Some of you might recall me doing the Review of Unicornus Knights: Part I some time ago. Basically, I enjoyed the game enough, but was frustrated with the rulebook. I knew they were doing a 2nd version of the rulebook (but NOT the game), so I wanted to see if it were easier to play. Honestly, it fell by the wayside and I didn’t get a chance to try out the new rulebook. Recently, however, one of the designers (Kuro) of Unicornus Knights was launching a new game on Kickstarter (Testament) and that reignited my interest in trying out the new Rulebook.
The updated version 2.0 of the Unicornus Knights rulebook is available here. I went ahead and had both versions opened at the same time so I could compare and contrast the two.
I very quickly learned something new that I hadn’t known in my other playthroughs: the empire tiles are black and the kingdom tiles are brown. How/Why did I did not know/notice that!? Because the new rulebook points it out (above, upper right) and the old rulebook does not (above, lower right) right. So, right away, I am happier with the new rulebook! And yes, there are definitely differences!
Interestingly, the basic set-up has changed and is less random. All the Kingdom Tiles are on the left and right rather than randomly mixed in the last 6 placed.
I think this is partially a “simplify set-up issue” (it’s always nicer when the set-up is easier) and a “make the game less swingy”. If too many kingdom tiles come up in the middle of the board, you could see how that would make the game easier as the Princess could simply stroll through those regions. Now, the game always starts with the Kingdom tiles on the left and right (13-18).
I am glad to see them addressing balance: it shows that the changes to this rulebook aren’t cursory! They represent some major changes … which is good. This rulebook needed some major changes.
How did my first playthrough go? It went well! It seems like they addressed most of the issues I had with the rulebook:
- Combat: By far my biggest problem with the old rulebook was combat. The updated section on Aggressive, Normal, and Defensive units seemed to answer a lot of questions. The sections had more examples of combat. I haven’t played this game in some time, so I forgot a lot of it. But, when I played using the new rulebook, I wasn’t confused. Or rather, I could find examples/explanations for most of what I wanted. I think the new rulebook handles combat far better.
- Fate: Rather than being a “sidebar”, Fate was now integrated into the rulebook main flow. As it should be! (My complaint from the previous version of the rulebook was that Fate was in a sidebar. Fate is FAR too interesting to be in a sidebar you could miss!)
A few things fell by the wayside:
- Player Summary: It would have been nice if the last page of the new rulebook were a player summary. This isn’t any deal breaker, but a player summary on the last page (which could have been printed for all players) would have been nice.
- Notating Fate: Fate is a pairwise relationship, and I feel like there isn’t a good way to do that. You can see from my picture above that the gameboard TAKES UP THE WHOLE BOARD, so their suggestion of moving cards around isn’t really practical. Some extra tokens might have been nice, but it’s not something a new rulebook could do. 🙂
My biggest complaint was that there WAS STILL NO SOLO MODE IN THE GAME! Seriously, this game is great as a solo game! So, what I am doing to play solo? I am just playing 3 kingdom characters at once. That’s it. And it works GREAT! I am really surprised the updated rulebook didn’t add something like this:
A solo player can play 3 kingdom characters at once (as if playing a 3-player game). Like the 2-Player game (when the players may decide the order the kingdom characters play), the solo gamer can play the 3 kingdom characters in any order he chooses.
Okay, that second sentence is strictly not necessary, but (a) I love Player Selected Turn Order and (b) it’s consistent with what the game does in 2-Player mode.
With the newer rulebook, this is a great game. I was able to get all the way through a game without feeling too confused. And all the stuff I loved before, I loved again. Unicornus Knights made the number 4 position on my Top 10 Cooperative Card and Board Games of 2017. And you know what? I like this game even more now. Maybe it’s because I am not as frustrated as I was those other times with the original Rulebook.
This is a great game. But ONLY if you get the new rulebook. Here’s the link again.