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Subject: Unfair playtest review rss

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Paul Long
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Intro
I have managed to playtest Unfair a number of times recently and have found it a lot of fun. My wife enjoys it alot. It has great artwork and its fun to see what people have built in their parks. I like strategic games and Unfair has some really tough decisions in hand management and action management. There is some brinkmanship as you want to get more of your park built (for money and points) but don't want to be too big a target for your opponents.

Overview
Unfair is primarily a tableau builder - but with a fun park theme. You take actions (and spend money) to build attractions (rollercoasters, restaurants, theatres) and then put upgrades on them (better seats, express queue, a Vampire theme etc). The attractions and upgrades attract customers each round, earning money, to buy more attractions. The attractions generate points at the end of the game, based on their size - so get moving on that Pirate rollercoaster with the inverted loop and splashdown. There game has designs which also score at the end of the game (called blueprints), but only if you meet the criteria (an air-conditioned theatre AND a Vampire restaurant) - this is my wife's preferred strategy.

Then there are events which you can spend you actions getting, which are like external influence. Events allow you to power up your park or mess with your opponents parks. Marketing or sponsors give you more money, vandals remove upgrades from your opponents parks, city officials close rides, friends in high places can block other events.

At the end of the game you get points for the size of your rides, the money you have left and the blueprints you meet. Most points wins (Do I really have to say that??) Of course, there is a lot more to it - game wide events (starting out good to everyone, then getting bad), loans (getting money but losing points), super attractions (expensive rides with extra powers), staff (more powers and points)

One of the great aspects is that the game is sorted into decks, each with a theme. The decks get shuffled together when you play, so you can have Jungle/Vampire game or a Pirate/Robot game etc. The cards are really thematic with great art, hilarous flavour text and gameplay that match the theme. (Pirate cards have more ways to collect money.)

I've played it with two, three and four players and it is a good challenge with each of them. Two player is the most focussed, as you spend most of the time building your own park. With four players there are more negative events, especially if you have an obvious strategy - players often collect defensive events. The hand and action management decisions can be agonising. There are multiple strategies to score points and good interaction between cards.

It is supposed to be out on Kickstarter this month or next. I'll be getting it!
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Pete Wrigley
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Thanks Paul,

I have also been lucky enough to play test this cool game. It oozes theme and there are many winning strategy's.

I thought I'd mention another aspect of the game and that is Staff Members.
A player can purchase Staff Members like upgrades for their park and are put in a player's tableau next to the theme park gate. Staff Members have various game effects such as VP at the end, extra actions, extra income etc. There are some that can mess with other players such as the Caretaker (can damage an opponent's attraction as an event). My personal favourite is the Mesmerist who can borrow any other players staff member once for a turn by hypnotising them! Awesome!

There really is a lot to like about this game. An auto back for me.

Edit. There is also a loan shark mechanism that gives you more cash to build stuff (handy early in the game) at the reasonable rate of 100% interest that costs you VP at the end.
Another plus is downtime is minimal. If I had three thumbs they'd all be up!
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Gabi Games
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The theme is interesting!
Apart from the artwork, how do the mechanics differ from Steam Donkey?
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Joel Finch
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GabiGames wrote:
The theme is interesting!
Apart from the artwork, how do the mechanics differ from Steam Donkey?

I haven't played Steam Donkey, but taking a look at the rules, the two largest differences that I notice are that Steam Donkey cards function as park pieces, visitors, and a form of currency, while Unfair has no concept of an individual Visitor - guests are attracted by stars but don't appear as separate cards or get matched specifically to parts of the park.

Unfair has Event cards, which add a layer of interaction between players, as well as the ability to make combos of effects, both for building and for income.

There are many more differences - although they are similar in theme, the mechanics of each game are quite separate. They share the fact that they use cards to build a theme park, but not that much else.

The Unfair rulebook is available at http://www.unfair-game.com/rulebook if you'd like to see more detail?
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Paul Long
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GabiGames wrote:
Apart from the artwork, how do the mechanics differ from Steam Donkey?


I haven't played Steam Donkey, but I've had a look at the rules and gameplay video to see how it is different. Steam Donkey is similar to San Juan - cards are used to pay for things and the game ends once a certain number of cards are built. So it becomes an efficiency race. My wife and I used to play a lot of San Juan but we traded it away a long time ago, as every game was the same.

To me, Unfair is a more dynamic and tactical game
* Unfair has an economy element. You need money to build rides and upgrades. You earn money from them each round
* Unfair attractions can have multiple cards (upgrades) built on them. We've built rides with 12-15 cards during games. (But them become a target for other players to mess with)
* Unfair is based on a set number of rounds. This allows for a lot of options in game strategy - I can build more attractions that are smaller, a few larger attractions, just collect cash, finish more blueprints. Cards, money, staff and blueprints all score points at the end of the game.
* Unfair events (including the City stage) offer a lot of player interaction and tactical play at a specific time. e.g. This round I will earn more money if I have my theatre open. (Perhaps I'll arrange for yours to be shut?)
* Unfair is different - with the different super attractions (which have individual abilities) and the various decks to choose from, the game play changes. Pirate cards often have ways to build taller rides and get more money, Vampires attract more staff etc.

One thing I should emphasise is that every event can be blocked which really adds to the fun of events. Some event cards have a defensive capability (so do some staff cards). So Bob plays a vandalism card, trying to remove cards from my ride. Nope - my security guards stop them. Jane claims my ride is unsafe, trying to close it this round - Nope my safety certificate means it stays open. But this adds to the decision making too - do I play this event card or extra money or do I save it for its defense later?
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There are two very significant differences - the end conditions, and variability.
Funfair is fixed length, so you know how many actions are available on average, and you can play different strategies within that framework. Steam Donkey ends when enough cards are active and it is largely a race to get stuff in play.
Unfair is modular - one theme deck is used for each participant, these are mixed to form a "game deck" for play. With four theme decks there are four combinations available with three players, eight combos with two players. Since extra themes are an obvious route for expansion, this variability seems inevitably to increase.
To be fair, I only played Steam Donkey once, but it didn't excite me. Unfair, in contrast, deserves to be one of the most celebrated games in 2016.
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Evan
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Befefig wrote:

Intro
I have managed to playtest Unfair a number of times recently and have found it a lot of fun. My wife enjoys it alot. It has great artwork and its fun to see what people have built in their parks. I like strategic games and Unfair has some really tough decisions in hand management and action management. There is some brinkmanship as you want to get more of your park built (for money and points) but don't want to be too big a target for your opponents.

Overview
Unfair is primarily a tableau builder - but with a fun park theme. You take actions (and spend money) to build attractions (rollercoasters, restaurants, theatres) and then put upgrades on them (better seats, express queue, a Vampire theme etc). The attractions and upgrades attract customers each round, earning money, to buy more attractions. The attractions generate points at the end of the game, based on their size - so get moving on that Pirate rollercoaster with the inverted loop and splashdown. There game has designs which also score at the end of the game (called blueprints), but only if you meet the criteria (an air-conditioned theatre AND a Vampire restaurant) - this is my wife's preferred strategy.

Then there are events which you can spend you actions getting, which are like external influence. Events allow you to power up your park or mess with your opponents parks. Marketing or sponsors give you more money, vandals remove upgrades from your opponents parks, city officials close rides, friends in high places can block other events.

At the end of the game you get points for the size of your rides, the money you have left and the blueprints you meet. Most points wins (Do I really have to say that??) Of course, there is a lot more to it - game wide events (starting out good to everyone, then getting bad), loans (getting money but losing points), super attractions (expensive rides with extra powers), staff (more powers and points)

One of the great aspects is that the game is sorted into decks, each with a theme. The decks get shuffled together when you play, so you can have Jungle/Vampire game or a Pirate/Robot game etc. The cards are really thematic with great art, hilarous flavour text and gameplay that match the theme. (Pirate cards have more ways to collect money.)

I've played it with two, three and four players and it is a good challenge with each of them. Two player is the most focussed, as you spend most of the time building your own park. With four players there are more negative events, especially if you have an obvious strategy - players often collect defensive events. The hand and action management decisions can be agonising. There are multiple strategies to score points and good interaction between cards.

It is supposed to be out on Kickstarter this month or next. I'll be getting it!


You say that hand and action management can be agonizing. What is the AP factor here? The estimate is 25 min per player, but if the AP factor is high, it could exceed that, no? This was an easy Kickstarter for me, but if the game takes more than 2 hours to play among four players, it might not hit the table as much as I would like.
 
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Joel Finch
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In our playtesting, the initial game can run a bit long, which is partly why we've added the "First Date" game changer, to allow new players to become familiar with the game without blowing out the time too much.

The cards do take a little reading, which makes them slower on the first play through, and there's also flavour text and illustrations which attract attention as well. Generally we find that players don't complain about the time, but it does take longer on the first time they see the game for these reasons.

Excessive AP isn't usually a factor, though of course that depends on the individual's susceptibility. We have deliberately limited the scope of choices to 2 items in most cases to reduce this.

As you can see with this video, as players become familiar with the game, the time shortens significantly:

https://boardgamegeek.com/video/109348/unfair/4-player-playt...
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Paul Long
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GoingTopShelf wrote:
You say that hand and action management can be agonizing. What is the AP factor here? The estimate is 25 min per player, but if the AP factor is high, it could exceed that, no? This was an easy Kickstarter for me, but if the game takes more than 2 hours to play among four players, it might not hit the table as much as I would like.


Agonizing Decisions: The game has many of these. But the decisions are generally yes/no style decisions
* Which sides of an Event card, OR
* Play the Event now, or pass this turn
* Keep the blueprint or discard it OR
* Take more Event cards (e.g. as defense) vs building in your park.

Analysis Paralysis: Unfair not particularly susceptible to AP in my experience and I have AP-prone people in my group. It doesn't have the massive chain of actions that make AP a problem in heavy Euros. The turn structure means that the game can keep moving while the most AP-prone decisions are being made e.g. You keep taking your turns while I pick a card from the discard pile.

Game time: There is a good amount of text on the cards - particularly the Events. So people's first game or two is often slow. People need time to read the cards and work out how to play them. Then they laugh at the flavour text and point out the artwork to everyone. ("I build Blackbeard's Revenge". "Ohh What does that do?")

After a couple of games, the game plays smoothly. The Park Step plays quickly as there is no player interaction (other than taking the card I wanted out of the Market). The actual game length is determined by the Event Step. I later rounds people can be taking 5 or more Events, as they use the abilities on Super Attractions and staff, as well as cards. Each Event action is pretty easy to understand tho.

Setup and Tear down: Unfair looks like it has a lot of setup and teardown. But if you check out the game play video, you'll see that they both took less than 5 minutes. Its primarily card shuffling so it happens fairly quickly once you have played a few times.
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