Dale Yu: First Impressions of Funkoverse – Harry Potter

Funkoverse – Harry Potter

  • Publisher: Funko Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Times played: 3 with this set, a review copy provided by Funko Games.  A few other games played with other Funkoverse sets

One of the current pop culture phenomenons that I have never been able to wrap my head around is the wide and high appeal of the plastic Funko Pop! plastic figurines.  You can find these in stores seemingly everywhere, with caricature-like figurines of movie characters, comic book characters, video game characters, etc. Given some of the prices that I’ve seen for particular Funko Pop! figures on eBay, there is clearly a market for these – both for casual buyers as well as collectors.

In the past year or so, Funko bought up an outside design house to work on their games.  At GenCon, the collection of Funkoverse games hit the market. Each of the game modules is set in a well known fictional universe: Harry Potter, DC comics, Rick&Morty, the Golden Girls.  Each game box comes with a couple of scenarios that are specific for the universe; and, of course, each comes with a number of Funko Pop! figurines which are used as the player movers in the game. 

In the Harry Potter box (well, there are two – this concerns the larger one which has 4 Funko Pop figures), you get everything to play through two different scenarios.  There is a double sided board, one for each player. As I said earlier, there are 4 Funko Pop figures, two good (Harry, Hermione) and two bad (he-who-shall-not-be-named and Bellatrix Lestrange).  There are two black stands and two white stands, and you can choose to arrange the sides however you wish. Each character has a character card which outlines the special abilities of the character as well as the character’s special trait.  Finally, there are two scenario cards – you choose the one for the scenario you want to play and this card gives you all the setup instructions for it.

Each player places his chosen figures in the setup zone of the board, and keeps the character cards near them for reference.  Each side also gets a cooldown track, a track with 4 spaces on it – generally at the start of the game, nothing is found on this track.  Each character card provides you with certain ability tokens; take these and place them in your area as well. The player who chose the white bases for his figures go first.

Each scenario has a game end condition (or conditions), and when the game ends, the side with the most points wins.  Each turn follows the same simple pattern. First, you choose an un-exhausted character from your side to take a turn.  You then get to take two actions with that character. You can do them in any order, and you can even take the same action twice if you want.  More on the actions in a bit. Once your two actions are complete, you then exhaust your character by placing an exhausted token on the card so that you don’t use it again this round.  The other side now does the same. This continues until all characters in the game have taken a turn.

There are a number of basic actions:

Move – move up to 2 squares, orthogonally or diagonally is OK.  You cannot move through walls nor diagonally if walls block movement

Basic Challenge – Challenge an opponent in an adjacent square; roll two dice for your attack; the chosen opponent will respond with how ever many dice is printed in the lower left corner of their character card.  The dice have three different symbols on them. Explosions (which count for 1 hit for the attacker), shields (which count as 1 block for the defender) and “!!!” (which count as 3 hits/blocks. If there are more hits than blocks, the attack is successful and the defending player is knocked down.  If the defender was already down, then it is knocked out.

Assist – if you are adjacent to a teammate who is knocked down, you can stand the partner up for an action

Interact – most scenarios have tokens or things to interact with; use an action to do so

Use Item – if you happen to hold an item, you can use it – the details of what each item can do are usually printed on the special item card – which you would have in front of you if your character was holding said item

Rally (2) – this action takes both of your actions; if you are lying down, you can use both of your actions to stand up

There are also special actions – each character has a number of special actions printed on their character card.  Each of the special actions has a cost – shown in the icon of one of the action tokens. The number shown in the icon tells you on which space on your cooldown track you must put the spent action token.  If you do not have the required action token available, you cannot do that particular special action.

So, as far as what you would do on your turn – that might change with the scenario.  In most of the scenarios that I’ve played, there are two main things you’re trying to do: 1) attack your opponents to knock them down and then knock them out by hitting them when they are down, 2) doing a scenario specific goal such as collecting scoring markers or interacting with certain things/spaces on the board.  Each scenario has stated ending conditions, and if they have not been met, another round is played.

When all the characters in the game have been exhausted in this round, there is a bit of upkeep.  All of the exhaustion markers are removed from the character cards. Now, starting from the bottom of the cooldown track (the space numbered “1”), move everything in that space down one space, in this case off the track.  All pieces off the track go back into the player supply. Move everything else on the track down one space. Finally, give the start player token to the other player and flip it over so that the border of the token matches the color of the start player’s figure bases.

If the end game condition has been met, players count up the number of points that they have, and the player who has the most is the winner, again with points mostly coming from interacting with scenario specific spaces/things or managing to hit an opponent when they are down.

My thoughts on the game

I had a chance to play a game at my meeting with the Funko Games press folks at GenCon.  I found that it was a surprisingly easy game to learn. Steph only needed about five minutes to run us through the basic rules, and then we were off trying to bash each other.  Given the general simplicity of the rules, I was surprised to find how many strategic options I had to consider. Having taught the game to a few newbies, the rules are setup nicely. There is a basic game which teaches the rudimentary actions and mechanisms of the game.  Once players have had a chance to get through this, the added rules specific to scenarios are quite easy to add on.

At its core, the game is a tactical 2v2 or 3v3 battle. There is a fair amount of variety in the different scenarios – as each comes with its own board layout, possibly with unique items, and different ways to score points.  If you have multiple sets in the same universe (currently possible with DC Comics and Harry Potter), you can even make things more varied as you can freely use any of the characters from the matching universe. You could consider swapping out some of the figures to have a different 2v2 battle, or you could include all the figures that you have for a battle royale.  As each character comes with their own unique individual special actions, each different combination of figures leads to interesting interactions and combinations.

For me, the most interesting part of the puzzle is figuring out how and when to use the character’s special actions.  The main reason for this is that each of the actions requires you to spend an action token, and you have to figure out whether the cost in time (of the token being gone on the cooldown track) versus the result of the action.  You can sometimes combine special actions to great effect, but if you do, you might have two or three turns to await the return of the tokens to do it again.

There is usually an ebb and flow of momentum in the game, usually centered around the first knockdown.  Once a character is knocked down, this often causes a change in strategy because hitting a downed opponent leads to points.  Thus, the defending side wants to figure out how to stand their figure up while the attacking team tries to figure out how to score that next hit.  Oftentimes, this leads to a few turns where one team is consistently on the attack, but it only takes one lucky roll or well times special action to turn the tables.  I like the constant challenge of trying to figure out when the time is right to make a move.

The characters have the typical oversized Funko heads – the better to see the eyes and facial expressions depicted on the figure.  While they are cute to look at, I will admit that the boards could have been maybe 10-15% bigger. When you get two of the figures in adjacent spaces, there are times where the heads are so large that the figures don’t actually fit next to each other!

The art on each of the games is nice, appropriate for the IP, and quite thematic.  The figures, as I have mentioned before, have the typical oversized head and exaggerated (and generally youthful) facial expressions that the Funko figures are known for.  The custom vac trays nicely keep everything organized as well as making sure that you have a way to display the figures though the box cover cutout.

The Funkoverse games are a good introduction to a light tactical wargame.  The rules are super easy to digest and players can launch into a full game with all the rules within 30 minutes.  The addition of the pop culture IP should mean that every gamer can likely find at least one set that they are familiar with the backstory.  For me, this is probably a 2-player only activity, but I have seen some people have a great time with 4 players (with each player controlling a single character) – but to each his own.  I look forward to seeing the upcoming sets in the series – and I’m interested to see what other IP they have managed to bring to the boardgame setting. The list of releases from just last year is huge, and I suppose that any of these could find their way to your game table at some point:  www.funko.com/products

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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2 Responses to Dale Yu: First Impressions of Funkoverse – Harry Potter

  1. Pingback: Dale Yu: First Impressions of Funkoverse – Harry Potter – Herman Watts

  2. Tom M says:

    I’m not understanding exhaustion usage. Each character moves off the starting area and are exhausted? How do exhausted characters do anything?

Leave a Reply to Tom M Cancel reply