Unearth is a game where you play as a tribe trying to rebuild ruins and ancient wonders to try and outscore your opponents. Mixing together dice rolling/placement with hand management, I was intrigued to find out how this would play.

The artwork which reminded me of Minecraft was just the icing on the cake.

Unearth - What's in the box?

A decent insert!! That was the first thing I noticed when I opened Unearth for the first time. An insert that does its job correctly and has a place for everything is always a great addition to a game. This is because it just helps with set up and put away. It even has an ‘Unearth’ branded bag that you place the stone tiles into.

The rule book, while a little text heavy, is very well laid out and learning the game is made easier due to this.

Dice are a main part of this game and it so happens the dice are great quality. Each player colour comes with five dice (d6 x3, d4 and a d8) that all represent different workers of your tribe.

There are thick cardboard hexes that represent stones and wonders and three decks of cards that are all good quality too. Another great thing is that the art from the front of the box is carried straight through the game and onto all the cards.

You really do get a lot of great quality components for your money.

The rule book, while a little text heavy, is very well laid out and learning the game is made easier due to this.

Dice are a main part of this game and it so happens the dice are great quality. Each player colour comes with five dice (d6 x3, d4 and a d8) that all represent different workers of your tribe.

There are thick cardboard hexes that represent stones and wonders and three decks of cards that are all good quality too. Another great thing is that the art from the front of the box is carried straight through the game and onto all the cards.

You really do get a lot of great quality components for your money.

Set-up & Play

During the set-up of Unearth you have will go through 10 phases, which seems a lot but it takes very little time at all:

  1. Place the stone hexes in the bag.
  2. Shuffle the Delver deck and give each player two cards.
  3. Shuffle the Ruins deck and give each player one card face-down.
  4. Remove the top five cards from the Ruins deck and return them to the box.
  5. Shuffle the End Of Age Deck choose one card and place it on the bottom of the Ruins deck.
  6. Turn over five Ruin cards and line them up in the centre of the table.
  7. Place an amount of Stone hexes at random and according to the number on each Ruin card.
  8. Shuffle the Named Wonders deck and draw the amount of cards equal to the number of players plus two.
  9. Shuffle the Lesser and Greater Wonder hexes and stack them face down on the cards of the same name.
  10. Give each player a set of Dice.

Roll a dice to see who is first player and then you are ready to start. Each players turn consists of two phases, the first of which is optional:

  1. Delver phase - Here you can play delver cards and these give you special abilities for that turn.
  2. Excavation Phase - Here you roll one dice from your pool and place it on a Ruin card. Each ruin card has a number in the top right corner and when that number is achieved a player can claim it. If a one, two or three is rolled you take a stone hex either off the card if available or from the bag at random.

The idea of the stone hexes is that you can collect these in a certain colour pattern to score points, once a ‘ring’ of certain colours is achieved you place a wonder in the middle that will score points at the game's end.

The Ruin cards that you claim will score you points according to what sets you have. For example three of the same colour ruins will get you 12 points four will get you 20 and so on.

 

That is the main bulk of the game and it's very simple to pick up. There are many things that can happen on your turn, for example when a dice is placed on a ruin card and the claim number is reached if there are more than one players die already on there a tie breaker ensures. During a tie it’s a simple case of the bigger dice (number of faces) wins.

The idea of the stone hexes is that you can collect these in a certain colour pattern to score points, once a ‘ring’ of certain colours is achieved you place a wonder in the middle that will score points at the game's end.

The Ruin cards that you claim will score you points according to what sets you have. For example three of the same colour ruins will get you 12 points four will get you 20 and so on.

 

That is the main bulk of the game and it's very simple to pick up. There are many things that can happen on your turn, for example when a dice is placed on a ruin card and the claim number is reached if there are more than one players die already on there a tie breaker ensures. During a tie it’s a simple case of the bigger dice (number of faces) wins.

Final thoughts

Like I said above the box art is what caught my attention when I first looked at Unearth and the fact that the same art is so prominent throughout the game is great. The quality of the components and its insert really surprised me too.

Being a dice game, I didn’t know how it would stand up in game play as when reading the rules you don’t get a great sense of ability to mitigate bad rolls. The fact that there are two paths to victory really does make Unearth a lot more strategic than I thought. If you have a low roll then you claim stone hexes and try to score points with Wonders, yet if you roll high you can claim the Ruin cards. There is still enough luck in there to keep it a level playing field though and you can even use dice to stop your opponent’s doing what they want (claim Ruins before they do etc).

The game plays at a great pace and the player interaction is good. The multiple paths to victory help keep everyone engaged and there is never a runaway leader. Unearth is a fun game that combines almost everything together perfectly. That’s not to say the game is perfect though.

The rule book makes the game sound harder than it is and the dice, even though can be used in different ways, still have no real mitigation (some delver cards add slight mitigation) so you can end up changing strategy halfway through. Replay-ability is helped with the randomness of the set up and end of game cards.

Overall, it’s a fun game that I enjoy getting it to the table for me it sits somewhere between Splendor and Spice Road in terms of enjoyment and that’s not a bad thing at all.

The Good

  • The quality is amazing.
  • The art.
  • Multiple paths to victory.
  • Very Balanced at all player counts.

The Bad

  • A better dice mitigation is needed.
  • Text heavy rule book.

The Good
The quality is amazing.
The art.
Multiple paths to victory.
Very Balanced at all player counts.

The Bad
A better dice mitigation is needed.
Text heavy rule book.

Leave your comment