Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Steve Brück

Helvetia Games

No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Since 2011 Swiss publisher HELVETIA GAMES provides us with games set in the fantasy country Helvetia which has some remarkable similarities to Switzerland as we know it. In all of their games they succeeded in giving the different fantasy versions of real-life ethnic groups like the Primitiva or the Friburga individual skills to act in the games, but always with a little wink of the eye towards their real likes and dislikes. Beyond the theme, as a peculiarity, the earlier games released by HELVETIA GAMES stood out due to some fresh ideas and game mechanics, although not everything worked perfect. But as I always appreciate off-mainstream games, I was delighted that HELVETIA GAMES, after a year off, released Unita at SPIEL '14.

In contrast to the funny Football game Helvetia Cup and the a bit lengthy Shafausa, the two older games by HELVETIA GAMES, the new game turns out to be a very abstract one, but it still comes with a strong theme that is consequently transposed into the graphical design and the game mechanics. Unita is a game about the battles for and against the independence for Helvetia. Every player represents a group with its own goals and commands a battalion of four companies to succeed. "Ah, but where are those military forces?" many players are asking after their first look at the game. All we can find in the gamebox are the board with many colourful square fields that seem to form some kind of labyrinth and a lot of dice in four different colours. OK, there are also some cards and terrain tiles, but nothing is there which might faintly resemble military forces. Have we truly seen the whole content? Yes we have: it are those dice that we use as units for each of our four companies, and each company consists of four units (dice) each.


At the start of the game all players turn all their dice to their initial power - the side which is marked in red on each die. The higher the number, the higher the unit's combat strength, but only few dice start with the maximum strength of six. After turning the dice it is time to form our companies. For this we alternately place a die at a free space on our given starting positions, thus forming the 4 companies consisting of four dice each. In the game these companies follow spiral-shaped paths towards the centre of the board. Each player has his own path, next to two paths used by opposing players.

In a turn a player has three actions to move his companies. Whenever a company is moved next to a company of an opponent moving on a neighboring path, it comes to a battle. Then - for each section (a section is defined as the two dice that meet head to head) the result of the combat is determined. The dice with the lower number loses the fight and consequently one life point. As a result, the die is turned to the next smaller number. In case of a tie, the dice behind the two connected dice are compared and the higher ones determine the outcome of the battle. After the fight, the front-lines of both, the attacking and the defending company, are exchanged with the back-line by taking the two dice from the front to the back-line and vice versa.

As said, every player's path for his companies ends in the middle of the board at a gate. All dice arriving there are put aside, without changing the sides of the dice any more. After all companies have reached the goal, the remaining strength values on the surviving dice are added up for each player and the player with the most points wins the game.

But that is not all: at the beginning of the game we can place terrains with special effects onto our path on the board. Entering a space with a terrain changes the rules, so that, for example, there is a territory in which each 1 on a die counts as 5, quite useful shortly before reaching the gate when your battalions normally are substantially weakened.


To my mind Unita turns out to be a very unique and interesting game. Learning the basic mechanics is not very complex, but to master the game it will take some time. Unita gives the players some interesting possibilities to tactically influence the outcomes of the battles. First you think it to be easy, but especially in the end game you will feel your companies pressing forward into battle with your opponents, because a player's companies cannot pass each other. Still I am not quite sure whether you can really strategically plan your moves, since much depends on the actions of your opponents. Playtesting showed that you definitely should turn special attention to the starting phase, a phase many new players put not much value to. In this phase there is most potential to strategically plan your game, because you see where your opponents place their stronger forces and you can react by choosing the best positions to attack your opponents.

If all players know the game it does take you about 30 to 40 minutes, but for new players it will take much longer, about 60 to 90 minutes. Because of this game length in combination with the abstract game design, some of my fellow players became slightly bored after a while, but I must say that I was quite fascinated by the idea of forming a company out of the four dice. So, taken all together I liked the game a lot, and so I think it's really a pity that the game does not offer a good two-player variant. In a two player game, you roughly play a four player game with each player playing two battalions. For me this is kind of a bad compromise. The true design is for three or four players, and personally I think it is best with four players. So, you must look out for enough players who like this type of game. I would like to play it more often, but at the moment the game is not really favoured by my playing groups. So you better should check before you buy!

As far as the game material and the illustration of the game board is concerned, there is certainly nothing wrong. In contrast, especially the dice have a great design and are nice to handle - not only because of their sheer size. In the end the game leaves me a bit indecisive: on the one hand I would like to love it, but on the other hand I do not find enough friends who share my interest in playing the game.

[Gamebox Index]

Google Custom Search

Impressum / Contact Info / Disclaimer


Copyright & copy; 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany