Unmatched Jurassic Park: Ingen Vs Raptors

Unmatched Jurassic Park: Ingen Vs Raptors

The cover to Unmatched: Jurassic Park

In 2002, in the wake of the Star Wars prequels, the merchandising machine for George Lucas’ franchise went into overdrive, making everything from pyjamas to action figures, and in this case board games.

Milton Bradley/ Hasbro came up with a game called Star Wars: Epic Duels was a card based miniature game designed by Cthulhu: Death May Die’s Rob Daviau and Craig Van Ness, who made the iconic and much sought after Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit board game… seriously, if you have one, I want it!

Unfortunately, Epic Duels disappeared, but Restoration Games unearthed it, dusted it off, removed the Star Wars skin on it and came up with an updated version, now called Unmatched: Battle of Legends Volume 1, a card based miniature game that had two players pitch characters like King Arthur, Alice (from Wonderland), Sinbad the Sailor and Medusa in..ahem… epic duels against each other.

Velociraptor card art
Muldoon card art

As this was an epically fun game, that also had beautiful card art from the people at Mondo, best known for amazing posters and soundtrack art, and minis from Punga Miniatures, of course expansions started to emerge, and very quickly we had characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel comics, Bruce Lee (!!!), other older literary and mythological characters (like Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, the Invisible Man) and in this case, Jurassic Park.

Unmatched Jurassic Park is the first of three JP based expansions, one other having a T-Rex vs Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm and an Alan Grant one announced, and has us pitch the big game hunter Muldoon up against three velociraptors. I call them ‘expansions’ but technically, every game of Unmatched that has more than one character in it, is a game in its own right, and can be played without any of the other editions.

The miniatures can be painted or left unpainted as I have done

This game is very easy to play… you don’t need to be very clever girls (geddit?)… and is started with two players deciding whether they want to be Muldoon or the dinosaurs. Once decided, the players place their starting minis, and in the case of Muldoon, their Ingen employee chits, on the board, collect their deck of thirty cards, their player cards and their life counters, they then draw seven cards each and get ready to rumble. This seven cards is their hand limit for the game, so if at the end of a turn they find themselves with more, they have to discard down to that limit.

On each turn, the players have to draw one card, and then have a choice of actions:

– move: each mini can move up to its limit shown on the player card, unless they have a card in their hand that boosts their move limit.

– scheme: you may play a special effect card onto one of your chosen minis

– attack: using your cards, the player may attack another player if they are within range. To perform combat, the attacking player takes a combat card from their hand and place it face down in from of them, and the defender does so with a defence card. Both players reveal their cards and the defence score is removed from the attack score, and the remaining points are the damage taken. Some cards do have additional effects, so they also take place, potentially diffusing or increasing an attack.

A game set up and ready to play

This moving, scheming and attacking continues until the character mini is reduced to zero health, in the velociraptors case, all three being reduced to zero. The three versus one might seem unfair, but Muldoon has ranged attacks, Ingen employees to distract the dinosaurs and traps to corral them, or catch them.

One thing I didn’t mention with the other sets of Unmatched is they are completely mixable and matchable. You want Buffy the Vampire Slayer to fight Muldoon? Do it! Dracula versus the velociraptors? Go for it! Every set can be played against each other, so buying many sets is a must, especially when all those Jurassic Park ones are finally released!

At my place, we even used a round robin generator to create the matches for us – let me tell you, I was pretty angry when Bruce Lee beat my velociraptors, though I expect that he probably could.

The box interior is designed for easy pack up!

Even though this review is for the first Jurassic Park version Unmatched, it really is a review for all of them. Throughout the series, of course some characters are better than others, but it’s not just the specs for the character, it’s also the way the player plays. I have been beaten with characters that I didn’t win with, so play style comes into it a lot.

I love this game. The art is fantastic, the minis are beautifully designed and executed and the gameplay is simple enough for it to be accessible to gamers of any level to play it, but once you’re in, it becomes a thinky exercise that almost chess-like in its execution. Weirdly, for a game that spreads its mechanics across various themes and franchises, each character is true in its play style to its theme; a difficult exercise to execute well. Heaps of fun, buy it.

Score: *****

The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

One from the to watch pile…

The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

Film: As a kid, I loved movies and TV that had obviously fake giant monsters and miniature related special effects in them. Harryhausen films and Godzilla flicks were of a particular high level of interest, but even stuff that came from Gerry Anderson, like Thunderbirds and Space 1999 were seen as a great time.

Another type of film, and TV show, I loved was the ‘Lost World’ subgenre. I poured over my Island at the Top of the World View Master set (this was pre-home Video, remember) and I always made sure I watched Sid and Marty Kroft’s Land of the Lost.

I’m assuming this addiction came from an early exposure to Gillian’s Island!

I guess most of these films and TV programs got their inspiration from the stories that legendary authors like Jules Verne (The Mysterious Island and Journey to the Centre of the Earth) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (The Lost World) and Edgar Rice Burrough’s The Land That Time Forgot. I imagine at the turn of last century, the idea of both discovering ancient beasts and exploring were things that young men particularly were enamoured by.

This brings us to this film, 1975’s The Land That Time Forgot, produced by Hammer’s rivals Amicus, directed by Kevin Conner, who also directed Motel Hell and Warlords of Atlantis, and was written by Elric creator Michael Moorcock with James Cawthorn and has a star studded cast: Doug McClure (seen in such films as Humanoids of the Deep and Shenandoah), Susan Penhaligon (Patrick) and Anthony Ainley (The Master From Doctor Who in the 80s).

During World War One, Bowen Tyler (McClure), biologist Lisa Clayton (Penhaligon) and a group of British sailors who are lost at sea, manage to find themselves onboard a German submarine of which they manage to take command.

Unfortunately, one of the Germans destroys the communications equipment and so they are stuck and decide to power on until they are lost, have no fuel left and food for only about a week, when they happen upon the mythical land of Caprona.

Caprona seems to be stuck in an ancient time, but has a mixture of creatures from the many ages of Earth and a bizarre secret.

To survive the two groups decide to band together and attempt to find a way to refine the oil they have discovered in Caprona, but with so many external threats… and maybe a few internal ones, will they be able to survive at all…

Whilst this movie tells an interesting story, it’s slow… especially the first 30 minutes which are disastrously slow. It’s a bright and attractive movie, but it has a few moments where it just doesn’t work. Night scenes that clearly take place in the day but in the thick of the woods, dinosaur puppets that are laughable at best (and remember, I LIKE stupid monster movies), and some creatures change in scale from scene to scene.

To its credit, though, some of the submarine miniature stuff is pretty cool, and it does have a surprising dark ending, which of course leads itself nicely to the sequel The People That Time Forgot, again by Amicus and Conner, two years later.

Basically, it’s an interesting scifi concept told in a slow and uninteresting way.

Score: **

Format: This region B Bluray, released by Umbrella Entertainment, runs for approximately 90 minutes, and features a decent (considering its age) 1.85:1 image with a fine mono DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: Sorry, no extras for you!

Score: 0

WISIA: Considering the first half hour feels like 6 days because of how painfully slow it is, if I do watch it again, I’ll be fast forwarding to the dinosaurs!