I am so sorry, dear reader, that I was late to the Unmatched party! Sure, we covered our first plays of Unmatched, Volume 1 back in May, but that was way after the game was released at Gen Con last year. We were playing a ton of Lunchspire (what we affectionately call Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire, because we can fit it into a lunch time game) and enthralled by the pop culture bravado of the FunkoVerse line, so at least I have an excuse.
When Restoration Games sent us a review copy of Cobble & Fog, the brand new expansion for Unmatched, after playing tons of the original both with my two sons and with the Krewe de Gumbo, I became as giddy as a giraffe in a Walt Whitman poetry eating contest.
Does Cobble & Fog match the excitement of the original Legends Vol 1? Can Cobble & Fog spice up your original game, or even just stand on its own? Let’s find out.
Unmatched: Battle of Legends is a miniatures dueling game. There are two twists: Restoration Games has a license with Mondo (the company that brings out lots of movie and IP merchandise tie-ins), so expect to see lots of crazy matched combinations in the base game and expansions. The second twist is that it is a card based battle game with no dice, but where luck does come into play a little bit in the card draws. (The above taken from our review of the original system).
Cobble & Fog brings in four new characters:
- Sherlock Holmes (with Watson);
- The Invisible Man;
- Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde; and
Right off the bat, you can see the theme tie in with the strangely unusual but evocative name.
Designed by Chris Leder, one of the funniest people in board gaming, Cobble & Fog not only introduces new characters, but just a little bit of new mechanics, too, to energize the game.
(Editor’s note: Blah, blah, blah, insert another glowing paragraph or two about Restoration Games’ production values. Show them, don’t tell them! Oh wait, did I leave that in by accident?)
Point well taken, Editor. If you want to see the glorious inside of Cobble & Fog, check out the cool unboxing that Bradly did where he also went through an overview of the game play.
But the reality is that convincing you, dear Krewe member, about Restoration Games’ ability to package a game is as easy as convincing you that there will be cayenne pepper at a crawfish boil. At this stage of Restoration Games’ life, it is just a given that the production will be over the top good, and Cobble & Fog is no exception.
The box is sturdy with a gorgeously thematic cover, and the miniatures are awesome and have that familiar wash. Plus, I love the patented “plastic heat treated tokens” (which I am dubbing “plokens” from now on) for the sidekicks. Finally, the rule book is OUTSTANDING.
I love, love, love the artwork on both the front and back of the cards — check out the coolest scenes with the Invisible Man, they are worth the price of admission alone, as well as the reverse art on the Sherlock Holmes set — and the graphic design of the rule book really juices you up for the theme.
Without spoiling it, right from page two of the rule book, the theme of the game shines through and puts you in the mood.
Note, I used the term “expansion” in describing the production, but Cobble & Fog is really a stand-alone. You do not need the original game to play, as it comes with four playable characters and their character decks, all the tokens, and a double sided map to enjoy. Of course, the fun in Unmatched is mixing and matching the sets!
In short, two thumbs up. Yes, again, another boringly mind numbingly positive review of a Restoration Games production. Hey, Restoration? Keep up the good work and I might even retire this part of the review from now on to save bytes and time.
OVERVIEW OF GAME PLAY:
See our original review for an overview of the actual game play; let’s talk about what changes are brought in by Cobble & Fog.
There are two special rules that Chris Leder has introduced to the mix:
- Secret Passages
As always, Restoration Games includes a new double sided map in this full sized version of the game (editor’s note: apparently not for the small box Bruce Lee expansion, though we do not have that one yet to verify). On one side of the map is the famed house where Sherlock Holmes resided. (I’ll let you guess the name and number).
Included on the map are little key symbols, which represent a system of secret passages. Any of the fighters (minis or plokens) can quickly move across the map by slipping through the passages.
The passages are adjacent for movement, but not for card play, and still cost one space of movement.
I love how the secret passages give the map a unique flavor, and make the Baskerville side of the map integrate more with the art. The 3D forced perspective makes it look like the passages are hidden behind things like bookshelves or artwork, and that really adds some flavor and strategy, too.
- Fog tokens
Our friend, the Invisible Man, has three fog tokens that are so much fun to play. The player will lay these out on the board to start the game. Anytime the Invisible Man is hiding in the fog (on the cardboard token), and plays a defensive card, the player adds one point to the defense. In this game, that is a lot and really changes the strategy for the attacking player.
Plus, fog tokens are essentially adjacent but only for the Invisible Man. He does not need plokens, because he is literally everywhere! And of course, there are lots of cards that interact with the fog tokens. One of the gumbo Krewe said that this was their favorite part of the new characters.
BUT IS IT ANY FUN?
Okay, first an admission. I’ve only played these characters with Jack, my youngest son, because of the COVID-19 crisis. Our legendary Gumbo Game Nights at Anubis are still on hold, but since Cobble & Fog is essentially a two player game, I figured playing every character with and against Jack would give me enough of the flavor of the game. I don’t really have to be beaten by Rosemary or Dave or Carlos to figure out how good the new characters can be, right?
Of the characters I have played in person so far, including the original sets, I can honestly say that the four new characters are even more interesting than the originals.
I love the interplay between Sherlock Holmes and Watson. They seem to want to be near each other, Watson doing the footwork while Sherlock tries to use his awesome deductive powers to really zap the other player.
Jekyll is just brute strength — he is a dangerous fighter, both to you and to your opponent. You cannot keep him on the board all the time, because damage comes back to you each round. Switching back to Hyde to plan and plot is a very thematic touch.
The Invisible Man reminds me a bit of Big Foot (who admittedly, I have only played against online), but I love how the fog tokens let this horror hop around in batrachian fashion all over the board. Players can even get a timely “time out” to recharge, move about, and attack again with abandon.
And finally, there is big bad Dracula. The count moves swiftly, has companions who will do the dirty work for him, and then comes down on the opponent like a big hammer.
My favorite? I think Holmes and Watson, not surprisingly, are the most combolicious of the new characters, so I like denying that character from my opponent since they are probably better than me at doing the combos. Plus, I am always a sucker for that Victorian duo in any game.
Any downsides to Cobble & Fog? I cannot find any. I’d be curious to hear from you, krewe member, what weaknesses you have spotted in these new characters, because I have not found any yet.
Unmatched has become my geaux-to two player, head-to-head game system. I absolutely adore this game, and it has been a hit with both of my sons. It is the one game I have in the collection (well maybe also Jaws of the Lion) that I have no trouble convincing them to play.
These new characters have made it even easier to get to the table. The rule set is relatively simple, the game play takes only about a half an hour, and the character decks play so differently that there is always a challenge in taking on a new deck or playing against a new character.
Kudos to Chris Leder and the whole Restoration Games team. Cobble & Fog just might be the best two player game I have played this year.
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
— BJ @boardgamegumbo