Unmatched: Slings & Arrows review— Outrageously good

1 month ago 60

There’s a lot of public domain characters that I would’ve expected to see pop up in Unmatched before I saw Shakespeare and the characters from his plays beat each other to death in the Globe Theater, but here I am writing my review for Slings & Arrows. Hamlet, The Wayward Sisters, and Titania were all to be expected, but Shakespeare himself is like if Restoration had put Doyle in the Cobble & Fog set along Sherlock Holmes: strange, but an absolute delight. At this point, this is my nth Unmatched review, so I’m going to skip any rules overview and get right to the opining that you crave. The art is an easy third behind the impossibly high bar set by the Rising Sun and Houdini vs the Genie sets, with lines from the respective plays on character’s card backs alongside the typical quality fronts. The map, the Globe Theater, is easily the most interesting and thematically evocative map without any special rules, with the stage and stands generally being their own areas for movement accompanied by the chef’s kiss of two box seats that are their own ranged zones. I’m particularly impressed by the sculpts in this box, especially how they handled disguising the Wayward Sisters not only by pose, but also by incorporating symbols on their health dials into their cloaks.

As far as the characters themselves go, they’ve all got thematic abilities that feel useful and strong without being overpowered. Titania toes this line the closest, with her deck of glamors cycling through otherwise permanent powers at-will, with an under Achilles’ helm style switch your defending character effect being the obvious standout. The Wayward Sisters are a three-hero character like the raptors from the first Jurassic Park set with the addition of their cauldron mechanic, which functions similarly to Red Riding Hood’s basket: all of the cards that would go to your discard from anywhere but your cauldron go there instead, to be spent on matching spells after you attack, generally minor effects but if you get all 3 you can spend it for an extra action. Hamlet is the requisite 4 character box handicap character in the vein of King Arthur and Bloody Mary, this time with a power reminiscent of Jekyll and Hyde, but pushed enough that you’re not entirely miserable. At the start of each of your turns, you chose to be or not to be, either drawing an extra card for every maneuver or taking 2 damage to one of your characters to give a +2 boost to your attacks: certainly the least powerful of the box, but when combined with a sidekick to enable melee pinning, he’s got enough that, with sound fundamentals, a stronger player will be competitive against a weaker one. Shakespeare is easily my personal fave, with his iambic pentameter providing a similar toolbox of effects with a management drawback to Tesla: all of his combat cards get added to his line which triggers an effect if it hits ten syllables, but the whole thing gets discarded for nothing if you go over. It’s also worth noting that this is the first set with none of the generic momentous shifts, feints or the like; while there’s plenty of similar effects, all of them have character-specific twists that help to bump up the thematic appeal of the decks.

Having reviewed so many and played even more Unmatched sets up to this point, It’s equal parts impressive and frustrating that Restoration keeps not only putting out a great product but actually improving it with every outing. With a series this successful and long-running, I had grown conditioned to expect some deterioration in quality, but we’ve been rewarded with the opposite. If I were to pick some nits, this is not their most beginner-friendly box, Hamlet requires a trained hand, and Titania being the only ranged character and having a side deck of strong abilities makes her feel oppressive, even more so if she lucks into tools that let her out of whatever counterplay plan you’re utilizing. But those are quite minor compared to the overwhelming quality on display in Slings & Arrows.

Nick grew up reading fantasy novels and board game rules for fun, so he accepted he was a dork at an early age. When he's not busy researching the intricacies of a hobby he'll never pick up, Nick can be caught attempting to either cook an edible meal or befriend local crows.

Every Character in Slings & Arrows is extremely unique and on-theme, so this probably isn't the best set if you're just getting into Unmatched. But otherwise, it's another entry in the series that hasn't failed to impress, go and pick it up!

Nick Dubs

PROS

  • Absolutely gorgeous card art
  • Some of my favorite sculpts in the series
  • Most unique characters so far

CONS

  • Not a very beginner-friendly set
  • Doesn't approach perfection while reinventing the wheel like Tales to Amaze did

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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