What could be better than a nice, friendly game based around building your very own theme park? Looking at the cute art and playful components of Unfair from CMON and Good Games Publishing, it might seem like a light strategy game, but you’ll learn very quickly how cutthroat the world of amusement park management can be!
The goal of Unfair is to build the most beautiful and exciting theme park, attracting more customers than the competition over eight rounds. More customers means more money, and the person with the most cash at the end of the game wins! Starting with a simple main gate, you’ll build rides like rollercoasters, Ferris wheels, and waterslides. Then, deck them out with comfortable seating, air conditioning, and special themes. Each new ride and feature that you add comes with a cost attached to it, but the cooler you make your park, the more people are going to want to come and spend money there.
A well-rounded park is about more than just rides. Building attractions like theatres, restaurants, and haunted houses will really get those turnstiles humming. And what would a theme park be without staff? You’ll want everyone from ticket takers, to maintenance workers, to out of work actors who are willing to wear the hot and cumbersome costume of a licensed character.
Each round in Unfair is broken into four different steps. In the Events step, you gain Event cards, and the City Event is revealed for the round. Early in the game, the City Event is often something helpful that might benefit some, or all, of the players. But in the second half of the game, things get a bit more serious. City Events start to punish and handicap everyone. This step is also when you can use Event cards, which give you two options to activate. One will always be a benefit for you, and the other will allow you to punish other players in a thematic, but jerky, fashion.
The Park step is when your grounds actually start to take shape. You can add rides and attractions, and deck them out with features, making them bigger draws for the thrill-hungry crowds. You can also hire new staff for your team. You can spend actions to draw cards or demolish parts of your park to make way for something better. And as a last, desperate act, you can scour the ground beneath your rides in the hopes of finding loose change that has fallen from your customers’ pockets as they’re being whipped around and tossed high above your head.
Once you’ve hired staff, decked out rides, and scrapped up any of that spare change, the Guest step begins. You finally get to open the doors to your park and welcome in the customers. You receive coins equal to the amount of guests you attract, plus any bonuses you might have earned that round.
Finally, the Cleanup step has you sweep any unused cards and set up the board for the next round.
Unfair quickly lives up to its name. From surprise inspectors shutting down rides, to headhunters stealing staff, to drunken hooligans trashing attractions. It has a strong ‘take that’ mechanic that allows you to mess with an opponent’s carefully crafted plans. In fact, Unfair encourages it! As you struggle for amusement park dominance, the game never loses its sense of humor. From the art, the flavor text on the cards, and the rollercoaster ride that actually playing the game can be, it’s evident that designer Joel Finch and artists David Forest and Lina Cossette were having a heck of a lot of fun making it.
Included in the base game are six different theme packs: Jungle, Pirates, Robots, Gangsters, Ninjas, and Vampires. You add one theme for every player, allowing you to create some interesting combinations. Each pack contains rides, attractions, and events that work for the different themes, such as a swinging pirate ship ride or a jungle boat cruise.
Unfair gives you a great sense of pride as you develop your park from nothing to a glowing monument of nostalgia and rolling metal. Cherish those moments because it won’t be long before an opponent, or the game itself, will try and destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for. It’s a great deal of fun to battle back and forth and never once feel bad for messing someone else up. That’s when you have to tell yourself it’s not just a case of bad luck, it’s downright unfair! Get your ticket to a land of amusement when Unfair arrives at your FLGS on May 5 2017.
Learn more about Unfair here.
This article was originally published in GTM Magazine. Learn more here.