The Harry Potter 4-Pack is one of the first sets available as part of the Funkoverse Strategy Game series. While published by Funko Games, the game system was designed by the highly regarded team at Prospero Hall – the designers behind Disney Villainous and the Jaws board game. This set sees 2 – 4 players spend around 30 minutes battling with Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Voldemort himself! Characters will get knocked down and out, points will be awarded and spells used. However, is Funko’s first venture into board games going to be as “pop”ular as their figures? Let’s find out!
Players will do battle across a variety of modes; attempting to capture the flag, hold control points and more. After splitting the characters into two teams, and setting up the board, it is time to get stuck in. Regardless of the mode, play goes back and forth between the two teams, with a single character being activated and spending 2 action points. These can be spent to perform a range of basic actions or unique character spells.
The majority of the actions taken will be the basic ones. Players can spend an action point to move the activated character up to two spaces. Characters can move through allies but not opponents or, unsurprisingly, walls. If a character is adjacent to an opponent they can perform a basic attack, referred to as a challenge. This sees the player rolling 2 dice, and the opponent rolling as many dice as the attacked character has defence (two in the case of Harry and Bellatrix and one for Hermione and Voldemort).
The dice are all identical, featuring hits, defence shields and “!!!” symbols. The attacker aims to roll more hits than the number of shields rolled by the defender, with the “!!!” symbol counting as 3 for either attacking or defending. If the attacker wins the opponent’s character is first knocked down. If a knocked down character is successfully attacked they are knocked out. Once knocked out they are placed on 1 slot of the cooldown track to respawn next round. Unsuccessful attacks see nothing happen – past embarrassment for the attacker.
When adjacent to a knocked down ally a character can assist them, standing them up for one of their actions. This can be crucial as knocked down characters by default can only rally on their turn (costing two action points), effectively wasting their turn. The final basic action is to interact. What players interact with changes each game, though commonly there are point markers. Interacting with these sees the player earn a point, with the point marker token then placed at 4 on the cooldown track.
Once a character has spent their 2 actions they become exhausted, with it then the opponent’s turn to activate a character. Once all characters are exhausted the round is over. Any tokens on the cooldown track are shifted down one step. At this point any tokens that come off the track are returned to the appropriate player or the board, with characters respawning in the team’s starting area. Play continues until at the end of a round one team has reached 6 points if using two characters per team or 10 points if three are used.
Basic actions are all well and good but the special actions are what makes each character unique. Adding excitement to the game these unique spells include the likes of Hermione’s Accio, which thematically sees something moved towards her, or Voldemort’s Fiendfyre, which sees six dice rolled as an attack – signifying its powerfulness. Players cannot spam these cool spells though thanks to the cooldown track.
Each spell comes with a required token and a value. The player needs to have one of the depicted tokens available and then places it on the denoted value on the cooldown track – causing it to be that many rounds until the token returns to the player. This is used to great effect to balance the unique skills and also the items that players can get their hands on.
Adding a further element of variety on top of the unique character powers, they can effectively gain an extra unique power. While a great mechanic, the included items (a dagger and potion) are potentially the weakest element of the set. Having only 2 means it isn’t possible to give the four Pop! figures a unique item to hold. This could have created even more variety, with players able to rotate addition items in and out of play or just between characters. Not using something epic such as the Elder wand makes sense as each of the character models is holding a wand. Nevertheless, there are many items from the invisibility cloak, the philosopher’s stone or the golden snitch that are more iconic than a “dagger”. It just feels like a slight missed opportunity, mostly due to the thematic ties from the rest of the game.
Including a double sided board is a brilliant way to instantly inject replayability into each pack. The two iconic locations from the Harry Potter universe, Diagon Alley and the Room of Requirements, not only have different game modes, they also feel different to play on. The Room of Requirements has a central inaccessible zone, in the form of a pile of books, boxes and more. With a few piles also around it the maps has less straight lines to it, limiting options for range. Combine this with the Territory mode which sees players dancing around the central obstructed zone, attempting to down each other, and you have a map that feels like you’re dueling from behind pillars in the Hogwarts castle.
Diagon Alley features a long open straight down the center of the map. This means that rangeless characters must sprint across from the cover of the buildings. Both maps include their own flair parts of the glorious artwork. Diagon Alley is particularly stunning, with a number of the stores (including a quidditch shop and Fred & George’s Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes sweet shop), and the entrance to Gringotts Bank, featured.
The production quality doesn’t stop at the board artwork, not even remotely. Each token is clear and obvious what it is, the items fit into the figures’ hands easily and the shiny blue plastic point tokens are sublime. Then, there are the small Pop! figures themselves. They might be a little divisive, and the game won’t change the minds of those that dislike the disproportionate heads, but for the rest of us they are incredible! The only slight component that seems to be missing is a way to highlight zones for control points or the Territory game mode. They aren’t overly needed but would help for the first few times you play – instead players just need to check the handy rule sheets.
Four, smaller than normal, Harry Potter Pop! figures are included in this Funkoverse Strategy Game set. To allow players to play 3 characters vs 3 characters Death Eater and Auror tokens are included. Coming with their own small character sheets they can only perform basic actions, with each listed. The special abilities the main characters have, and they way abilities have the chance to combo, is truly part of the excitement of the game. These basic characters miss out on this, making their inclusion feel like only a way to bridge the game between having 4 and 6 Pop! figures. These simply won’t be used as soon as an additional set is purchased. Nevertheless, having a quick reference guide of the 5 basic actions to hand for each team isn’t a bad thing for making the game more accessible.
Unlike the 2 Pop! sets, Funkoverse Strategy Game: Harry Potter 4-Pack can play with up to 4 players. With 1 character per person the game works well with the normal back and forth gameplay. Some of the speed and strategy is lost in comparison to a 2 player game though. Communication of what to do is possible but the other team is there to listen in, reducing the impact of planning ahead. It also takes time for it to become your turn again. It could be up to a 6 turn gap between turns for your character. You’ll still be engaged as your team will be doing something in this time, still you aren’t fully in control.
Like a repeating record it seems that Prospero Hall has done it again, forming a thematic experience underpinned by a solid game. Rounds are fast paced, there is a thrill of combat introduced by the dice and the special abilities both fit the characters and make turns have impact. Funkoverse Strategy Game: Harry Potter 4-Pack is my first proper venture into what is already a series of sets. This won’t be the last Funkoverse set to enter my collection either. The draw of the ability to mix and match between sets is too tempting to miss out on. That being said, this can be a completely stand alone experience, and the variety of the two maps and ability to rotate the 4 characters and 2 items between two teams is brilliant. Any gamer or Harry Potter fan can pick up the game and get enjoyment from it, and I can see many enjoying Funkoverse for a long time to come.
(Editor’s Note: The Funkoverse Strategy Game: Harry Potter 4-Pack was provided to us by Funko Games for the review.)