Strap on Your Jetpack and Play ‘The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future’

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Even though the movie came out in 1991, Disney’s The Rocketeer has maintained a strong fanbase over the years. Based on the lavishly-illustrated comic book series by the late Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer tells the story of a stunt pilot in the 1930’s, Cliff Secord, who discovers an experimental rocket, and winds up fighting gangsters and nazis as the helmeted Rocketeer. Funko recently released a 2-player game that looks to capture some of the events of the motion picture.

What Is The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future?

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future is a game for 2 players, ages 12 and up, and takes about 45 minutes to play. The suggested retail price is $29.99, and it’s currently available to purchase on Amazon.

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future was designed by Prospero Hall and published by Funko Games, with illustrations by Henning Ludvingsen.

Contents of The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future. Image by Paul Benson.

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future Components

Here’s what comes in the box:

  • Game Board
  • Zeppelin Board
  • Zeppelin Figure With Base
  • 6 Character Figures
  • 6 Character Boards
  • 48 Tokens
  • 36 Hero Cards
  • 36 Villain Cards
  • 10 Current Event Cards
  • 24 Finale Cards
  • 3 Plan Cards
  • 2 Reference Cards
  • Rulebook

First, let me just say that if you’re a fan of The Rocketeer, then you can’t help but smile when you open the box. Greeting you is the back of the folding Game Board, which has an illustration of the Rocketeer’s helmet.

The first sight that greets you, cracking open the box. Image by Paul Benson.

The other half of the Game Board’s back shows one of the most memorable quotes from the film:

A nice touch. Image by Paul Benson.

Even the inside of the lid is delightful, with a 1930’s-style cartoon map of Los Angeles, prominently featuring many of the locations from the The Rocketeer.

A fun mix of real and fictional 1938 Los Angeles. Image by Paul Benson.

Unfolding the Game Board, you get nicely executed images of the various locations you will use during the game. The two long sides of the board are color-coordinated to match with the hero and villain colors, and clear iconography is shown that matches the tokens you will receive as rewards for moving to the accompanying spaces.

The game board. Image by Paul Benson.

As you can see, the Tokens are all distinctive, and easy to differentiate from each other:

Some of the game’s tokens. Image by Paul Benson.

The Zeppelin Board functions as a time track. Once the plastic Zeppelin reaches Los Angeles, the game end is triggered.

Zeppelin Board and accompanying miniature. Image by Paul Benson.

The individual Player Boards are cardboard instead of card, a welcome choice by Funko. While the artwork is fine on these, the only character that looks like their film counterpart is Lothar. I can only assume that while Funko Games has the license to make a Rocketeer game, they don’t have the rights to the actors’ likenesses. Lothar’s look was created by prosthetic makeup over actor Tiny Ron’s face, so that character wouldn’t have had the same issue as the others.

The player boards for the heroes and villains. Image by Paul Benson.

Similar to the character boards, the included miniatures look close enough to the characters from the film that they’re identifiable. The miniatures feel much more like old-fashioned board game pieces than some of the highly detailed figures you find in a lot of higher-end games these days.

Neville Sinclair and Cliff Secord. Image by Paul Benson.

How to Play The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future

You can download a copy of the rulebook here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to fight for possession of the rocket plans, and to control locations around Los Angeles.

The table set up for a game. Image by Paul Benson.

Setup

Players choose who will play the heroes, and who will play the villains. Place the Game Board in the center of the table, with the colors facing the matching players.

The Zeppelin Board goes next to the Game Board, with the Zeppelin on the rightmost space.

Each player places their three Character Boards in front of them. The villain player starts with Valentine face up. Place the matching Turn Tokens on the Character Boards, and one Grit Token on the matching spaces of each Character Board. The Rocket Token is placed at the lowest space on the Rocket Skill Track on Cliff’s board. Form a supply of remaining tokens nearby.

On the hero side of the Game Board, the Cliff and Peevy miniatures are placed at 1635 Palm Terrace, while the Jenny miniature starts at the Bulldog Cafe. On the villain side, place the Sinclair and Lothar miniatures at the Sinclair Mansion, and the Valentine figure at the South Seas Club.

Shuffle the Current Events and Finale decks separately. Place them facedown near the Zeppelin Board.

Each player takes their matching deck and shuffles them. They draw 7 cards into their hand.

The hero player takes the three Rocket Blueprint cards and places them facedown below each of their Character Boards, without revealing to the other player which is the actual blueprint and which are decoys.

The two decoy plans and the actual rocket blueprints. Image by Paul Benson.

Gameplay

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future is played in rounds, divided into these 4 steps:

  • Reveal the Current Events
  • Take Character Turns
  • Gain Rewards
  • Prepare for New Round

Reveal the Current Events

Draw the top Current Events card, and move the Zeppelin one space towards Los Angeles for each Zeppelin shown on the card. Then read the card aloud and follow the instructions shown. Place a Finale Token at the Game Board location matching the one shown on the card.

A few of the Finale cards. Image by Paul Benson.

Take Character Turns

The player in possession of the plans will always take the first turn in a round. Players alternate turns, playing one character per turn.

On your turn, choose a character to play and flip their Turn Token. You can then play cards matching that character’s symbol, one at a time.

When playing a card, you can choose to either take the action(s) shown on the bottom left of the card, or the ability shown on the bottom right. If there is an ability cost(as shown next to the name of the card) then you must pay that cost to use the ability. Receive any rewards that are shown as well.

A few of the cards from the hero deck. Image by Paul Benson.
Actions

The two actions are Move, and Tussle.

Move

Move a number of locations away from your starting location, as indicated by the number. Characters may share locations. After moving, immediately take the location action at the spot where the character ends their movement.

Tussle

The Tussle action is how you can steal plans from the opposing player, or knock out characters to control a location. A Tussle strength is indicated by the number on the symbol, and the Tussling character may discard Grit tokens to increase their Tussle strength by 1 for each token discarded. Defending players may then discard any cards showing both a Shield icon and matching the Tussled character’s symbol, to prevent some or all of the damage. Finally, the Tussled character discards as many Grit tokens from their character as the final Tussle strength. If they need to discard Grit tokens and there are none to discard, that character is knocked out.

When a character is knocked out, lay their miniature flat at their location. Flip the Rocket Blueprint card below that character’s board. If it is a Decoy, it remains face up. If it is the Plans, take all three Plan cards and then hide them below your characters’ boards.

A character that is knocked out cannot do anything on their turn until a card is played and discarded to stand them up. All actions and abilities on that card are ignored.

Abilities

There are 6 different abilities, two of which are player-specific:

Gain Grit

Take a Grit token and place it on the Character’s board. You cannot have more Grit tokens on a character than there are spaces shown on their Character board.

Gain Clout

Take a Clout token and add it to your general supply. Clout tokens are used to pay for abilities.

Draw a Card

Draw a card from your deck and add it to your hand. That card may be played this turn.

Draw a Finale Card

Draw a card from the finale deck and add it to a facedown pile near your deck. These cards are secret from your opponent, and will give you bonuses at the end of the game.

Some of the different Finale cards available. Image by Paul Benson.
Raise Rocket Token (Heroes only)

Move the Rocket token up the Rocket Skill Track on Cliff’s Character Board. The Rocket skill number is how many spaces Cliff can move when taking a Move action.

Recruit a Soldier (Villains only)

Take a Soldier token from the supply and place it on Sinclair’s board.

When you play a Secret Army card for its ability, you may discard three clout to Ambush. When you do, place any recruited Soldiers at the locations of your choice, but only one can ever be at each location. Flip over Valentine’s card to the Secret Army side, and follow the rules shown on the card when taking the Secret Army turn:

The Secret Army character board. Image by Paul Benson.

Gain Rewards

Once all six characters have taken one turn, players gain rewards. The player with the Plans draws a Finale card.

Characters must control a location to gain that location’s reward. To control a location, you must have more characters there than the other player. Soldiers count towards that number, knocked out characters do not. If you control a location, you gain the reward shown on the middle of the board.

Prepare for a New Round

Both players flip their Turn Tokens back to the colored side on their Character Boards. Then, discard any cards that you wish, and draw back up to seven cards.

Game End

The game ends when the Zeppelin reaches Los Angeles. When that occurs, play one last round, then reveal your Finale cards and add up the points. The player with the most points wins.

Why You Should Play The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future plays out as somewhat of a cross between keepaway, and tug of war. The keepaway part obviously comes into play with the Rocket Blueprints. Whoever controls them at the end of a round gets to draw a Finale card. And as Finale cards are the way you earn points at the end of the game, you’re going to want to acquire as many of them as you can get. Holding onto the plans if you have them, or stealing them from your opponent if you don’t, is important.

However, there are other ways to gain Finale cards. Certain card abilities will grant them, and controlling the location with the Finale token will also give one as a reward. The latter is where you’ll find the tug of war, as you’re working to have control over locations that will give you benefits like an additional Finale card.

It would initially seem like the player playing as the villain would have an advantage there, being able to control more locations with their soldiers. However, with the restriction of one soldier per location, that doesn’t give an overwhelming advantage when there’s a location that’s being fought over.

Something important to remember, too, is that Valentine is removed from the game once the Secret Army is activated. This brings with it two disadvantages for the villain player. First, any teamwork cards that would require Valentine for the abilities to work can now only be used for their actions. Second, and most importantly, the Secret Army can’t carry the Rocket Plans or Decoys. Which means that it becomes much easier to steal the plans from a villain player who’s activated their Secret Army.

Neville Sinclair knocks out the Rocketeer! Image by Paul Benson.

The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future plays quickly enough that you could easily get in a game, then switch sides and play again. Setup is fast, and so is the gameplay once you’ve learned the rules.

If you’re a fan of the movie The Rocketeer, this one will press a lot of buttons for you. The artwork has a lovely Art Deco style, though it will be a disappointment  for most that the faces of the characters don’t match the actors who played them. Also, the various cards immediately brings to mind different scenes from the movie.

For experienced gamers, The Rocketeer: Fate of the Future may not hold your interest for repeated plays. The strategies aren’t overly complex, and winning or losing can boil down to which Finale cards you were lucky enough to draw. But the basic gameplay is solid, and the cat and mouse pursuit of the Rocket Blueprints can be a lot of fun.

Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.


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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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