Unmatched: Slings and Arrows gives The Bard some bite — Hamlet and Titania, too

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Unmatched, the tremendous action board game franchise from Restoration Games, sends its newest standalone expansion into the world today. Titled Unmatched: Slings and Arrows, it stars The Bard himself, master William Shakespeare, alongside a handful of his most memorable creations. If you have ever suffered through sophomore English Language Arts class or, gods forbid, actually majored in English literature as I have, you’re in for a treat.

In Unmatched, players take on the role of beloved characters from pop culture only to pit them against one another in 1v1 or 2v2 battles. The system relies on action cards to power its combat, as well as collectible game boards that provide unique limitations on movement and line of sight. But beyond that solid foundation of gameplay, the franchise is best known for its ever growing collection of characters which include Robin Hood, Ms. Marvel, Houdini, and Bruce Lee, to name just a few. It’s the only modern board game I know of that will allow you to pit Spider-Man against the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then let the raptors from Jurassic Park take on the winner.

Slings and Arrows adds six new mainline characters to the Unmatched universe, as well as a smattering of sidekicks. Best of all, each of the four potent forces inside the box plays completely differently.

A Shakespeare miniature surrounded by cards that have words and poetic notation on them, noting their syllables. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Shakespeare is accompanied by three sidekicks, which are essentially nameless actors. His cards are powerful enough, with plenty of ways to land a blow or take one in stride. The gimmick is that in playing cards to the table, you’re also trying to create a 10-syllable line of poetry. Once you string together enough words, you get a bonus effect from the first card played in the line. And yes, performance of that line, once formed, is required to score — it’s in the rules!

Three witches from Macbeth stand atop a cauldron, surrounded by cards. They are plastic miniatures. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The Wayward Sisters, also known as the three witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, come with their own cardboard cauldron. Each of their action cards contains an ingredient, and by playing cards of the right type in the right order you’ll be able to cast spells granting additional movement, enhanced damage, and more.

A miniature Hamlet stands next to a card that says “To be” on one side, “Not to be” on the other. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Unmatched gives some additional color to Hamlet, interpreting him in its own way just as the best actors have over the centuries. Here his “madness” is very much in his control, indicated by a token marked “To be” on one side and “Not to be” on the other. Depending on which side it up, Hamlet can either draw additional cards or do extra damage in combat. Meanwhile, his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern look on approvingly.

A miniature Titania, wings outstretched, stands next to a token-sized Oberon. They are both quite attractive. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Finally, there’s Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Joined by her partner Oberon, who looks like he’s received a Hades 2-style glowup, the nimble fairy uses her six glamour cards to confuse and bewilder her opponents.

All told its an excellent package, especially at the $39.99 price point. It even includes a custom plastic pack-in to keep track of all the bits.

Unmatched: Slings and Arrows is available now from the publisher and online at storefronts like Amazon. It was previewed using a retail copy provided by Restoration Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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