I love Unmatched, I really like Marvel and now they have had a love child; Marvel Unmatched! Redemption Row and Hell’s Kitchen are the first two 3 character sets that have been released. Hell’s Kitchen contains some lesser known characters in Elektra, Daredevil and Bullseye. Lesser known characters but these are some of the most innovative special abilities I have ever seen across any of the sets released so far. Let’s dive right into this set in a lot more detail. This is Marvel Unmatched Hell’s Kitchen!
Unmatched as a game system is tried and tested, there are a bunch of sets now which are all mixed and matched. Each character has its own mini and individual deck of cards. The game is asymmetric in that you all have different special abilities. Unmatched is a skirmish game at its heart, move around the map and bash your opponent’s hero until you reduce their health to zero.
The winner is the last hero standing. If you want to hear more about how to play, please check out my How To Play Guide. Highlights are that you pilot your individual deck to attack scheme and manoeuvre in a way that keeps you alive longer than your opponent.
So, the Marvel sets contain the Marvel heroes, which is of course the main draw for these sets. However, there is also a spicing up of the maps through the addition of tokens. These six tokens create a bit of diversity between some spaces on the map.
There are three versatile tokens which offer you additional attack or defence power in a battle. You must decide whether to use the token or not before the cards are revealed.
In this set, the scheme tokens are super cool sounding. The First Aid Kit lets you recover 2 health and draw a card. This is a mega powerful, two health is a big swing, especially when you’re in a seriously bad corner. The Map token allows you to attack any space next attack, the epitome of “you can run but you can’t hide”.
The payphone lets you return one card from your discard pile to your hand which is also a powerful scheme. I think these tokens are especially important for these characters as they have fewer cards in their decks so running out of cards is a real possibility.
What I have had significant success with though are the versatile tokens. Thematically these are a fire hydrant, manhole cover and a mailbox which you can fling at your opponent to boost your attack or defence. I love using these tokens. They help you to combat some heavy hits but most importantly I think, they really help with swinging a win, and many of the cards in this set really rely on winning combats to get the additional card abilities.
I’m coming in hot with my top pick of these characters; Elektra. Elektra has four sidekicks each with one health, collectively known as The Hand. I think this is the coolest special ability that I have seen on any of the Unmatched sets. Elektra starts with 7 health (which is scarily low) but the first time she would be defeated you remove her and all the Hands from the board.
She is not defeated though; at the start of her next turn, you bring her back and place each fighter into a different zone. She now has 9 health; she gets all her cards back into her deck from her discard pile AND now all her cards have additional abilities too. How cool that she resurrects!
When I first picked up the deck to play this, I was worried about how few cards you got in their deck. All the previously released decks have had 30 cards in them, and so the fact there were only 20 for this one was unnerving and immediately apparent to me.
However, with her special ability, as long as you can survive ten cards worth then I guess it will be the same as having a full deck as you shuffle these back into your draw pile. A little like Sinbad and Achilles, as the game progresses, Elektra becomes more powerful.
Bullseye is a ranged character with a move of 2 but it can attack from 5 spaces away (not just into the same zone). It would seem that it is impossible to hide from Bullseye which when he has a gun seems pretty thematic. Guns are dangerous kids. Bullseye is ALL about hitting twice. A lot of the cards have additional effects that trigger if you have already won combat this turn.
In many of the previous sets, there is the “Monumental Shift” card where if you started your turn in a different space then the value is 5 instead, but Bullseye has a twist on that. “I Planned to be Here” where the value is 5 if you haven’t moved spaces this turn.
As with all the unmatched sets, the cards are really thematic. My favourite card in this deck is “Arrogant Yet Effective”, where the after combat ability is just that you are considered to have won regardless. Against a character like Luke Cage or MoonKnight, this could be a real gut punch to your opponent. Undo all their best card abilities.
Just like Elektra, Daredevil has a reduced card deck too, with a mere 22 cards. Now 8 cards may not sound like a lot, but with a relatively limited way to get cards back into your hand, you will need to be careful with the amount of boosting you do and hit hard and fast.
The running of your deck down will be increased by the number of boost abilities on cards and the Daredevil special ability of blind boosting any attack or defence when you have 2 or fewer cards in hand. As a melee fighter with a movement of 3, Daredevil cannot afford to hang out in the shadows, you will need to hit hard and fast if you want to succeed. Managing your hand limit to maximise the strength of your hits is a tricky plate to keep spinning.
The danger of running your deck down is that you must take 2 damage every time you would need to draw a card, so you are a bit of a sitting duck. However, Daredevil does have a few cards which can really save your bacon at this point if you’re brave enough to risk it. It is an attack 4 card, but if you have no cards in your deck then the value of the card is 8 instead.
An absolute powerhouse of a card. The after combat is that this card and the top four from your discard pile get reshuffled into your deck. If this card gets cancelled I think I would cry. Daredevil requires you to seriously push your luck and live life on the edge. I find it scary to play, but also kind of thrilling.
I have said this a thousand times before, I love the artwork and components in Unmatched. Here the insert feels a bit too roomy, probably because there are very few sidekick tokens and the decks are a bit small for Daredevil and for Elektra. Everything has its own space and it’s all very neat, but I do think there might be less “stuff” in this set.
The artwork here isn’t for me the most striking. Two of the card backs have eyes in the centre of the card art. I totally understand why they did this thematically. Bullseye has an eye in the centre of the target design. Elektra’s ability aside from being a martial arts expert with sai is also able to mesmerise people so it does make sense. I just don’t think that they are as striking as some of the other designs.
I do like the more simplistic and bright Daredevil design which features orange and yellow and his baton. Since Daredevil is blind, of course having an eye in the design would be incredibly not thematic! There are also radar type lines which I think represent Daredevil’s echolocation abilities. There is so much thought that goes into the artwork, it is so clever and thematic, but I guess sometimes you can be impressed by art but not think that it is as visually appealing as other options.
Each character has the same deck of cards to work with game-to-game but the draw has a significant impact on how you are able to play each game. Your battles are always different. Sometimes your opponent will just feint your most excellent amazing play, and sometimes you will escape a monster attack unscathed despite the odds.
Those feelings are what I love, I am sure that you can psych your opponent out and guess how they might play, but with such a diversity of cards in each deck you never really know what card they are attacking you with.
The Unmatched system always plays at about the same time, but the collection I have now has a bunch of different maps and I have lots of characters to mix and match from. If you only have one set, perhaps you might eventually after playing a character 20+ times feel like you know it too much? I have played over 100 games of Unmatched and no character for me feels stale, simply mix up the maps or the opponent character and you will likely have to change up your play style.
At present, I now have 22 characters to pick from so I have 231 possible combinations for a 2 player game. There are also 8 maps now for me to pick from which by maths gives me currently 1848 different mashups to have a go with.
Unmatched has gotten a sexy facelift with the addition of the Marvel IP. I think these might be the most interesting characters in terms of the reduced deck sizes. I am pleased to see that Restoration Games and Mondo are continuing to level up their gameplay by upping the complexity of the characters and never having two characters the same. Also, it’s Marvel!