Later this year Walt Disney Animation Studios is celebrating its 100th year in business. It is fitting that the Disney Animated Game is coming out now, since it celebrates the history of the studio. In the game you and the other players play as employees of the studio. You must work together to complete some of their greatest films before the deadline arrives. Standing in your way are the villains of those films who don’t want you to finish their films as they know their fates. Designed by Prospero Hall and published by Funko Games, I was really intrigued by the Disney Animated Game. While I wish The Disney Animated Game was a little deeper in a few areas, it does a great job with the theme creating a game the whole family can enjoy.
Personally it is hard to exactly pinpoint what to classify the Disney Animated Game as. Probably the best classification that I could make would be to say that it is a action drafting cooperative game. For a full look at how to play the game, check out our Disney Animated Game how to play guide.
The core of the Disney Animated Game is built around choosing what action to take on your turn. In addition to choosing what action is most useful, you also need to consider the value of the actions. Basically the longer the players wait to take an action, the more powerful it becomes. If you keep taking the same action over and over again, you will get less value each time you take it. Instead you should work with your teammates to try and maximize the value of each action you decide to take.
To illustrate lets look at how most early games will likely play out. In most cases it is best for you to complete sections of your background. You need to do this in order to play your Character Cel cards, and also make progress towards completing your film. While all of the players could prioritize this at the same time, it is probably not a wise decision. When a player takes the Background action, it changes to a value of one. This only allows you to place tiles that are one square. This severely limits which tiles you can play. You also are neglecting actions that are more powerful.
Thus the players need to come up with a strategy on how to maximize the value of their turn. This is important for a couple reasons. There isn’t much point in only being able to play one Background tile when you otherwise could take up to three Animation cards, paints up to the value of five, or even utilizing your special Sound action. You are better off discussing who should take the Background action this turn. Then have the other players focus on other actions. In addition to getting move value out of your turn, you also end up increasing the value of the Background action for the next player that takes it. Figuring out a way to maximize the value of each action you take is key to winning the game.
While there are other games that utilize a similar mechanic, I really liked it in the Disney Animated Game. Without this mechanic, the game wouldn’t really work all that well. As I mentioned earlier, all of the players would just take the Background action at the beginning of the game. With this mechanic there is a trade off. This leads you to think about what action would be the most useful. This also adds a lot of cooperation to the game. The players need to figure out who should focus on their backgrounds first, and who should focus on other elements.
The basic progression for each player should start with finishing at least some of their sections of the background. You don’t need to finish all of it right away. You should try to finish at least one or two sections that correspond to the characters who have the most useful ability. After completing a section you want to try and paint the corresponding character as quickly as possible. This allows you to use their power once per turn by discarding the corresponding card. Some of these powers can be quite useful, so you want to take advantage of them as quickly as possible. Eventually you want to finish up your background and place your remaining characters. Finally you can add the villain to the film. While this is going on the other players will be in a different part of their path to completing their movie.
Generally I found the different actions to be interesting. Some are more valuable than others in my opinion. In the early game the Background and Magic actions are the most useful. The Sound action is interesting as each movie provides a different benefit. Some of these can be really useful helping your team out immensely. The Ink and Paint and Animation actions can be important when you need Animation cards or Paint tokens. Sometimes you may have more cards and tokens than you actually need though.
While you are trying to complete your film, you have to deal with a villain and their nefarious deeds. You need to put a lot of focus towards finishing your movie, but you also have to deal with the Calamity cards put out each turn. This usually requires discarding certain cards or Paint tokens. Sometimes though it requires you to take an action corresponding to a certain value. Any Calamity card you don’t deal with forces negative consequences on the players. This usually involves losing cards or tokens, but if you can’t pay the cost the Deadline token moves closer to the Deadline. While you can sometimes let the Deadline token move a little closer, you need to limit it since you don’t have a lot of time. You need to balance building your films while dealing with the villain threat.
If it wasn’t already clear, I really enjoyed playing the Disney Animated Game. While it has some issues which I will discuss later, there is a lot I liked about the game.
I think the game’s greatest strength might be that it finds a good balance between ease of play and strategy. If I were to classify the game’s difficulty to learn/teach, I would say that it feels like a light to moderate game. It is a little more difficult than your typical mainstream game, but it is not that difficult. For the most part the basic structure of each round is really straightforward where you will pick it up in a couple rounds at most. The various actions you can take are quite straightforward. Probably the most complicated action is the Sound action just due to each movie having a different one. The objective of the game is quite straightforward where it is quite easy to teach to new players.
While I don’t think young children will be able to understand the game, I see no reason why ten year olds would have any trouble. This should also apply to people who rarely play board games. I think the Disney Animated Game would work quite well as more of an introductory game.
That said there is still a solid amount of strategy to the Disney Animated Game. You probably won’t consider it to be a highly strategic game. There is usually a best option each turn so you don’t have to meticulously analyze every option. You need to think about what actions you should take each turn though. Players need to plan out their strategy together if they want any hope of winning the game. You need to try and maximize the value of each action you take which means switching between the various actions to increase the value of the ones you don’t choose. Disney Animated Game finds a good balance for those that want a game that relies on strategy, but not so much that you are stuck sitting there analyzing every single option all of the time.
I generally like the mix between the accessibility and strategy. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what, but it just feels like something is missing from the gameplay. While there is a need to take each of the actions from time to time, some just seem more useful than others. In particular the Ink & Paint and Animation actions have dwindling returns at times. Towards the end of the game you might have enough cards and/or tokens that you don’t really even need to take the actions again. You will mostly take them to get resources to deal with the villains, and increase the value of the other actions. I just wish there was a little more incentive to take some of these actions.
Another more minor issue with the Disney Animated Game is I feel like the game is on the easy side. So far I have only played with lower player counts. I believe the game would be more difficult with more players. That said I think you should win more times than not. Outside of your first game introducing the game to new players, I see no reason to play the novice difficulty. Even the standard difficulty feels kind of easy at times. While the Deadline token may get close to the final space, I never really felt like we were that close to losing. I really haven’t tried out the expert difficulty yet, but I would probably recommend playing at that difficulty most of the time.
As for the player count, I think it plays fine at any player count between two and four. I mostly played the game with two players and it plays fine. I enjoyed the two player game as it requires the players to trade off taking actions that directly benefit themselves, and actions that help remove Calamity cards and increase the value for actions their teammate will take. If you only have two players to play the game, I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy the Disney Animated Game. That said, I think most people would probably prefer playing with three or four players. More players means more player interaction, which would make choosing the different actions more interesting. There would also be a greater requirement for player cooperation, and I found the game to be a little more difficult.
Next I wanted to talk about the different movies in the Disney Animated Game, and how they impact the gameplay. To begin the game each player chooses a movie. For most of the actions, the movie you choose doesn’t change anything. Each movie mostly differs in a couple ways.
The most obvious is the action you take when you choose the Sound action. Each movie has a completely different Sound action. Some prioritize drawing cards or taking tokens, while others let you manipulate or add to the values of different actions. The abilities actually do feel quite different where you can tell that each movie prioritizes different things. For example Alice in Wonderland is focused mostly on drawing Animation cards, while 101 Dalmatians is more focused on Paint tokens. I personally would say some of these Sound actions feel more useful than others. I think they are a nice addition to the game, and bring some variety to playing the different movies.
Next come the character powers. Each movie has three different character powers. You can’t use these powers until you complete the corresponding section of the background, and place the Character Cel card. These abilities can differ quite a bit just like the Sound actions. Some seem considerably more useful than others. For some movies once you unlock a character you will want to try and use their power each turn, as long as you have the corresponding card in your hand to discard. Others seems more useful in certain situations. Once you start unlocking character abilities your options on each turn open up quite a bit. You can use some of them to really supplement the normal action you take on your turn, or even help out your teammates.
The final main difference between each movie is the villains that get added to the game. The corresponding villain from each movie you choose to use gets added to the rotation of villains you will face each round. When you don’t remove all of the Calamity cards, you will be forced to face their Calamity Effect. Most of these involve discarding a number of cards/tokens. If you can’t you are forced to move the Deadline forward, inching you closer to losing the game.
Each villain also introduces a unique way to defeat them. All of them require you to discard two specific Paint tokens and Animation cards. Where they differ is the requirement that you need to complete before you can even try to add them to your film. These requirements are based around the main emphasis of each movie and are quite different. I like these different requirements as they add variety. The final villain showdowns feel kind of anticlimatic though.
Next I wanted to move onto the Disney Animated Game’s theme and components. I generally thought the game did a great job in this area. The idea of the villains actively trying to stop the animators from finishing their movie is a little weird. I think the game does a good job blending the theme and the gameplay though. The game does a good job taking advantage of the different elements that go into making a movie, and translating them to various gameplay mechanics. The addition of five different movies that have their own unique twists related to their movie are a nice addition. I am curious if the game does well if Funko Games will release additional games to add even more movies. I think fans of Disney animation should really like what the game has to offer.
Disney Animated Game’s components are quite good as well. The artwork and overall style of the game works really well for the game. Most of the components are made out of cardboard, but they are sturdy. The game actually does a really good job of putting information on the cards, tiles, and gameboards; reducing how much you need to reference the rules. The cardstock is good and I always appreciate a game that has wood pieces. The Character Cel cards don’t really add anything to the gameplay, but they are cool nonetheless. My one complaint with the components has to deal with the Background boards and tiles. The tiles are a tight fit, where you need to rearrange them so they all fit in the frame. This isn’t a huge issue. Otherwise I thought the component quality was really good.
I had pretty high expectations heading into the Disney Animated Game as a fan of Disney, Funko Games, and Prospero Hall. While the game is not quite perfect, the game met my expectations. The game has some interesting mechanics as you have to balance taking actions that are most useful to you, versus choosing an action that currently has a greater power. The addition of different movies that have their own unique tweaks are interesting as well. The game does a good job balancing between accessibility and strategy. The Disney Animated Game is pretty easy to play and yet forces you to think strategically. On top of all of this the game utilizes the theme well.
My main issue is that I just wish there was a little more to the game as it feels like some of your turns aren’t all that useful. The game is also on the easier side.
I enjoyed the Disney Animated Game and think most people should as well. If you are a Disney fan and are looking for a light to moderate game that the whole family and even non-gamers can enjoy, I think you should consider picking up the Disney Animated Game.
Disney Animated Game
Year: 2023 | Publisher: Funko Games | Designer: Prospero Hall
Genres: Action Drafting, Cooperative
Ages: 10+ | Number of Players: 2-4 | Length of Game: 20 minutes per player
Difficulty: Light-Moderate | Strategy: Moderate | Luck: Light
Components: Studio Board, Deadline Token, First Player Token, 5 Action Tiles, 40 Animation Cards, 5 Background Boards, 45 Background Tiles, 5 Action Boards, 5 Villain Tiles, 25 Calamity Cards, 3 Reminder Cards, 15 Character Cel Cards, 4 Reference Cards, 16 Paint Tokens, 12 Magic Tokens, 7 Seven Dwarfs Tokens, Genie Token, Cheshire Cat Token, 5 Music Tokens, 6 Kanine Krunchies Tokens, Instructions
- Good combination of accessibility and strategy.
- Does a good job utilizing the theme with the gameplay and components.
- Could be a little deeper in a few areas.
- Feels a little too easy at times.
Recommendation: For fans of Disney that want a light to moderate cooperative game that the whole family can enjoy.
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We would like to thank Funko Games for the review copy of Disney Animated Game used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.