Unmatched (Restoration Games, 2019)

Basic details: 2-4 players; 20-40 minutes; competitive

Date played: September 27, 2020

Sets/characters played with:
Cobble & Fog (2020) – Sherlock Holmes and Dracula (Petra)
Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot (2019) – Bigfoot (M)

Gist of the game: Choose a battlefield. Choose a character (mythical, literary, or monster. Or Bruce Lee) to fight against another character. The first person to to have their hero defeated (sidekicks don’t affect victory) loses.

Players start the game with a 5-card hand drawn from their character’s deck. On each turn, players must take 2 actions. They can maneuver, scheme, or attack. To maneuver, the player must draw a card, and then has the option of moving up to the number of spaces indicated on their character card. To scheme, players play a scheme card and resolve the action. To attack, players must play an appropriate attack card against an appropriate target (depending on the type of combat their fighter can engage in). The defender may play a defense card, but cards are not revealed until both fighter and defender have chosen their card. Combat is resolved using the specified actions on cards. In case of both players having conditions that need to be resolved at the same time, the defender resolves first. If the attacker deals damage in excess of the defense value, the defender loses that many health points from their targeted fighter. If the defense value exceeds the attack value, the defender takes no combat damage but may still receive damage from card effects. Play continues until all of a player’s fighters, or their hero, have been defeated.

Color commentary: The fact that the different sets are completely interchangeable makes the game delightfully variable, because you can always choose different opponents or a different battlefield. I could also be touchy about this, but I really like that a 2-player game is the default assumption, and that special provisions have to be specified for 3- or 4-player games. Take that, people with gaming groups! I sauntered to an easy victory in the first game between Sherlock Holmes and Bigfoot, but that seems to have been because I inadequately explained to M what cards could be used in defense. Oops. The next two games were closer, but M pulled out the victory in the second game against Sherlock and in the game against Dracula. I really like the Cobble & Fog characters (Sherlock Holmes, Invisible Man, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), probably most, but Jurassic Park and a couple of the original characters also seem intriguing. I know M was especially delighted by the Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot set, as those are two of his favorite legendary entities. I’m intrigued by the Bruce Lee set, which feels a little akin to the Kool-Aid Man character in the Funkoverse Strategy Game sets. This game also plays quite quickly with 2 (if not completely in clock time, also in terms of sense of time passing), so makes for a nice chance to play multiple rounds in a reasonable amount of time. If I hadn’t insisted we go for a walk to check on the fall foliage situation around here, we probably would have played several more rounds for a total play time of a couple hours. I do seem to be losing my 24-hour advantage over M, though, so either I’m getting better at explaining game instructions or I haven’t been suggesting the right games to maintain my edge.

Thoughts from M: The figurines that come with each character are excellent, and the Bigfoot figurine is especially delightful. However, choosing between Robin Hood and Bigfoot was one of the hardest choices I have ever made. Petra appeared to give no thought to choosing that notorious cocaine addict Sherlock Holmes. I shall be monitoring her behavior for any changes in the coming days, as it appeared all too easy of a choice for her. I appreciate shorter games that still involve strategy as you can play them several times in quick succession and work out ideas as to what strategies work. (Petra here: but the more times we play the same game, the fewer unplayed games we get to!) Also, beating Petra more than once the first few times we play is an added bonus. She seems to be losing her edge.

Draftosaurus (Ankama, 2019)

Basic details: 2-5 players; 15 minutes; competitive

Dates played: August 15 and September 26, 2020

Gist of the game: You are designing a dinosaur zoo of sorts, and want to place your dinos as advantageously as possible, taking advantage of pairs, one-of-a-kind attractions, and paddocks that have as many similar or dissimilar dinos as possible. The game occurs across 3 rounds (4 rounds in a 2-player game). Players draw a batch of 6 dinos from a blind bag. The current player rolls a die to determine the placement condition for the other players (e.g., on a particular section of the board, in an empty paddock, in a paddock without a T-Rex), and everyone places the dino of their choice on the board and then passes their remaining dinos to the next player (in a 2-player game, each player selects an additional dino to discard before passing them. In a 2-player game, each player plays from some variation of their starting hand twice – on the first and last turns of the round). At the end of the game, the player with the highest score wins.

Color commentary: This is a quick (filler, as the gaming parlance seems to be), fun game, and the differently-shaped dino meeples are a cute touch. (M here: filler games get a bad wrap. The point of a game is to be fun, not long.) Playing a 2-player game may open up more strategies for attempted thwarting than a mutliplayer game would because of the discard choices each player gets to make. I like the limitations placed by the die, but also that putting a dino in the stream on the board is an option so that you do get to place a dino on the board every turn even if you can’t meet any of the placement conditions and earn at least one point for that dino (usually a dinosaur can be strategically placed to earn significantly more than a single point). There is also an alternative board that we haven’t played with yet, but this opens up more potential variability beyond the vagaries of the dinos you end up with in hand each round. Because it’s such a short game, you can also play several rounds in a fairly short period of time and feel like you got your time’s worth — it doesn’t really slog at any point unless someone takes a long time to make a placement decision. This would be a good game if you don’t have a lot of time or if you need something fun but not especially deep or tactical to satisfy an itch to play.

Thoughts from M: This is a really fun game. As with so many we play, I think a good memory would be helpful so you could keep track of what dinos remain as options at any given time to help you plan a longer-term strategy for placement (counterthought from Petra: it is becoming increasingly clear we can never got to Vegas). Also, although having a pen of all the same dinosaur is more valuable than having a pen of only different dinosaurs, it’s always been the case for me that it’s easier to accrue more different dinosaurs than the same dinosaur (possibly because of Petra’s conniving thwarting can only discard so many dinosaurs, usually leaving me with more options than she limited). And the meeples are great!