There’s been an influx of absurd party games that rely heavily on quirky artwork as a gimmick and delivers a fun experience (Exploding Kittens, Bears vs. Babies, etc.), but once the laughter ends they tend to be rather lackluster games. They’re still fun when playing with new players but they don’t really come off the shelf unless someone new sits down at the table.
Does Unstable Unicorns fall into this category? Or does its entertainment value have a longer shelf life?
Let’s find out. (Or you could just skip to the TL;DR).
Brief Overview of Unstable Unicorns
Build a Unicorn Army. Betray Your Friends. Unicorns Are Your Friends Now.
Unstable Unicorns is a quirky little card game in which players collect unicorns to add to their stables while playing cards to mess with their opponents.
The artwork and humor in the game is all tongue-in-cheek. I literally laughed out loud and was cracking myself up when I saw some of the cards.
The basic unicorn cards are all “BASIC” unicorns. One wears a hipster flannel shirt, another is taking a selfie with duck face, and another is enjoying a pumpkin spice latte. It’s stupid but hilarious.
Versions & Expansions
Unstable Unicorns: Dragons Expansion Pack
Let your game of Unstable Unicorns take flight!
This expansion adds all kinds of dragon-themed upgrades and new unicorns to the game. My personal favorite is the Unicorn with the Dragon Tattoo. Clearly the humor in the game hasn’t changed.
With the dragons come new abilities and dragon-based attacks to cause even more adorable chaos.
Includes: 54 Fire-breathing Cards*
*(Cards should not actually breathe fire. If you see flames, something has gone horribly wrong.)
Unstable Unicorns: Rainbow Apocalypse Expansion Pack
Kill your enemies with kindness… or a massive plague.
This expansion actually lets you double-dip. It contains both the Rainbow Sprinkle expansion that has 27 new adorable cards that are nauseatingly cute and it includes some seriously destructive cards to wipe out your competitors’ unicorns.
- Rainbow apocalypse pack: 54 card expansion pack, tuck box
- The first person to build an army of 7 unicorns wins!
- For 2-8 players, ages 14 and up. 30-45 minutes playtime.
Unstable Unicorns: Unicorns of Legend Expansion Pack
It may seem a little redundant considering unicorns are pretty legendary on their own, so what does this expansion add?
The Unicorn of Legend expansion gives me a Dungeons & Dragons vibe by adding fantasy-themed cards. There’s guardsmen, paladins, and a host of new cards to mix up the game.
- A magical expansion pack for unstable unicorns
- Contains 54 additional cards
- For 2-8 players
Unstable Unicorns: NSFW Edition
Time to get weird with adorable but sexualized unicorns… I never thought that would be something I wrote.
The NSFW edition comes with 54 new cards that are, well… not safe for work. There are blow-up unicorns, dildos, and even a Walk of Shame unicorn. It gets weird.
- Horrify your friends. Abandon them. Unicorns don't judge.
- Includes 135 nsfw cards
- The same gameplay as the beloved unstable unicorns, just a...
Unboxing Unstable Unicorns
Unstable Unicorns comes in a very compact box, but you know the saying: “Good things come in small packages”.
The box and storage are well done, which is usually the case for card-only games. The box is very sturdy and could probably take a few hits.
The cards themselves are all of high quality, and chances are you won’t need to sleeve anything unless you really want to. However, they probably won’t fit back in the box if you do.
Overall, I’m very impressed. The cards are pretty and sturdy and it’s everything I would want from a card game in a nice package.
- 135 cards
- 1 rulebook
How to Play Unstable Unicorns
Learn how unstable your friendships really are.
Unstable Unicorns is a very simple game to learn but has a decent amount of strategy built into it so that it doesn’t feel flat.
To begin, the first player will draw a card and then have a choice of playing a card or drawing another card.
The complexity comes in with the cards themselves. There are a lot of cards in the game that affect everyone at the table… including the person who played it.
You’ll have to think strategically to win.
Speaking of winning, the first player to get 7 or 6 unicorns in their stable wins the game.
- For a 2-5 player game, you’ll need 7.
- For a 6-8 player game, you’ll need 6.
There’s a lot of chain reaction cards that can take effect, so a winner can only be declared after all cards have been resolved in a round.
For example, if you play a card that brings you up to 7 unicorns in your stable, but through several card reactions you lose a unicorn, you won’t be declared the winner.
There are actually several different types of cards in the game:
- Magical Unicorn
- Basic Unicorn
- Baby Unicorn
Instant: Instant cards can be played at any time and their effects happen the moment you play the card. These can be counter cards, called Neigh cards, which I’ll talk about in a bit.
Upgrade: You can actually upgrade your unicorns. Who knew? Each upgrade gives your stable some kind of boost that will help you out. You can give them a Rainbow Mane that lets you add more unicorns to your stable as a free action, or you might find yourself with a Glitter Bomb in your stable that you can use to blow up other unicorns. Ouch!
Downgrade: On the other end of the spectrum, you can also downgrade other players’ stables. Someone could plant a Nanny Cam Unicorn in your stable, forcing you to play with your hand revealed, or they could play a Sadistic Ritual which forces you to sacrifice a Unicorn. 🙁
Magic: These cards give a beneficial effect for you but can also mess with other players. The Raze the Stables card will let you destroy a downgrade or upgrade card in someone’s stable. This will let you get rid of a bad effect in your own stable or mess with someone else’s unicorns. There’s also a very cute arsonist unicorn on the card. Let the little guy burn it all down. He looks so happy.
Magical Unicorn: These guys are at the top of the unicorn hierarchy. Magical unicorns will give some crazy bonuses and you’ll want to protect them from other players’ attacks. My favorite, by far, is the Ginormous Unicorn. It’s the fattest unicorn you’ve ever seen and it counts as 2 unicorns for scoring purposes. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play any instants while it’s in your stable.
Basic Unicorns: These guys and gals are about as basic as you get. They offer no special abilities, but they’re hilarious and cute.
Baby Unicorns: You’ll start the game with only one of these little guys in the game. Unless a card says otherwise, that’s the only baby unicorn you’ll get.
If someone plays a brutal card or tries to steal/kill your unicorns, what do you say?
Neigh cards are, let’s be honest, adorably punny. They also are extremely powerful. Neigh cards cancel out another player’s card. If someone is going after your adorable Chainsaw Unicorn, you can drop the NEIGH, canceling out their move.
Where 1 unicorn neighs, more are sure to follow. You can actually Neigh a Neigh, but not if it’s a SUPER NEIGH.
WTF am I even saying at this point?
All weirdness aside, the Neigh cards are blocks or counter cards. If someone plays something you don’t like, you can cancel it out with a Neigh. Another player can then counter your Neigh with another Neigh. The Super Neigh card does the same thing, but it cannot be blocked.
Your First Game of Unstable Unicorns
First off, go and change your shirt… I’ll wait. Something bright and colorful. Preferably with a rainbow.
According to the rules, the player that is wearing the most colors gets to go first.
Unstable Unicorns is very easy to set up and play.
Everybody starts with a single baby unicorn in their stable. It doesn’t matter what color or which one you get, as long as it’s just one of the baby ones.
You’ll honestly pick up the game in a round or two. It’s not a particularly hard game. I will say that you may want to save your Neigh cards for an extremely damaging attack. The Super Neigh is probably your most valuable card if you can get one. Remember, they can cancel any card and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.
Pros & Cons
- Adorable artwork
- Easy setup and quick to play
- Longer shelf life than similar types of games
- Surprisingly little luck involved
Okay, let’s talk about the elephant (or unicorn) in the room: the artwork. This is the major draw for most people and what initially attracts people to the game. It’s cute and sometimes horrifying. Just the right mix of oddball and adorable that I really enjoy. Chances are you’re picking this up because of the box.
The game itself is very easy to play and can be set up and put away pretty quickly. It’s always the games that are easy to set up that end up seeing more table time, just because its easier to get everyone to the table and the game quickly.
For such a small game, there’s really a lot of strategy involved. Normally, these games come with a high luck factor but that’s actually not the case here. Sure, the luck-of-the-draw adds inherent randomness to the game but it’s all about when and how you play your cards that will be the deciding factor in the game. Overall, I’m rather impressed with what they’ve managed to accomplish here. They’ve turned a rather silly gimmick into a legitimate game.
- Don’t expect a complete game-changer
- Can sometimes go on longer than expected
- Can be pretty dark at times
Onto my pet peeves about the game. There’s not a whole lot to criticize but I’ll give it a go. The game has some FLUXX like loops and by that, I mean that you can get into a never-ending game. The game ends when someone gets enough unicorns in their stable but the game also ends when there are no more cards in the draw pile.
There are also several cards that make you reshuffle the discard pile back into the draw pile. This can have the effect of creating a never-ending game if you’re not careful. I can see where they were going from a design standpoint but every now and then a game can really drag on.
For those of you with kids, this may or may not be a sticking point. The artwork is adorable and is very tongue in cheek but as adorable as it is, it can get pretty dark quickly. I’m thinking of all of the poor unicorns that get destroyed within a game and some are straight-up murdered (ritualistic sacrifice). It’s pretty messed up if you think about it, and some of the younger crowd could easily be attracted to the bright and colorful artwork, only to have their favorite unicorn murdered in front of them. Just a minor thing. There’s no real graphic violence or anything, but I thought I’d throw it out there and parents can make a decision for themselves. Don’t get the NSFW expansion if you have kids, though. There’s a lot of dick jokes in there.
Unstable Unicorn is an absurd card game with adorable and sometimes disturbing artwork for 2-8 players.
Players win by filling their stables with 7 or 6 unicorns (depending on the number of players).
There is a surprisingly little amount of luck in-game. The only luck elements come from card draws but the rest of the game requires timing and strategy to be successful.
It’s easy to set up and play and usually games only last a short amount of time. They occasionally will drag on, though.
I was expecting another gimmicky game that would last only a few playthroughs before I was absolutely sick of it.
Unstable Unicorns is one of the few that actually has some staying power. Behind the goofy exterior is a pretty fun game. The artwork and theme definitely help but it stands up pretty well on its own.
It’s especially good for teens and college kids who haven’t quite grown up. I would be a little hesitant for the really younger crowd though. The artwork works for them, but some of the humor might go right over their heads.
Overall, it’s a great quirky little game that’s great for casual players or as a starter game for something bigger later in the game night. It has a very wide appeal so you might be able to convince non-boardgamers to play. It is also a blast to play at the pub.
Have you played Unstable Unicorns? Which one is your favorite unicorn? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop a comment below and let us know just how unstable you really are.