The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future – Unnecessary Roughness
Do you like your games to look gorgeous?
Then take a look at The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future.
Funko continues to do an absolutely tremendous job with the art and component quality of their Disney-licensed games. I’d give this game high marks for the box art alone. Behold the spectacular watercolor of the hero soaring into the clouds, gold foil accenting the game’s title.
But the beauty continues on the inside – the character portraits and playing card illustrations are beautifully done, their style perfectly complementing the Art Deco iconography. The blimp figurine (the turn marker) even has the name “Luxembourg” printed on its side in the exact font from the movie.
To the Funko Graphic Design department: you hit the stratosphere with this one. This game gives such a great first impression.
But once you stop staring at it, and finally start playing, does the game fly as high? Not quite.
The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future is a two player slug-fest. And I mean that literally, as one of the most frequent turn actions is to “tussle” with your opponent. The whole idea plays as charmingly as the 1930s era Hollywood stage fights, though it can feel awkward to have the male goons “knock down” the female Jenny character.
Why “tussle”? Well, every character may be hiding the secret plans for the rocket backpack. Winning a tussle is how you both reveal who has the plans, and steal them.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The Rocketeer is a hand-management, area-control game. You play as the Heroes or the Villains, each with their own special deck. Villain cards slightly emphasize combat, while the Hero cards lean towards movement.
You control three characters and take a turn with one character at a time. Play as many cards as you would like for that character. Not all cards can be played for all characters. Icons let you know which are which and which actions you can choose from when you play it..
Once you’re satisfied, your end your turn and your opponent chooses one of their characters and plays. Back and forth you go until all six characters have had a turn and the round is over. The whole game consists of 4-5 rounds (a random card draw can speed it up).
The game board on which the characters move is a simple two-way path of six locations from the movie. Controlling any of these locations at the end of the round (by having more characters standing at that location than your opponent) earns you some rewards you can use in the next round or later.
Interestingly, the only points that matter at the end of the game can be found on the Finale cards. You gain these cards in three ways:
- Whichever player has possession of the rocket plans at the end of a round gets one Finale card
- Whichever player controls a certain designated location at the end of a round gets one Finale card
- Some Hero and Villain deck cards allow you to draw a Finale card as an action
And that’s it. What this means in practice is that it can feel like you’re losing most of the game. You might be losing a lot of tussles and failing to control locations but still end up winning due to playing a lot of actions to draw Finale cards anyway. Finale cards are not equal: they can be worth zero to four points (and sometimes more).
That being said, most of our plays ended with a very close score. So even if you think you’re out of it, don’t give up!
Those Finale cards were a major stumbling block for kid play. When we played with our 11-year-old and 14-year-old, they both had a hard time believing our scores were close. They’d start to get really down on themselves, adopt the classic “I give up” attitude halfway through, then only lose by two, or even win. It’s a strange catch-22 to this game – even if you’re winning, you probably feel like you’re losing until you count the score at the end. And that detracts from the enjoyment, at least for our kids.
To improve your kids’ understanding of this, I recommend an initial “training run” play. Play with open hands and revealed Finale cards. This way they can see that “really bad” things don’t actually set them back that far. This will help motivate them to play on in future games.
Stop me if you’ve heard us say this before: how much you love this game will depend on how fondly you remember the movie it’s based on. The references to the IP are solid, and the game design feels well-suited to the theme.
Ultimately this is a game that puts out a great first impression, beats you up in the middle, and leaves you sometimes bewildered, hopefully slap-happy, and maybe victorious in the end.
You can order your own copy of The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future on Amazon, or from your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a review copy of The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future from Funko Games.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future: Unnecessary Roughness
Age Range: 12+
Number of Players: 2
Playtime: 45 minutes