Undermining is a competition to mine various metals and gems to fulfill contracts. Everyone starts with a basic digger (it's a mining vehicle with some fancy name but I'll just call it a digger), which can be used to crush rocks, mine ore, and transport ore. As you collect ore, you can use it to fulfill contracts, which is basically scoring points, or you can use it to upgrade you digger, e.g. to be able to carry more ore, or move faster. What's tricky is earlier contracts are worth more points, so it can be a tough call how to use your initial ore.
There are buried alien artifacts which can be excavated. They give one-time special abilities. To activate them, and also to use any of your ore, you need to transport them to the refinery at the surface. So there is much going back and forth as you need to dig deeper and deeper for ore, especially because your digger has limited storage space. Portals scattered around the game board help a bit. You can do a portal-to-portal move as one action.
The game ends when one of the three stacks of contracts is exhausted. Completed contracts are worth points. So are digger upgrades, leftover ore and unused alien artifacts.
I did a four-player game with Allen, Caleb and Silvia. First time for all of us. The game was quick to explain and straight-forward to learn. The available actions are easy to understand. The distribution of ore on the board and the ore combination to fulfill contracts are random, so there's variation from game to game. In our game, many of the early (and high-valued) contracts required green ore, so we were all rushing for that.
I was first to spend my initial ore mined on upgrades. It was helpful to have them. I could dig and move much faster. However it also meant I missed out on the early (i.e. lucrative) contracts. It was a constant race, to mine ore veins before others reached them and also to fulfill contracts.
It is possible to block others. Stopping on a portal space prevents others from using it. Blocking another's path forces him to spend batteries to move through you. You gain one battery by forfeiting an action. You can use two batteries to move through others or to take an extra action, which can be very handy at critical moments.
The game was over surprisingly quickly. I think our game was shorter than the 45 minutes stated on the box. And this was a first game for all of us. I must have done a good job teaching the game. Our scores were very close, with Allen winning at 27pts, and the rest if us scoring 26, 25, and 24.
Undermining is a family game and a Euro game. It is a light strategy game. The game plays at a brisk pace. It is a constant race, to mine ore, to excavate alien artifacts, to grab upgrades, and to fulfill contracts. Only near end game it may bog down a little with players trying to optimise the final few turns.
Buy from Noble Knight Games. Status: in stock (at time of this post).