Abdanktrank by the authors Bruno Faidutti and Chris Darsaklis lets players slip into the roles of poisoners who do just that: mix poison, look for a victim and give them the eponymous “Abdank potion”. The original version of the fast party game was published by Ankama; the German-language localization was taken over by the Swiss publisher Board Game Box - whereby the work essentially refers to the brief instructions: Otherwise, Abdankrank does not need any text, the material is language-neutral. How does Abdankrank work and whether it is fun? Read it yourself.   


In Abdanktrank, three to eight players, ages eight and up, follow in the footsteps of poisoners who enjoy themselves at a gala of their guild. Many a drink flows happily down the palate. But watch out, everyone tries to mix deadly poison into their counterparts without getting caught! Whoever has the most victory points at the end wins the card game.

The card game Abdanktrank is a tactical party game with slight deduction elements and a bluff twist. The playing time of 15 minutes per game means that the title can be used flexibly: as a game in between or during breaks, as a “nightcap” or as an introduction to a game round. Abdank potion can accurately provide for one thing: mood.

With its understandable set of rules, it is perfect for families and casual gamers. The level of difficulty of the card game can be adjusted to the participating players through two selectable game versions, simple and tricky.

Poison: Feast for the palate or “gray palate”?

In the dark, colorful and detailed card game by the author duo Chris Darsaklis and Bruno Faidutti, three to eight poisoners aged eight and over try to poison each other with drinks, or not. This deadly question is to be investigated in Abdankranking. Because only the one who has collected the most points at the end of the festive gala wins. In order to achieve their goal, however, the courageous poisoners have to dance a tightrope, which stands between culinary delights and poisoning.

There are 132 cards in the box: each player receives 15 cards. Each "deck" is individually designed in terms of color and theme. Photo: Volkmann

Up the goblets: There are 132 cards in the box. Each player receives 15 cards. The player decks are individually designed in terms of color and theme. Photo: Volkmann

It cannot be a coincidence that the French playwright Bruno Faidutti, of all people, has his creative fingers in the game with such a work. Faidutti is a historian and sociologist - Abdanktrank (original title: Poison) could easily pass as a social-psychological experiment due to the interaction and the anger factor.

His well-known games include titles such as the card game “Ohne Furcht und Adel” (Citadels), the board game “Aufbruch zum rote Planet”, which was developed together with Bruno Cathala, and “Diamant”, a board game by Faidutti and Alan R. Moon . In the industry, Bruno Faidutti is considered an author who often works with others in his guild. The Greek author was previously involved in “When I dream”, which was published in 2016 by Drawlab Entertainment and a year later by Repos, or “Alice in Wordland”, so he has experience from the genre of “clever party games”.

Abdikrank: Few rules, quick game

In the simple version of the card game with a fantasy theme, all players receive a card of their character, point cards and playing card in each of the four game rounds. First, the player selects one of the strikingly detailed characters, then he receives face-down point cards, one of which is turned over to its visible side. This determines the player's own point value for the game round. The cards in hand, however, harbor a deadly danger. As a poison mixer attending a gala of their guild, the players receive a mixture of savory beverages and beverages brewed with deadly poison.

Each player is assigned a character. Photo: Volkmann

Each player is assigned a character. Photo: Volkmann

These playing cards are offered to the other guild members, round by round, carefully and face down. Once the card cocktail is ready mixed in front of each of the players, it is time to decide: Drink or not? Whoever refuses his drink receives a certain consolation point and whoever gives in to the danger drinks either an exciting cocktail that gives him the currently displayed number of points, or a poisonous abdication potion that leaves him without any points. When the gala drops the curtain, the player with the most victory points wins.

If this version of the card game seems too easy for you, you can make the abdication potion more difficult with special drinks using effects. With the exception of the first round of the game, players receive cards with dangerous or useful effects in each round. From possible bonus points for cocktails with liqueur to minus points for the enjoyment of non-poisoned drinks to love potions in which two players who are not in a relationship can play love points, many useful or mean game actions are possible. Groups who want to challenge their luck can make the card game Abdankrank even more difficult by using two special cards per round.

Regardless of whether the card game is highly entertaining or not: the illustrations are terrific. Photo: Volkmann

Regardless of whether the card game is highly entertaining or not: the illustrations are terrific. Photo: Volkmann

The total of 132 cards from Abdanktrank consist of 12 special effects cards and eight decks of 15 cards each, which contain normal, poisoned and special drinks, as well as character and point cards. The playing cards have an elongated format and have an extremely appealing, colorful and detailed artwork by the award-winning artist and illustrator Marion Arbona. Known for the colorful illustration of children's books. Arbona lives in Paris and Montreal. The card game also contains 66 well-made point chips, sheets with card explanations and clearly written and concise instructions.

Effect cards add to the fun

Abdanktrank wants to be a shallow party game, but one in which tactical considerations play a central role - at least if you opt for the extended rule variant. The reason for this is the different effect cards that force players to think about their actions. In rounds, special effects manipulate the distribution of points, among other things. If the standard version of Abdanktrank is too shallow, it is the special effect cards that give the card game its entertainment value. You can almost guess: playing the extended version is strongly recommended. 

Nevertheless, the basic rules have their right to exist: Occasional players or family groups with children in particular benefit from the no-frills variant, which only deals with the central play element - namely the poison potions. It's easy to understand and ultimately plays out just as quickly. Capturing the core idea of ​​Faidutti's and Darsakli's card game concept can be achieved within a few minutes. It follows that you can perform meaningful game actions comparatively quickly.  

One of the cocktails is anything but easy to digest. Photo: Volkmann

One of the cocktails is anything but easy to digest. Photo: Volkmann

To describe Abdankrank as a thoroughly shallow card game would not do the work justice, especially if the special cards were included. It can be challenging to keep track of things at the end of the game. Because the aim is to anticipate the actions of the players, you can sometimes feel how your thoughts run through your head. Challenging yes. Overwhelming? At no time. Abdanktrank remains true to its solid core idea - and thus also to the essential question behind all the game activities: take a risk or not? this is exactly what ultimately results in the gently perceptible annoyance factor.

If Abdanktrank weren't the game it is, the concept could be assumed to be irrelevant. But because the effects fit perfectly into the gameplay and are not attached “nice to have” bonuses, you will have fun with the idea. Especially since a round is played through after almost a quarter of an hour. Whether one or more rounds will follow depends largely on the composition of the round of players. The card game will hardly offer evening entertainment, but neither will it. It's one of those card games that you can bring to the table at regular intervals without incurring the wrath of your fellow players. 

Infobox

Number of players: 3 to 8 players
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 15 to 20 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium

Published by Board Game Box / Ankama
Year of publication: 2020 
Author: Bruno Faidutti, Chris Darsaklis 
Illustrations: Marion Arbona
Language: German
Cost: 20 Euro

Summary

Abdanktrank speaks to all age groups in terms of drawings and themes, at least in principle. Because: When playing with children, the players should be aware that the subject of alcohol is bluntly named btw. will be shown. Families, casual gamers and partygoers will enjoy the card game that explains how to play just as quickly. And if you already classify the type of game: An expert game is not an abdication potion; Connoisseurs are nevertheless addressed.

By the way, abdication potion is only suitable to a limited extent for small game rounds. Although the title can already be brought to the table with three players, the idea with the mechanics mix of “Take that” and “Push your Luck” only really works with five or six players. 

Previous experience is not required for the card game, only a little tactical use of the poison potions and the effects, in addition to bluffing, is an advantage for the triumphant advance. The easy game version is recommended for children; adult players may find it too easy, so the effect cards should be used. Due to the triggered effects, these can cause confusion for the players, especially at the end of the game, and overwhelm younger and inexperienced players.

Abdank potion also lives from what players do with their actions. For those who just play from the gut, the process could prove to be too shallow, even with effect cards. If you take a few moments to rethink your moves, you will benefit from the modifying factors that come into play due to the special conditions - and it is precisely then that Abdanktrank develops the greatest entertainment value.

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