unholy upheaval

Game Overview: Unholy Upheaval is a deck building game that takes place in the Kingdom of Axios.  Four sages, drawn by a mysterious power, accidentally disrupt the harmony of the forces behind the manifest world.  Unwittingly they freed a great and terrible power, Orono.  The sages recognized their mistake, but were hastily locked away by the knights of the Kingdom.  With no one left to stop Orono, the Ancient Forces who formed Axios, must now gain back the loyalty of their creation and return harmony to the kingdom.  Players take the role of one of the four ancient forces (Gravelust, Brio, Rotborn, Dredgework) of Axios.  Using what limited resources they have, players must gain back the loyalty of their creation and take the power back from Orono.  Whoever can acquire the most of Orono's fragments will take the place as the dominant force once harmony is returned to Axios.

Box Contents: The game that was provided to us was a prototype version and the final box contents and art has yet to be fully determined.

Clarity of Rules: The current instruction manual is a ten page manual that does an excellent job at explaining the rules.  It includes a detailed layout for each card type that you will use in the game.  It also includes a glossary that is helpful to understand some of the references used throughout the manual that are specific to the game.

Game Play:  Play begins with all players getting the same deck which consists of eight Exile starter minions and two Forgotten starter minions.  The Exile minions account for one Loyalty and the Forgotten minions account for one Rage. Rage and Loyalty are required in the game to defeat or to obtain the additional cards that can be added to your deck.  Each round, players take the top five cards from their own shuffled deck.  At the beginning of the game, six of the cards from the main deck (Aether) are placed into required locations onto the board.  Some of these locations provide benefits to the player if they acquire a card from that spot.  Three main types of cards will be found (Shards, Minions, and Relics). Each card shows the number of Loyalty and/or Rage that are required to defeat or acquire the card.  The Shards are cards that you will have to defeat.  They will also show the number of Orono's fragments (victory points) that are earned immediately by defeating them.  When Minion cards are acquired, they will also have the number of fragments which you will earn at the end of the game.  Once defeated, Shard cards are placed into the abyss (discard pile for defeated shards or consumed cards).  Some Shard cards have an immediate action that you are able to take.  Some also have a revenge noted on them.  If this exists, it allows you to put the card to the side until you wish to use the revenge factor.  An example is giving you two additional Rage.  When a Minion is acquired, they are added to your own personal discard pile and will come into play the next time you shuffle your discard pile and they are drawn into your five card hand. You will find multiple advantages that will help you add additional cards to your deck or earn additional fragments.  You also have a haunt feature available when certain minion cards are played.  This allows you to remove them from your deck but will provide you valuable actions every round, although they are much less than if you continue to use the card as it comes up in your deck.  Relics will not reward you with any fragments.  However, they will reward you with some type of action and then allow you to place them against another player (their battlefield) which will have a negative impact on them.  To initially increase the number of Rage and Loyalty in their decks, players may need to stick with obtaining factionless minions which will provide those additional Rage or Loyalty along with fragments at the end of the game.  These require a small number of Loyalty to obtain.  Players also have the ability at certain times to consume their cards, which takes them out of play.  This allows players to get to their better cards by avoiding those low level cards.  If players have two Rage, they can draw a card from the sub shard deck.  These can give you fragments, award you additional Rage or Loyalty, allow you to draw another card from your deck, or consume a card from the cards currently in play.  Play continues with players adding additional cards to their hand until all fragments are taken.  At that point, the player with the most fragment points is declared the winner and harmony is returned to Axios.

Replay Ability: Tons of replay ability here since you have no control over what cards will be available to the players and which direction the players will go down in obtaining different cards based on which cards they have drafted into their deck.

Appropriate Audience:  The game suggests 13+.  Our eleven year old son had no problems in picking up the game mechanics and competing for the win.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: If you are a fan of deck building games, this is a must have.  The theme of the game itself isn't overwhelming and we find ourselves not paying attention to the backstory and just playing the game based on the cards.  The art on the cards is exceptional and very unique.  We love the additional game mechanics found on certain cards (revenge, haunt, and being able to impact other players by playing cards into their battlefield).  For the most part, the abilities for the cards are easily understood.  Prior to this game, Core Worlds was our favorite deck building game.  Not anymore as Unholy Upheaval has replaced it.  The only negative we have concerning the game itself is that the Rage logo and the Fragments earned logo are somewhat similar in shape and when they are used as the secondary (smaller) number on the card, it is not as easy to pick up on which one is there.  This happened to us, even though they are color coded.  Also, as is common with many deck building games, there is downtime for players when it is not their turn. 

Add-ons/Other Releases:  n/a

          * A prototype review copy was provided to us.  The contents of the game or rules may change with future releases.  Our review is based upon the game that we received and also take into consideration changes that the game designer noted to us that were not present in the review copy.