Group Review: Unfair

We love Unfair. Seriously, we're playing this game a lot recently, and you should be too! But is it it, Unfair? No, no it's not - it's amazing. Building our very own theme parks? Fantastic!

By Rob Clarke

The Game

Unfair is a game about building a theme park. You pick from a selection of themes, and then build rollercoasters, leisure rides, restaurants and more. You can also expand your park with staff and resources.

After every round, you get money based on the quality of your park. You also play event cards, which can either have negative or positive events on you or others, depending on your choice. Event cards can close rides or parks, give you money or let you build for free.

The aim of the game is to get the most victory points, either through building large, heavily upgraded rides, or building specific types of rides specified on secret blueprint cards that you can pick up during the game.

In the Conversation

Rob Clarke Daniel Jamie Maisner

Spoilers - I think Unfair is one of my favourite games I've played in a long time. I mean, I love Rollercoaster Tycoon so the theme always appealed to me, but one of the reasons I love it so much is that it really feels like you’re building a park. And, it does that only with cards. It has one miniature for tracking turns, that’s it.
Completely agree, Unfair thematically manages to capture building a theme park along with the lightness of the Rollercoaster Tycoon series. Within a few rounds I find myself feeling in control of a growing theme park rather than having a selection of cards in front of me.
The theme is so important with Unfair. I think the brilliant art style is a contributing factor. Playing this genuinely really feels like you are building a theme park; and that’s an achievement. I initially had my doubts; but it just hooks you in! It’s now my go-to drafting game.
There are a lot of cards that encourage you to build a theme; get more upgrades or get cheaper attractions if you have cards of a certain theme, so you're rarely going to want to just build five rollercoasters for maximum points.
Each of the cards is detailed enough that you can find yourself imagining it's place in your theme park. I think the dynamics between the players also helps that sense of playing together – everyone else’s actions are important. On the events turn I was standing up to get a good look at your parks to see what was worth destroying.
Well sometimes, Jamie you said while playing you don't actually watch what we do much, right?
Yeah, for sure. As the name implies if you want Unfair be a 'Take That' style game, it totally can be; but for me, I love to just focus on building my own park and trying not to mess with other players too much. It's super satisfying to build that star attraction or somehow meet the goals of a ridiculously tricky blueprint. Not paying enough attention to other players definitely restricts your chances of winning - but I don't mind as its just so damn fun to play.
Yeah, there's a ton of event cards that can mess people around but they only work situationally. Like, I can shut rides down, or I can demolish upgrades, but in real terms that's not going to really set you back. Plus, as event cards can be either GOOD or BAD, you are sacrificing your own bonus to mess with someone else.
Based on my experience playing the game “Take That” style, it only damages you. Out of the times we've played it's the times I'm more aggressive with event cards that I've scored the least. You've got to be very smart about when and how to use the negative effects. I absolutely lost the last game as I tried to heavily to impact the other players.
When things go right for you in Unfair, it is so satisfying. Albeit, it can also be infuriating if you're park gets sabotaged COUGH Daniel.
You fired my staff member!
I fired your staff member and so you spent the rest of the game tearing down my main attractions, and it still didn’t work!
A lot of this comes from picking the theme decks. Having the Gangster and Ninja themes made us play more aggressive, they aren’t just for flavour. If you pick up the Robot and Vampire decks first, you're going to have a more sedate, thoughtful experience.
Yeah for sure, stuff like having a Vampire themed Steak House restaurant really tickles me. I think that’s a big aspect of Unfair I enjoy, the little stories that the game creates in the players imagination. Whether it’s a rival park poaching one of my staff members, or another player closing my star attraction. Everything makes sense. Nothing is chucked in as a throwaway mechanic because the designers thought it would be fun.
Except loans? All our games, every time we’ve tried to use a loan, it’s not been worth it. I can see that it could be, sometimes, but generally it hasn’t worked. Maybe that’s our play style, but the real kicker for me is that you can get a blueprint card that basically gives you a straight up 20 points for not having a loan. Well, we never do, so it’s instant, boring, free points.
From someone who is new to deckbuilding games, I will say that I found the game initially a bit overwhelming. I don't think the victory conditions (i.e symbols on your attractions) was made clear enough. But even when I struggled with the first game, I enjoyed it, and that's impressive as usually I'm super bored when I don't understand a game.
Yeah, the icon mechanic was clear enough for me, but the exponentially increasing score for more icons can make those first through games tricky to get your head around. You get over it, of course.
Though I still lost my blueprint because I mistook the amount of icons on a ride for the amount of upgrades, and some have more than one. Annoying; but totally my fault I think.
Final thoughts?
I think one of the best ways to describe how much we love unfair is the simple fact that here at Playopolis we have an open copy of every game we sell, and an additional 700 or so games at the café that we can play at any time… Unfair is the one we’ve played the most this summer. It just strikes all the right notes.
I love this game. I want to play it all the time and I can't see it getting boring any time soon. I'm only sad that more people haven't had the chance to play this. Oh, and don't take out loans kids - in the game or in real life.
It's the secret best game (sssssssh)

Final Thoughts

We love Unfair. It's an inc