I am a HUGE fan of The Goonies. I was in tenth grade when it came out, and I will promise you that I saw it at least half a dozen times in the theater. It was also one of the first movies I begged my parents to buy after they purchased a VCR. There was (and still is) something powerful to me about that movie — a group of young underdogs save their town and have quite an adventure along the way. It had pirates, it had bad guys, it had a lost treasure, it had “booty-traps,” and it had tons of laughs.
My oldest son (age 9) has become a big fan, allowing me to watch it many more times. But it gets better. My son has also developed a real enjoyment for board and card games, and when I called him over to the table and showed him the setup for the new The Goonies: Adventure Card Game, I don’t know who had the bigger grin on his face.
I’d read through the rules beforehand, so I knew that the developers at Albino Dragon were also big fans of the movie as well. Players take on a role of one of the Goonies, each with a permanent character ability that can be used over and over again and a once-per-game special action. The game is for 1 to 4 players, and a player can assume the role of Andy, Brand, Mouth, Chunk Mikey, Data, or Stef. The goal of the game is to find and recover five of One-Eyed Willy’s gems while avoiding the Fratellis and numerous booby traps. Gameplay occurs over five different locations — The Restaurant (I), Chester Copperpot (II), The Well (III), Skeleton Organ (IV), and The Water Slide (V).
The Goonies: Adventure Card Game is a cooperative game — the players all win… or they all lose. During gameplay, players collect Item cards and attempt to play them to ward off obstacles that build up at the five locations. If any one location reaches five obstacles, the Goonies lose and the game is over. (There are other ways to lose — more on that shortly). When all obstacles are removed from a location, players may choose to search for one of the five gems needed to win the game. Above each location is a stack of three tiles; two of them are booby traps and one is a gem. These are shuffled before the game begins, so just clearing all obstacles doesn’t mean that location is no longer dangerous. Booby traps can shift players from one location to another (and players move together as a group) as well as drop additional obstacles at other locations. Players will have to stay alert as obstacles can quickly build up to that game-ending fifth obstacle!
Let’s talk about obstacles — obstacles can be removed by playing Items cards that match icons such as a musical note, a doubloon, or a lantern. Some obstacles can be removed with a single icon, while others require two of the same or even different icons such as a map and a lantern. Players can pool their cards together for tricky obstacles if needed. Wild cards can be created by dropping two or more cards of the same color (location) or icon, too. Movement of the Goonies from location to location is done by dropping a card with that location number on it (I, II, III, IV or V), so players will need to pay attention to card management in order to ensure they can deal with current trouble as well as upcoming trouble.
But the obstacles aren’t the only trouble that the Goonies must avoid. There is a stack of Encounters cards that are flipped when special obstacle cards are revealed — some of these encounters are beneficial such as Sloth or One-Eyed Willy, who can provide a special ability that can make or break the game. But there are also bad encounters — the Fratellis. Reveal five Fratellis cards and the game is also over. On top of trying to avoid the Fratellis, the players must continually try to unlock the five Path Tiles; these tiles are where the five gems will be stored. It takes three of a kind (of Items cards) to unlock a Path Tile, and there’s a matching Path Tile for each of the five icons (Key, Map, Lantern, Doubloon, and Music Note), requiring players to carefully choose when to best unlock a Path Tile when they have enough of a particular icon. You can’t explore for a gem if you don’t have a Path Tile open to place a found gem, so it’s yet one more thing to keep your eye on as the game progresses.
And speaking of game progression, there are four steps that can be taken each turn:
- Team Action — this is where players play cards, defeat obstacles, and explore for gems
- Discard Used Items — cleanup, basically — removing played cards from the table
- Draw New Items — depending on the number of players, Items cards are handed out to each player
- Escalation — this is where the Goonies find trouble — obstacles are added and Encounters revealed
In the Team Action stage, players can take up to four actions total. It’s possible in a multiplayer game for one player not to take any actions during a turn; likewise, one player could perform all four actions… it all depends on the Items cards in hand. Keep in mind that every character has a permanent character ability that can really have a major impact on gameplay — Stef, for example, can draw an extra Item card when she uses an Item card to move the Goonies to a different location. And Mouth can shift the players to an adjacent location when the group moves: a great ability when you have a card that can get you to IV, but you need to get to III or V! (The Fratellis also have special abilities that apply when a Fratellis card is revealed, but they work AGAINST the players.)
So… what are my thoughts on gameplay? I’ve now played a handful of solo games, some 2-player games and a couple 4-player games, and by far the 4-player games were my favorite, with the 2-player games coming in a close second. I liked solo play, but honestly the game is just much more fun when you have multiple players keeping eyes open on both strategies and trouble on the horizon. The risks really ramp up with every player you add to the mix, with most of the game balance (IMO) coming from the number of cards that are dealt to each player during Step 3 — 1 new card for 3-player and 4-player games, 2 new cards for 2-player games, 4 new cards for solo — and the hand limit (three cards for 4-player game, four cards for 3-player, five cards for 2-player, and eight cards for solo).
My final thoughts? I’ll break it down into some Pros and Cons…
- A nice mix of strategies available depending on characters played and number of players in the game.
- Trouble is always brewing — there’s always something looming that requires fast decisions.
- The cooperative gameplay is fun. Really fun. Each character is unique and every player will have their time to shine.
- The Goonies theme is well done here — the cards and graphics and gameplay had me constantly grinning.
- Easy to set up, fast to learn… and fast to play. I didn’t have a game that went longer than 30 minutes.
- A loss doesn’t feel like a loss, mainly because games go fast and you can be playing again in less than a few minutes.
- Tons of replayability — plenty of variations from player number and character selection combined with randomness of obstacles and exploration tiles.
- Solo play lacks risk — I won all three solo games. They were fun, but making all the decisions isn’t as fun as sharing the risks.
Yeah… one CON. What can I say… I really like playing this game! (I was going to add that it needed more locations, but this game is on Kickstarter AND it’s already funded AND some stretch goals have already unlocked that include extra locations. So… never mind.)
I mentioned Kickstarter. Yep — this game is raising funds and has already made its funding goal and is into stretch goals. The upgrade to linen cards has already been reached as has the linen box. Additional stretch goals are going to provide Challenge Cards that make the game more challenging to experienced players. One example states that instead of three-of-a-kind icons needed to unlock a Path Tile, players will need four-of-a-kind!
I got a prototype deck to play from Albino Dragon, so I cannot WAIT to see what the final game looks like. I’ve reviewed some of Albino Dragon’s playing card products recently (including The Goonies themed cards), and I appreciate the quality of the components and the fact that they are themselves fans. They’ve stayed true to the spirit of The Goonies, with players working together against the booby traps, the Fratellis, and the obstacles placed by One-Eyed Willy to those seeking his treasure — you can almost hear those kids screaming GOONIES GOONIES GOONIES!
Check out the Kickstarter, watch the gameplay videos, and look at the latest stretch goals that have been reached — The Goonies: Adventure Card Game Kickstarter.
Note: Thanks to Albino Dragon for providing the prototype game components, rules, and answering my questions.