From Studio71, a game based on the comic and Netflix hits, Umbrella Academy, is now available to all. A few months ago I was able to do a preview of the game, but through production and testing the final version changed in many ways from the Beta to the wide release version. Many things stayed the same, but some features changed for both good and bad. Here is how the final game turned out.
Umbrella Academy Game – Game Play
From Beta to release the rules of gameplay changed rather drastically. Originally, the number of villains you faced changed based on the number of players. The villain attack cards also varied depending on the villains drawn. While the number of villain cards depend on the number of players, the attack cards from the villains are now fixed. For example, if two people play the game, you will always face 7 attack cards.
While it narrows down the randomness, which could be fun, it improves the overall playability of the game. Nothing felt worse than fighting your way to the end of the game only to flip a villain that brings out 8-9 attack cards.
Hand size also depends on the number of people. For two players you now draw 5 cards per person. This feels like far too small a hand, and one can never do enough to tackle all the villain cards; However, so far I have won approximately 70% of the games I have played. The struggle to win simply makes the game a challenge it should be.
The hero powers of the kids were also tweaked from the Beta, and judging by all the games I have played the changes work well. It feels like one MUST play ‘The Horror’ (Ben the ghost) as only he heals, but in randomly drawing the heroes, multiple combos have worked just fine.
All of the core mechanics remain largely intact and an online, up-to-date rulebook (as well as the game itself) can be found online at studio71games.com.
Umbrella Academy Game – An Almost Perfect Design
I love the way this game plays. It walks the fine line between being challenging yet winnable. I believe I have won about 70% of the games, but do not think of that as a high, stress free win. Several wins ended with at least one hero dead and any living heroes with nothing more than a life bar or two.
The quality of the design overall is good, but here a few flaws show up. The cards stock looks and feels great. Although if you manage to track down a collectable version, the silver edges on the cards make it hard to shuffle even though they look great. The game engine is unique and challenging, but two simple faucets fall short.
The first major flaw some may not even care about, but to avid gamers box design can be a huge annoyance. Zero thought went into this box design. The box consists of four compartments. Two are proper card size, although a bit tight. It can make getting the cards out a bit tricky.
A compartment, smaller than the rest holds the hero tokens. It seems a bit big for the small and limited tokens, but no issue here. The fourth and final compartment is x1.5 larger than the cards and serves no design purpose at all, except the cards do not fit in the card compartments. The overflow slides around in the larger compartment because there’s nowhere else to go.
Umbrella Academy Game – The Unforgivable Flaw
Box design can be annoying, but it does not affect the gameplay. The final flaw, however, is not so easily forgivable. The Gameboard sucks! In the original production photos the gameboard looked like a rectangle. The final gameboard is a near perfect square. Sure you have slots for the Dysfunction deck and the villain cards, but there is nowhere for the Hero deck or its discard pile. Also, when you face a villain, they play 6-10 attack cards in a row. The board fits 6 max. 7 cards and up, which is 2 players and up, you place the cards off the board.
While the board may look cool the way they designed it artistically, as far as gameplay goes throw the board away and just use the table. As well made as the game looks and plays, this one glaring flaw left me very frustrated. Simple gameplay should have demonstrated how poorly designed the gameboard is.
Umbrella Academy Game – Overall Thoughts
Crappy board design aside, this game rocks. The playstyle stands out as unique and you will rarely win a game without almost losing it first. For the cheap price of $25, gameplay will far exceed the low cost. If you can find a collectors edition, the box art and included Comic trade paperback make it a great find for collectors and lovers of the series. The other extra with the collector’s box is the cards are edged in silver.
I highly suggest this game not only for Umbrella Academy fans, but also anyone looking for a fun, challenging new game with a unique playstyle.