Players: 2-6 Ages: 8-10+ Play Time: 30-60 mins
So the DOALG team met representatives from Devilfly Games (www.facebook.com/devilflygames)at the UK Games Expo 2023. There, they were introducing their new game ahead of its Kickstarter launch. We were intrigued by our initial chat about the project, and couldnt have been happier to be sent a copy to review. This game is the creation of Chris Fisher and Nick Barker. Artwork and graphics by Patrice Rameau and Feride Seferaj.
**The Kickstarter is live NOW it is a short campaign so if this sounds like a game for you check it out before 11/07/2023 to avoid missing out** Visit: www.kickstarter.com/projects/878983701/undermined-pairadice-city/
Undermined! Paradice City is a 2- to 6-player mining game set around the Gold Rush era. It is a fairly light card, dice and token game. The components of consist of 228 cards, 12 six sided dice, and 60 tokens. Players race to gather 12 or more victory points of treasure. To do this they must dig and blast though layer upon layer of rocks of varying toughness. They achieve this by buying and utilising various equipment, playing events and rolling dice. However, mining is a very risky business and you're almost as likely to encounter costly perils as unearthing treasure.
To set up, first separate and shuffle the four card decks, leaving out starting equipment cards and player aids. A player starts the game with some standard yet reliable equipment, as well as two dollars, and draws two event cards to their hand. The rock, treasures, perils and event decks are placed in reach of all players with space for a discard next to each. Last but not least, the shop is set up by placing the shop deck and drawing to the play area five cards ready for purchase.
From there, a player's turn consists of four phases:
1. Respite Step
This more or less represents having rested between turns. So, you collect two dollars from the bank (probably the previous day's wages) and draw a new event card from spending time in town. You may also discard two events from your hand to draw another card.
2. Shopping step
Here, players have the opportunity to sell their treasures and spend their hard earned cash on new digging and safety equipment. Some equipment such as your old reliable iron pickaxe has unlimited uses but other more powerful items such as explosives or titanium pickaxes have a finite number of uses before they are used up or break.
3. Preparation step
During this phase, players may pay two dollars to send the top card of the rock deck to the bottom. This can be beneficial to a couple of strategies. You could be looking to make the dig easier, hoping to find softer rocks to break through. Or hoping to find harder rocks that may yield better loot. Also in this phase, players nominate which equipment they will be using to mine and may make arrangements for help from other players. When a player helps with a mining attempt they add one dice roll to the active player's score. For helping, though, they will usually ask for a share of loot or promises of help in return. However helping isn't necessarily safe; if the help roll results in a one the helper will also be affected by any peril cards revealed.
4. Mining Step
Last, and most importantly is the mining phase. Here, a player rolls two dice and adds the result to any equipment and help scores. If a player chooses to use explosives they can't ask for help. However, if they score highly enough they may be able to break through multiple rock layers. The aim being to meet or exceed the top rock card toughness rating. If successful the rock card is turned over and the results resolved. This is either money from the bank or drawing and resolving treasure and peril cards. Drawing from this deck is preferable most of the time as it is treasure that provides victory points. However, in this deck are perils which must be either negated by safety gear/events or they will cost you money/treasure/cards and can have lingering effects.
Through all this, players compete to be the first to achieve 12 victory points (or more for longer games) or to be the player with the most victory points when the treasure and peril deck runs out, indicating that the mine has been tapped out.
That pretty much sums up the basic rules of the game, so let's look at the components. The copy DOALG received for review is a very respectable prototype, so some elements are due to change (such as plastic counters being replaced with printed tokens). However, the cards which form the bulk of the game are beautiful and I hope they don't change much. I really appreciated the quality of the cards. I'm sure we've all come across games where cards are too thin, badly printed, and poorly designed; there is none of that here. The card stock is a high quality weight with silky matte finish and the art/graphics and text are all beautifully clear and stylish. Given the quality of the cards, I would love to see a premium version of all the components. While in some games deluxe items can be a cash grab or gimmick, here I truly believe they would work. Metal coins in particular would work very well but also metal or stone/gem dice could also be very thematic. Guess we'll have to keep watching the Kickstarter to find out how far it goes.
So the question that must now be answered is: did we find gold in them there decks or just a barren landscape of tumbleweeds?
This turned out to be a great little game that delivers many of the best qualities of a light-medium card game. From the first game this is a quick to learn, set up and play experience. You really can get to grips with the rules and start enjoying this game in 5 - 10 minutes. The theme runs through the game brilliantly; the artwork, risk/reward game play and simple luck based mechanics of drawing cards and rolling dice make this a wonderfully immersive experience. You could compare this game to well known games of bargaining and betrayal such as Munchkin, but I don't think that's fair. Undermined has a unique personality and charm of its own. Whilst it will almost certainly appeal to fans of these established games mechanically and thematically, this game is all grown-up. But that's not to say that Undermined is an adults only game. While Devilfly Games don't appear to have given an age rating on their campaign or preview copy I believe a 8-10 year old could pick this up and enjoy it.
Overall I think Devilfly Games have created a great game that stands out from the crowd. There was very little missing from the preview that we received. That said, there were some things Firstly, the lack of any way to track how many times equipment had been used. However, looking at the Kickstarter this has since been addressed with the addition of tracker tokens. Secondly, personally, I'd like to see some more variation in the rock deck to make it less predictable what the reward will be. And last but not least, the lack of premium tokens and dice. Often I find that such upgrades are lovely but unnecessary. However, given the theme of Undermined and the quality of the cards (both physically and visually) it feels like the game is crying out for them. The Kickstarter does however offer dice trays and playmats with the hint that more maybe unlocked, so fingers crossed.
And now all that is left to do is give undermined a DOALG D6/six sided dice score. For me this is a pretty solid 5 out of 6. Not only that, our resident geologist and dinosaur nut Dino Girl was very pleased to see the types of gems, ores and fossils included in the treasure deck. 5/6
Hey Mr Chris here... I was really pleasantly surprised how easy and quick this was to "pick" up ... see what I did ??? I agree with Mr SamWise, the game plays well and it's light enough for most gamers, from beginners to your more seasoned gamers, to enjoy! I love the artwork and the quality of the cards needs to remain. They are soft and silky and ooohhhhhhhh so so good! Please DO NOT apply linen to these cards, they are perfect! I do also agree with Mr Sam about the rock variation... I know it's not a geology game, but it couldn't be much effort to include rock types to provide that variation just like the treasure and perils deck! Finally, I want to get off my band wagon (I know right), and finally come round on the "upgrade quality" stretch goals you see on Kickstarters. Please just give us metal coins! It would finish the game off beautifully! I too am giving this game a 5/6
**Kickstarter is live NOW it is a short campaign so if this sounds like a game for you check it out before 11/07/2023 to avoid missing out**