Disney's The Rocketeer is a beloved adventure full of rocket-fueled action and intrigue, and now the talented designers at Funko Games (also known as Prospero Hall) have brought that same level of fun and adventure thrill-ride to the tabletop. Cliff, Peevy, Jenny, Valentine, Lothar, and Nevill all make the trip from film to table, and you'll play as either the heroes or the villains as you tussle, control locations, recruit soldiers, and ultimately collect enough Finale cards to come away as the winner. Gameplay is specifically designed for 2 players, and those who jump in will find a game that delivers fresh mechanics and embraces its theme wholeheartedly, and Rocketeer fans should be quite pleased.
Because the game is designed for a pair, there's not a massive amount of space needed for setup, and with the shuffling of a few decks and the placement of your figures you are pretty much up and running, making this a perfect game to help introduce new players to the genre. While it is new-player friendly, there's quite a bit of strategy to every decision you make during each turn, and you'll need to learn how to utilize your team's various skills and abilities while the other team consistently throws a wrench into your plans.
After you pick either the Heroes or Villains, you'll take control of that team's three characters, and you'll put them into action by utilizing either your Hero or Villain Deck. You'll draw 7 cards and that will be your hand, but each character has a unique symbol, and if you are playing a character during a turn, you can only play cards that have their symbol listed. Throwing a unique wrinkle into this mixture is the fact that some cards have multiple symbols on them, and since heroes and villains alternate turns with each character, you'll need to decide if you should use some of those cards with multiple options during your turn or leave them for one of your other teammates.
The Rocketeer is all about presenting you with multiple choices at every turn, and there are often multiple avenues during any turn to get different rewards. You rarely feel closed in on one particular route or strategy, and this multitude of possibilities does make you feel as if you can switch your approach or focus if things aren't going the way you hoped or if someone else's move has caused your plan to go south. That doesn't even factor in Recruitment, which is exclusive to the Villains side and allows you to bring soldiers onto the board to bolster your numbers and help control more spaces. This does cost a lot of Clout to pull off and is only doable with certain cards, but if you can play the long game a bit with these, you can start to overwhelm the heroes.
This turn-by-turn chaos is aided by the various locations on the board as well, which each have a different reward that you gain immediately upon moving to that space and a reward that you only claim if you control that location with more people on the space than your opponent by the end of the round. You'll need to weigh long and short-term options as you move across the board. Perhaps you want to move to a space because you can immediately grab some Grit (which lets you upgrade or protect against tussles, aka attacks), though if you move to a different space and control it by the end of the turn you might be able to nab a large amount of Clout (used to power abilities) or upgrade Cliff's Rocket pack, which fittingly allows you to move up to several spaces at once if you can knock out upgrades as you go.
Choice is key in every facet of the game, and that includes both the Hero and Villain decks. Each card has two sections, Actions and Abilities. You can use the Actions side free of charge, and these typically let you move and then pick up some Clout or Grit. The Abilities side cost some amount of Clout typically but give you powerful abilities that can help turn the tide, like allowing you to flip over the Blueprint Plans on the opposing team's side, hiding the plans on your own side, getting a powerful attack, and more. Many times I had to debate if the tussle was ultimately worth it, as while it would knock down a foe, it might not factor in as heavily toward's my long-term plans. This push and pull was one of my favorite parts of the game, and since you alternate turns with the opposing side, you always have to be open to changing your strategy and mixing up your approach.
Further shaking up each turn is Current Events, which typically influences three areas of the game. The main text typically helps or hinders someone, while also showing where the Finale Card token should go this turn. It also moves the Luxembourg Zeppelin another space on its board, and once it gets to Los Angeles, the game ends and you count up your Finale cards to see who walks away the winner.
Part of The Rocketeer's charm is its old Hollywood visual aesthetic, and the game embraces this in spades. The board is gorgeous and each Location, Character Board, and Current Event card feels right out of the same classic era. The miniatures are split into blue (villains) and yellow (heroes) tones and boast solid details, especially Cliff.
As for flaws, there aren't many, though there are some mechanics that don't feel as important as others. While it seems like the Blueprint plans should be a big deal, they mostly only come into play on two different locations on the board, allowing you to gain double the rewards if you control one of those locations. For Cliff, this is great, as the final space allows you to upgrade his Rocket pack by 2, which allows you to get to the 2 and 3 levels far quicker. Other than that though, there's not much reason to make the plans a focal point, especially if you're choosing between controlling a space to get the Upper Hand token (which lets you have an extra card in your hand during your turn) and a space that gets you an extra reward that you can probably get through another card's ability anyway.
Likewise, the Soldier mechanic is interesting, but you can also play a game and emerge victorious without using it at all. It's also not worded as clearly as the other mechanics in the game, so you might have a few questions as you put it to use for the first time.
Despite those rather small nitpicks, The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future is going to delight most fans with gameplay that encourages tactics but also embraces risk and adaptability, and all of that rich gameplay is wrapped in a gorgeous shell. Fans of the original film will find a lot to love, and new players will immensely enjoy being along for the adventure.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Published By: Funko Games
The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future is available in stores now.
The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future was provided by Funko Games for review