Unearth: Reclaim. Rebuild. Remember.
Unearth is a dice rolling set collection game for 2-4 players by Jason Harner and Matthew Ransom.
Unearth’s uniqueness comes from the way both and high and low dice rolls can reap rewards. High rolls help you to claim Ruins, while low rolls allow you to acquire Stones and build Wonders.
The multiple paths to victory makes it more fun than a traditional dice game where only the highest roll scores.
A dice game must have dice, and Unearth comes with 20 dice, including three d6, a d8, and a d4 for each player. The dice have a slight pearly swirl and white numbers.
There are 30 large cards; 25 in the Ruins deck and 5 in the End of Age deck.
There are 15 Named Wonders cards
Greater and Lesser Wonders cards,
and four Reference cards.
The largest deck is made up of the smallest cards; 38 cards in the Delver deck.
60 colored hexes (15 in each of 4 colors) fit into the cloth bag.
31 hexes correspond to Wonders. 15 are for Named Wonders,
10 are Lesser Wonders,
and 6 are Greater Wonders.
Greater and Lesser Wonder hexes have a range of possible point values, and are kept face down until final scoring.
Setting up Unearth
Players receive a set of colored dice, two Delver cards, and a Ruins card. Ruins cards are collected throughout the game, and players score points for sets at the end of the game. Some Ruins cards are discarded before each game, so not all sets will be possible.
Ruins cards are displayed face up, according to player count, and colored Stones from the cloth bag are placed on each one, according to the number on the lower right. An End of Age card is put at the bottom of the Ruins draw pile.
The Greater and Lesser Wonders cards, with their tokens, are placed in the display. Named Wonders cards are placed into the display, according to player count, with their matching tokens. Any unused Named Wonders cards are placed back in the box; empty spots will not be refilled during the game.
Note that there are some changes for two players, which are not mentioned on the main setup page. If you are playing with two players, consult page 3 of the rules during setup.
The setup checklist also doesn’t mention creating a draw pile from the rest of the Delver cards. It is shown in the illustration on the next page, but can be momentarily confusing.
Turns are short and the game moves quickly. Players may play one or more Delver cards for a special one-time ability.
Then they must roll one die. If they do not have a die available, they must take a die from a Ruin and use it for their turn.
If the player rolls a 1, 2, or 3, they may take a colored Stone from the card. If the card is empty of Stones, they may take one from the bag. The Stones are arranged in hexagonal rings.
Once a ring of stones is completed, a Wonder may be claimed, and the corresponding hex tile is placed in the center of the ring.
If the die placed on the Ruin makes the total of the dice greater than or equal to the number on the top left corner, the card is given to the player with the highest die on that card. Other players with dice on the card receive a Delver card for each die. All players take their dice back, and a new Ruins card is put into the display.
The game ends when all Ruins Cards have been claimed. Players score points for sets of one of each color of Ruin, sets of cards of the same color, individual Wonders, and sets of 3 Wonders.
Unearth is easy to teach, and playable in about an hour. It has some similarities to Artifacts, Inc., another light-ish 60 minute dice game for 2-4 players.
Unearth is about the same complexity (and box size) as Istanbul: The Dice Game. A main difference is that in Unearth, the dice are left out from round to round until someone claims the card, whereas in Istanbul: The Dice Game, anything claimed is claimed immediately, and pending dice are not kept in place between turns.
Because not all cards are used in every game, Unearth has good replayability. The randomness from the dice rolling is also tempered by the Delver cards. It requires strategy in both the Ruins and Wonders you work towards, and has a dash of player interaction. Be prepared for someone to make you reroll your dice, or change your die value.
But while they were focused on the Ruins, you were amassing points from Wonders. They don’t call it the Greater Wonder for nothing.