UNEARTH (Brotherwise Games)
Ancestors of a proud fallen empire, it is your mission to reclaim and rebuild what had once been the pinnacle of civilization. With the help of delvers, you will excavate ruins far and wide and build new wonders in an effort to remember your past while looking towards your future.
With such a weighty theme, explaining Unearth is wonderfully simple. Turns have a delve phase and an excavation phase. On the delve phase, the player plays any Delver Cards they wish to use. On the excavation phase, the player picks which of the five revealed Ruin Cards they want to roll for, pick which die they want to use (from their available 4-sided, 8-sided, and three 6-sided dice) and then roll. If the number on the Ruin Card is met or exceeded it’s claimed by the highest rolled die, and then play continues to the player on the left.
While choosing between your dice can help determine your outcome, every gamer has a fresh story about rolling up an unending amount of unhelpful outcomes. A smart mechanic for relying so heavily on dice, while rolling 1-3 probably won’t score you any ruins, it will score you a Stone. These hexagonal pieces are played into your tableau where you’ll encircle empty spaces to place Wonders. Different Wonders can score you points or grant you special abilities, and a deck of 15 named Wonder Cards (of which you’ll only use the number of players + 2 for each game) keeps strategies fresh and ever-changing.
An additional olive branch to the unlucky roller is that every time a Ruin Card is scored every die of the players who didn’t win the claim gets them a Delver Card. Delver Cards are another great mitigator of luck and can grant rerolls, let you decide where to place your die after rolling, let you add or subtract to rolls, and a whole bunch of other helpful mischief.
All of these different ways of playing Unearth make for a number of different ways to win. Ruin Cards are scored in increasingly valuable sets of the same colors (watch out for similar toned different colors) and scored for having a set of all of the colors. Wonders are scored on their own rules and amounts, and then scored if a player has three or more built at game’s end. With all of the paths to victory and large decks of cards to cycle through, this game is almost endlessly replayable.
Unearth has enough thinking to be engaging but enough simplicity to be played underneath of good conversation. Definitely a fun one for new and experienced players alike. (Brotherwise Games) by David C. Obenour