on the ship. This is one of the most critical aspects of the game, sailing these ships. Because even if you don’t have any of your stones loaded onto a ship, you can still freely sail a ship and screw over the other players as they didn’t want to necessarily go to a specific construction site. When you sail a ship, the order of stones placed onto construction site stone spots, must be in the order they are located on the ship (first in, first out).
  2. Place 1 stone on a ship – If you take this action, you are placing one stone only from your sled, onto a free space of a ship that has not been sailed. This is important because the order of the stone placements on the shop matter. You must place your stone on the first available spot (toward the front of the ship) and when the ships get unloaded during the sailing step, they get unloaded in the order they are situation on the ship.
  3. Get new stones – take 3 stones from the general supply of your color, and place onto your sled. If there is not enough available spaces on the sled, you lose out on those spaces, so time this right!
  4. Play 1 blue market card – If you have a blue market card from a previous turn of taking it from the market, you can play it and resolve its effects

Construction Sites

  • Market – For each stone you sail here, you get a market card
  • Pyramids – for each stone you sail here, you immediately score points indicated on the board
  • Temple – for each stone you sail here, you get points at the end of each round. Only the points visible from the sky get points.
  • Burial Chamber – for each stone you sail here, place it in order, in the chamber, you get points at the end of the game. You get points for having more connected stones.
  • Obelisks – the player with the highest obelisk gets more points, there are points awarded for 2nd, 3rd place, etc.

End of game

The game ends after 6 rounds. At this time, all the players score points for the boards that indicate at the end of the game then count of their total scores. The highest score, wins!


Component Quality: 4/5

The components are top notch in this game. However it’s not, “blow me out of the water,” which is why it’s not a 5. But I love the huge stone cubes! I also love the box insert. It is very thematic and fully colored. The rules are simple and easy to read and the cards and punch out board quality is all good.

Theme Ranking: 4/5

I love euro game themes like this, especially building ones. It’s a family friendly theme and plays well with the mechanics of the game. The only reason why it’s not a 5 is because, it’s not medieval! Eh, not really.


Luck Scale: 2/5

There’s actually not a lot of luck in this game. Really, it’s a matter of the drawing of the market cards, but really, you shouldn’t be depending on them so much that counting on a particular card won’t affect your game entirely.

Strategy Scale: 4/5

This is practically a perfect information game. There’s really no hidden information. The strategy is light but there’s a good amount of thought you need to play the game. Such as, how much do you really want to or need to screw opponents over, and the timing of your actions. I think the timing is critical in this game. When do you take certain actions. If you take stone, will the next player be ready to pounce on the sail ship action and ultimately screw you over?

Overall Feelings: 4/5

I like Imhotep a lot. It’s a fine addition to my gaming library. I love themes like this and the game play is light and thoughtful enough. It’s certainly not a filler game but it fits a good playing time that it could easily be played to pass the time while waiting for more players to come over for your game night. I highly suggest giving Imhotep by Kosmos a try. I want to throw this image in there too, that’s it’s the recipient of multiple awards/nominations!

Imhotep Awards

Thank you Kosmos for providing this review copy.

Michael Schroeder is a board game enthusiast, has written an eBook entitled, “Beyond Monopoly: A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Board Games” (Kindle, Apple iBook), is busy designing games and owns an eCommerce board game store, Meeple Village! He also has a podcast that complements this blog, “Board Game Dialog (also available on other podcast aggregators).” He is mike6423 on BGG.

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