Unmatched: Magic & Ping Pong

This post is two things: a review of the newest Unmatched box AND commentary on the latest Unmatched news… from someone who’s played and playtested a good bit of Unmatched over the last few years. 

For those following along at home, a brief reminder of the Unmatched content here on the Opinionated Gamers site:

Houdini & The Genie

Let’s start with the newest Unmatched box… which brings us two new interesting characters with really great card art and impressive figures. The box also includes a new map (King Solomon’s Mine) that uses the same “secret passage” element from the Baskerville Manor map in Cobble & Fog – but this time sized for 1 v 1.

On the difficulty scale, I’d place both of these characters at medium difficulty. (For reference, other characters we put at that level are Beowulf, Ghost Rider, and the T-Rex.) The biggest issue for both Houdini & The Genie is deck management… many of their abilities are powered by boosts, which can leave you depleting your deck too quickly and taking damage in order to chase down your opponent.

As usual, the production of the game is top-notch (one of the hallmarks of Restoration Games products) and the rulebook does the always excellent job of laying out the basic game rules as well as the special rules relating to the characters (particularly Houdini’s “Boost Tricks”).

If you’re a fan of the Unmatched system, this is a must-buy. If you’re trying out the game to see whether you’ll enjoy it, I’d probably suggest the Volume 1 or Volume 2 box first… but this would be an excellent second purchase to add more characters and a new map. Reminder: with the exception of Deadpool & Bruce Lee, every Unmatched box is playable by itself.

Personally, I really enjoyed playing The Genie – the challenge of maintaining my hand and “lunging” at the right time with his extra action power is a tremendously interesting puzzle. Houdini’s escape power is impressive – but I didn’t do as well with it. (I need practice!)

Bad News / Good News Ping Pong

Let’s start with the bad news… Restoration Games announced on Monday (February 13th) that they are putting two Unmatched sets “into the vault” – Cobble & Fog and Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot. Both of these sets will not be reprinted when the current stock runs out. 

“With the success of the line and its continual growth, we find ourselves with an ever more crowded roster,” said Restoration Games owner, Justin D. Jacobson. “This, in turn, presents challenges for our retailer partners in deciding what to order and for our customers in deciding what to buy. By putting these titles in the vault, we can give more focus to our active and upcoming sets.”

The good news? On Twitter, Justin clarified that “vaulting” these sets was more like the old Disney film/VHS system, where something could come back out of the vault. That said, there’s no promise that the boxes will return to print – just that they are not permanently shelved.

The ping pong game continues with more bad news – though this information wasn’t entirely a surprise. Due to the expiration of publication rights, the Restoration Games Unmatched vault already contains the Jurassic Park, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadpool, and Bruce Lee sets. 

Ready for more good news? The press release also mentions that there are FIVE new sets coming in 2023 and 2024, including an unannounced licensed property. (And I’ll note that one of the unannounced sets we helped playtest was a delight, so there’s even more to be happy about!)

So, if you’re interested in picking up Robin Hood vs. Bigfoot (my pick for least expensive solid intro box to the game – what with two great characters and two maps) or Cobble & Fog (the box with the trickiest figures to play well – great for gamer-y types), I’d go ahead and do that.

In Case You’re Curious

Here’s how many times we’ve played each set since September 2019… boxes marked with an asterisk (*) were played numerous times during playtesting (plays recorded here are just with published boxes).

  • Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One
    • Plays: 107
  • Unmatched: Robin Hood vs Bigfoot
    • Plays: 30
  • Unmatched: Cobble & Fog
    • Plays: 23
  • Unmatched: Jurassic Park – InGen vs Raptors
    • Plays: 19
  • Unmatched: Bruce Lee
    • Plays: 13
  • Unmatched: Buffy
    • Plays: 15
  • Unmatched: Little Red vs Beowulf
    • Plays: 6
  • Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume Two *
    • Plays: 5
  • Unmatched: Jurassic Park – Sattler vs T-Rex
    • Plays: 3
  • Unmatched: Hell’s Kitchen *
    • Plays: 2
  • Unmatched: Redemption Row *
    • Plays: 1
  • Unmatched: Houdini & The Genie
    • Plays: 2
  • Playtesting
    • Plays: 38

Note: I received a review copy of Unmatched: Buffy and Unmatched: Houdini & the Genie… the rest of my Unmatched collection was purchased with my hard-earned cash. Which reminds me – anyone want to buy my copy of Epic Duels?

Comments from Other Opinionated Gamers

Matt C. – I’ve not played Unmatched (yet another 2p game I’d love to get to the table, looks like it would be one I enjoy. Unfortunately, my best opponents seem to have grown up…) Mark also asked for comments about the whole “into the vault” thing. While I felt the Disney deal seemed rather pointedly trying to force people to purchase, this case seems to be arising out of economic need. Games (and expansions) go out of print all the time, and a publisher may not be able to float having every expansion available at all times. Having a heads-up about specific game expansions leaving store shelves (for now) is a good thing. This sort of thing happens all the time without publishers saying anything.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it – Mark Jackson, Erik Arneson

I like it – 

Neutral –

Not for Me –

About Mark "Fluff Daddy" Jackson

follower of Jesus, husband, father, pastor, boardgamer, writer, Legomaniac, Disneyphile, voted most likely to have the same Christmas wish list at age 57 as he did at age 7
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