Unearth: Rediscovering a hobby

Sometimes hobbies lie underground. It can be for years, months, however long. Passions come and go and what was fascinating one day may be much less interesting the next. My board game hobby had quite honestly gone into hibernation, if not this spring, then earlier in the fall. Personal reasons caused me to withdraw from a thing I loved, and so much cardboard on the wall, instead of inspiring the memories of great times with friends, instead felt more like dead weight.

So it is somewhat poetic that the game that brought me back was called Unearth. A game about digging up the technology of the ancients, it felt like a metaphor for my digging up of this old hobby. How often do we know what brings us joy, and then somehow forget? Even when that seems likes it would be the most important fact, something to write down, keep on a sticky note, etc… It’s often all too easy to lose ourselves along the way. 

The game itself is not destined to be game of the year. But it is beautiful, simple, and compelling. As I sat down with some friends I hadn’t seen in months and got into the familiar groove of learning a new game, something I’ve done hundreds of times, it dusted off the mirror and reminded me that just the act of discovering a game brings me joy.

Roll to claim the card, this 17 has reached it’s claim threshold and player green’s 8 will claim the card.

Each player has five dice of three different types, four-sided, six-sided and eight-sided which represent their archaeologists digging up the past. Players roll a die each turn and apply this die roll towards a ruin card which has a specified claim value. Once the total of all dice on the card equals or exceeds the claim value the player with the highest roll claims the card. If you roll a low result not all is lost since rolling a three or less earns players a resource which can also earn you points. The basic interaction is very simple, pick a die, pick a card, and roll, but this is surrounded by some nice and more far reaching decisions. The different resources players pick up are hexes that they use to build puzzle like environments that house the ancient buildings. But the game is pulling in two directions. Low rolls help you complete these structures, but high rolls go a lot further towards claiming the cards. The game also has a nice catch up mechanism, as when you don’t claim a card you draw a number of delver cards equal to the number of dice you had committed towards that card. These delver cards provide various game changing effects which can help you claim more resources or cards in the future and get back into the game, even after a string of bad luck.

The resources are used to build a sort of hexagonal puzzle to claim wonder tiles seen in the center of each hexagon.

I cannot say enough about the art of the game. It’s simply beautiful, and very unique. It definitely drew me in, and while it’s not what finally got me out of the house to try the hobby again, it’s certainly what made me sit down and stay for a game or two. And with a simple spark like that I am excited about the hobby again, ready to play the games that have lain dormant on the shelf, discover new ones, and of course, write about them here. A hobby that is dear to you is like a home that you can return to. Familiar and friendly, and able to unearth a simple joy that perhaps was forgotten.

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