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Subject: Expand Your game - UnderLeague Review rss

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Michael Lindh
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For the full review go to: [url] [/url]


It is time to muster your creatures and run towards an all out war. If a player has 20 points at the beginning of a round, the game will end and victory points are totalled to determine a victor. As the player who ends the game with 20 points had actually gained those during the last phase of the previous round, there was time for opponents to gain more points too. With this in mind, the player with the highest amount of victory points wins and gets to brag to the others until a rematch is called. To achieve this greatness you will have to use your cunning and wit to out-strategise opponents and manipulate the round in your favour. Never fear, as this will come with practice.

Card Anatomy:
Creature Cards:

Each creature has the same feature of day/night strength, creature type, value (victory points), and an ability. The strength will determine how many dice (D3, D4, D6) this creature will role during combat.
- Strength of 1 uses a D6
- Strength of 2 uses a D4 + D6
- Strength of 3 uses a D3 + D4 + D6
The creature card will show strength for the day and for the night. The day strength is shown on the top left, where the night is shown on the top right (more on this in combat phase).
Each creature will also have a border representing its creature type. If all three of the creatures on your field share the same creature type then you will be able to draw an extra card during the first phase. Each creature has special abilities which can range from advantages while equipment is attached, to bonuses for winning combat (e.g. dominance ability).

Strategy Cards:
There are two types of strategy cards; equipment and schemes.
Equipment can be attached to any character when played. They are differentiated from scheme cards by having a victory point modifier at the bottom (see below). The equipment cards can only be played before and after combat.
Scheme cards have different game modifying effects such as discarding opponents cards or unexhausting your creatures. Both strategy cards will have a cost in the top right of the card. To pay this you have to discard cards from your hand equal to the cost.

- Shuffle the strategy deck and place it, along with the sets of dice, somewhere accessible to all players.
- Shuffle each creature deck (one per player) and give one to each player.
- Give each player a set of five betting chips with the colour of their choosing.
- Each player will choose their starting creatures by drawing three cards from their creature deck and picking one creature to be their soldier, where the other two cards are placed at the bottom of the deck. This occurs a total of three times for each player (simultaneously).
- These chosen creatures are first placed face down and then flipped face-up once all players have chosen their army.
- To build their hand, each player draws five cards from the strategy deck. This will skip the muster step of the pre-season for the first phase (see ‘Phase 1: Pre-Season’).

How to Play:
Game play will continue until one player reaches 20 points or more at the start of a round. Until that point, there will be multiple rounds and each one will consist of three phases.

Phase 1: Pre-Season
To begin this phase there are three steps; calculating victory points, determining the first player, and mustering.
For the first round, only the determination of the first player will occur.
In later rounds, if any player has 20 or more points from the last combat phase, the game immediately ends and the player with the most points is determined the winner. The combat phase (third phase) doesn't end when someone reaches 20 points, so the winner could be closer to 30 points by the start of the next round.

Beginning with the first player (this will be the player with the least amount of victory points) everyone will go through the mustering phase. The mustering phase involves a number of events in the following order:
1. All of your creatures become unexhausted (more on this later)
2. A strategy card is drawn for each of your win/lose tokens that are not on a creature
3. An additional card is drawn if all of your creatures are of the same type (spirit, construct or beast) and is represented by colour
4. All tokens remaining on creatures are recollected
5. Either invest or transfer any number of your current creatures. If you invest in the creatures you have, they stay on your field and you take two strategy cards for your hand. If you transfer, then look at the top three cards of your deck, choose one to replace one creature and put all discarded cards on the bottom of the deck.

Phase 2: Betting
This is the most simple yet vital phase as it allows you to gain more strategy cards. At the beginning of this phase, you place your betting chips on either the win or lose side for any creature on the battlefield. These chips represent whether you think a creature will win or lose in a fight. You will have five chips to be placed and players will take turns placing down all of their tokens at once. There are only two rules to be followed; a player's first chip must be placed on their own creature and no creature can have more than one chip from one player on it.

Phase 3: Combat
Now you're ready for the main event. This phase consists of going back and forth between players while they challenge and fight creatures, and will end once everyone has passed consecutively. Players will take turns either challenging an opponents creature with their own, with the option of playing one strategy card. Or simply playing a strategy card by itself.

To declare a challenge, the active player exhausts one of their own creatures and chooses any of the other opponent's creatures to battle (opponents creature is not exhausted for this). The defending player will choose either day or night mode, meaning that both creatures will use the strength based on that choice.
Both players will roll dice and the player with the largest total number is the winner. If the attacking player wins, they gain one strategy card placed face down as a victory point. Additionally, they will exhaust the defending player's creature, which remains exhausted until the end of the phase, and any dominance ability of the winning attacking creature is activated. The combat will continue back and forth for any unexhausted creatures until all players pass consecutively.
If any of the tokens on the battling creatures are correct (i.e. that creature wins or losses), the token is returned to the owner to be used in determining strategy card gain later on. This occurs even if it is not your turn, so bet effectively.

Variant Rules:
If you want to DIVE deeper into the game, there are options to bring pre-constructed decks into the game as currently, each player has the exact same deck of one creature of every type. There is also a drafting setup to create the creature deck if that is a preferred way to play.

Final Thoughts:
- Great artwork
- Unique betting mechanism to help gain cards and steer the fighting to your advantage
- Different ways to gain victory points
- Creatures never die from combat, but instead, are removed with transferring

- None, this game is awesome

‘Under league’ adds a new depth to head to head games with the element of betting to benefit yourself with more strategy cards. This adds new strategic decisions between players in what is worth betting as a win or a loss, which can lead to times of bluffing or opportunities in outmaneuvering your opponents. Unlike some other head to head games, Under League feels more interactive between players and more strategic when playing with a higher player count. This game is easy to learn but hard to master with the hidden strategies in the bidding. It will definitely be added to my collection for times when I feel like a fun combination of the head to head and bluffing.

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