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Will your luck hold out or will you just be another Unlucky Adventurer?

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

We review this debut game from Unlucky Archer!


Unlucky Archer Games Design Studio is so new that most of you will not have heard of them, unless you’ve stumbled across them at an event like the UK Games Expo 2022 as we did, or online. They are a small team comprising of Chris, Amy and Timo the Dog. Like many of us, these three needed a lockdown acceptable side project. They decided to combine a love of games, fantasy adventures and dry/sarcastic humour – thus Unlucky Adventurers was born. When we met some of the team at UKGE (sadly Timo was not in attendance) we were immediately attracted by the bold artwork and comical aspects. So, imagine how excited we were to get our hands on a review copy to sample and share with you.


**Please note that the following is based on a pre-production copy for reviewers and some aspects maybe subject to change due to playtest feedback, Kickstarter stretch goals and the mass production process. **



The Unlucky Adventurers Game box and dice surrounded by cards from the same game, and showing the two included game dice

Players: 2 - 6

​Ages: 8+

Game Time: 15 - 60mins

Unlucky Adventurers is a card and dice game where the odds are rarely in your favour. The preview set we received comprises of 126 cards and two six-sided dice. The cards are divided as follows; a 12-card character deck, a 12-card beast deck and a 102-card quest deck.


To play the game, players simply separate out each deck and shuffle them. Each player then draws a random card from the character deck which gives them their character for the duration of the game. These are all based on classic fantasy gaming classes such as Mage, Ranger, Warrior, Healer etc. Each has a once per game ability. The drawn character cards are placed face up in front of the players (once the characters ability is used it is flipped face down). Each player then receives a starting hand of seven quest deck cards. All remaining cards form three draw piles in the centre of the play area.


The Unlucky Adventurer game box, rulebook, Beast Deck, Quest Deck and Character Deck laid out on a green cloth

The game then starts with the player left of the dealer and proceeds clockwise. The format of the game is draw one card, play one card. The goal is to be the last player standing. Players are knocked out of play when they have no cards left in their hand. Therefore, you need to gain as many cards as you can whilst loosing as few as possible.


However, all players in this game are very unlucky adventurers and this is not easy to achieve. The world is a dangerous place for such people. There are beasts roaming the land, your fellow adventurers who are out for themselves and most dangerous of all sheer dumb luck (or rather a lack thereof). Yes, to win this game many sacrifices are required by the ever-fickle dice gods. But let me explain in more detail.


The quest deck is made up of several card types. First are the action cards, these allow the player to perform actions such as steal, defend, rest, trade etc. and are most importantly the safest cards to play. The other card type that players may use are attack cards these are items, spells potions and weapons that you can wield against your opponents. These no doubt sound fantastic ways to start knocking out your enemies. However, here is where you can become very unlucky very quickly. Attack cards require a dice roll to activate and your odds are literally 50/50 on whether the outcome is good or bad. You could be hoping to make your opponent discard two cards and end up letting them draw two or be forced to discard two of your cards instead.


If that didn’t make things dangerous enough, you can also draw blunder and beast encounters during your turn. Blunders are mistakes an adventurer might make when travelling like falling into a nest of stinging insects or running into a group of mercenaries etc. These are always bad and force you to discard cards. And then there are the beast encounters. When a beast encounter is drawn, a card is taken from the beast deck and must be defeated to stay in the game. The beast combat requires a player to spend a minimum number of cards that total a minimum amount of beast points. If these requirements are met players claim the rewarded number of fresh cards but this may not be as many as were played.


The final card type is the ally card. When used, the player receives a second card from the character deck with its one-time ability. This sits in front of the player face up like their character card. However, when the ability is used it goes to the character discard pile instead.


So that gives an overview on game play, but as we all know there is more to a game than its basic rules. Normally we would include some notes on the production standards such as card weight, print quality, layout etc. but as this is a preview copy rather than production it could prove inaccurate to do so. However, there are some other features we can examine. The artwork for example is bold and clear and has the kind of charm associated with comic books and cartoons. Also, whilst the card text is fairly small it is very clear with good contrast against the background. I in particular have enjoyed the humorous descriptions and quotes included on many of the cards.



Unlucky Adventures is designed to be a ‘game for all the family’ and this does appear to be fairly accurate. Everything in the game play and artwork is family friendly and with some guidance and allowances for younger players is pretty accessible. Two small notes here, though. First is text size, while the cards are small but clear this may prove a little challenging to young readers and the rule book in this preview copy is even smaller, and rules description will probably require adult assistance. Second, as this game is a player elimination style this could upset younger players with early eliminations or player team ups etc.


On the subject of team ups there are some additional rules, the first of which is team game play. This only works with even numbers, otherwise you will attack your teammates. However, it allows you to resurrect your fallen allies potentially lengthening and deepening the game play experience. The other optional rule is the ghost mode. Here, players who are out of cards and therefore dead may retain a presence in the game. They are considered ghosts and on their turn roll one dice. On a result of six they may draw and immediately play one card. The preview rules do not however make it clear if a ghost is able to draw and keep any cards from card effects and be an active player again. Until this is clarified we’ll have to ‘house rule’ it, but my personal opinion is no and that ghosts just add disruption to the living.


So, the real question here is how does Unlucky Adventurers score?


As has been stated previously I really like the artwork for its eye-catching style and clarity. Coupled with the theme humour this game is certainly attention grabbing. It is simple to learn and plays very quickly. However, I do think the starting age of eight maybe a little young (although I didn’t have any eight-year-olds available to test this and Unlucky Archer have informed us they tested with adventurers as young as six). That being said, it is a family appropriate game. As it stands, this is a fun game but there are a couple of holes that prevent it hitting our top marks. Firstly, whilst it is designed to be quick, game players are very easily knocked out in a few rounds. This means in some games there’s not enough time to immerse yourself into it. Secondly, player elimination is pretty absolute, unless using the optional rules, leaving knocked out players with little to do whilst the game ends. In a grown-up game this can be frustrating but for family gaming with young children in particular this can be a deal breaker. However, I am very glad to see that Unlucky Archer has looked into this as it is often overlooked in elimination type games.


Personally, I would like to see a couple of small tweaks. Firstly, I think character cards should have two abilities, one for player character and one for allies. This way a player character could have a small advantage with certain quest or beast cards as an ongoing ability whereas allies could still have a onetime ability. Secondly, while the game is themed to be a harsh experience for our unlucky adventurers I think it would be better if not all cards were 50/50 odds on the dice rolls and that some could be easier or harder and their success/fail effects reflect this. In discussion with Unlucky Archer they stated that this was chosen to keep it simple for younger players. However, it would be nice if a future expansion or follow up game for advanced players addressed this. This would bring more variety and some luck mitigation/risk management to the game. This game is definitely one that gets better with more players to spread out the card effects and creates more joint commiseration amongst those eliminated.

A D6 dice face showing four pips

Therefore, with all these things in mind and rating this as a family card and dice game, I give this preview edition of Unlucky Adventurers a 4/6 on the DOALG dice rating. Although I don’t think it would take much to tweak it into a 5 or 6 on the scale. I am very interested to see where Unlucky Archer take this concept in the future; perhaps a NSFW (not suitable for work) edition (perfect for the pub maybe) or a board game where players struggle to have a positive luck rating at the end? Keep your eyes open for the Kickstarter launch on 11/10/2022 (which is due to run for 30 days) and follow the campaign – I know I will!

Sam-Wise


To follow the Kickstarter campaign, go to: www.kickstarter.com/projects/unluckyarcher/unlucky-adventurers


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