Sometimes you want to break out a game brimming with orcs and dragons and slay your way through it. But finding the right group to play with and bringing a game to the table that won’t be a time vampire on your evening are two challenges many of us face when wanting immersive fantasy fare.
This doesn’t mean I never want to spend a few hours playing D&D or something from the Warhammer world, but there are times when I want a brief swords and sandals game and not have to consult with anyone to play.
I have found that itch scratched with Artem Safarov’s Unbroken. Disclosure: Artem is a good friend of mine and I’ve helped him playtest a number of versions of this game. While my opinion will be biased, it’s also based on heaps of playthroughs.
You can find out more about how the game works on this page, so I’m not going to offer exhaustive detail. What I will share with you, however, is what makes this game unique and fun to play and you can determine if these points make you want to pick up the game.
Why Unbroken is worth checking out:
It’s a short solo game. From set-up to crushing loss (or victory. Depends on how your quest goes. But I can say this game isn’t a cakewalk. If you’re looking for a preponderance of stupefying wins, this isn’t the game for you. It’s tough, and there are options to make it tougher!) you can set aside about 30 minutes. If you recklessly forge ahead in every encounter, you can be polished off in 15 minutes. This game demands planning and some strategic thinking.
Part of the planning can be found in how you spend effort, for effort is your currency. It’s essential in crafting weapons and fighting beasts because, well, those things require effort. And you can run out of effort very quickly if you don’t rest. Think of it as dwindling morale, which dwindles further if you don’t take a breather.
There are four levels, each with a progressively difficult boss monster (randomly chosen from a plethora of baddies), and you can either trick the beast or fight it mano-a-mano. In level 1, you can punch your way to victory. But that won’t last long and you will get slapped around, speared, poisoned, bitten, rent limb from limb and so on. Also, fists don’t penetrate armour. Not even Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch could accomplish such a feat.
You can also have a peek ahead to see what monster awaits you at the end of each level, but this costs you something. Could be time, effort, cunning.
Speaking of time, it marches on. Every turn causes the time counter to move a certain number of spaces. As you flip over encounter cards you can decide to resolve them (and pay the price in time and other resources) or rest, which still costs time. No matter what you do, you will meet the boss creep and you’ll need to be prepared.
Along the way, you’ll collect resources such as wood and metal, which are needed for a variety of things; most importantly upgrading your weapons.
You’ll also need to make sure you have enough food. A hungry belly doesn’t make you a potent fighter and if you lack food, it will cost you effort.
Adding to the myriad ways you can win (and lose) Unbroken, to the strategic decisions you need to make, the good or bad luck you’ll experience on a flip of a card or a roll of the die, are the abilities of your character. Unbroken comes with quite a few playable characters, each with a set of abilities.
If all of the above has you intrigued, I suggest you read more about Unbroken on this page and consider supporting it when the Kickstarter campaign launches.
I’ll conclude by saying that the artwork in a game, no matter how groovy the theme, can make or break it for me. The art for Unbroken is gorgeous and adds to the dark fantasy feel.
That is a pretty great review. I just printed off a copy. I had printed one but gave that one to my son when he was here for a visit and printed off the new cards.
Watched a how to play video as well and am looking forward to getting this on the table completely. I have dabbled with some of the mechanics and how it works so that I can ensure I am playing correctly, but from everything I have seen and learned so far, your review seems pretty well on.
I have to say, the art on the new PnP components is really nice. Will be exploring and thinking about purchase of a production copy because I think this one will be a good one for me.
Thanks for the review.