When a Wargamer plays Board Games – Unfathomable Review
I know what you're all thinking. Why on earth is Jack writing a board game review? He's the Warhammer guy right?
Well yes, yes I am. But I also dabble in a lot of games from other areas of the store, as do my colleagues, and so you can expect to see more reviews from both myself, and other members of staff, where they may be reviewing products you wouldn't necessarily associate with them.
So let's get started. Unfathomable. When this game was announced the internet went mad. “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA RESKIN”, board game aficionados would scream, to which I would reply, “Huh?”. Now now, before you start to call me an uncultured heathen who knows nothing of board games, let me make a couple of things clear. First of all, when it released back in 2008 I wasn't really following board games and rarely played them (thankfully I matured into the game loving nerd I am today) and secondly, even if I had been board gaming at the time, I'm not a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica so it's unlikely I would have picked it up anyway. Fast Forward 13 years and slap an Arkham Horror skin over the top of it however and I'm all in.
Moving onto the actual game itself rather me just rambling on, I was
lucky enough to play Unfathomable on the day of release after a
friend invited me round to play it, and I can say right now, I'm very
glad he did. The game is for 3-6 players and we played as a group of
You start off aboard a ship, the SS Atlantica and the story begins with the group having just found a person on the ship dead. Each player is given or chooses a character to play as and many factors of the game will be affected by that choice. For example, only one player can be the captain, and there is a hierarchy between all the playable characters. Whoever has the character highest up the hierarchy assumes the role of the captain. Whilst my character wasn't important enough to be the captain, I did get take the role of the Keeper of the Tome which gave me access to better spellcasting, something I was very happy with. Another consequence of your choice of character is where you will start the game out at. I, as William Bowleg started in the Chapel whilst my friends started in other areas of the ship.
Once the characters had been selected and put into the right area of the ship, it was time to get started. Our aim? To navigate the SS Atlantica home safely. To do that we would need to progress our travel tracker forwards to the end which would allow the captain (and only the captain) to look at the top 2 cards in a pile. Now these cards would each represent a location in the sea that we'd travel past on our journey to land. Each would have a number on from 2-4 and the captain would choose which to reveal and use. The higher the number, the closer to land and safety we get. Why wouldn't the captain always choose the highest number then you ask? More on that later.
So the game began and was quite straight forward to follow once we knew what we were doing. On each players turn they would get to perform 2 actions and the actions available to the players were quite broad. A player could move to any area of the ship they wished and that would cost 1 action. On top of that, each player had a hand of cards that would let you perform specific actions, a character sheet with character specific actions on as well as having room specific actions which could be performed if they were in the right location. After the player has performed 2 actions a mythos card would be revealed revealing an event that has occurred that also has a chance to do various things such as move the ship along the travel track, activate the Deep Ones or if you're particularly unlucky activate Mother Hydra or Father Dagon.
To resolve the event, generally all the players work together to throw in a set amount of cards of a certain type to pass. 2 additional cards are also added in secretly however and if they're not of the correct card type then they'll actually detract from the groups total and potentially make the group fail the event, leading to tough consequences.
Each of us had a turn and we were all thinking oh yeah, this is going to be easy, as long as we all work together then we shouldn't have a problem. Oh how naïve we were, for after each of us had played a turn, we were all dealt a card in secret. This card would reveal if we were still human or if we had become a hybrid and we're now working against the other members of the crew.
Now, I'd been dealt a card which said I was human, so I knew I hadn't succumb to the Deep Ones just yet, but this of course made me suspicious of everyone else at the table. Who was the imposter among us? And just like that, the mood changed as suspicion set in amongst us all. Turns carried on as they were before, with each of us performing 2 actions and then drawing a mythos card. I knew I wasn't a traitor, but the others also were showing no signs of working against the crew. Were we all still human, or was someone just hiding their true motives?
We reached the end of the travel track and the captain got to look at the two top cards in the travel deck. He studied them for a moment before placing down a token with a value of 4. Four! The highest number available in the deck. This really got the ship moving and reduced my suspicions of the captain. The turns kept on going and we generally were doing well at passing the events thrown at us by the mythos cards. The Deep Ones also were not causing us too much harm, as whenever they left the deep to come to the ship and onto the deck, the ritual would be performed to send them back to the depths.
Our trackers for Food, Fuel, Souls and Sanity (which if any reached zero meant game over for the humans) were all also reasonably well stocked. Things were going well. We got the travel tracker to the end again and the captain mulled over a couple of cards before revealing a card with a value of 3. We were really motoring at this point, over halfway to the total of 12 that we needed to reach safety.
But then it happened. As we'd passed the half way point of the game, a card was again dealt out to each player in secret. Again, this would tell us if we'd fallen to the Deep Ones and become a hybrid. We all took a deep breath and looked at our cards and then I saw it. “You are a Hybrid.” It took all my concentration to keep a straight face. I had been turned. I was now on the side of those I'd been fighting against all game, and that side was losing.
As I said previously, the Food, Fuel, Souls and Sanity trackers were all pretty well stocked. The ship was also relatively undamaged as we'd done so well at repelling the Deep Ones and we were half way to land and safety for the humans. Something had to be done.
I spent the next few turns laying low, performing actions similarly to how I had been doing beforehand to avoid suspicion. The travel tracker again reached the end and the captain revealed another card with a value of 4. The humans were so close to safety, I had to do something. Whilst Mother Hydra and Father Dagon hadn't been able to reach the ship, the smaller Deep Ones were beginning to board the ship on mass now so as my action I used a card which let me move some of them to different areas of the ship, hoping they'd be able to overrun the ship before the end. There wasn't much else I could do and so the turns passed and my friends were able to get the travel tracker to the end once more. No matter what value they got, Reaching a total of 12 was certain and I thought it was game over, but in a twist of fate, after a check of the rules we discovered that to win, the humans had to get the travel tracker to the end one last time after reaching a total value of 12 on the travel cards, and so I had one final turn to try and pull something off.
Before it got around to my turn again, the players again managed to move the travel tracker forward, now only 2 spaces away from the end and victory for the humans. This was my last chance. I studied my cards and the board in front of me. The Fuel, Food, Souls and Sanity trackers were still all on at least 3, there was no way I could get any of those down to 0 this turn. But then I looked at the board, only 3 rooms remained undamaged. If I could ensure all rooms were damaged it would sink the ship and give me the win. I knew what I had to do.
I looked down at my cards again, nothing in hand. Then I noticed an item card in front of my character sheet that I'd picked up earlier. It was a Jam Tin Grenade. It allowed me to throw it into an adjacent room and defeat any characters and deep ones in the room as well as damaging the room. Now one of my friend's characters was in that room so in doing this I was revealing myself as the traitor, but I had to do it.
In went the grenade and whilst my friend used some shenanigans to avoid being defeated, it still damaged the room which was my main aim. After that, only two rooms remained undamaged and with nothing left that I could do directly it was down to fate on what would happen. Now both of those rooms had Deep Ones within them, which meant that when I drew the mythos card at the end of the turn, if It had the Deep Ones symbol upon it then they would activate and damage the rooms they were in.
We all watched with bated breath as I flipped over the card. Over it turned and I saw that little Deep One icon in the bottom corner of the card and let out a cheer! I had done it, I'd destroyed the ship and let it sink to the depths where Mother Hydra and Father Dagon would be able to do what they wish with it and the people on board.
As a 'What if...?' scenario we flipped over the following mythos card and to my friend's annoyance they saw that if they'd just have made it past my turn then the ship would have travelled to land and they would have won.
Overall, I have to say that I absolutely loved playing this game. The traitor mechanic was a lot of fun and I relished taking on the role of The Hybrid, hidden amongst the players. Whilst it was a lot of fun, I think it would be even better playing with a bigger group, as with 6 players I'm sure that the suspicion amongst the group would be tenfold and it would be even harder to deduce is playing as a Hybrid.
The traitor mechanic is a lot of fun
The artwork on the board is gorgeous
Each character feels unique and has specific actions available only to them
Other than Mother Hydra and Father Dagon, all the other Deep One miniatures are the same pose without any variation
Player characters are represented by cardboard standees, would have been nice if they were also miniatures like the Deep Ones