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The Abandons

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

The Abandons is a pocket-sized solitaire game designed by Michael 'Dmitri' Blascoe with art by Michael T. Schroeder. It is published by Puzzling Pixel. The premise is that you are entering a labyrinth and need to find your way to the exit, which is always the last card in your draw deck.

Cards show the point of entry and any passages that will take you to the next card. The entrance card offers just a single passage option but other cards will offer one, two, three or no passages (ie: those with no passage links are dead ends). You'll also hit a dead end if your path is blocked by a card already laid. This can happen if your labyrinth double backs on itself, which it's quite likely to do.

Where a path is indicated by a single card icon, you just draw and place out the top card from the deck. Where, however, the path shows two or more card icons, you draw that number of cards and discard unseen the additional cards over and above the one you lay. As the object of the game is to reach the bottom card in the deck (the exit) it's almost always in your interests to go for the route that lets you discard the most cards: you will always want to burn through your deck.

When you hit a dead end, you can go back and lay a new path from the most recently played intersection. If you then fail, then it's game over! You lose.

There are special cards (Stairs and Collapse) that effectively mean you restart the game: good news as you restart with fewer cards to burn through before you hit the exit. There are also item cards that can be collected and spent for one-off special effects: for example, to look at and reposition the top 3 cards of the draw deck or to blast through a dead end.

The Abandons makes for a diverting solitaire filler that typically takes around 10-15 minutes to play through. Like the traditional solitaire card game Patience, however, choices are mostly automatic. You want to burn through cards so it will almost always be in your interest to choose the path that maximises your discards. That can leave you with the feeling that the game is playing you rather than the other way around. Where you have most agency and choice is in the use you make of item cards. Judicious use of the 'map' item to manipulate the draw deck can have a significant impact on outcomes as it can result in you dumping dead ends without having to play them. Similarly, you can find you are able to salvage a game by keeping in reserve the ability to blow through a dead end. We found we tended to make less use of the 'magic mirror' special effect which allows you to retrace a new path from the entrance to any intersection. This was mainly because the effect requires three item cards to activate and we found we'd rather spend our item cards on maps (which require a single card) and bombs (which require two cards).

If you like playing Patience, you may well want to make a change and give The Abandons a try.

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