When it was announced back in 2020 that Unmatched would have not 1 but 4 boxed sets of Marvel fighters, people lost their minds. Restoration and Mondo Games are shining a spotlight on some of the unsung heroes and villains in the Marvel universe. One of the sets I was most excited about was Redemption Row which is the first of the 4 to make it into the market. In this box Ghost Rider, Luke Cage and Moon Knight are duking it out on The Raft, the maximum security prison for the most powerful super villains.
Super Powered Fighters
As you might expect, the 3 fighters included in this set are packing a punch. Each fighter brings a unique ability that’s tied to their comic book source material. The fighters all feel unique and no one single strategy will work when controlling these heroes.
Out of the 12 Marvel characters announced, I was most excited about Ghost Rider. I grew up reading this comic and something about a flaming skull gets my inner child super pumped. I wondered how the team would give players the feeling of racing around the board on a fire fueled motorcycle.
Ghost Rider starts the game with 5 active hellfire tokens. During a maneuver, you can spend a hellfire token to move 4 spaces instead of the normal 2. This allows you to race through other fighters, dealing a single damage to each fighter you pass through.
Luke Cage is a defensive monster. When he’s attacked, he has an automatic 2 defense without needing to play a card. Players are going to have to use card affects, after combat damage and scheme cards to get past his defense. My son has been a huge Luke Cage (Power Man) fan since he was little. This is easily his favorite hero in this set.
Cage is joined by Misty Knight, a former NYPD officer that’s now equipped with a bionic arm. This duo works well together and can deal some pretty intense damage.
This Marvel character has been gaining popularity in recent years and has even more name recognition with the upcoming Disney+ series that starts in April 2022. Moon Knight is a former mercenary that is brought back to life by the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. This character has 3 unique abilities that are constantly shifting as the game unfolds.
Each time the player ends their turn, Moon Knights identity shifts. The Khonshu identity gives you +2 to your attack cards and cannot take damage from effects other than normal combat damage. Khonshu then changes to Mr. Knight who has +1 to all your defense values. Mr. Knight then changes into Moon Knight who can move up to 2 spaces for free at the start of your turn.
Ready for Action
The fighters in Redemption Row are all tortured by their past in some way and are seeking a different path. This trio of fighters are a fantastic fit all in one box. The variety of cards and unique abilities are so fitting to their comic book counterparts.
Moon Knight seems to be the most complicated of the 3 due to the identity switch taking place at the end of each turn. It’s not really complicated for the player using this hero but you have to be diligent to change your identity at the end of your turn every time. Moon Knight’s opponent will need to keep tabs on which form he’s in so they know how they should attack. You’ll only know this from playing as Moon Knight or against him multiple times. This fighter more than any other requires opponents to pay attention to what’s happening across the table.
Luke Cage definitely lives up to his name Power Man. It can be tough to get past his defense and avoid being hit with “Sweet Christmas!” (a 6 attack card). If that hard hit doesn’t get you, watch out for “Skin Like Titanium” which is a 0 defense card that deals the attacking fighter the amount of damage that Luke Cage takes.
Ghost Rider is an attacking machine but players need to use their defense very strategically. His use of hellfire tokens may seem similar to Beowulf but they work quite differently. You’ll only get hellfire tokens back through card effects or through scheme cards. Ghost Rider has some nice combos that give you additional actions. While he might be my favorite in this set, I’m not totally convinced he’s the strongest of the 3.
Welcome to Lockdown
Let’s talk about the map that comes with Redemption Row. After almost a dozen plays on this new map, I’m really impressed with the overall flow and how much the new item tokens add to the gameplay. The Raft has 6 locations on the board that contain randomly assigned tokens. The variable tokens allow you to add that item to your attack or defense on that space. The scheme tokens allow you to use an action to use that scheme ability. These tokens are then tossed back into the box when they are used.
These items encourage players to use every part of the map. I’ve moved to another area of the map knowing that the token in that space could set me up for a big turn. It’s so thematic that a fighter like Luke Cage would pick up a metal lunch tray and add +1 to their attack when going after Moon Knight. This map is easily in my Top 3 Unmatched maps so far. There’s plenty of space for a ranged fighter to do their thing and the center of the board is a solid escape route when you need to break adjacency.
If you play Unmatched, you know what to expect from the card art and miniatures. The art is fantastic and the Ghost Rider miniature is really impressive. While I like the Moon Knight miniature, I really wish his cape has some more texture to it. With such a commanding mini on the board, I feel like the cape is too smooth and lacks depth.
A Marvelous Entry
In the past I’ve been underwhelmed with some of the IP-based fighters that have come to Unmatched. Restoration Games has done such a fantastic job with non-licensed fighters that comparing them feels unfair. Redemption Row brings 3 great fighters to the table and it’s an impressive stand-alone set. More than any other set so far, you’ll be paying for that Marvel license. With 3 fighters and a single map, Unmatched: Redemption Row comes in at $50. With 4 Marvel sets coming this year, I’ve got to be honest that the price may means I may not own all these new fighters right away.
With time, you’ll see people online share where these fighters are too strong or struggle against other fighters in the series. While all 3 do feel powerful, they’ll find good competition against some of the higher tier fighters like Dracula, Sherlock, Yennega and Bigfoot. It is sad that the solo Marvel release of Deadpool is little to no competition to this comic book trio.
As a fan of Unmatched, I’m happy to own this new set. As a fan of the Marvel, this could be a great entry point for friends and family who love this universe. Redemption Row is a strong first box and I’m excited to see what Hell’s Kitchen, Teen Spirit and For King and Country bring to the table.
You can purchase Redemption Row through the Restoration Games webstore or pre-order it through Amazon today.
- Super powered fighters all feel unique
- New map and item tokens are excellent
- Fighters tie back to their comic book roots really well
- Strong first set of Marvel fighters
- Fighters may feel too powerful against mid and low-tier fighters
- The price point is higher than expected