What do King Authur, Medusa, Sinbad (not the comedian) and Alice in Wonderland have in common? They are all characters in one of my biggest surprises of 2019!
Unmatched: Battle of Legends (volume 1) from Restoration Games intrigued me with its beautiful artwork and interesting concept. When we were given the opportunity to review this game, I had to check this fighting system out. I’ve got to be honest, I did not imagine our family would connect with this game on the level that we did. So what is it about Unmatched that’s so good?
The Field of Battle
Unmatched is a game that has its roots in Star Wars: Epic Duels, a game from the early 2000’s from Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau. The game is primarily based on card and hand management using a curated deck of 30 cards that belongs to the fighter you choose to go into battle with. While the game is 1 vs. 1, we’ve really enjoyed the 2 vs 2 team battles just as much.
Each fighter has asymmetric abilities that are unlike anyone else on the battlefield. Each hero also has a sidekick that can move independent of the hero and also has specific cards just for them in the deck.
Unmatched comes with a double-sided game board that is filled with circles with connecting lines. Hero’s and sidekicks can move between spaces that are connected using their movement number on the character card. The two sides of the game board is more than a color change or pretty illustrations. These boards have distinct differences and depending on the hero you play as, can give you advantages.
Players have to take 2 of the following actions on their turn. Maneuver (draw a card and move), play a Scheme card or Attack. Attacks are carried out by announcing which character is attacking and which is defending. Each player then submits a card face down then flips over their cards to reveal who wins. Cards often have special text at the bottom that can cancel the bonus text of an opponent’s card, give you special movement or change the outcome of an attack.
Movement can be boosted by discarding an additional card and adding the number in the black circle on the card. Gameplay is simple to learn and flows really well once you get a couple rounds under your belt. The components in the game are top-notch and the dials for each set of characters are excellent. After playing each role more than a couple times, I’m incredibly impressed with how balanced the game feels. It’s hard to pick my favorite hero because they bring totally different things to the game.
Get to Know Your Heroes
Alice is my youngest daughter’s favorite hero. She has a special token that gives her a bonus for defense when she is “small” and a bonus for attacks when she is “big”. Alice will be forced to change size as you play cards in battle. The Jabberwock is her sidekick and this monster can pack a punch when executed well.
Medusa has probably been my most played hero. This hero has ranged attacks and comes with three Harpy tokens that all have a single point of health. While the Harpies are easy to kill, using them to overwhelm another player and surround them is really fun.
Sinbad was the first hero I checked out and as the game goes longer, the more powerful Sinbad becomes. Voyage cards are attacks that are scattered throughout the deck. Each time these cards hit your discard pile, they add bonuses to future attacks (and movement) done with voyage cards.
King Authur is an absolute powerhouse in the right hands. His sidekick Merlin has ranged attacks and a couple cards in the deck that cause complete chaos on the board. King Authur’s melee attacks are strong and opponents have to remember that you have access to Excalibur.
All by themselves, I was not super excited by this cast of characters. It’s the ease of play, variety of cards and depth of each character that brought this game to life for me. Unmatched has a lot of little nuances that players will understand after playing with the same character a couple times. The game does rely on an aspect of luck because there are times where you have to work with a terrible hand of cards. Maneuvering around the board and being resourceful in those moments will put you in a better situation.
An Expanding Battlefield
I’m so excited each time we get Unmatched to the table. I’m also excited about the future of this game that Restoration and Mondo Games has already announced. Right now you’re able to purchase the Robin Hood and Bigfoot expansion. This one can also be a stand-alone 2-player experience.
You can purchase the Bruce Lee stand-alone fighter online now. At the end of 2019, we’ll see the InGen vs Raptors Jurassic Park set. Restoration has also mentioned an additional Jurassic Park expansion, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more in this series coming in 2020.
After spending a couple weeks with the game, I can see this being a huge hit in stores like Target where people are rediscovering how amazing this hobby is. Unmatched is a game that has everything you need in one box but invites you into this bigger world of public domain and licensed characters.
I was able to teach the kids how to play with relative ease and now I’m seeing them win against adults 2 or 3 times their age. Initially I thought it might be an issue having a game that caters to 2 or 4 players, but this has not been the case at all. There are rules for a 3 player game but I feel like this would be something to check out only if you can’t find a 4th player.
Unmatched: Battle of Legends was a surprise treat for me this year. I can’t wait to spend more time with each of the heroes and learn the little nuances that make them work in battle. Community support of this game seems like it will translate into even more expansions in the future. This won’t be the last time you see coverage of this great game here at One Board Family.
Visit your local game store to purchase Unmatched: Battle of Legends or purchase it today on Amazon.
Restoration Games provided us with a retail copy of Unmatched for this review. This in no way influenced our opinion of the game.
- Each character has a distinct set of skills and play style
- Learning a new hero feels fun instead of frustrating
- Simple rule set that isn’t intimidating to new players
- Excellent components and incredible art
- Unmatched system may not be as deep as seasoned gamers want
- Having a bad hand of cards is sometimes just bad luck