I was skeptical about the Funkoverse Strategy Game at first. The franchise is famous (or infamous, depending on your stance) for transforming every franchise you can think of into very marketable toys, and now the board game, too, has a focus on collectible pieces.
However, I was wrong to suspect a cash-in. The Funkoverse Strategy Game is smarter and more fun than you may give credit for. In fact, it's one of the best board games for kids and families that I've played recently.
Players: 2 - 4
Time to set up: 5 minutes
Time to play: 20 - 60 minutes
The Funkoverse Strategy Game aims to prove that the brand isn't a one-trick pony. It does this by challenging players to the "ultimate Pop! battle", pitting fan-favorites like Batman and Jurassic Park against one another. Well, sort of. Each box-set contains mini Funko figures and a reversible board inspired by pop-culture classics, and they're all interchangeable. That means you can take Joker out of Gotham and see how he fares against, say, a velociraptor. Or one of the Golden Girls. No, I'm not joking.
There are at least a dozen packs available right now, so there's plenty of scope for shaking things up. What's more, the expansions are standalone games that can be played separately - or with your other box-sets. It's a neat idea that remains true to the brand's 'collect 'em all' nature.
Not that you need to pick up more than one set to enjoy Funkoverse. This is a good strategy board game in its own right, with enough layers to keep things interesting over a fair period of time.
It's very accessible, too. Rather than forcing you to read the multi-page rulebook from cover to cover before starting, it has a beginner mode that simplifies everything to get you going as soon as possible. This is ideal if you feel overwhelmed by chunky rulebooks or you have kids who'd like to start playing sooner rather than later.
Every pack contains four missions, and there are two for each side of the reversible board. I had a chance to go hands-on with most of the Funkoverse Strategy Game range, and each one contained the same scenarios: Leaders, Flags, Territory, and Control. Although it's a More specifically, Territory and Control force you to hold an area for as long as possible, Flags is about stopping opponents from nicking your flag - all while stealing theirs - and Leaders tasks you with protecting a randomly-selected character. These objectives add spice to what could otherwise be a straight-up brawl, demanding that players think ahead and plan how their characters can complement each other's abilities. Because you can also use cover and site lines to your advantage (or knock down foes that must then be revived), there are plenty of variables to consider when going into battle.
And if we're being honest? Scenarios aren't the appeal of a new set anyway. It's all about the characters instead. They can really revitalize the game, especially if you're bringing a totally new character into the fray. The shark from Jaws, say.
More importantly, they stand out thanks to abilities inspired by the films, comics, or TV shows that inspired them. For instance, Batman can use a grappling hook to propel himself across the map, while Ian Malcolm's expertise in Chaos Theory allows him to roll a special die in combat. Because these moves use rechargeable tokens, they must be carefully deployed: once activated, they can't be used again for a few turns. This is a welcome complication and one that leads to some memorable moments.
The editions of Funkoverse I played were great as a result. The standout has to be Jurassic Park, though. It includes four picture-perfect characters from the original movie - including a dinosaur, naturally - and playing pieces that are designed to look like bugs trapped in amber. Combine them with boards that recreate locations like the wrecked visitor center from the film's climax and you've got something oozing nostalgia as well as fan-service. It's convincing proof that the game's designers are taking this seriously.
That makes the Funkoverse Strategy Game well worth considering if you love tactical board games and the franchises in question. They're surprisingly thoughtful and fan-pleasing in equal measure, giving them enough staying power to make me intrigued by what may come next. Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, anyone?
The current Funkoverse Strategy Game sets you can get your hands on are:
DC: Includes Batman, Batgirl, Joker, Harley Quinn
DC Expandalone: Includes Catwoman, Robin
Jurassic Park: Includes Dr Grant, Dr Sattler, John Ray Arnold, Velociraptor
Jurassic Park Expandalone: Includes Dr Malcolm, T-Rex
Back to the Future: Includes Marty McFly, Doc Brown
Harry Potter: Includes Harry, Hermione, Voldemort, Bellatrix
Harry Potter Expandalone: Includes Ron, Draco
Game of Thrones: Includes Daenerys, Night King, Jon, Arya
Jaws: Includes Quint, Shark
Rick and Morty: Includes Rick, Morty
Aggretsuko Expansion: Includes Aggretsuko
The Golden Girls Expandalone (1): Includes Dorothy, Sophia
The Golden Girls Expandalone (2): Includes Rose, Blanche