Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Unreal Estate (Grand Gamers Guild)

The tabletop hobby has been growing what seems exponentially these past few years. With this growth comes an increase in the consumer's appetite. They want bigger and better games with lots of dice, cards, miniatures, etc. Now, I'm all for getting your money's worth, but I think a lot of gamers (myself included) miss out on smaller, lesser-known projects sometimes, because of this insatiable appetite. Therefore, I'd like to take the time today to tell you about a little game currently on Kickstarter called Unreal EstateUnreal Estate is a card-drafting, set collection game for 2-4 players. It takes only 20 minutes to play and can be yours for a pledge of $18.

1. Shuffle the main deck of Building Cards (Cards with yellow banners).
2. Deal each player two of those cards.
3. Create a Scrap Pile to the side of one table. The size of the pile will be determined by the number of players - 4 cards in a two-player game, 3 cards in a three-player game, and 5 cards in four-player game. (Note: Cards should be stacked with matching cards and in a way so that you can see how many cards are in each stack.)
4. Place the Special Building Cards back in the deck of Building Cards and reshuffle the deck.

Game Play - At the start of each round, place five cards from the top of the deck face up across the center of the table to form the Proposal Board. Starting with the first player and going clockwise, you may take one of the follow three actions:
1. Drafting - Take one card from the Proposal Board and put it into your hand.
2. Play a Building Card - Play a card/cards from your hand. If it is a Special Building Card, carry out the action and then discard the card. If it is a regular Building Card, it must match a card in the Scrap Pile. Proceed to scoring.
3. Scoring - When you play a card from your hand to score, you must play all the cards of that suit. You then add up the value of your cards and multiple it by the number of matching cards in the Scrap Pile. Lastly, you discard all the cards that were used. Example: You play three Wizard's Towers, and there are two Wizard's Towers in the Scrap Pile. A Wizard Tower is worth three points, so (3+3+3) x (2) = 18 points.
4. Once all players have taken a turn, the remaining cards in the Proposal Board are moved to the Scrap Pile.

The game ends when there are no cards left in the deck to place in the Proposal Board. Each player then gets one more turn to play cards and score. Highest score is the winner.

This is a simple game to setup, learn, and play, but it is one that makes you think the entire time. The reason for this is because there is a touch of press-your-luck in deciding exactly when to play your cards to score. Do you wait one extra turn and hope that more of the cards you need show up, or do you take the points and run because they might not be there the next turn? This is the struggle you'll face every turn. I generally take the points and run, but I'm a "bird in the hand" kind of guy.

Apart from the beautiful simplicity of this game, the game itself is simply beautiful. Each card is brilliantly done and calls on different fantastical creatures, including dwarves, elves, orcs, and goblins. The artist, Corinne Roberts, has an artistic style that is Tolkien-esque. For example, the Halfling House makes you feel like you're in the Shire with Bilbo and Frodo. Each card has a unique flavor to it and an amazing amount of detail that shows special care went into the creation of each card. Both the buildings and their backdrops invite you to play the game again and again, just so you can admire the artistic creations she produced.

The game is currently on Kickstarter, is fully funded, and has unlocked a few stretch goals! However, there are some more awesome stretch goals waiting to be unlocked the more money they raise. So if you are a fan of fantasy, quick card games, and beautiful art, you'll want to go back this game!