Unmatched Jurassic Park: Ingen Vs Raptors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.