As I share in my profile of Funko Games, one thing is consistent with all of my experiences: Funko Games products are always fun.
They might not be all-timers, and they sometimes have questionable IP tied to the design of the game (I still don’t know why The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future works so well), but they are always a blast. Some of the games I’ve reviewed from Funko are so good, I have actually kept them. As other tabletop media members might tell you, keeping review copies because you actually enjoy the games is somewhat uncommon. (Pan Am is really good. Last Defense is really good. My kids won’t stop playing Marvel Battleworld; the list of games from Funko I’ve kept goes on and on.)
When I met with the Funko team at Gen Con in 2021 , they showed off their upcoming release The Warriors: Come Out to Play, based on the 1979 film The Warriors (itself based on a book from author Sol Yurick). Designed by Prospero Hall, the game distills the movie’s story down to a 45-minute game experience where players work together to escape from The Bronx to their home turf in Coney Island before they are chased down by gangs bent on avenging the death of a rival kingpin.
The tension ends before the game even begins.
Throw Those Hands
Players each take on one of the 8 characters from the film; 7 are Warriors characters, such as Swan, Cowboy and Cochise; the 8th is Mercy, the female character who joins the Warriors about a third of the way through the movie. Working together, the goal is simple: get to Coney Island, and take on a random gang to see if you can escape with your lives. (No, you don’t get to re-enact the final scene on the beach, which is a major miss in my book. Otherwise, the game and the film run a similar path.)
Each character gets a signature weapon card, 4 cards aligned with their character (with situational special powers), and 3 Throw Hands cards, which can help mitigate poor dice rolls. You start out in the Bronx at the scene of Cyrus’s murder to fight a random gang: one of the 6 gangs from the film, like the Hi-Hats, the Lizzies, or the Furies (the guys with the baseball bats and the comical face paint).
But those gangs don’t fight back; technically, you attack them. In each fight, the deal is simple: play weapon cards matching symbols on each gang tile to cover a spot on their tile, or play Warriors cards to use powers/roll dice to surpass any of the digits on the gang’s tile or its attached location tile. Played cards are added to each player’s personal discard pile.
Win the fight, and you move ahead of that gang in the city’s Reputation order; lose, and you drop down a spot. If you ever drop below the 7th spot on the Reputation track, all players lose instantly.
In-between fights, you’ll move south on the game’s board (depicting New York City) from the Bronx to Uptown, through Midtown, then Downtown, before getting to Coney Island. Landing on certain spaces lets you take more weapon cards, or more Warriors cards to replenish your hand. Each space carries the risk of picking up Boppers cards; collect 3 negative ones, and you’ll trigger something bad for the good guys.
You’ll fight at least 6 times, to ensure you fight all the gangs included in the game. Maybe more, if you pick up too many of those negative Boppers cards. While in-between fights you might also pass on your turn, to put discarded cards from fights back into your hand after tossing one out of the game permanently. When you make your way to Coney Island, all players will take on a final fight to the death; win, and you win the game.
No, You Can’t Dig It
Despite everything I just told you—and some of it might sound like a lot of fun—The Warriors: Come Out to Play is a stunning miss.
The game breaks my cardinal rule about great games: there’s simply no tension in the moment-to-moment actions during The Warriors: Come Out to Play. You have Warriors cards, but getting more of them is easy. You have to fight other gangs, but save for a slight twist on the rules for each fight, I was surprised that players don’t even have to really work out a plan for attacking the crash dummy that is the rival gang in front of you. Some Warriors cards have special powers that allow you to help out even when you aren’t in the fight!
The rival gang doesn’t have an AI in place to come after you. You just play weapons and roll dice, covering up spaces until you win.
As a result, you are going to win a lot of fights.
I never ran from a fight, which allows the group to skip a fight and take a hit on Reputation. I never used the subway spaces for safe haven. Across 3 games, I only lost 2 fights, and thanks to the Throw Hands cards, any time I was one pip away from defeat, I burned one from the game to win that fight. The final fight was always easy because we were never in, say, the 6th or 7th spot on the Reputation track, having to fight our way through multiple skill checks to win. By the midpoint of each game, all players will have 2 weapons, and those weapons refresh after every fight without entering your discard pile, so save for a negative Boppers card effect, you are always going to have weapons to cover spaces on gang tiles.
Upping the difficulty by removing some of the “Coast is Clear” cards from the Boppers deck did change things, but not appreciably enough to make the game difficult. I never instigated a fight then looked at the location tile and determined that we should run, and I am really struggling to think of a scenario when I would choose to run. Maybe if I was jumped when I drew a third negative Boppers card, and my hand was empty?
The miniatures are cool, but the minis are the Warriors and rival gangs on the Reputation track; I wonder why the Warriors characters weren’t the ones that were turned into plastic minis. As it is, everyone who has played with me has reached for a playable mini before I correct them to take a cardboard standee of a Warriors character instead.
“Why not use cardboard markers to show where each gang is on that Reputation track, and make the Warriors into minis?” asked my wife. Exactly.
The Warriors: Come Out to Play tries to ask the question uttered by Cyrus at the beginning of the film: “CAN YOU DIG IT????”
In the final analysis, my answer is no.