When I first sat down to watch The Warriors as a fresh-faced, rebellious teenager, I knew immediately that it would be a film I would return to many times in the future.
Naturally then, when I found out that The Warriors was getting a board game adaptation, I was immediately intrigued. That intrigue turned to excitement when I learned that it was being designed by the Prospero Hall design team, who have carved out a niche of making enjoyable and affordable light to mid-weight games such as Horrified, the Villainous series and The Goonies. Sadly, however, The Warriors: Come out to Play does not hold up to the designer’s previous work and is not a game I can confidently recommend.
The Warriors Come out to play
The Warriors: Come out to Play is a cooperative game where two to four players (the game can also be played solo controlling multiple characters) battle for freedom by trying to get the titular gang back to the safety of their turf on Coney Island. Players accomplish this by moving their chosen gang members’ standees along a one-way path through the various districts of New York and engaging in dice-based fight phases whilst trying to maintain the gang’s reputation from falling too far.
Starting with the art and components, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. They have tried to go for a grungy, gritty look for the game but this results in everything looking a bit… unappealing. The board is black and white with only a red line throughout showing The Warriors path back to Coney Island.
This feels like a missed opportunity as I would have rather had a more detailed map of New York to move through. This same style is used for the weapon cards and location tiles. However, to their credit, the gang tiles and bopper cards are excellently illustrated with vibrant artwork throughout.
The card quality is average and the dice are nice enough a semi-translucent red. The standees used for the player characters are serviceable and show off the character artwork, but the game also includes a plastic miniature for each of the gangs in the game that is used to represent where that gang stands on the reputation track.
I understand that now more than ever, saying on the back of the box that your game includes miniatures will help it sell but they feel unnecessary here. The miniature quality is, at best, average and I believe that a small token to represent each gang would have been just as useful.
As a high-level overview of how the game plays, each player begins by selecting a character standee and taking that character’s four associated cards, along with the character’s starting weapon and three generic ‘throw hands’ cards.
Players then take turns to move progressively down the board, advancing as far forward as they want on each turn, unless they reach a ‘Fight!’ token, where they must stop. The different locations on the board you can stop at allow you to either select a new warrior card from the three face up (these will be a mixture of more ‘throw hands’ cards, along with the cards of the characters not selected by any players), select a face-up weapon card, or take a card from your discard pile back into your hand.
There are also a handful of subway spots, where nothing occurs, and alternatively, players always have the option to rest, effectively skipping their go but returning all used cards back to their hand, then randomly trashing one from the game.
Anytime a player lands on a normal black space they draw one bopper card at the end of their turn or two bopper cards if they land on a more dangerous red space. Bopper cards represent an event deck where some cards will do nothing and just be discarded but most are threats. The first two threats that a character receives do not trigger anything but the third will result in a negative effect and then immediately trigger a fight.
Once a fight is triggered either by accumulated threat cards or by landing on a fight token, then players enter the combat phase. The top gang and location tiles are placed in front of the players. In order to win the fight, The Warriors must cover all symbols on the gang tile and one symbol on the location tile for each Warrior in the game, plus an additional one if the gang you are fighting is higher than The Warriors on the reputation track.
Each tile will show a combination of numbers and weapon symbols. Players alternate turns attempting to cover up a symbol on each turn. Weapon cards can be used once per fight to automatically cover a matching symbol. Players can also use cards in their hands either to generate dice or for their printed ability. Once dice are committed, players must roll at least the number shown on the tile to succeed.
If The Warriors cover all the required symbols they win the fight. However, if they run out of cards or fail a dice check they are knocked out and if all characters are knocked out they lose the fight. Losing a fight will knock The Warriors down on the reputation track and if you ever are at the bottom of the track and lose another fight then you lose the game.
The game then repeats through the city and fight phases until either The Warriors lose or they reach Coney Island, at which point they have one final fight to win the game.
The Warriors isn’t perfect
Sadly, The Warriors: Come out to Play just felt very monotonous throughout. The game offers little in the way of interesting decisions, if you need a new warrior card go to that space, if you need a new weapon card go to that space and so on. Furthermore, the red spaces that require you to draw an extra bopper card have no additional benefit to account for the increased risk, meaning I never felt the need to land on those spaces. If they gave you a bigger payoff to go there, for instance drawing three new cards instead of one, then it would offer a nice risk vs reward choice but as it is those spaces might as well be removed entirely.
Things don’t improve when you enter the fight phase. I found that combat descended into a pattern of using whatever weapon cards we had to cover as many symbols as possible and then using what cards we had left to roll dice. Outside of a couple of specific cards, there is little in the way of cooperation between players and I am not a fan of simply having to roll a high number to succeed. I feel like they could have created a more interesting system, for instance having custom dice with fists for attacks and shields for blocks and having the gang fight you back rather than players just keep rolling dice until they fail or succeed.
Overall then, The Warriors: Come out to Play was a disappointment, and I would only cautiously recommend it to die-hard fans of the film. Even as a quick, light, cooperative experience I feel there are better options out there, even by the same design team such as the excellent Horrified. If you like the theme of The Warriors though and want a game that will scratch that same itch, then I would recommend Vengeance by Mighty Boards, which does pretty much everything this game does but with much more interesting mechanics and a richer gameplay experience. They are also releasing a follow-up shortly, Vengeance: Roll and Fight, which offers the same basic gameplay loop but in a small box roll and write, rather than a big miniatures-filled box.
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