Dartboards aren’t necessarily that expensive, even the top tier dartboards are quite affordable when you compare it to top of the line equipment in other sports.
With that said, you don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money on a dartboard if you’re new to the game and just want to test it out.
While bristle dartboards are definitely the go-to option in our opinion, you can get cheaper dartboards made out of paper – yes, paper – to get started.
A paper dartboard is highly compacted and coiled paper so they are suitable for occasional play and ideal for beginners. Today we’ll be checking out the most popular and arguably best paper dartboard on the market.
Read on to see our Unicorn XL dartboard review.
At Decent Darts we test all bristle dartboards with the same editorial policy and testing criteria which is:
- Darts used – Red Dragon Razor Edge, 21g with a knurled point
- 1000 darts at treble 20 to test the fibres and wires used
- 10 hours practice to test durability
You can find out more on how we test all products here
Unicorn XL Dartboard Review: Our Verdict
The Unicorn XL dartboard is a cheap, entry-level dartboard that’s made from the highest quality you can get for a paper dartboard. It won’t be as good or anywhere near as durable as a bristle dartboard but for beginner players, the Unicorn XL can definitely be a good option.
I bought this dartboard when living in an apartment a few years ago. I couldn’t put any fixtures in the wall to hang a dartboard so this was light enough to hang from a picture frame hook.
I had very low expectations when buying it because it was £10, easily one of the cheapest dartboards you can buy so I was both sceptical and only getting it to get a short-term dart fix (before buying a dartboard stand).
After playing daily for a month I finally wore the dartboard out but considering I gave the board quite a beating, it held up better than expected.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by this budget dartboard and would rate the Unicorn XL a 6.5/10.
I can’t justify rating it any higher because it’s purely an entry-level board to be used occasionally by beginners rather than dedicated practice but when considering the price and how much use I got out of it, I’d have to say it’s definitely worth the money, even for just a fun gift.
- Good for beginners
- Lightweight and easy to hang up
- Two sided
- Not durable
- Ink wears away quite quickly
- Only for beginners
- Can’t be rotated
Who Should Buy It
The Unicorn XL dartboard is best for beginners, people who have never played darts before, or households that will use it occasionally to host guests or just for a fun game now and again.
It could also be suitable as a lightweight and cheap travel dartboard.
I hung this to a photo frame hook using a lanyard. It’s so light that you could easily pack it away for travel and put it on a temporary fixture to secure it.
Therefore if you’re an avid player that travels a lot or for weekends away it can be a great option to still get your darts fix.
Who Shouldn’t Buy It
If you’re a relatively decent player, you’re going to wear this dartboard out in no time. My darts average is around 60 so I comfortably group my darts – as a result, I’d worn this board out within 1 month.
This won’t be a durable board due to its paper construction so if you’re past the stage of being a complete beginner and can get your darts around the treble segment consistently, this board won’t last very long.
If you’re not yet able to throw your darts accurately then check out our beginner guide on how to get better at darts.
Unicorn XL Dartboard Review: Product Overview
Durability & Quality
The Unicorn XL is a high quality paper dartboard. When ranking dartboards, we’d say the rating from best to worst material is the following:
- Webbed for soft tip darts
As you can see, paper ranks quite low because it’s not a very durable material and doesn’t hold ink very well. Therefore, the boards get damaged much quicker and the aesthetic of the board wears away very quickly also.
You can see below how the board looked when new and then over the space of a month after continuous use:
The redeeming feature for a paper dartboard is that you can still use steel tip darts on this board so you can enjoy a traditional game.
The board is made from a coiled paper construction making it compact and functional, however, it doesn’t have the self healing capabilities of a bristle dartboard.
As a result, darts repeatedly hitting the same spot (like treble 20) will very quickly damage the segment until it becomes unusable.
This also leads to the staples on the wires coming loose so eventually, the wire used to separate segments won’t even be visible.
This is a snapshot of the dartboard just before it became unusable after a month of play.
As you can see, certain segments are flattened, the color from the ink is missing and I had to remove the internal wire because the staples wouldn’t hold it in place any more.
Therefore, the quality is good initially but you quickly realize that a paper dartboard doesn’t have the durability to hold up against a fairly accurate player.
Durability – 4/10
This is the cheapest, usable dartboard from an established darts brand. Unicorn is a big name in darts so even though this is a budget dartboard, it’s probably the best paper dartboard on the market.
When looking at dartboard pricing, I’d consider the following to be a good guide:
- <£30: Budget for beginners
- £30 – £45: Mid-tier for home use
- £45 – £60: League or competition standard
- >£60: Professional standard
The Unicorn XL dartboard cost me £10 ($12) and is currently around £15 (though you can find some cheaper) so this puts it at the bottom price range of the budget tier.
Any bristle dartboard for a slightly higher cost will likely be a better purchase, however, because it’s manufactured by Unicorn it is actually good value for money.
I got 1 month of frequent use out of this dartboard and I’d consider myself a decent player.
Therefore, if you’re a beginner you could easily get 3-6 months of good use out of this dartboard so it’s definitely good value for a beginner.
You can also find paper dartboards online for an eye watering £40+ (there’s a Franklin Sports paper dartboard for £48 on Amazon!).
Please don’t ever buy a paper dartboard for that much money as they are not worth it and it just goes to show that the Unicorn XL is priced so low that it becomes a very good option.
Price – 10/10
The Unicorn XL uses the traditional dartboard color and has a wire system, hanging hook, and comes with two sets of darts so has everything you need to play 501 darts or a range of other dart games.
It’s also reversible with a target practice game on the reverse side allowing you to change up the type of game you’re playing and try out something slightly different. It’s also a good game for beginners to get used to scoring darts.
Ultimately though, the paper design – though well manufactured – is still a major drawback with this board.
Design – 6/10
We’d always recommend going for a bristle dartboard, even for your first dartboard.
They are durable, better quality and will give a genuine feel for the game of darts. Even priced a little more, you can get bargain bristle dartboards like the Winmau Pro SFB (see our review here).
With that said, the Unicorn XL is so affordable that it actually becomes a good option.
If you’ve never played darts before or want a lightweight board for occasional use that can be easily stored or taken around for travel then I’d definitely say this is a good option.
I can only think of one other dartboard under £20 ($23) that is worth consideration so if you are really on a budget, the Unicorn XL is a good dartboard to get you started in the game.
Other Dartboards to Consider
As mentioned above, there’s only one other dartboard within a similar price range that I’d recommend and that is the Unicorn Soft Tip dartboard (both electric and non-electric options).
Obviously you can only use soft tip darts on these boards but they will last a lot longer and prove better value for the money in the long-term.
Additionally, you can usually find a bargain bristle dartboard for between £25-£30 which would last for a minimum of 6 months of heavy use. This would definitely be the smarter purchase if you can stretch to that.
At the minute, Target Darts have a budget bristle dartboard on offer here which is worth considering.
This will be far more durable and offer a better playing experience than the Unicorn XL, the only downside is you’d need to fully mount a bristle dartboard whereas the Unicorn XL can be hung up relatively easily on a standard hook.
If you’re looking for a budget dartboard and want to upgrade to a bristle dartboard instead of paper then check out our review of the Winmau SFB Pro. It’s the dartboard we use for practice so may be something worth checking out.