Game Reviews

Unearth and Woodinville whisky: are we archeologists or prospectors?

In Unearth, you represent a tribe of The Delvers, a once powerful people who have fallen in disarray. You compete with other tribes of Delvers to restore your ilk back to power by surveying different environments and unearthing (get it?) sturdy minerals and different technologies from ruins to build your civilization back up.

At its core, Unearth tests your luck in an interesting way with a dice-rolling mechanic. Each of your Delvers is represented by a different type of die (one d4, three d6s, and one d8). Select a die, and a landscape—which is represented by a tarot-sized card—then roll your die for that landscape. Each landscape has a number on it, once all dice rolled on that landscape meet or exceed that number, the player with the highest value on the die with the most sides wins that landscape card for end-game scoring.

For example: If there are two dice on a landscape that add up to 10 to meet the landscape card’s value, one player’s d6 who rolled a 5 and another player’s d8 who also rolled a 5, the player who rolled the d8 would win that landscape.

So it’s a dice battling game?

Sort of, but the theme and some of the counter-balancing mechanics make Unearth a little easier to lick your wounds from a loss. Another element (pun intended) to the game is the collection of minerals, represented as hexes with a cube design on them, which allow you to construct wonders. Wonders grant you special abilities and give you additional points at the end of the game. You can only collect minerals if you roll a 1, 2, or 3, so your turn isn’t completely wasted if you didn’t get a high value. Collecting minerals is also a great strategy if you find yourself unlucky at collecting landscape cards.

If you lose a landscape card to someone else, you also get Delver cards, which you can play to give you a slight advantage or put your opponents at a disadvantage before you roll your die.

For a game that is primarily based around luck, there are plenty of opportunities to try and score points with bad luck.

Doesn’t the artwork look a bit like…?

Yes. The artwork appears to be a rip-off of inspired by Monument Valley’s combination of vivid colors and minimalist “iconography” artwork that purposefully uses color and shape to depict the illusion of depth instead of shading techniques.

It’s a beautiful artistic approach and it’s good to see it embraced by a tabletop game.

Why Woodinville?

We had two drinks, Woodinville neat and mixed with Rachel’s Ginger Beer (lemonade version). Bourbon and Rachel’s Ginger Beer go well together. Woodinville straight also has a great flavor with the punch of whisky and the sweet undertones of Bourbon. Everything from the color to the bottle screams one thing at me: prospecting.

Unearth doesn’t have a theme based on a real location, rather the theme is artfully ambiguous. When I think of this game, I think of gambling; I think of gold digging; I think of prospecting. And I think of whisky. Don’t you?

I thought that you didn’t like games that relied on chance as their main mechanic

I typically don’t but Unearth balances that chance with augment-your-luck opportunities (Delver cards) and benefits to getting low values (Mineral hexes). I’ll admin that while I do like the game and have replayed it a few times, when I look at my catalogue for something to play—it’s not my first pick.

By Neutrino Burrito

A writer and board game designer currently puttering about the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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