2-4 players, Competitive, Tactical Skirmish Pop Explosion
Designer: Prospero Hall
Publisher: Funko Games
Release Year: 2019
I spotted this game creeping into the spotlight and it slightly piqued my interest as I have quite a few of the Pop figures already. Started hearing a bit more buzz and decided to take the plunge and see what all the hub bub was about. I picked up the Batman 100 set that comes with a large double sided board and four characters to play with. That same day I also snatched up the Rick and Morty set that acts as a bit of a smaller entrance into the game, including only two characters. Read on for my thoughts of the gameplay and how the game fits in with other games of this style.
Overview of Gameplay
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I opened this game to be honest. Perhaps a game geared more towards children maybe? Well after playing through quite a few games on the different boards and using all the different scenarios I have come to realize this is very much a tactical skirmish 1 vs 1 style game. You can of course play with up to four and I’ll go into my thoughts around that a bit later.
The general gameplay is actually pretty simple with players taking turns performing two actions with one of their chosen characters. These actions consist of moving, rolling dice to challenge the other player’s characters, assisting their downed characters and interacting with certain scenario objectives. You can also do perform special actions such as using your chosen characters items or unique abilities. The game itself is setup to make it super easy to teach you how to play and indeed your first game consists of just trying to knock out one of your opponents characters. This is extremely simple with you just moving around the board and challenging each other with your abilities.
The game does come with four scenarios to give the gameplay a little more flavor however rather than just knocking each other out. The four scenarios are Capture the Flag, Control Territory of which there are two variants and a Leaders scenario where you gain more points for knocking out your opponents leader. For these you will be setting up the board in a specific way and each has a little different game play variant to win. You can also mix and match Pop characters to form a specific team that suits you AND even swap out items to different characters as well to really enhance the flavor. With all the scenarios the way to win is to gain the most points and whoever gains a certain amount of points first, is the winner!
The components are really nice and my favorite thing about the game. The Pop figures are a tad smaller than their usual counterparts and come with little bases so they stand up easily. The dice in the game are very nice custom dice that have a nice feel and weight to them. Even the cardboard tokens feel and look nice. The board itself is on the smaller side when compared to most board games and is double sided so you have a couple choices of movement options as areas are blocked off differently on each, but more than that they have a completely different theme from one another. One side of the Batman board is The Jokers carnival area which is extremely colorful and just flat out fun looking. The other side is Gotham City itself at an intersection with each corner of the board being the interior of a building.
OH! And my absolute favorite part are the little plastic point tokens. These things are awesome looking little translucent crystals which really have no business being as cool as they are considering they are just used to track points. What’s even better is that every different addition to buy for this game includes more but in a different color. Blue for the Batman set, green for the Rick and Morty set etc. The Pop figures are all very colorful and can each hold items in their hands easily. Interchanging the items is right up there with the cool features. Having Rick utilize Harley Quinn’s mallet or Morty using Batman’s batarang is a nice fun twist to the game.
The box is setup very nicely with a great insert that securely holds the pop figures in place and has slots for all the tokens and components. It also look really nice having a pretty nifty design to it. All the scenario sheets and the board fit under the insert and the lid has a clear plastic covering so you can view the Pop figures that come with each set easily. The box is also on the smaller side so can EASILY fit into a standard Kallax shelf with lots of room to spare with a couple inches above.
Visual Appeal /Theme
So, the theme of the game is ENTIRELY dependent on which set you come home with really. There are quite a few different sets out there now, with each one having the same four scenarios so basically just pick the theme you like the best. For my part, I enjoy Rick and Morty and Batman in equal measure so I opted for these and they don’t disappoint! The boards that are included with each set accurately portray the given characters themes really well and the included items further enhance that. The way the characters special abilities work really add that extra bit of thematic flavor as well.
Visually, the artwork on the boards is fantastic! I especially love the Jokers side of the Batman board as it is just screaming with vibrant colors. All the details that are drawn in are also excellent like the bat symbol on the roof of a building or the little “bop-a-bat” game on the Joker’s side.
The rulebook is small and very basic BUT it does a pretty good job of teaching the game in small, easy to digest bits. As I mentioned above it is set up in such a way to teach you the basics of how to challenge and knock out characters before it introduces the standard scenario play. Of course, for me I jumped straight into the scenario play as I needed that extra variety. Overall I wasn’t blown away by the rulebook but at the same time I didn’t hate it either.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
The game is built around player interaction considering it is a tactical skirmish style game. You will be seeking out your opponent in different ways or protecting areas from your opponent. Regardless what scenario you choose to play you will come into direct confrontation with your opponent multiple times during a game and have to battle it out with some nifty dice rolls and ability attacks. So yes, player interaction is this games very strong point. As far as fun factor goes…….it’s debatable.
I REALLY hate to say the game isn’t FUN because it is fun BUT it really kinda depends on the person. I mean, yes, you could say that about any game but for this style of game in particular it is SUCH an acquired taste. Here’s the thing, regardless of which scenario you pick to play, you will be doing the EXACT same process over and over again, just with a very SLIGHT degree of difference. Yes, you can change up the characters and items which offer different abilities but it’s all the same show again. I will say my favorite part of the gameplay is the time track that have implemented. Whenever you use a characters ability or heck, if a character gets knocked out they move to this time track to a certain number. After each round they will move one number lower, eventually falling off the track and back to the game board to be used again. Now that is a pretty cool mechanic so you really need to be strategic when and how you use your abilities.
My ultimate disappointment of the game though lies with the scenarios. The four included scenarios are literally the most bland gameplay scenarios I have laid eyes on with a board game. What makes it even worse though is that with each new expansion add-on you buy, the scenarios are EXACTLY THE SAME. I was expecting some cool Rick and Morty themed scenarios with that set and was extremely saddened to see they were the same exact scenarios that came with the Batman set.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
The game does state you can play with up to four, each player controlling a different character but you are part of two different teams so basically, 2 vs 2. Personally for this style of game I vastly prefer 1 vs 1 with each player controlling two characters for their side. Makes the game more like a game of chess with each player plotting out their moves and abilities instead of trying to navigate with two different players on one side.
I kinda touched on this above a bit but replayability is high-ish? I mean, there are A LOT of customizations you can do, especially once you start picking up more sets to combine. You can swap out characters, items, boards, scenarios…..the whole shebang. And all of that is really cool and neat that it’s all so accessible and it DOES add replayability to the game…..BUT….it’s also all very samey because of the underlying general gameplay.
Positive Final Thoughts
LOVE the components and artwork on the boards. The theming is interesting and you can really create your own desired theme based around what is on offer with all the different sets available. The fact that you can mix and match all the sets creates some interesting ideas and changes up the variety. The time track gameplay mechanic is awesome.
Negative Final Thoughts
The scenarios are the worst. They come off as very boring and super basic ESPECIALLY considering all the awesome ideas with the items and customization. Sadly enough, because the scenarios are the center point of how you play the game, they really put a huge drag on the entire game itself.
The Bottom Line
Now, here’s the thing with this game and why it WOULD work for some and not others. IF you have never played a tactical skirmish game before and want something to whet your appetite, I think this would be a nice starting point for you. HOWEVER, if you have played basically ANY other tactical skirmish games then just stay away from this one. The only thing that really sets this one apart is the cool time track but even that isn’t enough to rise above the rest. It is BY FAR the easiest to learn and play of them all but at the same time it’s just SO basic that I would much rather play any of the others instead. For those wanting a bit more with this same gameplay style check out Mythic Battles: Pantheon, The Edge: Dawnfall or even Memoir ’44. Each of these offers up so much more meat and interesting choices with their scenarios.