Back in the Summer of 2020, Restoration Games ran a contest where they accepted custom fighters created by the community. The response was overwhelming. Four winning decks were accepted along with eight runners-up which will make it into future sets. This Houdini VS The Genie set was a result of this contest.
The Magician and The Genie
With magic being the common thread between these two fighters, I wasn’t sure what to expect diving into this set. The great thing is that Restoration’s track record with non-licensed fighters has been incredible. Harry Houdini comes with the his wife Bess as his sidekick. The Genie is an immortal being that lives in a lamp. So he’s fine on his own.
Houdini and Bess are limited as melee characters but this is made up for with Houdini’s Escape Artist ability. When Houdini boosts his maneuver, he can move to any space on the board. Bess however, has to maneuver based on the basic 2 movement plus the boost number. Some of the cards in this deck have a new action that’s attached to the boost value. When a player uses this card as a boost, they receive the additional perk listed on the card.
You’ll find yourself boosting more often with Houdini trying to match the speed of The Genie when they go head-to-head. There are plenty of cards in the deck that allow you to return a card to your hand, move or switch fighters and even fake your own death with the “All Part of the Show” card.
The Genie is a quick moving fighter that’s ranged but really deals the most damage in close quarters. With cards that deal additional damage when you’re adjacent to the opponent, you’ll want to hit and move to get the most out of this all powerful fighter.
The “Three Wishes” scheme card has become a serious issue when playing against Erin. Somehow, this card that gives The Genie 3 different options and an extra action, comes out in the first hand in most games. One of the options forces an opponent to discard 2 cards. With 3 of these cards in the deck, there is the tiny chance that The Genie can have 2 of these in the first hand. This has happened twice now. It can be a little frustrating to start the game in this way.
Magic VS Magic
Both of these fighters are a lot of fun to fight with. I’ve personally connected with Houdini while Erin has loved fighting with The Genie. These are not top-tier fighters which is actually nice. A concern with each new release is whether they will overwhelm some of the earlier characters. This hasn’t been an issue. Honestly, this is a huge credit to Restoration Games with how they playtest and balance fighters prior to their debut.
I like how both fighters incorporate magic into their deck. Houdini with more practical tricks and the Genie with the ability to use his Infinite Power ability and gain 1 action in exchange for a discard. The Genie’s movement of 3 is on par with Medusa, Bigfoot, Bloody Mary and others. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve had relatively even matches between the two fighters.
King Solomon’s Mine
The 2-player map that comes with this set is…interesting. First off, I love the variety secret tunnels that make movement around the map a breeze. Similar to the Baskerville Manor map from Unmatched: Cobble & Fog, players can move through one tunnel and appear in another zone. The look of the map and the colors are all what you’d expect from Restoration.
King Solomon’s Mine is a playground for ranged fighters and that usually leaves melee fighters running for a safe corner. I actually really like this map but it’s not one that I’d introduce to a new player. I honestly wouldn’t play a melee verses ranged matchup on this map either.
On the left and right sides of the board, there are pits that share the same zone. While this makes total sense for the fighter standing in the middle of these two pits to be able to fire down onto their enemy, the reverse makes less sense. A ranged fighter can stand in the pit on the right and fire onto an opponent standing at the edge of the pit on the left of the board. Ranged fighters can wreck a melee fighter and have little problem keeping their distance.
Some people will have an issue with this map. On the other hand, I love the breaks in adjacency throughout the map and the secret tunnels are great for quick getaways. As long as players know this map favors ranged fighters, I don’t see a huge issue here.
So Many Colors!
Unmatched: Houdini VS The Genie has two beautifully illustrated decks. Houdini and Bess come to life on the cards with both characters in action poses against darker backgrounds. The use of reds and yellows in the artwork pops on every card.
The Genie deck is really something special. The use of bright colors and rich purples make this deck a standout for the series. Cards feel psychedelic and the art feels like putting it in front of a black light would blow your mind. Props to Peter Diamond on the artwork for this set.
With each new release, it gets tougher to put these in any type of order from first to worst (even though we all know the answer is Cobble & Fog to Buffy). So, is this the right 2-pack of fighters to jump into as your first Unmatched set? No. This is only because of the board that’s in the box. As a stand-alone set, not having any other fighters, the King Solomon’s Mine board will be a frustration for new players.
If this is not your first Unmatched set, then I believe this is a must own. These two fighters are tough, play really well against legacy fighters and both have unique strategies to tap into. This may be my second or third favorite 2-pack of fighters in the Unmatched universe.
You can pre-order Unmatched: Houdini VS The Genie from Restoration Games or through your local game store.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
- Two magic themed fighters with different strategies
- Incredible card art and illustrations throughout
- Houdini’s Escape Artist ability matches The Genie’s quick movement
- Excellent minis for both fighters
- King Solomon’s Mine map is a fun and lopsided experience
- Not a great set to start your collection with