Unfair Solo: Building a Theme Park of Twists and Turns
Create a theme park filled with all sorts of fun attractions and rides to bring in the crowds for a getaway in Unfair.
Long ago, but perhaps not so long ago, I discovered Kickstarter and backed my very first project, Unfair! It saw some table time over the years, often leading to many hilarious sessions with various players. It went without a solo mode for ages, yet when I saw it announced in the next expansion, I eagerly picked up the early PDFs to build my theme park!
Game Name: Unfair
Publication Year: 2017
Designer: Joel Finch
Artists: N. Castles, L. Cossette, D. Forest, and P. Poirier
Publisher: Good Games Publishing
Solo Mode: Official, Unfinalized PDF Solo Variant
Giraffe not included… I got some new Calico Critters to go along with my excitement! A tableau takes shape as new attractions, upgrades, and staff members join the park. Various theme pack combinations create tons of variety, along with plenty of laughs. It’s all about the fun of it all!
May 1, 2022
May 1, 2022
36" x 24"
An Easy Sequence
The rules aren’t overly complex, particularly when using some of the theme packs with minimal special abilities.
Each round is easy enough to progress through, yet it’s made even better with this round tracker! A little rollercoaster keeps track of every step. So much fun!
I started off with the Pirate and Robot themes, although the solo difficulty can be slightly increased by adding in a third theme pack. Definitely looking forward to that.
Gameplay flows through events and building a park, complete with ticket sales and the flow of money.
Best First Player Token
Indeed, an adorable Calico Critter giraffe family stopped by to celebrate the opening of my theme park! This little one showed off the awesome first player token.
Unintentionally, I sort of provided a pirate-themed party hat from the background. So cute, and not on purpose!
The solo opponent alternates being the first player, and takes actions based on a flow chart. It’s fairly easy to follow and has parameters for every possible move.
But before I move on… How cute is this giraffe?! I lost it for a moment before going forward. Cuteness overload!
City events don’t affect the solo opponent, but typically provide an overarching effect for the entire round. These start out positive at the start, then turn into challenges.
I never minded the negative city events, as they felt somewhat thematic as a park’s size increased.
The individual events are what give the game its name, for they tend to have take-that qualities that I don’t enjoy.
One way around this is to play without any negative events, which is an official and legitimate way to play. Yet to start out, I left them in just to experience them again.
Race to the Top
During the first round, I watched a little rollercoaster start to take shape. Naturally, I needed to get some awesome thematic elements going before adding a splashdown!
Stars represent income, while the icons are used in final scoring. Larger attractions can be quite lucrative, and I wanted this to be the talk of the world. To the top!
Actually, I think the game appeals to me after countless hours playing Rollercoaster Tycoon back in the day.
Come to think of it, I was a monster at times and caused crashes with my simulated rollercoaster designs… Yikes!
Staff to the Rescue
Although attractions offer the most exciting ways to earn victory points, staff members provide additional avenues.
The snack seller helped me generate plenty of income as I built up my rollercoaster’s star rating. Effectively, I had more opportunities to purchase more and more!
I also picked up some helpful blueprints. These can help provide goals to work towards, especially since they’re worth negative victory points if they’re incomplete.
All in all, this looked like a nice theme park, even though I felt like it was mechanical. Was I an android greeter?!
The Intersection of Theme and Mechanics
Games incorporate a lot of elements, and by no means is it an easy task to make everything work smoothly. One thing I’ve learned about myself lately is that I sometimes get over-excited about the artwork or theme. I set expectations without even knowing what gameplay might be like. Not the best way to approach a new game!
The important thing, though, is that I know I have a tendency to do this. I also know what happened in this case: I used the recommended starting theme packs. Pirates and robots are awesome, but mechanically speaking, they feature the fewest special cases. Only a couple of cards provide ongoing bonuses to keep track of and utilize.
Solo gaming is a bit of a personal journey in some ways. I’m learning more as I keep playing! Perhaps I was unfair, if you’ll pardon the pun. But rather than write off the game, it made me see where I could improve it for myself and have more fun in the future. Just don’t let me test a rollercoaster design without the proper permits… Ha ha!
A Little Boost
Alright. I might have finished playing the game, but I was far from done enjoying it! My rollercoaster was very impressive and I picked up the round marker to celebrate.
Trouble was, it was a little too heavy to move around. I enlisted some tiny help and voila! Even more fun.
I successfully pulled off a narrow victory, mainly due to my giant rollercoaster and lucky blueprints.
There was a challenge, yet I definitely didn’t enjoy the negative events. Other theme packs offer more, too, so I’ll have to come back to explore more ways to play.
Play Number: 1 and 2
Solo Mode: Official, Unfinalized PDF Solo Variant
Play Details: Pirate and Robot Theme Packs
Outcome: 191-180 and 176-195 (1 Win and 1 Loss)
Each set of theme packs provides a scoring threshold, and the solo opponent can add or subtract to this depending on how things play out. I fell just shy my second time, ruined by an impossible blueprint! I felt underwhelmed, yet I think I know how to improve this for next time. It still holds a special place in my collection and I look forward to trying out more of the unique theme packs in the future!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Every element brings the theme across to deliver lots of fun-filled visuals and the sense of being at a theme park.
- Various theme packs introduce new artwork and mechanics to provide plenty of different kinds of attractions.
- Building an enormous ride with many upgrades is very satisfying, especially with how the stacked cards look.
- The sequence of play is easy to follow with a round tracker and summary cards that provide helpful information.
- Events provide random elements, while blueprints offer specific goals to work toward for a bit of structure.
- Several included game changers allow for official variants that can help customize the solo play experience.
– Cons (Negatives)
- The card quality is rather disppointing for a card-based game with lots of warping and slightly different sizes.
- Negative events can be very mean and ruin a strategy, although it’s nice to be able to ignore them if desired.
- Sorting through the decks during cleanup can be time-consuming, especially with the tiny letters in the corners.
- It can feel like a lot to follow the solo opponent’s flow chart just to remove cards and add to the victory threshold.
Meet the Threshold
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Win at least 1 game with the Pirate theme pack.
Win at least 1 game with the Robot theme pack.
Continue the Conversation
Have you tried Unfair solo? I loved certain aspects of it, but as I modified the multiplayer experience, it sounds like I’ll follow suit when I next play again. Are you a fan of take-that elements? Although they lead to some humor, I prefer to keep everything I build without the threat of losing something looming over me. Only rollercoasters may loom. Ha ha!
I’ve only played this multiplayer – and it’s fun, but the way someone else can casually crash your entire plan means I tend not to put much effort into the plan in the first place. Do you get that feeling in solo? I’m interested to see if dropping the negative events can fix it.
There’s a card, called World Peace or something similar, that changes the game so that everyone is aware that negative events aren’t in play. That can be great in multiplayer to remove the chaos! I’m also not a fan of having my carefully laid plans destroyed, although it can be enjoyable at times to play at that sort of pace. Normally, I prefer player interaction to be more about racing to get certain cards, blocking actions, or other things that don’t destroy what I’ve built!
I don’t specifically remember how solo felt different, but negative events felt much less common coming from the solo opponent. I still had a pretty aggressive strategy, so keep that in mind if the negative events really aren’t for you. I’m planning to try this out again when the final version arrives, although that still looks like it’s a few months away!