Game Overview:  Rebuilding a previously renowned civilization that has now been destroyed, you will be trying to reclaim lost ruins along with collecting stones which will help you reestablish wonders of the world.  This is accomplished through dice placement and set collection of both ruin cards and stones.  When the end of age occurs, time is running out to finish your civilization before the winner is determined.

Box Contents: The game includes three different sizes of cards (30 tarot, 38 mini cards, and 31 normal sized cards).  They are very well made and the art, while simplistic, is unique and gets the theme of ruins across to the players.  Also included are 20 total dice in four different colors (blue, red, yellow, and green), that serve their purpose.

The card board tokens are also well made and easily will stand up to many plays.  The bag they are drawn from is a made of cloth and is a little small for bigger hands.  I am just baerly able to get my hand into the bag and pull the stone cardboard tiles from the bottom.

I really like the box insert and it has expansion written all over it because there really is too much room within the box itself.  There are storage locations for every component and card.

My biggest complaint is that the box can not be stored upright without having to fix the contents within the box when opening it.  The rules manual is not big enough to cover the entire plastic insert, so things can easily move around and out of their compartment when storing it this way.  I kept the cardboard punch-out boards that came with the game, thinking that may solve the problem, but they also didn’t cover the area and the problem continued to exist.  The cardboard wonder tokens especially have a hard time staying in their storage area with the box stored upright.

Clarity of Rules:  A sixteen-page manual the does an excellent job in explaining the rules of the game.  It includes multiple pictures providing examples throughout the manual.  In addition, there is a FAQ which provides additional clarification on cards that may come into play.

I think some of the FAQ items should have simply been added to the rules instead of being left at the end of the rules book.

Game Play:  When setting up the game, you first create the Ruins deck for your game.  In a 3 or 4 player game, five of the ruin cards will be placed back into the box and won’t be used.  For a two player game, 10 are removed from play.  These cards will have one of the five colors that will be found.  Having matching cards based on their color provide victory points at games end.

On each card, in the upper left hand corner will be a number which must be met or exceeded with assigned dice before the card is resolved.  In the bottom right hand corner is a single number that tells how many random cardboard stones are drawn from a bag and placed onto the card when it is revealed.  One Ruin card is dealt to each player and then reveal four or five ruins cards face up on the table, depending on the number of players.

You then draw a single End of Age card, which will go on the bottom of the Ruins deck.  This will provide an unexpected occurrence that all players must deal with when brought into play.  It may adjust the die rolls, provide additional ruin cards, or may even give the winner of this final card negative points.

Next, cards are randomly drawn from the Named Wonders deck.  Two plus the number of players will be drawn and placed face up on the table along with a card board token that represents this specific wonder.  Depending on the stones that you have obtained and built, you may be able to obtain one of these wonders which must be placed in the middle of a circle of stones that you have created.  You may have to have stones of certain colors or in certain patterns. These wonders may give you game end bonus points or may provide abilities with die rolls or obtaining extra stones.  In addition to these wonders, two additional wonders (Greater and Lesser) are used every game.  Greater wonders are worth anywhere from 6 to 8 points and requires a set of six stones of all the same color.  The Lesser wonders are worth between 2 to 4 points and can be obtained with any pattern of stones.

Finally, two cards are dealt to each player from the Delver deck that will allow you manipulation of die rolls that have already or will occur during the game.

On a players turn, they must decide which die to roll (1D8, 3D6, or 1D4) that has not been placed onto a ruins card.  They also must decide which ruin they will place their die on.  If the result is 1 through 3, they place the die on the card and then take one of the stones from that relic.  If all stones are gone from that particular card, you randomly draw one from the bag.  If the roll is above 3, the die goes on the card and play passes to the next player.

When the total of all dice on any given ruins card equals or exceeds the number in the upper left hand corner, whichever player that has the highest number for a single die wins the card.  If there is a tie, it goes to whichever die has the most sides, if there is still a tie then it goes to a 2nd die, if one is available.

The winner of the card takes it into their hand and takes back their dice on that card.  Anyone else that has dice on the card, gets their dice back and gets to draw a delver card for each die.

A new relic card is then placed onto the table and new cardboard stone tiles are drawn from the bag.

As you obtain stones, you will begin building hexagonal rings and when a ring is completed you will fill in the center with one of the wonders currently in the game.  If the color pattern matches one of the named wonders you can choose one of those and that card is out of play for everyone else.  Alternatively, you can take one of the less or greater wonders if the pattern matches to earn a random point value for game end scoring.

  • Any one color: 2 points

  • Two of the same color: 6 points

  • Three of the same color: 12 points

  • Four of the same color: 20 points

  • Five of the same color: 30 points

  • One of each colored Ruin: 5 points

You also add in points that you earned from any wonders that you have obtained.  If you built three or more wonders, you will get an additional 5 points.

Replay Ability:  The replay ability is very high with multiple End of Age cards that throw in a twist at the end of the game.  In addition, there are 15 Named Wonders that provide different abilities and/or points and for any given game you will see between four and six of them in play.

Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 8+ which is appropriate.  You might be able to go just a little younger but reading is definitely needed when understanding the Named Wonders that are in play along with being able to know read the delve deck cards.  Simple addition is also needed for those younger players.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: Many games that involve dice have situations where certain rolls just don’t produce anything substantial for you.  The mechanic that Unearth takes where you benefit in some way, really keeps the player engaged and is something that we really enjoyed.

The variability of the game is also a huge plus for us with providing an unexpected game end each time along with the different named wonders that will come into play and may impact the overall game.

We wish that the wonders had more impact than they do.  At a two and three player level, because the scores are so high from the set collections, the wonders just don’t provide a lot of additional points that will generally make a difference in the final scoring.  However, at a four player level there is some impact as the points are so much lower that a single 8 point wonder can determine who wins the game.  However, with four players it makes getting the same color stone much more difficult.

The theme was interesting to us with building up a civilization from your die rolls and collecting sets of cards.  However in the end, this really could be any theme as it doesn’t really provide that feeling that you have gone from nothing and have now reestablished your civilization.  With that being said, we still very much enjoy playing the game.

There is definitely strategy about where you will be placing your die as you may be going for relic cards or trying to get the stone color that you need.

Ultimately though, the game comes down to the luck of the dice.  Granted, you will have many opportunities to adjust those rolls or force other players to re roll.  However, if you are just not a fan of the random dice then it may not be a game for you.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  While nothing official, designer Matthew Ransom has indicated that with the overwhelmingly positive reception, they are definitely interested in putting out a future expansion which will add even more to the game.

      *A review copy was provided to us.