Monolith Arena Strategy & Tactics: Lords of the Abyss

Darkness and hellfire, creatures of the night, simply speaking – Demons. A faction filled with horrors and nightmares that will leave your opponents in total fear. Lords of the Abyss and their champions names are frightening, but what is even more terrifying is their ability to teleport all around the map and to poison their opponents. Their goal is to bring chaos on the battlefield, to leave their opponents confused, but it doesn’t mean their game is chaotic, you must plan your strategy from the very start to make sure that the underworld will be pleased with your results. Control your chaos.

Venomous touch

First, make sure that you take advantage of your most fearsome feature – Venom. Place your banner in a way that you will be able to reach your opponents banner with champions connected to your banner. It’s ok even if your banner will end up adjacent to the opponents banner. Your goal is to inflict poison to your opponents banner as soon as possible. It would be great if even more poison markers lands on their banner, this way, an opponent will think twice before playing their battle orders for the rest of the game.

React quickly

Opponents will try to block you from inflicting any poison, and they will push you whenever it’s possible. You only have two Move orders, but there’s something even better – teleportation. Jumping from one side of the battlefield to another sounds fantastic, and it is. So keep your Runes of teleportation safe, place them far from your opponents, and make sure you have one of your tiles always connected to it. This will allow you to react quickly whenever your opponent use orders like a push to avoid getting hit with your poison, thanks to the teleportation you can reposition yourself and still try to inflict some poison.

Fearful champions

Apart from those tricky features, Lords of the Abyss have quite fearful champions at their disposal as well, that works well with the presented mechanics. Horrors net their opponents while inflicting 2 wounds, use those to block your opponents banner feature and do some extra damage or use them to protect your units that are about to inflict poison. Spikes can inflict poison on their own, try to put them on the other side of the battlefield, away from your banner so that your opponent has to spread their defenses. There’s also Mygalomorphs that works best in the center of the battlefield with their spread attack and high initiative, they can cause quite a diversion.

Drop your weapons!

As if it’s not enough, Lords have another cool feature – Disarmament. Any connected enemy tile to it, cannot attack. Runes of disarmament work best placed in the corner of the battlefield, this way they are protected by the board and can disarm up to two tiles, meaning only one side is open for a counter.

As you can see chaos can be a good thing if you make sure you control it correctly. Let us know how you base your Lords of the Abyss tactics.

Matt Dembek

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Board Games as Art by Phil Eklund

Today I have a pleasure to welcome here Phil Eklund, one of the most prolific designers, famous for his ambitious games that not only have interesting mechanisms, but come with a stunning amount of scientific research. I personally met Phil a few years ago at the convention in Bremen, Germany where he was demoing High Frontier. Without further ado I present you his article! – Ignacy Trzewiczek


My name is Phil Eklund, founder of Sierra Madre Games and designer of such games as Pax Porfiriana, the Bios trilogy, and High Frontier. Often we think of art as paintings, sculpture, literature, music, theater, etc. I want to persuade you that boardgames can also be thought of as art, and why it is useful to regard them this way.

Useful definition of art.

I start with a useful definition of art: „The selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s value-judgments.“ By this definition, not everything hung on a wall or splashed on a canvas is art! You need (1) selectivity, (2) re-creation of reality, and (3) value-judgements.


All art is selective. Unlike (for example) a photograph, art does not portray every detail. Instead, an artist recreates reality much like a novelist does. To portray what is important, and omit what is not.

Re-creation of Reality.

Because we live in reality, any work of art must help us appreciate it. Even the most abstract game has referents to reality, and is a simulation of some sort. But you must have vision. Which is to say, you must hold in mind the element of reality that is to be recreated in this genre. Without vision, a game becomes merely a vehicle of technical virtuosity.


To be an artist, you need something to convey. You need to believe in something. You need context, principles, and long-range direction; you need connection among your goals, coherence among your days, and a broad overview uniting your disparate experiences, conclusions, and actions into a sum. In short, every artist needs a philosophy, the means by which he comes to make value-judgements.


Many designers do not know in explicit terms what they regard as important. They are unfamiliar with philosophy and hold few ideas on the subject; yet they are able to create and/or respond to art. This is possible because all persons, whatever their conscious mental content, are able to subconsciously appraise values, according to whatever fragments of philosophy they hold. Only a handful of designers hold explicit values and translate them into their art. Your philosophy will set your sense of life, beliefs, decisions, evaluation of good and evil, true and false.

Artist’s Handiwork.

To be recognised by the works of art you create, the player should know something about you after playing your game. Your game’s integration and subject, as well as how it communicates your view of the world, should identify you as the artist. Although it may sound prideful, I can say with some confidence that many or most players can tell a game is mine without seeing my name on the box.


So that’s the goal. To give your products a distinct signature, and avoid copying or fads. The integrated whole must say something about you and your philosophy.


The desirable side-effect in believing in something is passion. As a creator, you will be constantly tinkering with your creation, consumed by its creation. Such is the nature of artists.

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