Publisher: Funko Games
I’m a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise: the larger than life characters, the increasingly ridiculous stunts and paper-thin but lovable characters. How does all of that translate into a tabletop board game? Quite well, it turns out. Fast and Furious Highway Heist effectively recreates multiple vehicular action scenes in one of the more unique and compelling board games of the year.
One Quarter Mile at a Time
To begin, we need to choose one of three scenarios to play: Tank Assault, Semi Heist, or Chopper Takedown. Each scenario has its own win and loss conditions, its own objectives, and its own enemy decks, stunt cards, and additional rulebook.
In Tank Assault, the objective is to wreck a tank that’s been stolen from the villains. It’s a straightforward scenario that serves as a good jumping on point. Semi Heist and Chopper Takedown add new elements, like leaping onto a semi truck to open the door and steal the cargo, or playing keep-away with a helicopter in a scene ripped straight from the climax of Furious 7.
Players can choose from one of six familiar heroes from the series such as Dom, Roman, or Letty, and combine them with one of four different cars. Heroes and cars have stats and special abilities, and when combined, create unique combinations. Letty is better at making defensive rolls, for example, and pairs well with the Exotic Supercar’s ability to grant an additional success if it’s at full or nearly full health.
That’s right, Highway Heist is almost like playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons! Cars & Highways, if you will.
On their turn, each player will take two actions among a wide variety of tactical options, including driving, forcing enemy cars into other spaces, wrecking enemy cars, and leaping from car to car. These skills require successful checks by rolling dice – similar to D&D. The higher my rating in that skill, the more dice I can roll. Heroes vary in their skillsets, making some more suitable to specific tasks than others. Dom is a pro at wrecking enemy vehicles, but you’ll want to have Brian on your team for leaping onto other vehicles.
Rolling dice and pulling off fun action moves are neat, but successfully achieving stunts is even better. Each round a new stunt card is drawn with different parameters and skill checks. One might fling an enemy on top of my car onto another enemy, while another involves firing a grappling hook at at enemy wreck and using it like a wrecking ball throughout the game board. Succeeding at these stunts also rewards boost tokens, which can be spent to turn more failures into successes, or used on an ally’s turn to grant them additional die rolls. Teamwork!
I only have one complaint about Highway Heist: it’s hard to win. Out of half a dozen games I’ve yet to win a single game on the standard difficulty level. Difficulty scales with the number of stunt cards you choose to include. More cards mean more time and more chances to complete the objectives. But miss out on a few rolls and bad things quickly begin to snowball.
After each player turn, we roll the enemy die to determine if the cars attack, enemy pegs jump around, or an enemy card gets drawn. Enemy cards can cause any number of bad things to occur, like the chopper raining down missiles, new enemy cars spawning behind us, or the tank moving just one space out of range for the epic stunt we were about to pull off.
To be fair, nearly every loss has been snatched from the jaws of victory. If only we had one more round, if only I’d been able to make that mid-air ram check to take down the chopper, if only that dang tank hadn’t moved. It’s the most fun I’ve had repeatedly losing a game.
I lied, I do have one more complaint, though it’s relatively minor: the actual game components aren’t great. The insert works well and the cards and stunt cards are easy to parse, but the actual cars and pegs remind of the old Game of Life board game; not at all what I picture when cruising down the highway pulling off sick maneuvers by the skin of my teeth (the little chopper figure is cool, though). It’s also a shame that Funko Games couldn’t get any actor licenses for the player boards. Given how big a role the characters play in the series, it’s a substantial let down for fans.
An important note: if you’re looking for a strong solo game, Highway Heist is an incredible pick. While not technically supported, there’s zero hidden information between players, meaning a solo player can simply control multiple characters with ease. Just remember to roll that enemy die at the end of each player’s turn!
Fast and Furious: Highway Heist has a suggested age of 12+. The movie franchise is aggressively PG-13, and the age range feels appropriate for the level of tactical planning and coordination required.
I didn’t expect to have this much fun from a board game based on the Fast and Furious franchise. Like the ridiculous series it’s based on, Highway Heist is happy to defy those expectations. Even if you don’t know your Dominics from your Brians, Fast and Furious: Highway Heist is an exciting, challenging, and satisfying cooperative game with something special under the hood.