Now this is Halloween!
The FunkoVerse: Nightmare Before Christmas game is a light strategy game in which players control up to three characters from the film of the same name. Players must challenge and defeat rival characters, collect gems from around the board, and fulfil specific scenario requirements in order to win.
This Nightmare Before Christmas game takes place in the FunkoVerse, a series of games that use the same mechanics but deliver new themes—from Harry Potter to Jurassic Park and even the Golden Girls—and includes new boards, special characters, items, and more. You can even play with characters from other sets, creating a mashup of the ages!
Getting in a Halloween-themed game right before Halloween is oh-so poetic. The theme is certainly fitting for this time of year. Upon inspection, I recognized the characters, but not much else. You see, I’ve only watched The Nightmare Before Christmas a grand total of one time (although I’ve heard the music plenty of times). So I’m not too familiar with everything involved. That said, it wasn’t difficult to grok or enjoy.
The gameplay is essentially the same as the other FunkoVerse games. To sum up, players activate a character on their turn and take two actions. Then, after taking those actions, that character is exhausted and no longer able to take actions during that round. Then play goes to the next player, who does the same thing. And so on and so forth until the round is over, characters are no longer exhausted, and the game continues.
There are four basic actions:
- Move (up to 2 spaces)
- Challenge (roll dice to attack a rival)
- Assist (help up an ally that has been knocked over)
- Interact (pick up a gem from the board, or some other special action dictated by the current scenario)
- Rally (use two actions to stand up)
When a character is challenged and loses, that character is knocked down. The character is still in the game—and can still defend if challenged again—but if it’s knocked down and loses a second challenge, it is defeated and the attacking player gets a point (i.e. a gem).
Each character depicted by a Funko figure has special abilities. These abilities are performed by spending an ability token and putting it on your cooldown track. After each round, all items on the cooldown track go down by one. When an item leaves the cooldown track, it returns to its regular place. So, if you use a certain ability, you have to spend that specific color of token to do so. Which means you won’t get that token back until after 1-4 rounds. It’s a neat way of balancing awesome powers against ones that are, shall we say, less useful (but still effective!).
Before each game starts, players choose a scenario. While many FunkoVerse games have the basic four scenarios—Leaders, Flags, Control, and Territory—The Nightmare Before Christmas edition has Leaders and Territory, but also includes two new 4-player free-for-all scenarios—Infiltrate and Triumph. This is probably my favorite thing about this edition of the game. Sure, the box for the other games—such as the Harry Potter version—say 2-4 players, but it’s best as a two-player game. But, with these free-for-all scenarios, four players make for an exciting time! The map is smaller, which means less room to run so you’re forced into conflict. I really enjoy the 3-4 player scenarios; I think this free-for-all system is going to be quite popular.
The Nightmare Before Christmas movie may have the word “Christmas” in the title, but, let’s be real, it’s about Halloween. From the characters to the maps, FunkoVerse: The Nightmare Before Christmas is spot on. And, chances are you’ll want to play this around Halloween (or Christmas!), which is another perk of this theme.
The regular gameplay itself doesn’t really follow the theme—after all, it’s a system used for a host of other titles. But the theme is implemented nicely with character abilities.
The art is solid. I mean, it’s what you’d expect by looking at the box cover. The maps are well done and the walls are drawn in nicely so there’s no mistaking the boundaries. No complaints here!
These are the things that make the game so awesome (for me, anyway):
- Unique special abilities
- Halloween theme
- Large characters
Things to Consider
There’s not much to consider, other than it’s a light strategy game. It may be lighter than a lot of games, but it has fun gameplay.
Perhaps the only real downside of these FunkoVerse games are due to the bonus of the characters being so large. When everyone is packed in a certain area, positioning can be difficult with those bulbous heads of theirs. Also, when a character gets knocked down after losing an opponent’s challenge, they tend to get in the way. Not a big deal (especially if you just finish them off right after they’re knocked down), but it’s enough to warrant a statement about it.
FunkoVerse: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good, solid game of light strategy. Not much to burn your brain over, but there’s enough to let it do some work, at least. While the theme and character abilities are fun and engaging, I think my favorite part about this version of FunkoVerse is the free-for-all scenarios, which shine at higher player counts. The other scenarios are still good, but they’re best (by far) with only two players. With the free-for-all scenarios, you can include the full player count and still have a frighteningly good time.
While I’m a strong neutral in regards to the IP itself, I think the game is well done, what with the maps, item and companion, characters, and character abilities. It’s thematic to the core (minus the actual goals of the scenarios) and is practically a staple for October game nights.
Share your thoughts on #The Nightmare Before Christmas in the comments!
About the Author
Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He’s a certified copyeditor through UC San Diego’s Copyediting Extension program. He’s a freelance writer and editor, covering everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Benjamin_Kocher. You can also read his board game inspired fiction (among other things) at BoardGameImmersion.com.