Since I originally wrote about the Unmatched series back in 2020, Restoration Games and Mondo have continued to grow the franchise, releasing several additional standalone expansions. How does their latest stack up? Let’s take a look.
What Is Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two?
Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 is an asymmetrical hand management and tactical combat game for 2-4 players, ages 9 and up, and takes about 20-40 minutes to play. It can be played on its own, or the 4 fighters and game board can be mixed with any of the other editions of Unmatched. It’s currently available to purchase from Amazon or directly from the Restoration Games webstore, and retails for $40.
Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 was designed by Noah Cohen, Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson, Chris Leder, Brian Neff, and Kevin Rodgers. It’s published by Restoration Games, with illustrations by Zoë van Dijk.
Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two Components
Here’s what you’ll find inside the box:
- 4 Miniatures
- 120 Action Cards
- 5 Health Dials
- 4 Character Cards
- 6 Sidekick Tokens
- 1 Game Board
As this is one of the larger sets, there’s a larger battlefield to accommodate team play with 4 players. The board is double-sided, but instead of having two unique maps as in the Cobble & Fog set, Battle of Legends, Volume 2 has the same map on both sides. However, one of the sides differentiates the zones by only using colored rings around each circular space, while the other uses colors and patterns to fill the spaces. While the former allows more of the artwork to show through, I prefer the more traditional map as seen above. I find with that style, it’s much faster to identify the zones on the board, which is important both for combat and card play.
The cards, health dials, and Sidekick tokens are the same quality as with previous versions of Unmatched. The only fundamental difference in this set is that Yennenga’s Sidekick tokens are double-sided, as her Archers have 2 health each.
Of course, four new fighters means four new miniatures, and Restoration Games continues to improve on their quality with each new Unmatched release. Here you can see the dynamic sculpts, whose details are brought out by the ink wash that’s used on all of the miniatures:
How to Play Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two is to defeat your opponent’s fighter by reducing them to zero health.
Choose a side of the game board and lay it out on the table. Each player then chooses a hero and takes their corresponding card deck, miniature, sidekick tokens (if any), health dials, and any hero-specific tokens.
Set hero and sidekick health dials to the starting level as indicated on their cards. Note: Sidekicks without health dials have 1 health, but Yennenga’s have 2 health.
Shuffle the respective hero decks. Each player then draws a starting hand of 5 cards.
The youngest player places their hero in the “1” space on the battlefield. If that hero has any sidekicks, those are placed in the same zone as the hero. (Zones are comprised of all spaces that share a matching color.) The other player places their hero on the “2” space and similarly places any sidekicks they may have. The youngest player then takes the first turn.
On your turn, you must take any 2 actions chosen out of the three different actions. You may take any one action twice. These are the actions:
First, you must draw the top card of your deck and add it to your hand. Then, you may optionally move any or all of your fighters a number of spaces up to their maximum speed as noted on the hero card, one at a time. If you ever need to draw a card and your deck is empty, your fighters each take 2 damage.
You also have the option to boost movement by discarding a single card from your hand and adding the boost value printed on that card to your movement value for that turn.
Choose a scheme card from your hand and place it face up, resolving the effect. Note: Some cards may only be played by certain fighters, which will be noted on those cards.
Combat is done in three steps:
1. Declare Target
Declare which of your fighters is making the attack, and which opposing fighter is the target of the attack. Fighters that are melee may only attack fighters in adjacent spaces, whereas ranged fighters may attack either an adjacent target or any fighter that shares the same zone as the attacker.
2. Choose and Reveal
The attacking player chooses an attack card and places it face down. The defender then has the option of playing a defense card, which they also place face down. Both cards are then revealed at the same time.
3. Resolve Combat
All attack and defense cards have both an attack or defense value, and an effect that will resolve at some point during the combat.
First, resolve any effects that occur Immediately. Note: If both the attacker and defender have cards that would resolve at the same time, the defender resolves theirs first.
Then resolve any effects that occur During Combat.
Next, determine the combat results by comparing the value of the attack card with the value of the defense card. If the attack value is greater, deduct the difference in points from the defender’s health dial.
Next, resolve any After Combat effects. And finally, place all played cards in their respective discard piles.
Note: Some cards are also “versatile,” and can be played either for attacking or defending.
You can play 4-player games with two teams of two but must use one of the larger battlefields such as the one from Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 that have four starting spaces. Setup and play alternate between each player on each team, and you must defeat all the heroes on the opposing team to win.
If a fighter’s health is reduced to zero, they are defeated and removed from the board. If your hero is defeated, then you lose the game.
Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two is GeekDad Approved!
Why You Should Play Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two
I’m already a fan of the Unmatched series, as my previous GeekDad Approved review can attest to. But to keep a series fresh, you need to introduce new mechanics, while at the same time maintaining internal balance so that new fighters take their place alongside older ones, instead of replacing them.
One of those new mechanics is the use of High Ground. In the image above, Sun Wukong is at the top of the temple. As you can see from the arrows pointing away from his space, he gets an extra damage on attacks adjacent to him. So, he would score an extra damage against Yennenga, but if she were to attack from this position, her damage would not get the bonus.
Speaking of bonuses, each of the heroes in Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 have cards with After Combat effects allowing them to make a second attack with one attack action. In some cases, like with Sun Wukong’s card below, the effect only triggers if a certain criteria is met:
Each of the characters in Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 is very distinctive, requiring their own strategies both to play and defeat. Bloody Mary is the only character in the set without any sidekicks, but she has a lot of cards that can combo to make her powerful. For example, her special ability grants her a third action if she starts the turn with exactly 3 cards in her hand. Here’s one of the cards that is best played on that third action:
She also has other cards that can generate a third action, like this one:
Other characters are more straightforward to play, but still have their own unique flavor. Achilles seems a pretty straightforward fighter at first, with a 6-wound Sidekick, Patroclus. But when you look at the special abilities on Achilles’ character card, you realize that he becomes truly formidable should he lose Patroclus:
Sure, Achilles is forced to discard a couple of cards from his hand when Patroclus is gone, but from that point forward he gains extra damage on his attacks.
All in all, I found the heroes from Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 to have a slightly higher complexity than in some of the previous Unmatched editions. There’s more attention given to synergies and card combos, especially with Bloody Mary and Sun Wukong. I’d recommend those fighters for more experienced Unmatched players, while Yennenga and Achilles were both a bit more straightforward to use. That complexity, along with the tactical considerations of the Higher Ground, really help elevate this release. Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2 keeps the gameplay fresh and engaging, and is a welcome addition to the Unmatched family.
It’s also worth noting that Restoration Games brought on cultural consultants for Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2. There’s been a move away from cultural appropriation in board games released in the last few years, and it’s good to see that an effort is being made in that direction with the historical figures of Unmatched.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.