Game review: Disney’s “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” from Funko Games

Funko Games has already brought so many classic Disney park attractions into homes through well-themed board games like The haunted mansion, the world is small, and crazy tea. In their latest release, they deliver “the craziest ride in the desert” to your doorstep with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, “the craziest game in the desert!” The launch release is timed for the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, with a holographic sticker on the box to help bring “the happiest party on earth” home.

For 2-4 players and ages 9 and up, the game instantly welcomes you to Frontierland with the rocky cliffs near Rainbow Ridge as the centerpiece of the board game. Each player is a miner with their own train and there are four to choose from each the name of an actual transport vehicle: Will you choose UR Courageous, UB Bold, IM Brave or IM Fearless?

The game pawns include both an engine and a mine car, which run on two separate tracks. The main track around the mountain is for mine cars, while the engines go on a score track at the bottom of the board. Rather than trying to reach a final square, the object of this game is to get the highest score. The game ends when a player reaches 20 points, at which time they also count any other loot they may have earned.

There’s gold in those hills! The objective of big thunder mountain involves picking and panning for gold in the mountains, then bringing it back to town to sell. Colored marbles are dealt by spinning the highest peak of the mountain at the start of each player’s turn, or as specified by actions on the cards. The yellow marbles are gold nuggets while the brown ones are raw ore, worth half the amount of a nugget. The blue marbles represent water, this is how you determine whether to scoop, bread or bail water (credits can be earned for bailing water, which then allows players to scoop). The actions a player can take depend on the icons on the supply cards in their hand, with a handy guide to keep each player simple.

There is another marble that I forgot to mention, the red marble of fate. When this solitary marble rolls into one of the mines, the player must draw a Fate card. These often affect all players and aren’t necessarily a bad thing, although some upgrades players can purchase can make things difficult on an individual level. At first glance, the game seems to have a lot of rules, but the gameplay is easy to understand once you’ve played a round. As always, Funko Games offers a rules video tutorial for gamers who are better visual learners.

With stunning artwork throughout the board and cards, Funko Game’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad really made me feel like I was back in Frontierland (or Westernland if you are in Japan). Rolling marbles add kinetic energy to gameplay reminiscent of the many twists and turns in each version of the attraction around the world. There are also additional goodies hidden in the box, with artwork inside as well.

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Game is now available.

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