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‘Funkoverse: Squid Game’ Review: A Unique Strategy Game

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: 39.99
Funkoverse Squid Game strategy board game and expansion boxes
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

If you love Funko Pop! collectibles and the Netflix hit titled Squid Game, you’re in for a treat. Funkoverse: Squid Game is a fun strategy game that lets you play with Funko Pops! instead of preserving them inside their boxes.

Plus, this is just one of many Funkoverse games, so you can add to your collection with more of your favorite fictional characters from movies and TV shows. Personally, I’ve got my eye on Funkoverse: Harry Potter. I love this mix-and-match aspect of certain strategy games because it gives you more fun possibilities. But even Funkoverse: Squid Game by itself is still a gem that’s worth playing if you loved the show that inspired it.

Here's What We Like

  • Gameplay is a mixture of strategy and luck
  • Can mix and match Funkoverse Strategy Games
  • Design is a great ode to the hit TV show

And What We Don't

  • Gameplay can be a bit tricky to get the hang of
  • I wish the tiny cards were bigger

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Design & Pieces

First off, the little Funko Pop! characters are adorable. I’d expect nothing less. With the base game, you get Gi-hun, Sae-byeok, Il-nam, and the Front Man—all popular characters from Squid Game. Then, there’s an expansion that features Jun-ho and the Masked Manager, which is just Jun-ho with a mask on.

The only gripe I have with the Funko Pop! characters is more with the packaging that surrounds them. They were incredibly difficult to get out of the package. Because their heads are so large and the necks supporting them are thin, I sometimes felt like I was going to break the head off of a figure in the process. Luckily, after you’ve taken them out at least once, it becomes easier to remove them.

Funkoverse Squid Game strategy game character pieces
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Each character has a hole in their hand where you can put an item, like a piece of honeycomb, a cell phone, and the invitation each player received in the television show. While it made sense that these items were tiny because they had to fit into a character’s hand, I didn’t understand why some of the cards were tiny, like the Front Man’s Status cards and the Item cards.

I’m assuming that these cards are the same size in other Funkoverse games and stayed the same for continuity’s sake. Because these cards are so small and thin, it’s difficult to pick them up without sliding them off the edge of the table a little. I wish they were thicker, like some of the other cardboard game pieces.

Most of the game’s elements—except for the Funko Pop! Characters, their stands, the items, and the point gems—are made of cardstock or cardboard. The artwork on everything is super cool and obviously takes inspiration from the Netflix show. I especially like the action shots of each Funko Pop! on their respective character cards.

There was one unfortunate misprint, but I received an early copy of the game for review, so hopefully this issue is caught before the game officially hits the shelves. On the Territory Scenario Card, there are two “B” point marker icons, when one should be a “D.”

Setup & How to Play

Overall, Funkoverse: Squid Game isn’t difficult to play, but it is a bit complicated to learn, especially if you don’t frequently play board games. The instructions are extensive, but somehow lacking at the same time.

There were a few times that it was difficult to find the answer to a specific question in the instructions. When I finally found the info, it didn’t make sense that that’s where the info was located and not where I looked initially. One instruction directed me to page 16 for more information and a specific heading to look for, but this info was actually on page 12. Some of my questions went unanswered, and my husband and I just had to guess on how to best handle a situation in the moment.

Setting up the game is a pretty quick process, especially once you know what you’re doing. There’s nothing to shuffle, only a rectangular board and a bunch of paper cards you have to lay out in front of you. You need a decent amount of space to comfortably fit everything, but nothing too crazy.

While you can technically play the game with two to four players, I think it’s best played with two or four people, not three. If you play with two people, each person has complete control over three characters. Playing with four people means two teams of two people; each person has control over a single Funko Pop! character and share joint control over the Worker #28 or Worker #29 character card with their teammate.

Funkoverse Squid Game strategy game one player set up to play
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The Worker cards are technically characters, but they’re labeled as Basic Characters. They only have a circular player token you can move around the board instead of a Funko Pop! character. Workers don’t have any Special Abilities like the Funko Pops! do. Instead, they can only carry out Basic Actions.

In addition to all the character cards and their corresponding player token or Funko Pop!, these are the other game items and tools included:

  • Ability Tokens: Each of the Special Characters in the game—Sae-byeok, Gi-hun, the Front Man, and Il-nam—has unique abilities they can carry out by using ability tokens. Across all the Funkoverse games, there are red, yellow, blue, and gray ability tokens. Each Special Character has two colored dots in the bottom right corner of their character card that tell players which two ability tokens to grab.
  • Cooldown Track: Each player or team takes a Cooldown Track, which contains four numbered sections. After your Special Character uses an ability, you place the corresponding ability token on the Cooldown Track and wait for it to “cool down” before you can use it again. You’ll know where to place the ability token on the Cooldown Track based on the number on your character card. (Example: Il-nam has an ability titled Call For Aid, with the number 2 inside a yellow icon. This ability requires a yellow ability token, and must be placed on the 2 of the Cooldown Track after it’s used.)
  • Character Bases: The Funko Pop! figurines can’t stand on their own. Instead, they all have a hole in one of their feet where a circular base piece fits in. There are two dark-colored bases and two light-colored bases, which helps distinguish which player has control over which Special Character. In the example setup, Il-nam and the Front Man have dark-colored bases, while Gi-hun and Sae-byeok have light-colored bases. Also, one Worker token is dark and one Worker token is light.
  • Status Cards: These vary among Funkoverse games, but in this particular game, the Front Man is the only Special Character with three Status Cards to choose from. These cards alter the rules of each round and can be changed in between rounds. (Example: the Status Card titled Ground Rules allows characters to move three squares instead of the traditional two.)
  • Items / Item Cards: Special Characters have a hole in one of their hands that can hold an item. In Funkoverse: Squid Game, there are two items: Invitation and Honeycomb. The Invitation helps a player move two of their characters closer together, while the Honeycomb gives a player one extra yellow ability token.
  • Exhausted Markers: You place an Exhausted Marker on each of your character cards after you’ve used them on a turn. Once all characters are exhausted, the round ends. At the start of a new round, you take the Exhausted Markers off. Rounds can last two to three turns per player, depending on how many characters you’re playing with.
  • First Player Marker: One side of this marker matches the dark-colored bases, while the other side matches the light-colored bases. You throw it up in the air, let it land just like a coin toss, and whichever color it lands on determines who goes first. At the end of every round, the first player marker flips and moves to the other player’s side, giving them a chance to go first in the following round. This goes back and forth until someone wins.
  • Point Marker: Labeled A, B, C, and D, a point marker can be collected by a player during their turn. Point markers are placed on the board only if they are shown on a Scenario Card, and only in the specific location they’re shown at on the Scenario Card. If a player claims a point marker, they immediately take a single point token and then place the point marker in section 4 of the Cooldown Track. Once it comes off the Cooldown Track, it’s placed back on the board at its original location.
  • Leader Marker / Squid Marker: It seems like all Funkoverse games have unique tokens like this, but the Leader Marker is more common among other base games. Similar to the Point Markers above, you have to place the Leader or Squid Marker where the Scenario Card illustrates they should go. The Leader Marker simply makes you choose a leader from your Special Characters and then start them where the Leader Marker is on the board, rather than at the traditional starting area. The Squid Marker is specifically used with the Squid Game Scenario Card, and helps certain players earn points.
  • Six Dice: These are unique dice that have a total of three symbols distributed among its six sides: an attack symbol that looks like an explosion, a defense symbol that resembles a shield, and three exclamation points bunched up. The dice are rolled whenever a challenge takes place between characters, and the results of these challenges are largely luck-based.
Funkoverse Squid Game strategy board game contents on wooden desk
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

So let’s say I choose the light-colored bases and Gi-hun, Sae-byeok, and Worker #29 as my characters. The First Player Marker is flipped and lands on the light-colored side, so I take it and decide on which character to move first. You can only each character once per round, so choosing who to move first, second, and third is a strategic move and often depends on which Scenario Card you’re playing.

Each Scenario Card has different rules and ways to earn points. However, the goal of every Scenario Card is the same. If you’re playing with three characters each, the first person to reach 10 points wins. Or, if you’re each playing with two characters, you have to be the first to reach six points to win.

When you move a character, you can have them carry out up to two actions. If I move Sae-byeok first, I have the option of carrying out Basic Actions and Special Abilities. A Basic Character, like Worker #29, is only able to carry out Basic Actions. Here’s a brief overview of each Basic Action:

  • Move: You can move your character two squares in any direction, as long as it’s not blocked by a rival character or an obstacle.
  • Challenge: If your character is adjacent to a rival character, both you and your opponent roll two dice. For both parties, a rolled die with the three exclamation marks earns three points. Then, if you’re the attacking party, you gain a point for each attack symbol. If you’re defending, you gain a point for each defense symbol. A tie or a loss for the attacking party results in nothing happening, but if they win, the defending party is knocked down—which literally means you lay the Funko Pop! character down on its side. This is considered a Basic Challenge, but there are also Special Challenges in the game that are part of a Special Character’s Ability.
  • Assist: This action can help stand up an adjacent ally of yours that has been knocked down through a challenge.
  • Interact: There are multiple uses for the Interact action, but it’s most often used to pick up—or “interact” with—a Point Marker to gain a point.
  • Rally: If one of your characters is knocked down, you can use both of the actions on their turn to stand them back up.

For Sae-byeok’s first action of the turn, I carry out the Basic Action of Move, which moves her two squares forward. But for the second action, I use one of her Special Abilities. Every Special Character has three Special Abilities on their card, all with unique moves and a number inside of a colored icon beside it. I choose Sae-byeok’s Special Ability that’s titled Easily Overlooked, which has a 2 inside a gray-colored icon and states, “Place Sae-byeok in a square within 3 that is not adjacent to any rivals.”

After I carry out this Special Ability, I take the gray-colored Ability Token from my supply and place it on the 2 of my Cooldown Track. My first turn is over and I place an Exhausted Marker on Sae-byeok’s character card to indicate that I cannot use her until the next round. Then, the other player takes a turn, and the process repeats until all of our characters have an Exhausted Marker placed on their cards.

In this particular scenario where I went first, my opponent would be the last to move his character. When his third character completes their turn and an Exhausted Marker is placed on him, the round ends. After a round ends, players remove all the Exhausted Markers from their character cards and move anything on their Cooldown Track down by one section. So the gray-colored Ability Token that’s in the second section of the Cooldown Track moves down to the first section; after one more round, it comes off the track and I can use it again.

This game has so many little pieces and unique rules that it seems incredibly intimidating to learn. But despite how the game’s rules may sound, actually playing it makes a world of difference. If you’re a board game aficionado, you know that this is true for most board games.

Playing the Game

After reading through the extensive instructions, Funkoverse: Squid Game is incredibly fun to play. Rounds can take a while if you don’t know what you’re doing—or if you’re like me and my husband and take forever to make a move.

Once you have a handle on how to play, each game with three characters per player lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. If you only play with two characters per player, the playtime drops to 20 to 30 minutes because you only need to collect six points instead of ten.

All of the character combos felt well-balanced. I thought that playing Sae-byeok and the Front Man together was going to be a lethal combination because of Sae-byeok’s Sucker Punch ability and the Front Man’s status cards. Surprisingly, it wasn’t.

Funkoverse Squid Game strategy game set up to play on wooden surface
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Sucker Punch allows you to engage a rival in a special challenge where Sae-byeok gets three dice instead of two, and whoever she’s challenging takes the number of dice indicated in their defense symbol. If you have any extra gray Ability Tokens in your pool, Sae-byeok gets an extra die. Using this move against Il-nam, for example, sometimes resulted in Sae-byeok rolling four or five dice against Il-nam’s one die.

However, Sucker Punch is a blue Special Ability with a cost of three, which means that a blue Ability Token must be placed on the third section of your Cooldown track after the move is used. In a normal situation, this means you’d have to wait a total of three rounds before that blue Ability Token comes back to your pool.

But one of the Front Man’s Status Cards—which can be changed out in between rounds—is to move an Ability Token down two spaces on your Cooldown Track as a Basic Action. This makes it so you could have that blue Ability Token back after the end of only one round instead of three. Sounds pretty OP, right?

While using Sae-byeok and the Front Man together is powerful, it means that you’re competing against Gi-hun and Il-nam, who have Special Abilities that are just as awesome. The person playing with Il-nam gets to start the game with a point and carry out any action while he’s knocked down, whereas you usually can’t do anything except the Rally action to stand them up. Then, Gi-hun is an extremely helpful character to all your other allies, which is incredibly fitting because of Gi-hun’s character in the Netflix show.

Whichever character combo you choose, your opponent will be evenly matched with the remaining characters. I absolutely love that about Funkoverse: Squid Game. You have to primarily use strategy to win, but some of the game is up to luck with the challenge dice rolls. It’s nice that there are Basic Challenges where everyone has a fair shot, and then Special Challenges that cost you an Ability Token but give you more of an advantage over your opponent.

To win, it’s important to anticipate your future moves and your opponent’s possible moves. Because you can only play each character once per round, you have to think about where they’ll end their turn. For example, you might ask yourself whether your opponent could reach that character with one of their characters and possibly knock them down?

Getting knocked out really sucks, especially when you haven’t played that character yet in a round. It’s kind of debilitating when it happens. But that’s another situation where you have to properly anticipate all possibilities. Should you Rally a character who’s knocked down to ensure your opponent can’t knock them out on their turn? Or have an adjacent ally use an Assist action to stand up a knocked down character?

The Expansion: Jun-ho and the Masked Manager

Funkoverse Squide Game strategy game expansion box and contents
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

If you love Squid Game, you’ll definitely want this expansion in addition to the base game. The Funkoverse: Squid Game Expansion comes with two extra playable characters, but only one Funko Pop! figurine. The figurine by itself is Jun-ho, and then you put the included mask on to transform him into the Masked Manager. This fits with the show’s writing because Jun-ho was disguising himself as the Masked Manager to everyone else, but the audience knew it was Jun-ho.

The expansion comes with its own ability and point tokens, as well as evidence tokens that are specific to Jun-ho’s character. If you watched the television show, you’ll understand why the item in this expansion pack is a cellular phone. Jun-ho’s smartphone is used in recording evidence throughout the show, and it stands out because none of the other players or masked workers have a cellphone.

There are no new scenario cards in the expansion, which feels like a missed opportunity to give players extra game possibilities. All of the scenario cards use many of the same game pieces and are printed on cardstock, so it doesn’t seem like there’d be a lot of extra effort involved in creating two new scenarios.

There would be mental effort involved in creating rules for two new ways to play, but there’s so much inspiration to draw from the games played within Squid Game, the TV show. The base game scenarios include Red Light, Green Light and Squid Game, but there were other games in the show that could’ve been transformed into a Funkoverse Strategy Game scenario: Marbles, Dalgona Candy (Ppopgi), and The Glass Tile Game. There were a few other popular characters from the TV show, so maybe if another expansion comes out, there will be new scenario cards with that one.

Replayability

There’s a ton of replay value in Funkoverse: Squid Game because there are so many titles and expansions within the Funkoverse line of games. Since the games are relatively popular and a great money-maker for the company, there’s likely going to be additional games for quite a while. You can mix and match this game with any other Funkoverse Strategy Game.

So if you want to pit Sae-Byeok and Gi-Hun from Squid Game against Bellatrix and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, you can! There are so many unique combinations within a single base game, so when you add in the potential from mixing other base games, the possibilities are practically endless.

Funkoverse Squid Game game and expansion box backs
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

With Funkoverse: Squid Game specifically, there are a few different character combinations to explore and four unique scenario cards with different rules. If you’re playing with two people—and with each player choosing two special characters in addition to their one basic character—there are six different combos to try:

  • Gi-hun and Sae-byeok
  • Gi-hun and Il-nam
  • Gi-hun and Front Man
  • Sae-byeok and Il-nam
  • Sae-byeok and Front Man
  • Front Man and Il-nam

If you also buy the Funkoverse: Squid Game Expansion mentioned above, you’ll get two extra characters to add to the mix—Jun-ho and the Masked Manager—but you can only play one character at a time.

Verdict: A Great Choice For ‘Squid Game’ Fans

This is a fantastic strategy game with unique components, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. At least, not Funkoverse: Squid Game specifically. Unless you’re a huge Squid Game fan, there’s no reason to buy this game in particular over another Funkoverse game.

That said, I love the game mechanics within this game, and all of the other games in this line have the same game mechanics. So if there’s another Funkoverse Strategy Game with fictional characters you identify with more, definitely check it out.

Rating: 8/10
Price: 39.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Gameplay is a mixture of strategy and luck
  • Can mix and match Funkoverse Strategy Games
  • Design is a great ode to the hit TV show

And What We Don't

  • Gameplay can be a bit tricky to get the hang of
  • I wish the tiny cards were bigger

Sarah Chaney Sarah Chaney
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for Review Geek, Android Authority, MakeUseOf, and other great websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Her degree, paired with her almost two years of professionally writing for websites, helps her write content that is engaging, yet informative. She enjoys covering anything Android, video game, or tech related. Read Full Bio »