Undercity. Privateer Press, 2015. $95. Design and development by William Schoonover. 4 Character Sheets, each with their own decks of Ability and Feat cards, 1 bland game board with 16 bland map tiles, 22 Event cards, 24 Side Quest cards, 34 Villain Action cards, 11 different Villain Stat cards, 1 rulebook, 1 seven-chapter Campaign Guide, 44 colorful soft plastic miniatures, 8 six-sided dice, and a horde of tokens and markers. 2-4 players. 14+. 1-2 hours play time per chapter.
In this cooperative fantasy board game set in the Iron Kingdoms’ city of Corvis, players take on the roles of four unique heroes who work together as a team through seven quests (“chapters”) while developing their abilities by spending experience points, gained from defeating villains, between each game until the final showdown.
There’s so much to love about this game! The miniatures are beautiful and evocative of the setting. The heroes are interesting and unique, such as Pog & Doorstop. Who wouldn’t want to play a Gobber Bodger & his Steamjack? The seven chapters grow in complexity and story. And Side Quest cards provide additional possible rewards and challenges, while the Event cards throw in occasional complications and act as a timer.
The unique Heroes abilities and Feat cards make the heroes interesting and provide a very engagingly heroic feel. This completely cooperative game has a detailed but easy to implement card and rule driven AI system for activating the villains to challenge the heroes. The combat system is simple but effective and each hero has their own style. There are also rules for increasing or decreasing the difficulty of play so you can tailor the experience to your group.
While the much criticized board is indeed bland beyond belief (which is an oddity in an otherwise so well done artistic game) it is functional. The narrative text for each chapter feels unincorporated into actual game play and is easily skipped. The theme comes through in the game but I wish the story itself was better integrated and more essential to play.
As a cooperative fantasy board games with campaign linked adventures and character development, Undercity really delivers! I just find myself wishing for more adventures and more heroes to vary the replay ability of the game. Hopefully expansions aren’t far away.
This review was written based on a privately purchased retail copy. No compensation was involved.
c2015 by Richard A. Edwards