The Unmatched game system has now been tried and tested across lots of different literary, mythological and film characters and now we come to the biggest IP yet. The infamous Marvel sets.
Redemption Row and Hell's Kitchen are the first two 3 character sets that have been released, these are supported by the single character and elusive Deadpool set from last year. I will start by saying that the Marvel characters aren't your typical Iron Man or Captain America etc.
However, as we have come to expect from Unmatched sets, the asymmetric card decks and special abilities really pack a punch when you're out on that duelling field. Woe betides anyone who tries to smash Luke Cage into submission without having some pretty massive punches up their sleeves. The man is a wall of defence.
The aim of the game is to reduce the health of your opponent's hero to zero. Smash them into submission using your strategic prowess and piloting the character deck in the best way. Each character comes with its own unique special ability as well as having its own unique cards that give each of the heroes a "playstyle".
Some characters are easier to learn than others but learning them for me is half the fun. Unlike the title would suggest, the characters all feel matched evenly. It is down to the player and their ability over who will triumph in an Unmatched match. If you want to hear more about how to play, please check out my How To Play Guide.
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.
I've noticed myself being drawn to these token areas, be that beneficial or not to me. It seems to have really changed how I move around the map. So far, I have felt like the scheme tokens are very powerful sounding but I have yet to actually make great use of them.
With schemes though I often find this if they involve seeing your opponent's hand or something. I do like the one that lets you discard all of your hands and draw three cards. This can be great if you are either empty handed or close to. It is also helpful if you have some sidekick cards in hand but the sidekick is dead already.
What I have had significant success with though are the versatile tokens. 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.
The map in this set feels really small, it is definitely not very easy to hide on this one. Running and hiding is hard and I guess in this way, it encourages you to attack more. This to me does feel quite thematic, you wouldn't expect Ghost Rider to be hiding out in the shadows not attacking.
Moon Knight has three personalities; Marc Spector, Steven Grant and Jake Lockley. Each of these has a different special ability and unlike Jekyll and Hyde or Alice, the character you play that turn changes each round. The personalities cycle one after the other in a specific order so you can plan your turns carefully to ensure you maximise the impact of each attack.
Moon Knight allows you to move two spaces at the start of your turn. As a melee character, this can really help you to get in there and attack your first action and then either attack a second time or else run away to prevent a double attack from your opponent.
Khonshu has +2 to all his attacks and crucially takes no damage aside from combat damage. Against the other two, this is crucial as many of the cards can be stopped this way. The third identity is Steven Grant (Mr Knight) who is the defensive character and has +1 to all defence values. After this turn, you convert back to Moon Knight and the cycle starts all over again.
This is the character that I have so far played the least, I think that with the move of 3 and the additional powers, I would like to see it up against some of the more defensive characters like Invisible Man.
I think to me this is the most interesting character in this box, it is definitely not an easy character to pick up, but I think I like it better than other heroes that have to change personalities, like Jekyll and Hyde and Alice. This is great praise as Jekyll was previously in my top three characters with Bigfoot and Sinbad!
Ghost Rider has by far and away from the coolest looking miniature ever. He has his chain flaring out behind him and is standing atop his motorcycle. I think it might be second only to the invisible man one which is still one of my favourite components in any game.
The Ghost Rider's special ability is that on a manoeuvre action, they can spend a hellfire token to move five spaces instead of two, and move through other characters, causing them one damage. Thematically, I guess they got run over by the hellfire powered motorcycle.
Ghost Rider is a melee character, so having this ability to move across most of the board is also incredibly powerful. It adds to the difficulty for the opponent, you simply cannot hide I don't think. Hellfire tokens are also used to fire up the special effects on Ghost Rider's cards.
For me, this character is hard to play. There are similarities to Beowulf in that you have to manage your hellfire tokens in order to maximise the damage that you can do to your opponents. Managing an additional resource is, I think, pretty complex strategically, and is not something I am particularly good at.
I am unable to do it with Beowulf or Little Red either, so it is player specific rather than character related I think. I think Ghost Rider could be incredibly powerful against Robin Hood, Dracula or Medusa where they have a bunch of sidekicks each with one health where you use them to protect your hero like a bit of a meat shield.
You could use hellfire to do a load of damage in one go and remove pieces from the board. I also think that Ghost Rider will do excellently against the Raptors, there is no way to surround Ghost Rider and pin him into a space, and you can deal damage as you move through them meaning you can escape and hit at the same time.
Luke Cage is a melee character, but Misty Knight, his sidekick is a ranged character so between the two of them you can really cover a large area of the map easily. Luke Cage's ability is that he has a de facto defence value of 2 even if he does not play a card.
Additionally, Luke Cage wins combat if he doesn't take any damage at all. This makes him an absolute powerhouse; he is so hard to hit at all let alone enough to win combat and/or get the health beaten down enough. I think for this reason Luke Cage might be both the most straightforward character to play and also likely for this reason the most likely character to win.
I think there are some characters from the original sets that might really give Luke Cage the run around. I think that perhaps Sinbad would be a tough opponent for Luke Cage to go up against. Sinbad can really move around the board once a few of the voyage cards have been played, and Luke will struggle to follow quickly enough I think to not run out of cards.
I would like to try Medusa against Luke Cage as well, although her very powerful "Gaze of Stone" card will never work as he has the standard 2 defence anyway, her special ability to be able to hit every time Luke is in her zone at the start of her turn could be a great way to hit hard. I think it has to be the next matchup that I play as now the more I think about it, the more I want to play.
I think that the components in Unmatched are great. I thoroughly enjoy the artwork in Unmatched, each set seems super different in the way it looks on the card backs but on the front the same clear font and layout help a seasoned "unmatched-er" see in a flash what kinds of cars they have in hand. The card back artwork designs reflect the characters, so Moon Knight cards depict the three different character personalities.
As per usual, the insert in the box is excellent. Everything has its space and fits into it well. The box is thinner this time than in the other boxes, these slightly different dimensions to me make more sense. Shipping less air, and also taking up less shelf space too.
I am probably now getting to the stage of possibly needing to combine my Unmatched sets together though. I am not far from having a full shelf of Unmatched sets so perhaps a Big Box is on its way! Also, I think there is a lot of air in each box, but the issue is I just love how the sets look on my shelf and I simply don't want to not be able to see the artwork!
On the face of it, the Unmatched system offers huge replayability because you can mix and match the characters and the maps to form a bunch of different battles. Each time you play a character, you play with the same unique deck. I have played a lot as some characters and very little as other ones. The ones I have played the most don't feel stale to me though, I play them most because I like them the best!
Unmatched has gotten a sexy facelift with the addition of the Marvel IP. But I don't think that the designers have just coasted on people just liking Marvel, and have maintained smooth and interesting gameplay.
This set brings new map styles and for me, it brings a variety of difficulty level characters to play. I think these characters are definitely not an easy entry into the game system as they are more complex, but if you have already played one of the other sets before then I think this is a logical step up in difficulty to try out. Also, it's Marvel!