REVIEW: UNREAL ESTATE

Publisher: Marc Specter, Grand Gamers Guild

Game Design: Jason Slingerland

Game Art: Corinne Roberts

Graphic Design: Chris Kirkman

Players: 2-5 Ages 13+

Play Time: 15 minutes

I found out about Grand Gamers Guild by clicking through random YouTube videos, as I often do. After watching the Unreal Estate video preview, I was excited about gettimg this game in my hands. During my first Gencon experience, I was fortunate to locate the GGG booth and I picked up a copy. After playing numerous times over lunch and game nights, I’m excited to share my thoughts with you on Unreal Estate.

The Recipe

  • Set collection
  • Quick scoring
  • Interesting “special buildings cards”
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Easy to learn
  • Respectful of your time

In Unreal Estate, you are hired to design the most interesting district in the city of Guildmore. You will draft buildings to your Proposal Board and toss the others to the Scrap Pile.  During the game, players gather scraps to turn them into points. Can you turn another players trash into your own treasure? Let’s look a sample of a turn in the game.

Unreal proposal board
(Top) Score board for a two-player game. (Center) The 5 card Proposal board and deck. (Right) The starting scrap pile for a two- player game. (Bottom) Starting hand for both players along with the first player token.

The Turn

The game starts with creating a Scrap Pile (scoring pile) based on player count. Each round begins when five cards are dealt to the Proposal Board. On a player turn, you can do one of three actions:

  1. Draw one card from the Proposal Board
  2. Play one Special Building card
  3. Play Building cards to score score score!

In Unreal Estate, you are trying to matching sets of Building cards to score from the Scrap Pile.  The player with the most points wins. Building cards are numbered one through eight and have different building types within the number values. The cards that aren’t drafted by players from the Proposal board are discarded to the Scrap Pile. Building cards in the Scrap Pile are part of the scoring mechanism of the game. The Building cards are stacked in piles based on matching building types. Remember, Building cards can only score if the numbers AND the buildings match up! I made this mistake a couple times. Tricky tricky…

Unreal Cards
Yellow banner: Building Cards  Blue banner: Special Cards

Special Cards

Special cards make Unreal Estate more than a cute little set collection game. The immediate cards activate when they are dealt to the Proposal Board. The draft immediate cards activate when you draw them from the board. The draft cards activate when they are played from a player’s hand. Special Building cards can flip the entire round or game at any point. They make players aware of when to score and when to play other Special Building cards from their hand early in their first playthrough. You may have the misfortune of dealing the Dark Castle card to the Proposal board and discard the entire Scrap Pile.  Yeah…not good. Unreal Estate is a balanced game that’s tailored to rewarding different strategies, but Special Building cards force you to shy away from one trick strategies.

20170910_021919
Special Card: Immediate Card (Left), Draft Immediate (Center), Draft (Right).

 Score Baby Score!

Scoring IS what makes Unreal Estate a unique 15-minute experience. You take one or more Building Cards from your hand and add them to create total hand value.  Next, you multiply your total hand value by the number of matching Building Cards in the Scrap Pile to complete your score. It’s a little tricky at first, but you get the hang of it after two rounds of scoring.  Points are tallied on the score board and all the scoring cards are discarded. That’s Unreal Estate in a nutshell. I admit, my scores were laughably low in the beginnin. After three games, I started to grab for the 100+ point cards in the box.

20170910_025712
Scoring: The player adds the number value of the three Wizard’s Tower Building cards with a value of 9 (3 + 3+ 3). There are 2 matching Wizard’s Tower cards in the Scrap Pile. You multiply the two numbers, so 9 x 2 = 18 points.

The Verdict

Unreal Estate is going into my backpack when I’m on the road and it will remain my lunch time game rotation. It’s a perfect filler game for game night and family night. Every group I introduced Unreal Estate to wanted to play it back to back. That’s the sign of a very good game.

The only gripe I have with Unreal Estate is the Special Building cards. You are supposed to add 6 random Special Building cards into the deck.  Depending on the randomness of your cards, the Special Building cards can ruin an experience for new or novice players. I would suggest playing with less cards in certain situations or choosing specific cards. As you can tell I’m knit picking here for at least one negative. With quick play times, versatile audience appeal, and smooth gameplay, Unreal State is an easy game for me to recommend. Please add to the conversation below and please subscribe. Thank you for your time.

To purchase Unreal Estate or find out more information, head over to the Grand Gamers Guild website. https://grandgamersguild.com/

 

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