Winter Is Coming And It's Adorable
Drogon screams overhead as the Night King locks eyes with you. He raises his ice spear and hurls it toward you, but your loyal dire wolf Ghost rushes to help you. The battle rages all around you, and it takes all your focus and energy just to stand your ground and keep your allies in the fight. And to add to the all the chaos, your sister Arya keeps adding your enemies' names to some dreadful list. It's tough to be Jon Snow, isn't it? This is the type of thrilling skirmish that unfolds in Funko's newest addition to their Funkoverse Strategy Game, featuring four beloved characters from Game of Thrones.
I previously reviewed the first two sets of the Funkoverse Strategy Game here on TechRaptor, and this new starter set contains most of the same rules, so here's a quick recap of how the game plays. For 2-4 players, each combatant builds a team of Funkoverse Pops (they're about half the scale of a traditional Pop), gathers their allies (in this set depicted as tokens), and clashes to be the victor in pre-determined battle scenarios. You maneuver your figures around the board, roll dice to "challenge" your opponents and knock them down (no one dies in the Funkoverse), and use special abilities that are then placed on a cool down track (inviting an interesting push and pull of resource management into the game). Another key feature of the Funkoverse line of games is the way any set can be mixed with any other set, so Jon Snow can team up with a Raptor from Jurassic Park, while the Night King makes an evil pact with The Golden Girls.
Where Funkoverse: Game of Thrones really shines is in the attention it pays to the four included characters in this "expandalone" game: Jon Snow, Arya Stark, the Night King, and Daenerys Targaryen. Each character's special abilities feel thought out and well-matched to the way they're depicted in the books and on screen. Jon Snow has Ghost by his side, and is great at rallying his allies. Daenerys interacts a lot with her Drogon token, it's the main way she deals damage and she can use him to fly around the board. The Night King has an incredibly powerful ice spear attack, and he can raise the dead around him to spawn more enemies on the board. Finally, and most intriguingly, Arya Stark has a special ability called "Arya's List," if she marks an enemy as "on her list" she can deal incredible amounts of damage to them.
These special abilities aren't just "you can move three spaces and attack," each one is carefully considered to fully tie into the overall vibe, viewpoint, and ethos of the character. This game was clearly made not just by designers who love the series, but designers who understand what makes each character special, down to their core.
The game also comes with a double-sided playing mat, one side depicts a ruined Winterfell and the other depicts the Godswood. With each of these maps come different battle scenarios, including a "king of the hill" style game mode, territory control, and a mode that focuses on leaders. Playing several rounds of the game in a few of the different scenarios, we were really impressed by the versatility of each game mode. The fights were often close, with the player controlling The Night King and Arya (what a fun duo) just squeaking out a win over Jon and Daenerys in a battle to control Winterfell.
We play a lot of board games tied to established IP's, but no company quite hits the mark like Funko Games. They take the same energy and enthusiasm that they put into the design of every Funko Pop into the design of their games, and that's clearly on display here. But they balance that reverence of the source material with an approachability that won't leave newcomers high and dry. You don't need to understand why Arya's List is such a clever ability, because understanding the background of it doesn't factor into using it on the battlefield. But for fans of the series, this special ability is a promise kept on the part of the designers — a promise that they love the IP just as much as you do.
Get This Game If:
You're looking for a lightweight but adaptable skirmish game
You've always want to ride Drogon face-first into Arya
You think you could write a better finale to the series
Avoid This Game If:
You're looking for a more complicated skirmish game
You're not interested in wargaming as a general framework
You've got to keep an eye out for The Winds of Winter
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The copy of Funkoverse Strategy Game: Game of Thrones used in this review was provided by Funko Games.
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Giaco Furino is a screenwriter, writer, and editor living and working in Brooklyn, NY.