PAX UnPlugged 2018: A Loo at ‘Fantastic Beasts’ – The Board Game

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Fantastic Beasts

At PAX Unplugged, within the bustling expo-hall, I came across a giant poster for Fantastic Beasts, the wizarding series that takes place prior to the events of Harry Potter. Instantly, I was curious and to my surprise, I found a Fantastic Beasts board game. Seeing an open seat, I decided to check the game out for myself as previous I had neither seen nor heard of a Fantastic Beasts board game.

Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit is a tabletop game involving mats, cardboard items, and dice. It takes place within J.K Rowling’s Wizarding World. The game comes from the developer and manufacturer USAOPOLY games in Carlsbad, California. The developer has had multiple licenses and produced a variety of board games since 1994, including Battleship, Rick and Morty, and even Avengers Infinity War: Thanos Rising. Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit is set within the newly-started prequel franchise that focuses on the tales of English wizard Newt Scamander, and his pursuit of preserving the mystical beasts of the Wizarding World. The game’s release is tied tot he launch of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald which is in theaters now

 

The objective in Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit is to pursue the many creatures that have escaped Newt’s suitcase. For those that have seen the movie, Newt’s Suitcase is actually a specialized laboratory, where each creature can be researched and humanely cared for. As in the original movie, these creatures have escaped and it’s up to the player to track them down and safely capture them. Of course, some of these creatures will fight back and won’t hesitate to use a damaging attack. For Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit, the objective is to work together. This is quite surprising given the traditional PvP nature of board games. However, if one player falls, the entire team falls and the Game is Over.

Fantastic Beats: Perilous Pursuit took some getting used to since the game involves card-building, multiple dice rolls, and the understanding the symbols correlated with them. The dice rolls and symbols on them will dictate the use of special power in fighting the beasts. Depending on the parameters, these abilities will aid in either defending yourself or directly capturing the beast. Additionally, depending on the rolls, players will be able to draw a special attribute card, as well as summon small cardboard miniatures to deploy to their character. Each character is different in employing their abilities and magical power. During a turn, the creatures would deal some form of damage to either one player or several. The objective is to make good dice rolls and wise choices with those rolls. It is possible for the beast to move away from the players or move closer, depending on the moves made.

As I played it, it seemed to be a bit more sophisticated than I would have liked.  I played with thee random players, including a mother and two children. While the booth member worked hard to guide us, it did seem rather unnecessary to have so many steps involved just to be able to determine whether or not to capture a creature. The dice rolls and their symbols had different rules set to them and the beast that we were facing. This wasn’t like Dice Throne, where three dice rolls yield a specific action that can be taken.

It was a rough start. However, like with all board games, the more I played, the better I got at it. The symbols all meant different powers and abilities to the player, for both offense and defense. Once I understood what each one meant, the game become much more enjoyable to play.  I carefully strategized die rolls and allocated their powers to the right parts of the game map, adding defense and shield to the beasts’ attacks. During my time with the game, which was about 30 minutes, we were able to capture two beasts and learn different magic powers.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuits does take a significant learning curve and I probably wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for younger kids, but if there are those willing to learn the rules, the game is quite rewarding. The unique co-op nature of the game is refreshing and the objectives are interesting as well.  For the Harry Potter faithful, Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuits is an interesting and engaging tabletop game that will immerse players into a unique part of the wizarding world.