I’m always impressed when a game is able to provide me with a unique and engaging experience. I’m even more impressed when a game that only uses cards is able to do that. Today’s review is actually for a game that hasn’t been published yet, but will be on Kickstarter starting September 20th.
Designer: Jason Slingerland
Player Count: 2-4 players
Play Time: 15-20 minutes
Unreal Estate is the first published game by Grand Gamers Guild. In Unreal estate, you are trying to build the most valuable real estate by constructing different buildings in fantasy settings through set collection and press your luck. You start with a hand of 5 cards, and there is a row of 5 cards in the middle of the table, called the Proposal Board. Additionally, there are cards at the end of the proposal board in the Scrap Pile.
Play area set-up
On your turn, you can either take a card from the proposal board, play an action card, or score cards from your hand. Once everyone has taken their turn, the remaining cards in the proposal board are moved to the scrap pile, 5 new cards are played into the proposal board, the start player rotates and play progresses. Cards used for scoring have a value of 1-8, with no card valued at 7. The higher the number on the card, the rarer the card is in the deck. When you score cards, say the Thieves’ Guild valued 3, you add all the 3’s in your hand and multiply them by the number of 3’s in the scrap pile to calculate your score. It sounds confusing, but let’s use an example. Say you have 2 thieves’ guilds valued 3 in your hand and there are 4 thieves’ guilds in the scrap pile. You add the number of 3’s in your hand, totaling 6, and would multiply it by the 4 thieves’ guilds in the scrap yard, resulting in a score of 24 points.
Example Scoring Area (The right set is the example above.)
You continue around the table until the deck is depleted, you finish the last turn when the deck runs out, and then in turn order get to score one additional time. At the end, the player with the most points is the winner.
Things I like:
- Multiple Strategies. I played this game 2 times back to back my first time playing this game. The first game, I pressed my luck and held out for the higher scoring hands and only scored twice, but scored big. The second game I scored early and often, and while I never had a huge scoring opportunity, I was able to amass a lot of points. Also in the first game, I basically focused on my own game, while in the second game, I played much more defensively and tried to take cards that the other players wanted to decrease their scoring. Both strategies were absolutely viable. It’s awesome that a simple card game offers multiple paths to victory, especially when they were so different.
- Press your luck. I’m not always the biggest fan of press your luck style games, but this one has so much strategy in it that it wasn’t a problem for me at all. In fact, it was one of the best parts. You could take the easy points now, but if you wait one more round, maybe that multiplier will still be there and you can score even bigger. If was surprisingly tense for a little game.
- The base game will come with 6 action cards, that you can mix in to the deck. Some of these are focused on affecting your strategy, while others have more of a “take that” focus. I don’t care for take that games, and there’s a simple solution to that. You simply leave those cards out of the game. There are enough action cards that you can pick and choose your favorites and end up with a very different feeling game depending on the cards you choose.
- The Art. You’re probably saying here we go again, but this has to make my list with this game. Artist Corrine Roberts takes a game that is only cards and makes it beautiful. You don’t always see that with card games. The art style, with the watercolor feel and the fantasy settings, just works. Every time I drew a card that I hadn’t seen before, I stopped to take in and enjoy the image. My favorite had to be the Airship, but every single card is gorgeous.
- Play Time. This game is so quick and so fun, that you won’t play it once. I got done and immediately asked to play again. It’s such a fast, tight experience that it will get played at least 2-3 times, if not more, every time you pull it out.
Things I didn’t like.
- Take that. Like I mentioned above, I don’t like take that style games. I like to play more strategically and not have people mess with my game directly. Fortunately, you simply don’t have to play with them so this isn’t much of a problem. And if you like take that mechanics, then this ends up in the “pro” column for you.
Not to repeat myself over and over, but man is this game fun. The art is great, the gameplay is fantastic, and honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy. I’ll definitely be backing this on Day 1, when it goes live. This is the kind of quick game that will work great as a gateway game for players with no gaming experience and even the most experienced gamers will want to get it to the table. Check it out. It’s definitely worth your time.
GLG Rating: 8.5/10