Unfathomable – first impressions – The Boardgames Chronicle

Among my boardgames friends there is a special subset with pretty specific interest and focus – HP Lovecraft prose and titles connected to this. Not surprisingly, we play with them a lot of Arkham Horror or Mansion of Madness. They also love Battlestar Galactica, so when I heard that there will be game combining its mechanics with the theme and world set-up of above-mentioned famous author, I knew we will play it! Krzysztof and Maciej would never allow it to pass! What I have in mind? Unfathomable!

The game

The year is 1913. The steamship SS Atlantica is two days out from port on its voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Its unsuspecting passengers fully anticipated a calm journey to Boston, Massachusetts, with nothing out of the ordinary to look forward to. However, strange nightmares plague the minds of the people aboard the ship every night; rumors circulate of dark shapes following closely behind the ship just beneath the waves; and tensions rise when a body is discovered in the ship’s chapel, signs of a strange ritual littered around the corpse.

Lurking within the depths of the Atlantic Ocean are a swarm of vicious, unspeakable horrors: the Deep Ones, led by Mother Hydra and Father Dagon. For reasons unknown, they have set their sights on the Atlantica, and their minions, taking the form of human-Deep One hybrids, have infiltrated the steamship to help sink it from within. Each game of Unfathomable has one or more players assuming the role of one of these hybrids, and how well they can secretly sabotage the efforts of the other players might mean the difference between a successful voyage and a sunken ship.

If you’re a human, you need to fend off Deep Ones, prevent the Atlantica from taking too much damage, and carefully manage the ship’s four crucial resources if you want any hope of making it to Boston. And if you are a Hybrid, you will do whatever possible to prevent it. Who will prevail?

The session

As you can see from above game description, it was pretty obvious that knowing Battlestar Galactica mechanics we will quickly catch-up with this title – there were some minor tweaks and changes (except obvious theme shift) but other than that it was the same paranoia of finding who is the traitor! Good friends like Krzysztof and Maciej, as well as my wife Magda (less prone and susceptible to the atmosphere of the game 🙂 ) were perfect companion for such a position,

So let me invite you to a brief, picture-rich session report!

Time to start the game! Ships starts it fateful journey…
Multiple Deep Ones starts to storm the prove of the ship. But the revolver in the firm hand of the captain settles the score quickly!
Just like in Battlestar Galactica, each character has his/her special card, equipment, reference sheet, feat card and of course loyalty cards, marking whether you are human or.. hybrid!
Here she comes, Mother Hydra and her minions, six Deep Ones. But the Sister Marry (with fantastic gloves!) will take a car of them!
It is getting serious. We for sure have a traitor (we traveled over half of the distance). Many rooms are damaged, enemies are attacking form all directions, the resources are decreasing. Will we survive?
Yes! In the end we get to the port! We almost run out of fuel and food, but get just enough for the last leg. As it occurred, we identified Hybrid correctly – Maciej – and quickly put him in the brig! That was definitely key to success!

The impressions

It was only initial play so the impressions will be of course limited, but let me share some of them immediately:

  • The game has a really good, proven and tested mechanics – the traitor, tests, victory conditions, etc. it all plays very well. Still, there is not much novelty or changes from its archetype (Battlestar Galactica)
  • The game is pretty thematic although for me the traitor will forever be connected to Cylon rather than some deep see Hybrid!
  • There should be replay value – each time different person/character can take the leading role of Captain; the event cards bring a lot of surprises and suspense; the missions can be very intriguing. Still, you need a group of friends who will be enjoying constant atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion!

Summary

Battlestar Galactic – both as a TV series and boardgame was a tremendous discovery for me so I cannot avoid comparisons. While mechanically good and thematically ok, Unfathomable did not create such a great impression on me as its predecessor. There is some repetition from previous title, combined with new franchise (HP Lovecraft world) which in the end does not provide as much novelty as I wished for. But definitely feel free to try for yourself!

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