UnNatural Selection a Family card game by Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir
for 2-10 players aged 8+. Games last 15-30 minutes. Published by RnR
When I first saw UnNatural Selection my first thoughts were that it was another game of matching heads, bodies and legs to make funny creatures. Thankfully
this time my first thoughts were way off base. However it is a family game through and through with the only part of it that could possibly aimed at core games players
being the decision making. It has a little bit of "Apples to Apples" and "Dixit" about it in as much as one person has to decide which card wins the round without knowing
to whom the chosen card belongs.
The game is played with a deck of colourful, cartoony cards, each with two parts, a Blue edge and a Yellow edge. The Yellow edge names the character shown on the card,
such as a Pet Rock a River rat or a Honey Badger and the Blue edge has a descriptive word (or words) or action.
Players each have a hand of 3 cards. One player is chosen as start player and they put their cards aside - they will not use them this round. The other players select one of the
cards from their hand to be their fighter and place it face down on the table. When all fighters have been chosen the first player shuffles them up and lays them face up in a
row. Then the other players take turns in adding Blue Edges to these characters to give them more of a personality.
EG: Honey Badger: Sticky, Ancient vs River Rat: Delicate, Wearing Clown Shoes vs Pirate: Greasy. The first player would look at these and think "Who will win this fight?"
The very old (ancient) sticky Honey Badger or the River Rat who went to a fancy dress party (wearing clown shoes) and has a hangover headache (delicate) or the greasy Pirate?
If a Challenge card was used for this example then the first player (the Judge) then selects the character who best suits the Challenge card statement.
They choose the character they think would win and the owner of that character card wins the card and keeps it - the player with the most cards in their stash at the end of the game
is the winner.
There are two ways of playing UnNatural Selection. One is the basic way that pits the player's chosen characters against each other in a fight for survival, ie. the player who
is choosing selects which character they think would win the fight against the others.
The other way to play is to use the Challenge Event cards. The choosing player selects one of these cards, reading through them all, both sides, and deciding which statement
they want the characters to represent, selecting which one they believe to be closest.
The game play is simple, so simple that after a couple of games with the grand children (aged 9 & 10) they were finding it not funny or fun enough. This is partly because each
player has only 3 cards per round and that isn't really enough to make for the amount of fun the game has to offer.
We played a few games using the basic rules and then more using the Challenge Event cards. The kids quickly discarded the Challenge Event cards as not being that good or
even particularly amusing. Then there was, with just 3, 4 or 5 of us playing, the ease of guessing which character card belongs to which player, taking less notice of the actions.
Therefore after the first few games we decided to change the rules ourselves, but only when we had just a few players. The first thing is to have 5 cards each instead of 3 as this gives a
wider choice for descriptions, and thus gives more opportunity for an amusing description. Secondly we added a "blind" character to the row by taking the top card, unseen by anyone,
and adding it to the characters, shuffling it in with them. This of course means that there is a character who may be chosen and thus belongs to no one. If the Judge the unowned card it
was discarded and no one got the point.
However you play it, there is a lot of fun to be had, especially with players nearer the younger end of the suggested age group. The cards are bright and colourful as well as being nicely
illustrated and the rules are short and sweet.