Underleague is a strategy card game for 2-5 players that can be played in about 45 minutes - plus an extra 15 minutes for each player above 2.
Players take on the role of breeders and collectors who pit terrifying creatures against one another in illegal underground pit fights, while also wagering on the results of those fights.
Underleague brings a whole new dimension to card duelling games, using an innovative betting mechanic: not only do you have to outfight your opponents, you also have to know how to play the odds and when to bet against yourself.
Everything you need to play Underleague is in the box. You can start playing straight away, without any set-up or deck-building required, making it a perfect game for experienced card game players and novices alike.
And once you've familiarised yourself with the rules, a single game set provides endless replayability through additional rules for building custom decks and hosting draft tournaments.
We believe Underleague brings something truly new and unique to the genre, which is why we’ve been working over 3 years to bring this game to life. Whether you own dozens of decks for different game systems or you just want something you can play with friends straight out of the box, you'll find something to love about Underleague.
The Underleague core game set contains a total of 400 cards. That means you can play straight out of the box - no deck-building required! - with up to 4 other people.
Alternatively, one copy of the game can support a draft tournament of up to 5 players. And if you want to build your own decks and pit them against your friends', then the base set gives you enough cards to build any legal deck.
Underleague has been designed so that the core rules can be learnt in under 10 minutes. We know a lot of strategy card games can require you to learn a huge amount of vocabulary up-front, so we've made a conscious effort to make the rules as streamlined as possible.
In the standard game mode, all players have their own identical creature deck and share a central strategy deck. During the game, each player will have a hand of strategy cards; a 'stable' of 3 face up creature cards in front of them; and a pile of face-down strategy cards that act as victory cards. Each player will also have their own set of 5 betting chips.
The object of the game is to be the first player to start a round with 20 victory points. Victory points are calculated by adding up the number of victory cards you have with the combined value of your 3 creatures.
Each round of the game consists of three phases. In the pre-season phase, players draw cards based on how successful their betting was on the last turn. In the betting phase, players take turns using their chips to predict which creatures will win or lose fights during the round. And finally, in the combat phase players pit their creatures against their opponents', while using strategy cards to influence the outcome of those fights.
For a more detailed explanation of the rules, check out this review from Married with Boardgames:
You can download a full PDF of the rules (without final rule book formatting) here. If you have any questions at all about how the game works, please ask us in the comments!
We've also included rules for draft leagues. In a draft league, players are given a randomised starting pool of strategy cards, and then take turns drafting creatures and additional strategy cards from a central grid to round out their decks. After that, there is a tournament to determine who drafted the best deck.
And if you and a friend both own copies of Underleague, you can build your own customised creature and strategy decks and battle against each other. Full details of these game modes can also be found in the PDF above.
The Underleague core game set contains 30 unique creature cards and 40 unique strategy cards, each one with a unique effect on the game.
In the box, you'll find 150 creature cards in total - 5 identical decks of 30 cards each. In the basic game mode, each player uses one of those decks, so will have 30 different creatures available to them over the course of a game.
Each creature has 2 numbers indicating its power. When you challenge an opponent's creature, the defending player chooses when the fight will happen, and then each creature rolls a number of dice equal to its 'day' or 'night' power, dependent on when the fight is happening.
At the bottom of each creature card there is a separate number indicating its value. The higher the combined value of your creatures, the closer you are to winning the game.
There are 3 different types of creatures: beasts, constructs and spirits. Controlling 3 creatures of the same type allows you to draw an additional card each turn. During a game, you'll find that different types of creatures encourage you to adopt different strategies.
While the creatures in your stable are public information, you also have access to a secret hand of strategy cards, which you can use to influence how the game plays out. Strategy cards come in 2 varieties: scheme cards and equipment cards.
Schemes are played from a player's hand and then have an immediate effect on the game. Equipment cards are attached to creatures and have an ongoing effect on that creature - sometimes positive, sometimes negative. To play a scheme or equipment card, you must first pay its cost by discarding that many other cards from your hand.
Please note that the costs shown below for these pledges do not include shipping costs. See the 'shipping' section below for more details.
The Beast Pledge gets you a full copy of the game for £23 (equivalent to about $29 or €26). You'll also get any stretch goals that we unlock later in the campaign.
The Construct Pledge gets you a full copy of the game for £37. In addition to that, you get a playmat featuring artwork from the game and 100 Underleague card sleeves. To play competitively, you'll need a deck of 30 creature cards and 70 strategy cards, so that means you'll have just the right number of sleeves.
Our highest pledge level is the Spirit Pledge. For £72, you get a copy of the game (and all stretch goals), as well as 2 Underleague playmats - perfect for playing against a friend! You also get 400 card sleeves, which is enough to sleeve every card in the box. Finally, you'll also get a promo deck consisting of full art versions of the 30 creature cards in the game.
We have also made a retail pledge level available for retailers interested in stocking Underleague. If you are a retailer and would like to discuss bespoke pledges, or stocking Underleague sleeves or playmats, then please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by messaging us on Kickstarter and we would be happy to discuss retail pricing for bulk orders.
Once you've pledged at the Beast Pledge level or higher, you can customise your pledge by adding as many of the below items as you would like. Simply click on 'Manage your pledge' at the top of the page and add the corresponding amount to it.
We will be shipping these with the other items in your pledge, so for most of these there are no additional shipping costs, wherever you are in the world. However, additional copies of the game will add significant weight to the package we'll be sending you, so please add on the amount shown for your country in the shipping table below.
After the campaign ends, we'll be collecting information from you to make sure we're sending you the right items.
To add an additional copy of Underleague (including extra copies of all of the stretch goals) to your pledge, just add £23 to it, plus the amount required to ship to your country (as shown in the 'shipping' section below).
You can add an extra playmat to your pledge for an additional £12. These playmats help keep your cards clean and make it easy to play on any surface. Each playmat is made of cloth with a rubber backing, and measures 250mm by 354mm.
You can get additional card sleeves by adding £9 to your pledge for each set of 100 sleeves. These sleeves are made of good quality polypropylene and help keep your cards pristine. They measure 63mm by 88mm. This means that any poker-sized cards (i.e. most competitive card games) should fit in them snugly, so feel free to use them for any game that might need them.
We're also producing a limited number of full-art creature promo packs. Each pack contains 30 cards, featuring full art textless versions of the creatures you'll find in Underleague. These cards are a great collectors' item, letting you show off the art of the game. They also work really well for other games that require you to use tokens. For each pack of 30 cards you want to receive, add £6 to your pledge.
As a first-time publisher, we've partnered with Games Quest to help us manage shipping and fulfilment. Games Quest is a UK-based games distributor with a reputation for excellent customer service, and a proven track record of managing fulfilment for Kickstarter projects.
As we're shipping from within the UK, you won't be faced with additional customs charges if you're ordering from the EU. Additionally, the value of these pledges should mean that backers in the USA or Australia won't have to pay any import taxes.
We've tried to keep the cost of shipping as low as possible, wherever you are in the world. These shipping rates are the same for all 3 pledges, and there are no additional shipping fees for add-ons (excluding additional copies of Underleague).
Please note, these shipping rates do not apply to retail pledges, which will be shipped separately. For retail pledges, shipping costs are £20 for US, Canada and EU and £30 for the rest of the world.
Our plan is to distribute all copies to backers (including add-ons) by March 2018. The game will ship as soon as production and quality control are completed, so our ambition is to get it to you significantly sooner than that, but the March deadline factors in contingency time in case any unforeseen issues crop up during the production process.
Underleague has been designed to be easy to learn but difficult to master. We know that strategy card games can be intimidating to new players, so when designing Underleague, our goal was to make a game that we could play with friends and family who don't regularly play boardgames but equally was complex enough that we felt we were still learning things after our 100th game.
The 70 unique cards in the box present players with a range of strategies they can adopt from the start of the game - some obvious but some much less so. At the same time, each turn also throws up complex tactical puzzles. To be successful in Underleague, you'll have to read your opponents and adapt your strategy to fight them.
But don't just take our word for it. Here's what some reviewers have said about Underleague:
Michael Wright from Unfiltered Gamer made a video review of the game using a prototype copy. He particularly enjoyed the tactical nuances of Underleague's unique betting mechanic, and called it a 'really, really fun game'. You can watch his review below:
Page West over at Bored?Games&Co! has a review of the game here: 'The best part of Underleague for me is that...it is playable without building decks...It gives players an entry point to play the game, without the need of having their friends going out and each buying a copy so they all have the same cards. It makes for a fun casual game that isn’t a constant investment into a single game.'
Spencer and Lara from Married with Boardgames also reviewed a prototype copy of Underleague. You can watch their review here.
The Chubby Meeple said that 'Underleague is going to draw comparisons to the granddaddy of creature-battling games, Magic: The Gathering. I don’t think this comparison is fair, however, because it is a VERY different game...
In Underleague, your creatures losing is not necessarily a bad thing – as long as you bet on your own creatures to lose. This adds a level of strategy not previously seen in other card games of this type. The more bets you win, the more cards you will be able to add to your hand for use in future rounds. I really enjoy this aspect of the game.'
The Chubby Meeple also previewed Underleague on The Dice Tower's Crowd Surfing show.
Rob Kalajian at A Pawn's Perspective enjoyed the game as well, and said that 'While the basic rules are fairly simple, all the depth comes from the creatures and strategy cards and their abilities/effects.
The bidding mechanism, which I didn’t think I was going to be a huge fan of, turned out to be one of the most fun parts of the game. It really takes some thinking to figure out where to place your bets to maximize your card currency for the next round.'
Lastly, Jay Peak loved the art of the game so much that he did a segment for his show on The Dice Tower where he took one of the pieces and made an amazing steampunk frame for it!
We know you might want to try the game for yourself before pledging, so we've made print and play files available on our website. Just click here and follow the instructions and you'll have a complete functional game set. There are versions in colour and in black and white available.
To make this print and play possible, we've used our prototype files, which aren't reflective of what the final game cards will look like. There may also be a few minor wording and balance changes from the prototype version to the final game.
The rules for the prototype are fully comprehensive but in draft form. After the Kickstarter campaign, we'll be putting together a fully illustrated rulebook, complete with diagrams and glossaries.
If you're downloading the print and play and have any feedback about the game at all, please let us know in the comments or by reaching out to us directly. One of the benefits of running a Kickstarter campaign is getting feedback directly from players, so let us know if there are any changes you'd like to see to the game.
We have some exciting stretch goals for this project which we intend to announce once we've hit our initial funding goal. If you have ideas for specific things you'd like us to add to the game, make sure to let us know in the comments!
All stretch goals have been carefully selected so as not to impact our production timetable or our shipping costs.
So while we're in the early stages of our campaign, this is a genuine opportunity for you as backers to tell us what you'd like to see and we'll do our best to include it.
Cogwright Games is a small, start-up publisher that simply wouldn't be able to exist without Kickstarter. But why should you, as a backer, make a pledge now?
- By backing on Kickstarter, you'll be able to get the game before anyone else. We won't be selling this anywhere else until 100% of our backers have gotten their rewards.
- Backing our campaign means you'll be getting the game cheaper than you'll find it anywhere else.
- We're only planning to do a single print-run of the add-ons here, meaning that there will be limited availability of these items after the campaign.
- We want to give all of our backers a chance to help shape the final game. Have a cool idea for a creature you'd like to see us bring to life on a card? Want to see us develop rules for a new game mode as a stretch goal? Let us know in the comments!
Whatever you might want to talk about, we're always interested in hearing from our backers, or just people interested in the project.
You can reach us through any of the channels below or through our website, where you can also read blog posts about the making of the game and game design theory in general.
The best place to see project status updates, aside from the Kickstarter itself, is our Facebook page, where we also host occasional giveaways and competitions.
We regularly post new pieces of artwork from the game, as well as photos of us working on and playtesting it, to our Instagram page.
For live progress updates, and to see what else the Cogwright Games team is up to, be sure to follow us on Twitter.
The Underleague page on BoardGameGeek is a great place to find out more about the game: you can see other people's reviews and start conversations about it. We do our best to respond to any forum posts on there about the game.
Underleague owes a huge amount to all of the people who've helped us playtest and refine the game - and to everyone who's shown an interest in our campaign. Without you, none of this would have been possible.
We'd particularly like to thank Geoffrey Palmer, who produced the animations for our project video. If you want to see more animations in his distinctive style, we highly recommend following him on Twitter.
Cogwright Games is an independent game design studio based in South London, UK, founded by Underleague designer Fergus Blair. Our goal is to create innovative games with a high production value, that can appeal to experienced gamers and novices alike. Underleague is our first game, and we're hoping to make it a success with your support.
To bring Underleague to life, we've partnered with graphic design agency Crucible Creative. Their incredibly talented team, led by Craig Slade, have worked hard to create the look and feel of the game, including the designs for the box art and cards and all of the graphics that you see on this page.
Risks and challenges
There are always going to be risks involved in any Kickstarter project - particularly when you're backing first-time creators. However, we've done everything in our power to mitigate those risks: the rules have been extensively playtested, we've secured quality guarantees and trial printings with every manufacturer involved in the process, and we've partnered with a tried and tested fulfilment partner to minimise any risks in getting you your rewards.
That said, there will always be things outside of our control. However, if anything does happen to delay the game in any way shape or form, you can trust that we will be up front with you in communicating that and explaining to you exactly what the issues are - and all of the steps we're taking to resolve them.
And if you have any questions or queries about your pledge, we will do our absolute best to help you in whatever way we can - this is a project we're really passionate about, and we want you to be passionate and excited about it too!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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