Full disclosure: Review copies of the Funkoverse Strategy Game were provided by Funko.
Alright, here’s an interesting one. I was originally going to split these up into separate reviews for each set that I have, but then, I noticed there’s only one BGG entry and the Gameplay section would be largely the same, so I figured why not just … combine them? Also saves me having to template out another review, and given that I’m currently at Peak Review, that’s probably a good idea (I can’t legitimately do more than 5 a week; it requires too much bandwidth to get the photos edited). Anyways, let’s dive into Funkoverse and see what’s up.
In the Funkoverse Strategy Game, your favorite properties have decided to settle their differences on the battlefield, as you’d expect. Thankfully, it’s very much a Mario Party-sort-of-situation where the bad guys show up but they’re happy to play tennis or something instead of just being evil. The thing is, while the sets are pretty standalone, there’s nothing saying you can’t mix and match them. So what happens when two of the Golden Girls take on the Harry Potter cast? Guess we’ll find out!
It depends a lot on which type of game you’re playing. Generally, for the first game, you’ll grab your characters:
Give them their cards:
Those cards have two dots in the bottom-right corner: you can use this to assign Ability Tokens to your team’s Ability Token Pool:
Note that the Ability Tokens are not character-specific; create a pool of them for that player.
There are also Basic Characters, that you can use if you don’t have enough full-size characters:
They also have their own cards but do not get Ability Tokens, so make sure they’re split between two teams (rather than one person getting 3 full characters and one person getting 2 Basic Characters):
Some games will give you items; don’t use items for your starter game:
Set your characters on Light / Dark Bases. The game doesn’t explicitly encourage you to mix sets, but this game only has one BGG entry and I have two copies, so it’s now Harry Potter vs. The Golden Girls. You’ll want to set out each team’s Cooldown Track:
The game will direct you to use a board for your conflict; choose one of them. I believe I have Diagon Alley, The Room of Requirement, the Florida Coast, and the Golden Girls’ House:
The game will also indicate a starting area. Place your characters in the various spaces.
Some games will use a variety of other items, like these Points Tokens:
Or some of the other markers (Points Markers / Control Markers / Flag Markers / Leader Markers):
Look at your Scenario Card to know which one you need. Finally, set the Dice nearby:
Choose a Scenario Card, finish its setup instructions, and you’re ready to go!
So, Funkoverse is a combination of games with different rules, strategies, and play styles. Rather than go through all of them in what would end up being a 4000+ word post, I’m going to cover them from a high-level and talk about the general overview of Funkoverse. I will talk about the intro game, since that’s what you’re going to be playing first and it’s pretty simple.
The intro game is just designed to teach you the basic rules. To win, you have to defeat one of your opponent’s characters. Just one!
On your turn, choose a Character to be active (one that isn’t Exhausted). They may do any 2 of the following Basic Actions or use a Character’s Ability by putting the token indicated next to the ability on the Cooldown Track at the number indicated next to the ability. You can mix and match those or use the same action more than once (as long as you have enough Ability Tokens) Basic Actions are as follows:
- Move: Move the active Character up to two spaces in any direction. You may move diagonally and through allies, but you cannot stop on the same square as any other character and you can’t move through spaces that are obstructed or partially obstructed (have an object in their space).
- Basic Challenge: You may challenge an adjacent rival (diagonal is fine) by rolling two dice. You get one strength per star burst, and three strength per !!!. Your rival rolls a number of dice equal to their defense (printed on their card). They get one defense per shield and three defense per !!!. Ties break in the Defender’s favor, but if the Attacker wins, the Defender is knocked over. If the Defender is already Knocked Over, they’re Knocked Out, and placed on the 2 on their team’s Cooldown Track. They may still be made Active on their turn, but they cannot take actions unless otherwise stated.
- Assist: You may stand up an adjacent ally that has been Knocked Over.
- Interact: You won’t use this in your first game, but it allows you to interact with certain markers to potentially take control of them or score points.
- Ability: Spend an Ability Token to use one of your character’s abilities. You may use any Ability Token in your pool, provided it matches the ability you want to use. This means having more characters on your team with similar Ability Token setups will let you use certain abilities more!
- Use Item: Again, not used in your first game, but this will let you place the item card on the Cooldown Track to use its ability.
If you’re Knocked Over, you may also Rally to stand back up, but that uses your entire turn.
Once you’ve completed your actions, place an Exhausted Marker on your Character Card; your opponent takes a turn.
After both players have Exhausted all of their Characters, the round ends. When the round ends, all players shift everything on their Cooldown Track down by 1; if that would push it off the Cooldown Track, it is returned to the player that owns it. Remove the Exhausted Markers from your Characters and then give the first-player marker to the other player; they’ll go first in the next round.
Play until one player wins, and then try the Scenarios for more options!
Player Count Differences
I understand how you could play this with 3 or 4 players; I’m just not really sure why you would, in its current state. It’s definitely a 1 team vs. 1 team bout, and with 3 players there’s always a player who’s not really doing anything on their “turn”, even if you split control perfectly among the characters. At 4, I feel like there would just be a lot of noise from having two players on each team. Then again, that’s just my personal preference, so if you really like having larger-scale team games, go off. I feel like there’s an argument to be made for 6 players, where each player controls one character, but that seems like a logistical nightmare (and too much downtime). If you ever try it, let me know in the comments, but for now I’m just going to stick to my nice two-player Golden Girls duels. It’s faster that way. I will say that I could definitely see Battle Royale modes start to emerge in later sets of Funkoverse, so I’m not going to shut the door on this above two players entirely; I would just want to see more sets that give the additional players something unique to do before I recommended playing Funkoverse at those player counts.
- I mean, in the first game, do what you gotta to knock that opponent out. You can do it in one round if you get really lucky, but you may want to consider burning Ability Tokens pretty rapidly to try and do as much damage as you can in one or two rounds. There won’t be a ton of rounds, provided you’re attacking with everything you have, so there’s no point in saving your strongest hits for a rainy day.
- A fair number of other games focus on defensive plays and flanking. These are ones where you want to control certain territories or defeat other players’ leaders or capture the flag. Here, it’s unwise to just burn all your strongest moves in the first round; you need to do more skirmish tactics and focus on controlling zones with your characters.
- Hermione is a fantastic defensive character. She prevents other players from taking too much damage, but she’s a little bit lower-defense, so try to keep her behind your front line if you can. Naturally, if she’s on the other team, you’ll want to go after her first.
- The Golden Girls are just brawlers at their core. I respect that; you should be getting them in people’s faces and knocking those people down. It’s what they would have wanted. Plus, being honest, the wizards generally don’t expect it, which is even more fun.
- In general, the Squishy Wizard trope applies quite well, here. The Wizards all have pretty high attack and strong challenges, but they boast pretty low defense. They do generally get ranged attacks, though, which is nice, so if you want to attack from a distance, they’re your best bet.
- Voldemort is an excellent base defender. He can’t really get knocked out; he just comes back on his next turn, which is kind of unsurprising. If he’s defending the starting area, players are going to have to be careful around him because he’ll just pop right back up.
- Generally, I recommend making teams that have characters with good synergies. The big one is Ability Tokens, as I mentioned earlier. If your characters have similar abilities, they can share the Ability Tokens in the pool, allowing you to be more flexible about your needs and when you want to use certain abilities. That’s very useful.
- You may want to choose the order you activate characters differently, depending on what’s happening on the board. Sometimes it’s worth activating a character who isn’t on the board to effectively pass a turn so that you can reevaluate what your options are once your opponent has moved again. Maybe that move gets them into position for a fantastic counterattack? Who can say. But it’s worth being thoughtful about which characters you choose to activate and when you choose to activate them.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I actually really like the cooldown system. It’s pretty simple to understand, it lets you get a good gauge for how strong some abilities are, and it lets you see when you should start worrying about your opponent wrecking you with Fiendfyre or whatever ability your particular Funkos have. I think it’s pretty clever, and I appreciate that.
- It’s obviously going to appeal to people who like mixing up their licensed properties and making them fight. I mean, I’m already excited to beat people up with two of the Golden Girls. Imagine how over the moon I’m going to be when my favorite licensed properties start getting involved. Funko’s got rights to Marvel already, I assume, so I’d be surprised if there weren’t the ability to have Marvel vs. DC fights in the future. The nice thing about the game system is that it doesn’t require a ton of iteration; you just need to develop new characters and maps and balance the characters a bit (not that that’s easy; look at something like Super Smash Bros.). I think there’s a lot of opportunities to do cool stuff in this space, and I’m really going to be interested to see what they end up doing with this in the long term.
- The mix-and-match does work really well, though, to be fair. I don’t think the Harry Potter or Golden Girls characters had any particular advantages. If you think it’s unbalanced, you can also make the same characters fight each other if you have two of the same sets! It’s up to you, really.
- There are some really obvious promotional upgrades they can make to get people excited about the games. I feel like people are going to get really jazzed about recolors or metal / wood / colorful tokens; those are really easy things that aren’t going to mess with anyone’s game too badly. Personally, I’d be most excited about promo characters that are a little ridiculous, but again, we’ll see what happens with this.
- Given Funko’s backing, it’s pretty infinitely expandable. They have some pretty massive licensing deals and the large-scale design chops of Prospero Hall; it’s going to be interesting to see what later sets add to the overall Funkoverse gaming landscape.
- I actually really like the boards and the attention to detail put in for the characters? The characters feel pretty authentic to their roots, which I like; the abilities and traits are all solid, and I like the boards a lot! I’m really excited to see what new characters are in the (likely) next wave.
- I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t release all four Golden Girls as part of one set. I understand that The Powers That Be probably consider it a niche set, but I’m sincerely hoping they complete it. Then again, I’m also super hoping for a Pusheen set. Or Dragon Ball Z. Yeah, I’d be really sold on a Dragon Ball Z vs. The Golden Girls set.
- Given what appears to be the game’s target market, the line-of-sight rules are a bit complicated. That’s pretty much the most complex thing about the rules
- I think I’m starting to hate boxes that have a plastic cutout in them so you can see the contents inside. It’s not just Funko, to be fair; Shaky Manor does this, Sonic the Hedgehog: Crash Course does this, too. I understand why it’s done, since you want to show off awesome components, but man is it a headache for me to photograph.
- Hoo whee, this kind of stuff is dangerous for people like me. I have a bit of a completionist urge, so games like this that have a ton of expandalone games that you can integrate with them are straight scary. I mean, from a marketing perspective it’s brilliant, since your goal is to turn Funko collectors into casual gamers and casual gamers into Funko collectors. I think additional game modes and games with lower time commitments are really going to help ease that in, but even I’m considering what sets I want in the future and that’s an extremely dangerous thing for me.
- It can run pretty long, even in the tutorial game. This is one thing that’s very much bothered me about this game; for a game targeted at the causal market, it can play a bit long. The problem is that it also starts to feel a bit long, which is never good. I think this can be mitigated a bit by encouraging players in their first games to take bigger risks, but I think it might help if the game also had lower point thresholds for victory in its later game modes. This is just a me thing, though; I feel like its best when its played light and fast, and this tends to be in the 40 – 60 minute range in a normal game.
- The whole dice-combat thing is going to frustrate gamers with a low tolerance for luck. Not sure if much can be done about that, but if you don’t like luck in your combat games, you’re probably not going to be super pleased with this one. It’s very possible you can lose every combat you initiate if your opponent gets lucky with the critical rolls.
Overall: 7 / 10
Overall, though, I’d say I’m pleasantly surprised by Funkoverse! I generally have a (in my opinion justified) suspicion of licensed games, but Funkoverse seems to have a solid game system in place for the sort of tactical grid-based skirmish games that a lot of people like, but it can be played in less than an hour. I’d be a bit happier with the game if it shot for the 30 minutes or less space, but that’s a personal preference. This is definitely a dangerous game in that if you’re committed to getting it as a collector, there are going to likely be a lot of sets with a lot of different types of characters, but I think it’s nicely placed as a solid gift for your friends who are lightly into games and like licensed properties. I think a worry that I have about this whole property is that it and Unmatched (Restoration’s skirmish game) might be cannibalizing each other a smidge, and I’m hoping that won’t be the case since they seem to be targeting two different audiences (I’ll know more about that once I get a chance to try Unmatched). Until then, I’m going to keep an eye on which Funkoverse sets get released. I’d love to finish out the Golden Girls set, yes, but there are a lot of Funko Pops and I feel like there are a lot of licensed properties that would be amenable to being included in something like this. If you’re excited about that kind of crossover potential, you’re a Funko collector looking to get into casual gaming, or you’re a really big fan of tactical skirmish games, Funkoverse might be right up your alley!