Review – The Goonies: Never Say Die & Under The Goondocks

"...and what appears to be, a Pirate Ship..."

Image from iOS (41)

 

Designer Prospero Hall

Artist Eric Hibbeler, Henning Ludvigsen

Publisher Funko Games

Category Dice-Rolling, Adventure game

Length 45-60 minutes per adventure

Release Date 2021

Player Count 2-5

In case you don’t remember the plot to the 1985 classic, The Goonies, in which a group of low-income children manage to foil escaped convicts and rich snobs to find pirate treasure and save their homes, Prospero Hall has managed to capture the movie perfectly in board-game form for you and 1-4 friends to enjoy. Players will choose from Mikey, Chunk, Mouth, Data, and Sloth in the base game while one person will run the game as GM (Goondocks Master). In the expansion players will also have the opportunity to play as teenagers Brand, Andy, and Stef as well. So does Never Say Die manage to raise the Jolly Roger and sail off into the sunset, or is it another booby-trapped dead end? Read on for the review!

All the game components are laid out around the main board. Mouth and Mikey's player boards are visible, as well as the Fratellis and Giant Octopus boards.

Content Guide

Violence

Players exchange damage with enemies in the form of tokens. When enemies take damage equal to their total, they either are removed from the board or stunned. Player characters become stunned and then re-enter the game at full health the next turn (Goonies never say die), but it adds a sand token to the bottom half of the sand timer. 

Enemies & Magic

Players will encounter curses, wisps, ghosts, mutated foes, merfolk, skeletons, giant rats, bats, giant spiders, an octopus, One-Eyed Willie, and the Fratellis. Depending upon the mission played, players may be tasked with stopping a curse, preventing someone from breaking one, finding treasure, rescuing friends, or escaping with their lives. If you stick to the suggested age of 12 and up, you should be fine.

Review

Never Say Die and its expansion, Under the Goondocks, play a lot like Mansions of Madness, wherein one player controls the enemies and everyone else a character. The GM will set up the first room, and once someone moves into the next room then they will place items, paths, and enemies. Players controlling characters get 2 actions as they move, search, fight, and try to stop their enemies from achieving their goals. By rolling dice according to their character board, players will use Strength, Dexterity, and Search skills to pass various tests. They can also upgrade their dice or block damage with Wish tokens, which kind of look like Martin Sheen’s silhouette. The first 3 missions in the base box take players through the movie, while the last 6 take them on an entirely new adventure. I was excited about this when I realized there were plenty of adventures left after escaping from Willie’s ship, the Inferno, just like the Goonies did in the movie. The expansion adds 3 more new adventures for the teenage Goonies. 

Mikey's Player board is shown, with item and treasure cards underneath.

After the heroes take their turns, the Goondocks Master gets to activate foes and play cards from their hand to hamper the Goonies’ progress. The GM cards can do everything from reactivate enemies, trigger The End is Nigh, or add obstacles to the board. The End is Nigh is a roll done by the GM with the 3 red D6 dice; if they get 2 or more successes, they get to move a sand token down in the hourglass. If the GM starts a their turn with all 4 tokens in the bottom, the GM wins. The other way to add sand tokens to the hourglass is by knocking a Goonie’s health to 0. The nice part is even if the Goonies fail, most adventures give players the option of either retrying or moving on to the next scenario, but with the caveat of giving the GM an additional GM card and token during setup. Also, should enterprising GMs find the Goonies winning too easily, they have at their disposal 6 Peril cards that can make the game harder for the player characters. I suggest using these as soon as the players start getting proud of themselves. The game is set up well so that a GM can be as kind or evil as they want, or just keep the Goonies on their toes the entire game (which is the best in my opinion). 

The inside of the GM screen is shown.
Little nods to the movie, like the GM screen being the treasure map and music sheet are present throughout the game.

The expansion Under the Goondocks lets players fill the shoes of the teenaged Goonies, which in the base game are just cards on the side that players can use a few times each game. It’s basically a, “if you liked the original here’s seconds!” type of expansion. It doesn’t add any new mechanics, but it offers a new type of goal and new enemies, as well as a secret that you don’t find out about until after beating the last adventure (so don’t throw out the box until you do). Also, I liked that everything from both Never Say Die and Under the Goondocks all fit in the base game’s box, which is a rare treat. 

A rat and two bat enemy standees are shown.
The players and bosses are minis, but all the base enemies are standees.

I had a lot of fun playing this game, but I can say with certainty that there are a few rules I forgot more often than not, such as players getting a wish token every round at the start of their turn and when they defeat an enemy. Also, whenever the GM adds a sand token to the bottom of the hourglass, the Goonies can flip one of the red Teenager cards back face-up again. It’s not a very long rulebook at 16 pages, but make sure to read it cover to cover a couple times if you want to avoid mistakes like mine. The only other gripe I had was that while it was a lot of fun, there were certain moments of the game feeling way too easy for one side or the other. For instance, one adventure tasked the Goonies with finding a certain room that could have been all over the map, but ended up being the starting room, and they found out after only going a couple rooms in. But on a different adventure, the GM managed to get 2 cards to trigger an End is Nigh roll and passed them both on their first turn, meaning the Goonies were nearly done for before even clearing their second room. These things will happen when you’re rolling 2-3 dice with several blank faces, but just know that it’s possible for things to swing rapidly depending on a GM’s style and luck. 

Mouth and Mikey face off against the Fratellis.
“Who’s ready to walk the plank?!?”

Under the Goondocks and Never Say Die are fun to play in their own right, but fans of the movie will get the most mileage out of the many references and callbacks on every item, player board, and adventure in the box. There’s even a template for making your own on the last pages of the rulebook, should the official ones not be enough for your group. In the end, the game plays like a rules-light RPG for fans of 80’s cinema, and if that doesn’t sound like a giant gold-pile of fun, let me reword it: how would you like to go on an adventure with your 4 best friends to save your hometown, all while fighting off skeletons, fugitives, and the occasional cursed pirate or octopus? I had a lot of fun with this board game version of The Goonies, and chances are you would too. 

Mikey's speech from the wishing well is superimposed on a picture of his house in an image that covers the back of the game board.
Props to Prospero Hall for their dedication to the film; this is the back of the game board and has no bearing on gameplay.

The Bottom Line

If you're a fan of The Goonies movie and you enjoy dice games, you should check this one out.

 

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Author: Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.