It goes without saying that The Goonies is a beloved 80’s movie classic. It’s a movie we’ve enjoyed sharing with both of our elementary aged kids. Last Spring, when I discovered that Funko Games was releasing a Goonies themed tabletop rpg board game, I knew it was something we had to get our hands on because Goonies and also because Funko Games is racking up a great reputation for fandom based games that are awesome tributes to their respective franchises. Funko Games was awesome enough to send us a copy The Goonies: Never Say Die for reviewing.
What is The Goonies: Never Say Die?
The Goonies: Never Say Die is one-part board game and one-part tabletop role-playing game. For experienced tabletop rpg players, it’s more like a pre-designed campaign right down to the characters. For someone who’s an experienced tabletop rpg player, this is a nice baby step to learning how to be a GM. For people who have never played a tabletop rpg but wanted to try, this is a less intimidating way to get started. Players take on the part of different Goonies while the Gondocks Master sets us a series of nine adventures for our players to experience. It’s a cooperative game for the Goonies players and the whole thing is designed for 2-5 players ages 12+ and a single adventure takes around 1-2 or so to play. The game has a MSRP of $34.99.
The Goonies: Never Say Die Components
The Goonies: Never Say Die contains the following:
- 9 Dice
- 5 Goonie Figures (Chunk, Mikey, Sloth, Mouth, and Data)
- 5 Goonie Placards (Chunk, Mikey, Sloth, Mouth, and Data)
- 6 Data Invention Cards
- Data’s Slick Token
- 3 Mouth Wisecrack Cards
- 4 Goonie Reference Cards
- 3 Teenager Cards
- 3 Boss Foe Placards (The Fratellis, Giant Octopus, and One-Eyed Willie)
- 3 Boss Figures (The Fratellis, Giant Octopus, and One-Eyed Willie)
- 15 Item Cards
- 15 Treasure Cards
- 3 Legendary Treasure Cards
- 3 Giant Octopus Cards
- 3 One-Eyed Willie Cards
- 6 Riddle Cards
- 5 Peril Cards
- 6 Foe Reference Cards
- 22 Foe Movers and Bases
- 54 GM Cards
- 4 Double-Sided Adventure Tiles
- 1 Game Board
- 1 Goondocks Master (GM) Screen
- 4 Waterslide Entrance Tokens
- 4 Waterslide Exit Tokens
- 16 Passage Tokens
- 1 Start Token
- 8 Pirate Stash Tokens
- 6 Bone Pile Tokens
- 1 Pit Token
- 12 Rubble Tokens
- 6 Unexplored Tokens
- 1Flooded Token
- 6 Trapped/Stunned Tokens
- 10 GM Tokens
- 4 Sand Tokens
- 1 Hourglass Tile
- 22 Damage Tokens
- 18 Wish Tokens
- 1 Adventure Guide
- 1 Instruction Booklet
I will admit, it is a lot of pieces especially a lot of Tokens that need to be punched out and getting all of those piles of tokens is a little overwhelming at first. If you are playing with kids, do the punching and sorting before you bring them to the table unless they are patient enough to help. That being said, the wealth of nice components and truly excellent artwork especially for a $35 dollar game is actually pretty awesome. The figures are done in plastic and different colors but have enough details that it’s easy to tell which figure represents which character. The dice are custom for the game and different sided dice are done in different colors with symbols specific to the game.
The Placards, the Tiles, and the Game Board are stunning and the artwork is an awesome visual tribute to the source. They are done in a nice thick cardboard that should really hold up beyond the nine adventures the game contains. The Foe Movers and the various Tokens are all of that similar thick cardboard and awesome artwork. Tokens used in similar situations have size, shape, or color to help tell them apart which made them way less intimidating to sort through once the game got going.
The Goondocks Master Screen might be my favorite component. On one side it had a nice quick reference guide for the GM, but the side facing the players looks like the map from the movie and even has a raggedy edge to it. It really gives the game a nice Goonies feel.
The cards come in assorted sizes but do a really good job of using style, size, and color to help keep track of which card is which. And again, a lot of love was put into the artwork for the cards which really helped add to the feel that this was a Goonies game.
The Instruction Booklet does a really nice job of giving diagrams where needed and organizing play information in a way that makes it quick to learn tor look something up. The Adventure Guide is for the GM, It comes with a nice GM guide but also has sections for each adventure including map diagrams over a two-page spread which keeps things simple and unintimidating. As a newbie GM, this is great for building my confidence.
Overall, well done, and well put together. Any fan of the movie should be excited by all of the little details for the pieces.
How to Play The Goonies: Never Say Die
The goal of The Goonies: Never Say Die depends on your role. Unlike most tabletop rpgs, there is a win scenario for the GM. The GM wins if all 4 Sand Tokens are at the bottom of the Hourglass at the start of their turn. The Goonies win if they can complete their Starting Goal which varies by the adventure. I freely admit, as a GM, I didn’t care about winning and focused on creating a game that would be fun and challenging for my kids so I reined in at times I could have gone after the characters more and I highly recommend considering this approach for younger and/or new rpg players.
Setup is a little more involved and has two parts: Game and Adventure. After the first time you play, I feel you’ll get a feel for what Tokens actually need to be out all of the time and which just need to be quickly accessible. Case in point, the first adventure didn’t need any Waterslide Tokens and only used two out of six of the Foes and none of the Boss Foes, so I didn’t need a lot of those out. The terrain pieces and sort of room modifier pieces can be put together in trays within the box and it was fast enough for me to pull out any I needed when it came up, if it did.
Game Setup Steps:
- Place the Game Board in reach of all Players
- Sort Tokens into piles next to the Game Board.
- Place the Hourglass Tile next to the board with the four Sand Tokens on it from 1-4.
- Place the three Teenager Cards face up next to the Game Board
- Shuffle the Item and Treasure Cards separately and place them in face-down decks.
- Decide who is the Goondocks Master and who will be the Goonies. An experienced player ideally plays the GM, but this is also an easier game to learn how to GM with.
- Each Goonies Player selects a Goonie Figure and the matching Goonie Placard. Mouth and Data have additional Cards and Data also gets a Token. if there is only 1 Goonie Player, they select two Goonies to play as.
- Each Goonie gets a Reference Card and the number of Wish Tokens indicated on their Placard.
Adventure Setup Steps (for only the GM to complete):
- Read through the first few pages of the GM Guide then look over the adventure. Start with Adventure 1.
- Take the Basic GM Cards and shuffle in any Adventure specific GM Cards indicated. Set the deck face down next to the Game Board.
- Draw a GM Card and a GM Token for each Goonie in the game.
- Place the GM screen in front of you to hide the Adventure Guide from the Goonies.
- Leave other components in the box at easy reach.
- Finish any other setup specified in the Adventure Guide.
- Setup the Starting Room and only the Starting Room (it will be the room with the Start Token). Place any Tokens that go in the room and Passages going from the Room. An Unexplored Token goes in each connected by a passage room.
- The Goonies place their Figures in the Starting Room.
- the GM reads the Adventure Introduction.
I know it feels like a lot of steps, but between the diagram and the clear step description is goes pretty fast after all the Tokens have initially been punched out and sorted, and I honestly believe the next time I play I can leave a lot of Tokens in the box and just pull out what I need as needed which will cut down a lot of setup time. My kids are ten and seven, and I admit i might be able to let A set up since he’s ten, but W probably could not do it on his own.
The game is basically divided up into a Goonies Round followed by a GM Round and the rounds keep cycling through until the game is done.
Dice, Teamwork, and Teenager Cards
Dice Checks: Both Goonies and the GM will need to make Dice Checks. The Goonies see what Dice to roll on their Goonie Placards, the GM uses Boss Foe Placards or Foe Reference Cards. Rolling a Bone is a Success, 2 Bones is 2 Successes and a Skull grants the GM a GM Token. No one can ever roll more than 3 Dice at a time.
Upgrading Dice: Players can upgrade a d6 or d8 with a Wish Token. For each Wish Token, a Die is replaced by one of the next highest value. The GM uses GM Tokens. a d12 cannot be upgraded.
Teamwork: A Goonie can use a Wish Token to assist another Goonie by giving them one of the Dice they would use for the same Skill Check. These Dice cannot be Upgraded.
Teenager Cards: A Goonie can flip a face-up Teenager Card down to gain an extra Die as described by the Teenager Card.
Rubble Tokens: Placed on Passages to block them. A Goonie users an Adventure Action and makes a Strength Check to remove. Each Success allows a Rubble Token to be removed from a Passage. A Boss Foe can skip an Attack Action to remove all Rubble Tokens from a Passage.
Pit Token: Foes are not impacted by Pits, but Goonies must make a Dexterity Check and get a Success to escape of they become Trapped and lose any remaining Movement left.
Flooded Token: Foes are not impacted by Flooded rooms, but any Goonie in a Flooded Room must spend 2 Wish Tokens instead of 1 for Upgrades and Teamwork.
Trapped Token: If a Goonie is Trapped, a Trapped Token is placed next to their Figure. The only Action they may do is an Adventure Reaction to make a Dexterity Check of 1 Success. If they pass, they Escape and the Token is removed. Trapped Goonies may not give Teamwork.
Stunned Token: Foes and Goonies may be Stunned. A Stunned Token is placed next to them. Stunned Goonie cannot use Cards, Special Abilities, or give Teamwork. If a Goonie is Stunned during their Turn, that Turn ends immediately. If a Goonie or Foe starts their Turn or Activation Stunned, they skip both their Actions to remove the Stunned Token. A Goonie can use Item Cards, Treasure Cards, and Special Abilities in the same Turn their Stunned Token was removed as long as they don’t require Actions to use.
The Goonies go first. At the beginning of their round, each Goonie gains a Wish Token and flips their Placard face up. The Goonies may go in any order and can switch out who went when during a new round. When a Goonie is up, they may do these things in any order:
Take Actions: Take up to 2 Actions unless Stunned, then they use both Actions to Discard the Stunned Token.
- Move to an adjacent room. Secret Passages can be placed on the Game Board of certain conditions are met and then it can be moved through. A Dangerous Passage has a sneaker symbol on it and takes a Dexterity Check of 1 to get through. A Blocked Passage needs the Rubble removed before it can be traveled through.
- Search a Token in the Room. The Player tells the GM where they are Searching and make a Search check. No matter what the roll result, they get 1 Item Card. At 2 or more Successes they also draw 1 Treasure Card. A certain result may reveal additional things as specified in the Adventure Guide. After a Pirate Stash is Searched it is removed from the Game Board. A Bone Pile is flipped to the ! side after being Searched and cannot be Searched again.
- Attack a Foe or Goonie. During an Attack, a Goonie makes a Strength Check. Every success is a point of Damage. Set Damage Tokens next to the Figure of the Goonie or Foe to keep track of Damage. If a Foe has all their Health zeroed out, they are defeated and removed from the Game Board. The Goonie that defeated them gets a Wish Token. A Goonie can prevent Damage from getting Attacked by Foes with a Wish Token, but if they run out of Health, the GM moves a Sand Token to the bottom of the Hourglass Tile. One Teenager Card may be flipped up again, and the Goonie remains in the room until the end of the GM turn. At the end of GM turn, all Damage and Condition Tokens are removed from the Goonie.
- Rest to gain a Wish Token.
- Treasure Action as listed on a Treasure Card. The card may specify a check type (these can be Upgraded or receive Teamwork). If the card states specific dice, no modifications can be made.
- Adventure Action. These are used to remove Rubble tokens, Trapped Tokens, or activate Adventure specific actions.Data uses an Adventure Action to activate an Invention. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.
Item and Treasure Cards: Use any number of these that do not require an Action. Items must be discarded after use. Treasures are only discarded if their description says to discard, but some Treasures may require an Action to use. By the end of the Goonie turn, each Goonie may only have 2 Treasures. Legendary Treasures cannot be discarded unless stated and do not count against the 2 Treasure limit.
Special Ability: Use a Special Ability as indicated on a Placard.
At the end of the round, Goonies do the following:
- Give any number of Item and Treasure Cards to other Goonies.
- Discard down to 2 Treasure Cards.
- Discard down to Wish Token maximum as stated on the Goonie Placard.
On their turn, a GM does the following in order:
Gain a GM Token: These Token can be used to Upgrade Rolls, Draw/Play extra GM Cards, or Defend with an End is Nigh Roll with an Hour glass Card.
Activate Foes: Foes can make a Move Action followed by an Attack Action. The Move Action Must occur first. Foes Move like Goonies but cannot go into Unexplored Rooms and ignore Pits and Dangerous Passages. Foes Attack similarly to how Goonies do, but if there are multiple Foes and Goonies in the same Room, the GM needs to spread out the Attacks as much as possible. Stunned Foes skip both Actions to Discard the Stunned Token. Boss Foes are more powerful and may skip an Attack Action to remove Rubble from a Passage attached to the Room they are in.
Draw One GM Card: The GM Draws 1 GM Card for free but may spend GM Tokens to Draw additional Cards. The GM must finish Drawing Cards before playing any.
Play Cards: The GM can play 1 GM Card for free, but others cost a GM Token each. The same GM Card may not be played twice in the same GM Round. Used GM Cards are Discarded. Wandering Foe Cards can be used for the GM to place one of the Wandering Foes set by the Adventure in any Explored Room without a Goonie. During a Goonie turn, a GM may play a GM Card for the React Effects. These GM Cards are Discarded after use. They can be used whenever conditions are relevant and multiple GM Cards of the same type can be played at once. For an End is Nigh Card, the condition must be met of a GM Token spent. The GM takes 3d6, Upgrades if desired, and rolls. If the result is 2 or more successes, a Sand Token moves to the bottom half on the Hourglass Tile.
At the end of the GM Round, the GM discards down to 5 GM Cards.
The Game ends when the Goonies achieve their which gives the Goonies and victory or when a GM Round starts with all 4 Sand Tokens in the bottom half of the Hourglass Tile which means the GM wins.
Why You Should Play The Goonies: Never Say Die
Funko Games continues their track record of fandom based games that capture the details devoted fans will absolutely love. This is a great way to either get a Goonies adventure of your own or for people curious about tabletop role-playing games to get a taste of things. I’m a newish GM type myself, and this is the kind of game that feels like GM training wheels: I can start to learn the feel of being a GM and not a player without being crazy overwhelmed.
The many components really help to enrich the game and the details and artwork are true tributes to the source material. Setting out that Game Board or putting up the GM screen just transports you into that world. Pull up the soundtrack on Spoitify and you are absolutely there. I know some people want to be able to play the teenagers. Never fear, an expansion where you can do just that and go on additional adventures is in the works.
Setup does take some time, but I feel after our first time playing and not needing to initially punch out the tokens, it will go a lot faster. My kids could probably set it up with some experience, but not until they’ve played the game a few more times themselves.
Gameplay is one of those things that is easier to learn as you play, which is what I generally recommend for role-playing games. The first rounds go a little slower, but as players pick up on it, things do start to move along nicely. The book does a great job of explaining and simplifying the rules so that it’s quick to know what you are doing. The likely GM should read the rules before the first play to have a better idea of what they are doing and guide players, but learning as you play is quite feasible. The game is suggested for ages 12+, but we played with a second grader and a fifth grader with very few issues since the Goonies tend to work cooperatively. So I think my kids could run and teach the game to their friends on their own, no. I might lean more 12+ for the GM depending if the kid has had any GM type experience, but the player age has more wiggle room. That being said, I freely admit I dropped any real sense of trying to win against my players and just focused on creating a fun adventure for them. I tossed in Wandering Foes or React Effects to keep the excitement going, but I wasn’t going after them too aggressively. They’re still learning this type of game and I cared more about giving them that experience. If you are playing with younger and/or newer role-players, you may wish to take a similar approach. Our kids got nice practice in sorting out which character would be the best in each Skill Check situation and even managed to learn why one must be careful to split the party (ooops). A loved looking over Data’s Inventions and making Search Checks and W loved how effective Sloth was at dealing with Foes. Each Goonie does have their own little focus giving nice variety, but also teaching my young gamers that it’s nice for everyone to have something they are particularly good at, and that sharing the glory is fun for everyone.
The fact everything for running 9 adventures is included at a $34.99 price point makes this an excellent game to pick up for the family, to grab for the holidays, or to potentially gift to other families. Right now, it is a Target exclusive, so you have to get it via Target, However with the cycle of Holiday Sales hitting it’s likely to go on sale, and as of the writing of this article it’s currently $27.99. I already can’t wait for the expansion to drop and I’m really curious to see what Funko Games is going to roll out for us next.