back to the future

Back to the Future: Dice Through Time Review

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Publisher: Ravensburger
Age: 10+
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 45-60 minutes
MSRP: $29.99

As far as classic 80s franchises go, none may be as sacred and universally beloved as the Back to the Future trilogy. The adventurous time-traveling series remains mercifully untouched by modern adaptations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a proper modern board game – or two!

Back to the Future: Dice Through Time (not to be confused with Back to the Future: Back in Time, another cooperative BTTF board game that released this year), continues Ravensburger’s trend of turning popular film franchises into satisfying, family-friendly tabletop experiences.

88 Miles Per Hour

In Dice Through Time, that pesky villain Biff has run amok in the time-stream, causing major events, timelines, and items from all three films to become mixed up. It’s up to the players to travel through four different time periods, fixing events and returning items, to restore the space-time continuum.

Up to four players play as different versions of the Doc and Marty time-traveling crew, with their own color-coordinated DeLorean mover, player mat, and action dice. The game board resembles a calendar with four time periods (1885, 1855, 1985, and 2015), each with five familiar locations, such as Marty’s House and Hill Valley High School.

Players take turns drawing event cards that represent scenes from all three films, such as Doc inventing the flux capacitor in 1955, Marty skateboarding to school in 1985, and the showdown with Mad Dog Tannen in 1885. Events are placed in their appropriate location, with each requiring certain dice actions to complete.

Players then roll their dice to move around the board and complete events. An arrow can be used to move anywhere along a time line, whereas you’ll need to roll a flux capacitor to time-travel to any time period, arriving at the same location. Leave too many lingering events uncompleted and they’ll add to the “OUTATIME” meter, eventually leading to a game over.

Completing events awards a lost item, such as Marty’s Guitar. Items will need to be returned to different locations and time periods. Players will need to return all the lost items from each time period to win.

We Don’t Need Roads

Dice Through time includes multiple difficulty levels by scaling the number of lost items that need to be returned. A standard game includes three items from each time period, whereas things get harder, and significantly longer, when all five are used.

Likewise more players equals more event cards, and the increasing possibility that players will run into each other and advance the game over meter – a fun nod to the danger of running into yourself from Back to the Future 2.

As a cooperative game, players are encouraged to work together to travel around the board and complete as many events as possible. Players can also help each other by rippling dice – storing dice actions in one location so they can be used on other players in the same spot, or in future time periods – another neat element that emphasizes the time-traveling theme.

Unfortunately Dice Through Time lacks any kind of asymmetry for the players. There are no unique player powers; everyone rolls their version of the same four dice. While it does use the source material well, the board game doesn’t feature any actual still shots from the film, instead relying on comic-like illustrations for the 70+ event cards.

Dice Through Time is also one of the easier co-op games I’ve played, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We never lost a single game on standard difficulty, for example. Harder difficulties focus more on making the game longer rather than adding any new complications or depth.

The Rating

Dice Through Time has a recommended age rating of 10+. Reading is minimal (or even optional) as players draw cards, match the location, and roll dice. Light strategy is required to plan a turn that can involve moving, completing actions, turning in items, and storing dice for future turns or other players.

The Takeaway

Back to the Future: Dice Through Time is easy to teach, easy to play, and fairly easy to win. The game doesn’t try to re-create any of the original movies. Instead it crafts a competent co-op experience from the time-traveling theme and iconic locations, creating a cooperative tabletop experience worthy of the classic movies.

Find Back to the Future: Dice Through Time exclusively at Target.

Funkoverse Board Games Are the Perfect Light Strategy Games for Families

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I never paid much attention to the odd, square-headed figurines known as Funko, despite their incredible popularity and breadth of licenses. They couldn’t be scanned into their own video game series like Skylanders, nor unlock various Nintendo features as with Amiibo. Plop them into a series of tactical strategy board games, however, and you have my attention.

With intuitive rules, multiple game modes, and asymmetrical figures, the Funkoverse Strategy Games are a refreshing blend of family-friendly content with satisfying tactical gameplay.

The Funkoverse games originally released last fall in four-figure base sets ($39.99, up to four players) as well as smaller two-figure “expandalone” sets ($24.99, two players) using smaller figures with popular, kid-friendly licenses like Batman and Harry Potter.

The second wave of Funkoverse games are releasing in March, including four-figure and two-figure sets from Jurassic Park, two expandalone sets from the Golden Girls, and the first character-only expansion in Aggretsuko, the rage-prone anime cat from the Netflix series. Future sets releasing this summer include Back to the Future and Wonder Woman.

Each box includes a complete game, containing dice, tokens, and a double-sided game board to wage miniature tactical warfare. However, Funko Games and developer Prospero Hall (Disney Villainous) smartly recognized the mix-and-match quality of the Funko universe, and designed the Funkoverse games to be fully compatible with one another. It’s easy to field a dream team of whichever Funkoverse heroes and villains you like. Hermione, Bat Girl, and Rose from Golden Girls can team up against Harley Quinn, Dr. Ian Malcolm, and Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty.

Two players (or two teams) begin by choosing one of the sides on the grid-based game board, and field a team of either two or three figures each. Each base game and expandalone set feature additional basic figures such as “Police Officer” (represented by small discs) to help pad out teams before you invariably buy more sets and figures.

Each set comes with four game modes, including capture the flag and territory control, and each figure comes with its own set of special abilities that operate on cooldowns. Players (or teams) take turns activating figures and performing actions such as moving, challenging opponents with dueling dice rolls, assisting allies, or performing special abilities.

Special abilities are thematically tied to each character. Batman has a grappling hook to quickly close the distance to the closest enemy, while the Jurassic Park Raptor can place ambush tokens to pop up in different places around the board. Clever girl.

Special abilities are limited by using tokens (two per character) with a cooldown tracker, with stronger abilities taking more time to recharge. Each Funkoverse figure also has a special ongoing trait. Defeating Joker lets him place a mystery box in his space, which he can later explode using his Bang! ability, while Harley can perform a free challenge attack when standing back up – securing an epic win for my opponent in a close game.

The scenarios play quickly while still leaving plenty of room for interesting tactical decisions. Do I spread my figures out to nab those precious point markers, or stay clumped together to form a defensive phalanx? Do I spend both my actions moving to a critical spot, but leaving myself vulnerable? Should I use Batman’s stronger special attack now, knowing it leaves me unable to use Relentless next turn if he fails and gets knocked down? Strategic depth comes from learning when to use which characters and how best to manage the limited ability tokens.

I’m delighted by how impressive the Funkoverse strategy games look and play. The figures are smaller than standard Funko in order to properly fit in the tactical grid, but look fantastic. The Funkoverse figures can also carry tiny weapons and tools that add their own special abilities, like Harley’s signature Mallet.

With a recommended age of 10+, younger kids will need some assistance with advanced tactics – or you could play without special abilities and ease them into the world of tactical strategy. The Funkoverse games are part of a rare breed of tabletop games that are fun with both kids and adults, making it a huge win for family game night.

Find Funkoverse Strategy games at Target, Amazon, and hobby game stores.

From Disney Villainous to Marvel Villainous, Dominating this Fall

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Disney Villainous is one of our favorite strategy card games. Now developers Prosper Hall and publisher Ravensburger are exploring another Disney-licensed game with Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, releasing August 2020.

Infinite Power supports 2-4 players (recommended age: 12+) and will include five Marvel villains, but only three have been revealed so far: Thanos, Hela, and Ultron. The game will play similarly to Disney Villainous (and its many expansions). Players take on the role of asymmetrical villains, each with their own goals, unique player boards and decks, and gameplay styles.

Marvel Villainous also differs in a few key ways, however. Instead of each villain having their own Fate deck of pesky heroes, players will use one big common Fate deck as a nod to the shared universe of the comics and movies. Marvel Villainous will also include three different game modes with different levels of difficulty and length through the number of Events that appear.

These differences sound like Marvel Villainous will not be compatible with Disney Villainous without some special home-grown rules. Given that Marvel includes universe-conquering Thanos and goddess Hela versus the likes of Prince John and Queen of Hearts, that may be for the best.

 

“Ravensburger is extending the Villainous franchise to the Marvel Universe because of passion. We’ve heard from many Villainous fans that the Marvel Universe would be an exciting place to play,” said Florian Baldenhofer, Executive VP, Ravensburger. “Marvel’s shared universe allows for crossover between storylines which provides a new, interactive way to play the game.”

Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power will release this August.

Defend Themyscira in Co-op Board Game Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons

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Ravensburger and Prospero Hall, designers of Disney Villainous and the Funkoverse Strategy games, have announced a new co-op board game starring DC Comics’ Amazonian superhero, Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons is coming March 1, with a suggested price of $34.99.

Here’s the official game description:

The Amazons, a powerful tribe of warriors, have lived in peace for centuries on the tranquil island of Themyscria. That peace is shattered when their enemies invade. Now it’s up to you to defend your home! In this cooperative game, you’ll strategize together, face your foes on the battlefield, and rise to meet the challenge of the Amazons!

The tabletop game is designed for 2-5 players, with five unique hero miniatures (unpainted), including Diana. Players face off against one of three villains: Ares, Circe, or Cheetah, each offering unique gameplay and different levels of difficulty.

Ares was featured in the 2017 feature film Wonder Woman (directed by Patty Jenkins, starring Gal Godot), while Cheetah will appear in the upcoming sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, in theaters June 5.

The suggested age range for Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons is 10+, with an average play time between 45 and 60 minutes. The stellar box art is by comic artist Jenny Frison.

Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons will be available via Amazon, Target, and hobby game stores on March 1.