Sometimes a game's art absolutely demands your attention. Whether it's the overall art design or some fancy component, there is not denying that some tabletop games can simply reach out and slap you with their gorgeous presentation. Unmatched, a re-implementation of Star Wars: Epic Duels, is one such game. The art style is absolutely incredible, the miniatures are excellent and come pre-primed and ready to paint, and the ridiculous battles that you can play out in this game such as the titular Robin Hood vs Big Foot are ludicrous and fascinating. Add in the fact that you can add other combatants to the battle that range from Bruce Lee to dinosaurs from Jurassic Park and you have a game whose theme practically sells you on it before you even see what the game is about or how it plays.
Unfortunately, when you do sit down you play it things tend to snap back to reality fairly quickly. Unmatched isn't a bad game by any means, and it can actually be quite a bit of fun, but the limited scope, especially if you don't have other fantastical fighters to throw in to the mix, means that the novelty of the art and theme can't really keep your attention as well as they capture it on first glance.
The core of Unmatched is a solid card-driven fighting system between two sets of combatants. It plays quickly, and each battle is fought on a board that has circles that lay out various movement paths and lines of sight. The game does a great job of getting you in to the action quickly, and playing that action out at an equally brisk pace, but once you've duked it out with the same fighters a few times it starts to get a bit stale. Both Robin Hood and Bigfoot have their strengths and weaknesses, which leads to certain playstyles and doesn't really lend itself to a ton of experimentation.
Robin Hood has a small group of Bandits that enter the fray with him while Bigfoot brings the Jackalope to the fight. Robin Hood tends to want to stay at range while Bigfoot wants to get up close and personal, and even though each fighter has a deck of cards that determine their attacks, defense, and special abilities the decks don't offer a huge variety, so it only takes a few games to become familiar with all of the tricks and traps that your opponents has up their sleeve. This does mean that you can try to play tactically and anticipate and try to prepare for what your opponent is going to do, but it also means that games tend to play out similarly as each player knows exactly what their opponent can do, which tends to lead to a fight that feels more like trading little jabs than a knock down, drag out fight.
The Robin Hood vs Bigfoot Unmatched set does have a double sided board, which helps to mix things of from fight to fight, but this system really isn't going to shine unless you are willing to invest in the other sets and fighters as well. With a full roster of fighters you could really mix things up, especially if you have a group that is interested in tournament play, but with only two fighters this game really doesn't have a ton of staying power. The system is easy to learn and fun to play, and Mondo appears to be putting a lot of support behind it to expand the roster, so if you are interested in exploring all of the various sets then this set is a good place to start, but if you want a standalone product that will hit your table night after night then there really isn't enough in the Robin Hood vs Bigfoot box for me to give it a strong recommendation.
If the art and quick brawling, card-driven combat have your attention and you think this system is one you are going to want to invest in heavily then this set will confirm that for you pretty quickly, although if you are new to the system I'd recommend one of the sets that comes with 4 characters in the box like the Battle of Legends Volume 1 set that comes with Kind Arthur, Medusa, Alice, and Sinbad. There is also an upcoming set that will have Invisible Man, Sherlock and Watson, Dracula, and Jekyll and Hyde that sounds like quite an interesting mix.
The Bottom Line:
Unmatched is a fun combat system for 2 to 4 players that allows you to pit characters from disperate storys and fictions against one another in brawls to the death. The art style is absolutely fantastic, the components are great, and the card-driven gameplay is easy to learn and plays very smoothly. The Robin Hood vs Bigfoot set does give you a good feel for the game, but is too limited to stand well on its own. Instead, if you think this is a system you may be interested in then I'd recommend starting with one of the boxes that comes with 4 heroes, and then expanding your roster out from there as the strength of this system comes from the incredible asymmetry of the fighters, and a deep roster is really necessary if you want to make the most out of this game.
Get this game if:
You like card-driven combat games that play quickly.
You like asymmetric games.
You want to get in to a system that has a deep, and growing, roster of fighters.
You plan to buy more Unmatched sets to flesh your roster out quickly.
Avoid this game if:
You want a standalone product that will give you hours of play without getting repetitive.
You don't like directly competitive games.
The copy of Unmatched: Robin Hood vs Bigfoot used for this review was provided by the publisher.