A once-great civilization now lies in ruins, buried beneath the earth. As a tribe of Delvers, you try to unearth what was once lost and rebuild the Wonders that the old-world enjoyed.
Reclaim. Rebuild. Remember.
Unearth is Brotherwise Games latest game, and it’s beautiful.
The goal of Unearth is to have the most points at the end of the game. Players compete to claim Ruins with using their dice and build Wonders with stones they excavate from those ruins. Points are scored by having multiple Ruins of the game color, sets of Ruins of each color, and bulding Wonders.
At the start of the game, 5 random Ruins are laid out with a number of stones placed on them (dictated by the card) as well as a set number of Named Wonders equal to the number of players plus 2. There are also generic Lesser and Greater Wonder tile stacks. 5 Ruin cards are taken from the top of the deck and placed back in the box, and a random End of Era card is placed at the bottom of the Ruin deck.
Each player is then given a set of dice (1d8, 3d6, and 1d4), a random Ruin that they keep secret, and 2 Delver cards. The rest of the Delver cards are placed face down to form a draw deck. Players then roll to see who goes first.
Each player’s turn has two phases:
- Delver Phase – Play any amount of Delver cards from their hand.
- Roll Phare – Choose a die from their pool, choose a Ruin to roll for, roll the die and place it on the chosen Ruin.
If a die roll is 1, 2, or 3 the player takes stone is taken from the Ruin and places it on the table in front of them. If the total value of all dice on a Ruin meet or exceed the number in the upper left-hand corner the Ruin has been uncovered, and the player who has the highest single value on a die takes the Ruin. Any remaining stones are placed in the bag and a new Ruin is placed on the table. Any other players that had dice on the Ruin can take as many Delver cards from the draw pile as they had dice on the Ruin.
Wonders can be built by a player when they form a ring of stones in front of them. A Greater Wonder can be built by creating a ring of same color stones. A Lesser Wonder can be built by creating a ring with any combination of colors. A Named Wonder can be claimed by building a ring meeting the criteria laid out on the Named Wonder’s card.
Play continues until all Ruins are claimed. Scores are then calculated and the player with the highest score wins. For more information on scoring, and all the extra details of playing Unearth, check out the full rulebook.
Unearth is an amazing looking game that has an art style reminiscent of Monument Valley. The Ruin cards are oversized, colorful, and each features a beautifully illustrated ruin. Named wonders feature similar artwork, yet are smaller cards with a matching hexagonal tile. Lesser and Greater Wonder tiles follow suit, but without unique artwork for each tile.
As far as the dice go, they’re pretty standard polyhedrals. Nothing overly special, but they get the job done. Delver cards are tiny, and a bit less colorful, matching the more stark look of the game’s characters that they’re named for. Last, but certainly not least, are the different colored stones. These are a chunky cardboard tile that look very similar to Minecraft blocks in 4 different colors.
Unearth offers lighter fare gameplay with multiple routes to victory. It’s also highly interactive as players constantly battle for control of ruins. Tough choices need to be made every turn. Which die to roll, which Ruin to choose, whether or not to go straight for claiming Ruins or taking your time and trying to gather enough stones to build Wonders.
The claiming mechanic of only need the highest value die on a Ruin makes for interesting conflict. A player can be working toward a Ruin, having multiple dice on it, only to have it swiped by another player with a lucky roll. A player who manages to claim a large amount of Ruins may find themselves lacking stones, or even more detrimental, lacking Delver cards to use to modify rolls.
When it comes to Wonders there are more choices to be made. Do you aim for the harder to get, higher value Greater Wonders? Lower Wonders are easier to get but are worth much less. Named Wonders can be worth a lot if certain criteria are met, and some also give you special abilities. They’re generally harder to build, and certainly, require a focus on earning stones and sacrificing Ruin claims.
Choices, player interaction, and interesting mechanics make Unearth a solid gaming experience with a playtime of around 10 minutes per player once you’re familiar with the rules. At $30 it’s a great value for the amount of play and variation you’ll get out of the game.
My recommendation? Unearth is certainly a game that deserves a spot on your game shelf. Brotherwise has put out an amazing experience both visually and mechanically.
A copy of Unearth was provided free for review by Brotherwise Games.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.