Funkoverse Strategy Game is a new release from Funko Games that pits teams of beloved fictional characters against each other in a light tactical miniatures game. I know what you’re saying:
Wait, Funko? The company that makes those giant-headed collectible dolls with beady black eyes that pierce your soul and empty your wallet? They made a game?
Yup, that’s the one. We have reached a level of board game exposure that even companies like Funko can capitalize on the gaming phenomenon. I was certainly skeptical, until I heard that they had snagged Prospero Hall as the designers. In case you’ve missed it, Prospero Hall is a design team that has been knocking it out of the park lately with well-received hits like Villainous, Horrified, Jaws, PUSH, and Bob Ross: The Art of Chill, amongst others.
Okay, Funko. You have my attention. Proceed.
When I heard about the game, I was curious to see what exactly a Funkoverse game would involve, given the vast array of fandoms that Funko Pop have licensed for their collectible dolls. Sure enough the news came out soon that the interchangeable starting sets would be the DC Universe, Harry Potter, and The Golden Girls.
Wait, what? You lost me again. The Golden Girls? One of these things is definitely not like the other.
Prospero Hall as a designer took me from skeptical to curious, but hearing about The Golden Girls took me from curious to interested. Now I had to try it out. The question on everyone’s mind: is there a legitimately good game behind the creepily cute collectible kitsch? Let’s take a look:
Disclaimer: I was provided with review copies of the Golden Girls and the Harry Potter sets. I have not played the DC Universe or the upcoming Rick and Morty, but do not feel that it is necessary to have played every set to provide an adequate review.
Thank You for Bringing a Fiend
Each universe (DC, Harry Potter, etc) comes as a standalone set that has everything you’ll need to play the game. Since the game mechanics are consistent across the board, every set is interchangeable. That means that in this crazy cavalcade of competing characters, any combination is possible. You can fight the unlikely team of the Joker and Batman with the equally unlikely Harry Potter and Bellatrix Lestrange. Rose Nylund can fend off Voldemort with a piece of cheesecake at her side. The question remains: does the gameplay feel as fun as it is fascinating?
Bring the Funk
In Funkoverse Strategy Game, players each take a number of Funko Pop figures and pit them against each other to achieve scenario-based objectives. The basic introductory scenario is just a simple “beat up the other team”, but the game also includes modes such as Territory, a ‘king-of-the-hill’ style game, an area-control mode aptly titled “Control,” and my personal favorite— a ’capture the flag’ style game called “Flags.” At least we can give the Funkoverse Strategy Game points for uninspiring naming consistency.
Each Funkoverse set comes with a double-sided gridded board. Which side of the board you’ll use will depend on the scenario. Players will each have a starting area, generally on opposite sides of the board, where they place their figures. Players then take turns activating each one until all the figures have been played for that round. Characters, when activated, can perform two actions, choosing between basic actions available to everyone or actions specific to that character. They may also have actions associated with unique items. The basic actions include:
- Move – move up to two spaces
- Basic Challenge (attack) – Roll two dice to challenge an adjacent rival. More on that later.
- Assist – Stand up an adjacent ally who has been knocked down
- Interact – Depends on the scenario, but generally involves interacting with spots on the board to gain points or status
If a character is currently knocked down, they can’t perform any actions and must use their entire turn to “Rally” – stand back up.
Bring the Toys
Each character also has unique actions that can be performed by spending an associated ability token. Your character-specific ability tokens are limited, however, so you must choose wisely when to use your best moves. When you spend the appropriate token to do a special action, you must then put it on a “cooldown” track, which is where the game really gets interesting. The cooldown track has spaces 1-4, which effectively represent the number of rounds it will take to get your stuff back. After each round, everything on the cooldown track shifts down until it is back in your possession, ready to be re-deployed at will. For instance, when Blanche Devereaux spends a gray token to do the “Flirt” action, that token gets put on the 2 spot, meaning she won’t be able to use that token to Flirt again until 2 rounds later.
Generally, the best actions take the most time to recover from. The cooldown track mechanic is my favorite part of the gameplay. It takes what would simply be a mindless dice-chucking melee and turns it into a smart strategic game of tactical play, creating some truly difficult choices. Do I spend my last ability token on Voldemort’s incredibly powerful “Fiendfyre” spell, knowing that I won’t be able to get it back for a few rounds? Will I have enough cooldown time for Harry Potter to use the Felix Felicis and get it back before I really need it?
These are the questions you’ll be asking yourself when you’re playing Funkoverse Strategy Game. Like any tactical miniatures game, it has its own rules for attacking, range, adjacency and the oft-dreaded “line of sight,” but I won’t get too far into the weeds here. In a nutshell, you’re just moving your characters around the board, rolling dice for combat or defense, and interacting with the board to accomplish whatever goal the scenario has set for you.
Funk or Skunk
That brings us back to the original question. Is there a legitimate game behind the sharp sheen of tiny toys? Unquestionably, yes. The Funkoverse Strategy Game is exactly the kind of introductory tactical miniatures game that can both appeal to the masses and be appreciated by the connoisseurs, with some key caveats.
- Gameplay: Funkoverse Strategy Game is a dice-based tactical miniatures game that while involving a good bit of tactics, is highly luck-dependent. There is little to no dice mitigation so if output randomness turns you off, you might want to look elsewhere for your fighting fix. The game is short enough however, that even if you come up rolling blanks, it will at least be over soon.
- Investment: Funko dolls are all about collecting; it’s the “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality. The Funkoverse Strategy Game is no different. The rulebook even recommends that each player take three characters, a feat that can only be accomplished by buying multiple sets. Given the sheer amount of fandoms that Funko has access to, buying every existing and future set will be a significantly sizable money sink.
- Exclusivity: Current owners of Funko Pop figures are probably asking, “Can I use my existing Funko’s to play the game?” Sadly, no. Not only are the game’s figures a smaller scale than the collectibles, there are no signs that point to Funkoverse releasing rules sets in the future for pre-existing figures. It’s new or nothing.
- Replayability: With only four scenarios available, I wonder if the game will eventually get stale, at least without periodically infusing it with new life by buying a new set. Even if new characters debut new abilities and new items, if the first few sets are any indication, the scenarios will be the same. You’ll still be moving around, chucking dice, getting points, etc.
Overall, I did enjoy Funkoverse Strategy Game, although I have no doubt that the novelty of it played a factor. If you are a fan of tactical miniatures games and enjoy the respective fandoms that are represented, give this one a try. There’s no need to buy everything if you don’t want to. Pick up whatever characters tickle your fancy; you really can’t go wrong with this funky bunch.