Review – Unearth: The Lost Tribe
If you’ve never played or heard of Unearth, feel free to follow that link to Chris’ excellent review of it. In The Lost Tribe expansion, players are treated to new Wonders, Stones, Delver cards, Ruins, and a new purple set of dice so you can welcome up to five players at one time to your Unearth game. And it all fits in the base game box!
I don’t usually like expansions. That’s not to say I don’t buy them sometimes, but I struggle to get into them. If I like a base game enough, sometimes I feel like expansions add or change too much. The other side of that coin is the problem where an expansion doesn’t add enough to justify existing – if all it does is add a few more cards that really sounds more like a promo than a full expansion. So this is to say, for me to like an expansion it has to hit a sweet spot; it shouldn’t just be more of the “same ol’ same ol’,” but it also shouldn’t require me to re-learn a bunch of rules. Unearth: The Lost Tribe hits that sweet spot, in my opinion.
I’ll get the bad over with first: if you didn’t like Unearth, then this isn’t going to change your mind. Especially if you think the game drags with max players, adding another isn’t going to help. Also, the solo mode is a welcome addition, but it’s quite the challenge from my experience. Solo mode, AKA “Against the Darkness,” pits you against the Darkness Board while it slowly accrues stones. Adding another wrinkle are the Scenario cards, which up the difficulty as well. I’m not usually a fan of solo modes but this one was a bit of a brain-burner that made me want to try again right after it destroyed my score.
There are some new stones in town: The Phantom, which basically counts as a wild color but subtracts a point, The Memory Stone, which lets you draw 2 Delver Cards, and the Warpstone, which lets you swap the positions of any 2 stones in your tableau once. These additions to the mix of colored stones open up some interesting possibilities for strategy and adaptation, especially when you need to move that 1 stone to get your Greater Wonder or Named Wonder.
Speaking of Named Wonders, The Lost Tribe gives players 9 new Wonders, as well as 2 new End of age cards. One even comes with 2 extra ruins. The new Ruins type, Ravines, are a dark pink color with buildings built into the sides of deep crevasses and valleys (I know what I wrote but they’re not red, they’re dark pink okay?). Now that there are 6 different ruin types, players who manage to collect them all get 10 points per set, instead of the base game’s 5 points per set of 5 different ruins.
The 3 new Delver cards are actually called Response cards, because they can be played out of turn when another player rolls a 4! Starting with the active player, each player has the chance to play 1 Response card – if you want to play more you can, but you have to wait until it comes back around to your turn. Players have a chance to give any other die +2 or -2 (Against the Darkness), Take a Stone from the Ruin where the 4 was rolled (Old Stones), or Reroll any other die already on a Ruin (Second Chances). Each of these cards has the potential to turn the tide, and it’s great that they promote engagement from each player even when it isn’t their active turn.
While some players might wince at the idea of adding a 5th player, I think the new Response cards and stones add enough to keep the game moving along nicely, even at max table capacity. The new Wonders and Ruins are welcome additions, and add enough newness to make The Lost Tribe feel like a good expansion that is worth it.
A review copy was provided by the Publisher.
The Bottom Line
If you liked Unearth, even a middling bit, this expansion is worth picking up. It adds enough spice to not just be "more of the same," but doesn't crank the complexity up to 11 either. This is exactly what I look for in expansions - not enough to drastically alter the base game, but enough to make me look at it in a new way. Highly recommendable.