Growing up, I played a lot of different building type video games. From the Sim series of games to the Tycoon series, I played nearly all of them, and my favourite game was Rollercoaster Tycoon. The idea of building a theme park just made me excited, and that feeling never went away.
A month or so ago, one of the moderators in our Twitch channel, Illumines, brought to my attention a game that was kickstarted back in September 2016, and I have been playing it like crazy ever since. Unfair, by Good Games USA, is a card heavy board game where the objective is to build a theme park and score more points than your competitors.
The game has six different themes; ninja, pirate, robot, vampire, jungle, and gangster. Each of the themes have different characteristics, such as gangster being about earning money, and taking it from other players, while ninja is focused on wreaking havoc on other player’s parks. Themes are added to the game for each player, so if three people are playing then it could be gangster, vampire, and ninja themed cards in the game.
There are four different types of cards in the game; blueprints, city event cards, event cards, and park cards. Blueprints are objectives for your park that will earn you points at the end of the game if completed, such as building a casino with five stars worth of upgrades. If you fail to complete a blueprint it will cost you 10 points. City event cards are events that happen at the beginning of each round. These events are split into two types of cards; Funfair cards in the first four rounds of the game which benefit players, and Unfair cards in the last four rounds which will hinder players. Event cards allow the players to cause a positive effect to themselves or a negative effect to other players. Each event card has two options to choose from, and most cards have a negative and positive choice. The park card deck contains cards that may be played in a park, such as staff, rides, upgrades, and resources.
Each round, after each player has drawn an event card, a city event is drawn which will either be a good card (Funfair) or a bad card (Unfair). After that card is resolved, there is an event phase where players may use cards on themselves or other players until all players have passed consecutively, which means that in theory you could pass in hopes of playing a card afterwards and catching your opponents off guard. Players have three actions (unless they have a card that allows them to take four) during the park phase to build new attractions, build upgrades and resources, hire staff, draw event cards, draw park cards, or draw blueprints. After the park phase is over players total up their guests (stars on their cards) and and special cards to increase their income and collect their coins.
At the end of the game players total up points using all of their icons that they have on each attraction and upgrade, any blueprints that give them points, their total coin value divided by two, their points from staff members, and any negatives that come from taking a loan during the game. The player with the most points wins. In the many games we have played, and many different strategies used, I have seen 40 points, and I have seen close to 200 points.
What Unfair Does Right:
- The overall theme of the game is very light, but the different strategies that can be used make the game heavier.
- The different themes that come in the base game make the game very replayable with different combinations of park themes.
- The way the city events are laid out, it limits the length of the game while making the first half of the game seem friendlier, and making the second half more of a war.
What Unfair Could Have Done Better:
- Some of the blueprints are labelled easy when there may only be one card in the deck that could complete the objective, making it very difficult to complete.
- The ninja theme deck has so many attack cards in it that the game lasts longer due to many event cards being played, and takes a game that generally ends with 100-200 points per player and makes it closer to 50.
Overall, I am honestly head over heels about this game. I love the theme, I love the mechanic, and I love the strategic elements. Of course there are always some complaints about a game, but I believe that any issues I have with this game are really just because I like to play a less attack heavy game. There are also many expansions announced for the game such as wild west, alien, and b movie themes, and depending on the price of the expansions, they could do really well with this game going forward. For around $40 CAD, anyone who has a love for a great theme, and an easy to teach game needs to pick this game up.
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