I recently got a chance to play a pre-production copy of Unearth at International Tabletop day with one of the game's designers Jason Harner.
Unearth is a light tactical game of dice rolling and set collecting which takes about 30-45 minutes to play.
The game works like this:
Each player is secretly dealt a Ruins Card for your set collection, and the rest are placed in a face down deck.
5 Ruins Cards are placed face-up in play in the center of the table, each has a value of 9-17, and 2-3 random colored Stones (hexagonal shaped chits) are drawn from the bag and placed on it.
A turn consists of a player choosing a Ruins Card to roll a die on.
Before rolling he may play any number of one-time use ability cards which can modify a die that has already been placed or modify the die next rolled during this turn, or allow the player to reroll a die/some dice.
Then he rolls the die and places it on that card.
If the roll is 3 or lower he can claim one of the colored Stones on it and place it in front of him.
Also if/when the total value of all dice on that card exceed that card's value, the owner of the highest valued die on that card claims it, and it is replaced with a new Ruin Card from the deck.
Everyone who had a losing die on the card gains a modifier card containing one of the aforementioned special abilities.
When all of the Ruins cards are claimed, the game is over.
The object is to create complete rings containing 6 Stones (bonus points if they are all the same color), as well as to collect sets of the Ruins Cards. Each will be scored independently then added together for a final score.
I am not going to focus much on the components themselves, since what I have played with is pre-production only and may not fully resemble the final game components.
The artwork is very pleasing in my opinion, but I could see some colorblind players might have a problem with some of the colors, if what I have seen is indeed in final product.
Some might say the theme is a little too abstract, or felt "pasted on", but to me it didn't detract from the overall experience.
There are a lot of random elements in the game, but the one-time use abilities give you opportunities to mitigate your risk/luck factor. The amount of luck in this game, I feel, is just right for the heaviness/length of the game.
There is lots of direct player interaction. With the right group of people, this game could be downright cut-throat, but it could also be family friendly depending on your group's play style.
The rules are simple and straightforward, so you don't have to worry about complex timing issues (action-reaction-reaction).
I have played this game in both 3 player and 4 player settings (about a dozen times in total), and while player count affected the feel of the game, both player counts still felt good. There is not a lot of downtime between turns, and you always need to be involved watching what the other players are doing.
For such minimal rules there definitely is a lot to think about each turn.
There are 3 important tactics in this game:
* Sometimes you have to play to immediately improve your position in the game
* Some times you have to play for future position setup
* Sometimes you have to play to deny the person next to you
Ignoring any one of these 3 is a quick way to lose.
I like the semi-bell curve model of the dice in this game, how rolling high and low (extremities) is rewarded, but rolling average values is punished.
The hidden information - 1st card in your set means you are in the game to the very end. it's really impossible to tell who is winning/losing until the score is counted at the end.
There are lots of opportunities to score points, and the scoring feels balanced with neither the set collection of the Ruins nor the tableau building with Stones outweighing the other.
I thought the game was very enjoyable, and will end up in my collection once it is published.
I give it 8 / 10.
Some photo's of game in progress from International TableTop Day