Unmatched Battle Of Legends, Vol. 1
In battle, there are no equals.
Unmatched is a highly asymmetrical miniature fighting game for two or four players. Each hero is represented by a unique deck designed to evoke their style and legend. Tactical movement and no-luck combat resolution create a unique play experience that rewards expertise, but just when you've mastered one set, new heroes arrive to provide all new match-ups.
Battle of Legends, Volume One features four heroes. King Arthur sacrifices cards to power up his attacks and gets some timely assistance from Merlin's magic. Alice is back from Wonderland with a giant vorpal blade and the Jabberwock by her side as she grows and shrinks to gain advantages on attack and defense. Medusa is happy to attack from range and let her harpies hound you, but just one devastating glance could end the battle quickly. Sinbad grows in power as he gains experience on each of his voyages.
Combat is resolved quickly by comparing attack and defense cards. However, each card's unique effects and a simple but deep timing system lead to interesting decisions each time. The game also features an updated version of the line-of-sight system from Tannhäuser for ranged attacks and area effects.
The game includes a double-sided board with two different battlefields, pre-washed miniatures for each hero, and custom life trackers that's brought to life with the stunning artwork of Oliver Barrett and the combined design teams of Restoration Games and Mondo Games.
Unmatched. "In Battle, there are no equals".
Unmatched is a two to four player miniatures, skirmish game where each player plays as one of four asymmetrical heroes. Unmatched is designed by Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt and Justin D. Jacobson and published Restoration games. Each hero has its own unique deck of cards, custom miniature, sidekick and different playstyle thematically tied to the character. Unmatched features tactical movement and no luck based combat.
On a player's turn they perform two out of three actions; move, scheme and attack. Heroes/sidekicks will be able to attack with either melee or ranged. Melee can only attack adjacent characters, whereas ranged attacks can target any character in the same "zone". The spaces on the board are broken in to coloured circles and each colour represents the same zone. If a Hero is the same coloured zone as an opposing Hero they can attack if they have ranged capability.
Combat is resolved by playing and comparing attack and defence cards of both Heroes and if the attack does more damage than the defence value the defending Hero reduces their life dial by the difference in the values. The cards may have immediate, before combat, during combat or after combat abilities which are triggered accordingly. The first player to reduce their opponents Hero's life to zero is the winner.
In Unmatched: Battle of Legends, volume one players can chose either King Arthur (& Merlin), Alice (& the Jabberwock), Medusa (& her Harpies) or Sinbad (& The Porter). The board is double sided and there are other sets which can be integrated to give more variety such as Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot, Bruce Lee, Jurassic Park and many more to come.
Asymmetrical, tactical miniature skirmish games are not typically in my wheel house. Especially if they are long, rules heavy and have the feeling of just keep getting beaten down. But I am always up for giving any game a go and as I have heard a lot of buzz about Unmatched I thought should at least try it. So, for a game that I am pre-disposed not to enjoy what did I think? Well, read on to find out.
Unmatched is sleek, it is elegant, it is streamlined and it is lightning fast. It feels like an epic skirmish game but boiled down and distilled in to its purest, rawest form. And I love it.
There are only three actions you can take. These actions are fairly straightforward and easy to understand. Yet, the choices that present themselves from these actions are engaging and tough. Even a simple action like moving has to be carefully planned and thought out. You don't want to put yourself in a zone where the ranged enemy can take shots at you. But you might need to get close enough to perform a melee attack.
When attacking, do you just play your highest card, potentially sacrificing a powerful ability/defence card. Or play a lower card hoping that your opponent can't/wont defend. I like the fact that combat is not luck based. It is deterministic, you choose the card you want to attack/defend with. Compare the two values on the cards and deal the difference in damage. The abilities also come in to play and when to play certain cards at certain points can turn the tide of the battle.
All the Heroes play very differently and thematically appropriate to their character. Alice, true to her form, can become "big" or "small" giving her a boost to her attack or defence values. Medusa attacks from range but has three harpies nibbling at your ankles. Sinbad gets more powerful the more voyage cards he has played. King Arthur sacrifices cards to make his attacks more powerful and is supported by Merlin's magic.
The game is also very quick and a typical game lasts around 30 minutes. For me, this is an ideal length. If I get beat down (which happens more than I would like) I don't feel like I have spent ages building up my army or character just to get killed in a matter of minutes. It is quick, it is a skirmish, in and out, play some cards, one person wins, pick another character and go again.
With the additional sets available and plans for more in the future Unmatched offers a ton of replay-ability, variability and exciting gameplay that I am looking forward to delving in to.
Unmatched Battle Of Legends is a game system where you can mix and match all the sets to have crazy mash-ups. You can pitch the Raptors from the Jurassic Park set against Sinbad from The Battle of Legends Vol 1. set, or Bigfoot from Robin Hood and Bigfoot set against Angel from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer set.
The good thing though, is that although they all play differently, the basics of every character are the same. You pilot your individual deck to try and reduce the health of your opponent's hero down to zero. Unlike most games I have played, there are no points in Unmatched Battle Of Legends. You simply are duelling to the death. The winner is the last person standing after defeating all the opponents' heroes. Each character has an asymmetric starting health which is, in my opinion, what adds balance to these characters. This balancing is needed as the characters have individual card powers and special abilities.
How Does It Work?
In the Unmatched system of games, you have a "hero" which has a unique starting health; you may also have sidekicks. Your hero is a detailed sun drop miniature on a coloured base. Your sidekicks are represented by screen-printed plastic tokens. Each character has their own deck which contains cards with unique actions on them, these are heavily thematic. For example, Dr Jekyll will have cards that turn him into Mr Hyde. And Dr Watson (Sherlock Holmes' sidekick) has a card that is his trusty service revolver. Each deck has a different makeup of cards, some of these cards will be specific to your hero. Some can only be used by your sidekicks and many are "any" cards that can be used by any of your pieces.
These cards come in four varieties, attack, defence, versatile (attack or defence) and scheme cards. The aim of the game is to reduce your opponent's health to zero. This is achieved by landing successful hits using scheme or attacking type cards.
The decks are identifiable by the unique artwork on the card backs. I am a self-confessed artwork snob when it comes to board games, and Unmatched Battle Of Legends has some seriously good art. The graphic design is sleek, using clear colours and iconography for the card usage but the card artwork sings. The cards are all thematically named, and with stunning artwork. Try not to get distracted from taking your turn by being drawn into the card art!
This game is a quick skirmish game that uses maps made up of a series of coloured circles. This layout makes working out attack zones straightforward. I have heard line-of-sight rules to be held in similar regard to the football offside rule. Characters are either "melee" which means they must be adjacent to their target in order to attack, or "ranged" which means they may attack any piece in the same colour as theirs. Initially, I was sceptical that a melee character would be underpowered compared to a ranged character, but I can honestly say that this advantage is balanced by the cards and the special abilities of the characters.
Let's Get Ready To Battle
Unmatched Battle Of Legends at two-player is around twenty minutes long. Set-up wise, the hardest part is picking a character. Contrary to what the name suggests, the characters are all pretty well matched. There are some characters which you may find easier to play than others, and some will be more suited to your game style than others. For me, I love Bigfoot and his sidekick the Jackalope, they sneak through the trees and bash the enemy hard. I enjoy playing as Medusa and Robert Muldoon because they each have a lot of sidekick tokens that can be used as a meat shield to fend off attacks from melee fighters. For your first time, I would suggest picking the character you most like the look of, for me, my first was Robert Muldoon and I still love playing as that one.
Once you have picked your character, you select the map. These are generally very similar and I find them to add variety rather to totally change gameplay. Open the map board and place it in the centre of the table. Set up really is dead easy for these games. Collect your chosen character's miniature, their sidekick round tokens if they have them, your health tracker(s), and your personal deck of cards. Set your special ability player aid card down next to your shuffled deck, then choose who takes the first turn. Whoever goes first should place their hero in the number one and their sidekicks into the same zone as their hero.
Once all characters are on the board, you each draw your starting hand of five cards, and you are ready to battle.
How To Bash Your Foe Into Oblivion
Sounds quite aggressive as a title, unintended, but I thought it sounded better than "Turn Sequence"! During your turn, you are able to do two actions from a selection of three. You can do the same thing twice if you would like to. The three actions are pretty basic; manoeuvre, attack or play a scheme card, but the "think" behind them is where this game really sings.
You start the game of Unmatched Battle Of Legends with five cards in hand, but to draw new cards you must either play a card with a "draw cards" action or manoeuvre. This is also the main way to move around the board and get yourself in prime battle position! As I said before, some characters will be able to attack provided they are in the same coloured zone as their target, but most characters need to be adjacent to launch an attack. You will want to get into the right position to strike but hopefully not leave your hero open if you do not have any defence cards in your hand.
Enter Battle Mode
When you are able to, you may play either a red attack card or a purple versatile card face down as an action. Your opponent may play a versatile or a blue defence card down if they have one to counter the attack. This is optional, they do not have to defend themselves. Then you simultaneously flip over the cards and resolve the effects. Starting first with the "immediately", then the "during combat". Mostly these effects will be adding to the attack or defence value by discarding cards etc. If both cards have effects to be resolved at the same time, then the defender's card action goes first.
Next, the battle is resolved, if the attacking player has a higher attack value than what was used to defend, then the defending piece will take damage equal to the difference. If the defence value was higher than the attack, they have successfully defended, and taken no damage. Once this is resolved, you then resolve the "after combat" effects of the cards if there are any. These might involve further damage, movement, or drawing cards.
Regardless of where you are on the map, you are able to play a yellow scheme card as one of your actions. The scheme cards are all unique to the character you are playing and may be unique to your hero or sidekick too. Actions associated with scheme cards are powerful. The Jackalope has a scheme that lets it move through opposing pieces and then deal damage to an adjacent piece. Muldoon can remotely detonate a trap to cause damage to all adjacent pieces and allow you to draw a card. There is nothing that your opponent can do to counteract a scheme card, so these can really turn the tide for you.
First Round Strats
In the first round of Unmatched Battle Of Legends, you want to take a look at your starting hand and decide if you are going to play an attacking or defensive first round. Players who decide to play defensively will likely manoeuvre twice and draw two cards or else perhaps play a scheme card if one is really useful at that point. Ordinarily, as the first player, I would manoeuvre twice unless I have some monster attack cards I want to use.
Game End And Scoring
The game ends when there is only one hero left standing. You are knocked out when your hero is defeated, regardless of whether your sidekicks are still alive or not. There is no end scoring. It is a win or lose situation; I am simply looking at my enjoyment of the game. Because for me, win or lose, I have loved every game of Unmatched Battle Of Legends that I have played.
You might like
- Asymmetrical Heroes
- Quick playing
- Fantastic production quality
Might not like
- Very interactive
- Can get unlucky with the card draw