A card game from Eden Studios
This review copyright 1999 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated May 31, 1999

Abduction is a light little card game, complete in one box for 2-4 players, or you can buy two boxes and play with up to eight players. The game comes with 72 cards, including eight rules cards and two cards of cut-out, stand-up figures as playing pieces. You'll need to provide a six-sided die to play. Each card is illustrated, but only in green and white, which is oddly appropriate. There are three types of cards included: Event cards (good things to help yourself or bad things to hinder your opponents), Item cards (good things to help yourself, but if you fail your search roll, your opponents might get them), and Location cards (the map, built up during the game - many of the locations have interesting powers).

The theme is alien abduction: the players are earthlings who have been abducted to an alien space ship and are trying to find the Exit to escape. The cut-out player character figures include a Man in Black, a farmer and his cow, a little girl, a young woman in a tee shirt, a man in shorts, etc. They don't have any special characteristics, but see below ...

The game plays quickly and easily. The rules are not complex, and have only one really odd bit to them: a player turn consists of taking three actions, but after each action, go around the table and ask if anyone wants to play an Event card. If so, resolve the event(s). If not, continue with your next action, again checking for Events, and so on.

Actions include moving to an adjacent space (or further, with an appropriate item), searching for an item (each location has a search number - roll that number or higher on a d6 to find an item from your hand you have placed face down), play a location card (building the spaceship as you go along - thus each game has a different map), play an Event, activate an Item or Location's special power, discard or simply pass your turn. Whoever can make it to an Exit first wins the game.

The game is largely well thought-out, but leans a bit towards too much luck for some people's taste. Oddly enough, I have a variant to address this at the end of the article ...

The Event cards range from the weak to the strong, but most are either entertaining (such as the ever popular Anal Probe) or very useful (relocate an Exit sector). The Item cards are also very interesting, including various alien weapons, helmets, gadgets, etc., that do lovely things. Don't too get attached to them, though, as you tend to lose items quickly ...

A common Event is an encounter with an alien. This is so frightening that it's easy to black out - there is often a die roll involved, but even then there's rarely a good chance to remain conscious. If you black out you lose all your cards, all your items, the rest of your turn, and wake up next turn back in the Holding Chamber that everyone started in. Since an Exit can't be placed within five spaces of the Holding Chamber, this means you're far away from winning.

My only real problem with the game is that you can lose your hand with frightening rapidity. Not only do you lose all your cards when you black out, but there are other Event cards which force you to discard your hand. There really can't be any long term strategy in this game, because you probably won't have the same cards you're looking at two turns from now. So if you've got something interesting, play it. No point in holding cards at all in this game. Unless you use the following ...

Variant: Card Retention

This variant introduces some slight tactical possibilities into the game. Not a lot, mind you - and you may be helping your neighbor - but I think it's still better than playing with the rules as written.

This alternate rule is very simple: whenever you are required to lose your hand to the discard pile, you may, if you wish, keep up to half of your cards, rounding down. However, you do not keep any cards if required to pass your hand to your neighbor, so be careful ... Note that items are not affected - if you black out, you lose your items.

That's it. It allows you to nurse some potent cards in the hopes you'll be able to use them in the next turn or two. It allows for a little planning, though admittedly not a whole lot, since you may end up passing them to someone who might win the game with them ...

Variant: Character Abilities

Another possible variant is to give each of the characters a special ability. Here are some suggested ones - you can probably come up with better ones on your own easily enough:

  • African Native: unaffected by "Time's Running Out" Events.
  • Cow: unaffected by Anal Probes.
  • Farmer: unaffected by "What Was I Gonna Do?" Events.
  • Little Girl: too small to be affected by "Cleaning the Corridors" Events.
  • Man in Black: may play two locations as a single action.
  • Man in Shorts: +1 to die roll to find an Item.
  • Woman in Evening Gown: too cool to be affected by "Pause" Events.
  • Young Woman in T-Shirt: moves to an adjacent location in case of "Hull Decompression" instead of blacking out.
Overall, I like the game - it's light, diverting fun. Not a serious or deep game, but still enjoyable.

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