Welcome, denizens of Quarter to Three, to the first play by forum game of Andean Abyss!
What is Andean Abyss?
Andean Abyss is a new board game, designed by Volko Ruhnke and published by GMT Games, which covers counter-insurgency operations in Colombia during the 1990s and early 2000s. It is the first in a planned series of counter-insurgency (COIN) games designed to explore conflicts that are less often gamed than “traditional” wars (Napoleonic, American Civil War, the Second World War, etc.)
Why play by forum?
Andean Abyss is an ideal game to play by forum. There is no hidden information, and there is no secret diplomacy. By rule, all deals must be conducted at the table and in the presence of all other players. That means that the inner-workings of our decision making can be (mostly) laid bare on the forums for all to see without requiring the players to avoid reading the thread. We will be using VASSAL, a program that allows players to run a board game over email, to keep track, and post images of the board as we go. The move files are all kept on dropbox, so if anyone actually wants to follow along with the play by play, they can PM me and I can add them to the shared folder.
What are the sides?
Andean Abyss explores the tangled web of counter-insurgency that characterized Colombia during the 1990s and early 2000s. It has the following cast of characters:
The Colombian Government (Syzygy): The Colombian Government is currently struggling to build an effective counter-insurgency infrastructure. While it has successfully cracked down on the Medellin drug cartel, new cartels are rising to take its place. At the same time, the government is dealing with a Marxist revolutionary movement, the FARC, as well as a reactionary movement backed by land-owners, the AUC. The Government’s challenge to to build support among the population and establish rule of law. In game terms, the government wins win support for the regime (measured by degree of support times population) exceeds 60.
The FARC (Brooski): The FARC are a Marxist guerrilla movement that has taken control of substantial portions of the lowlands of Colombia. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the FARC turned to the Cartels to extract protection money, and kidnapping of wealthy elites (and cartel members) for ransom to fund its operations. The FARC’s goal is to increase opposition to the government and further increase its bases of support in the region. In game terms, the FARC wins if total opposition to the regime (degree of opposition times population) plus the number of FARC bases on the map exceeeds 25.
The AUC (CF Kane): The AUC is a rightwing paramilitary organization that combined several local militias that arose in response to the FARC. The AUC uses terror tactics and targeted assassination against the FARC, and anyone else who frustrates their agenda. The AUC has a strained relationship with the Government, which appreciates their ability to target the FARC, but dislikes the consequences to foreign aid and the rise of domestic lawlessness. The AUC’s goal is to have more bases of support in Colombia than the FARC. In game terms, the AUC wins if it has more bases than the FARC.
The Cartels (Alan Dunkin): The Cartels suffered a major blow when the government successfully cracked down on the Medellin cartel. A new leader, Gilberto Rodriguez (“The Chess Player of Cali”) has arisen, however, with plans to lead the Cartels to new heights. The Cartels do not have an ideological preference, but rather prefer some degree of chaos to prevent the government from interfering with their drug production and distribution. The Cartels’ goal is to accumulate material wealth and expand their production base. In game terms, the Cartels win if they have more than 10 bases and resources above 40.
I will post a brief discussion of the rules, along with pictures of the board in its opening state late tonight.