In Walter Hill’s cult 1979 thriller the Warriors, a Coney Island street gang is framed for the murder of a charismatic uptown gang leader. To achieve victory, they must traverse the entirety of New York City in a single night, with every other gang in the city vengefully shooting at them. You’re under pressure and about to be murdered in almost every scene with minimal resources and no help. They can’t even seek shelter from the cops, who hate the Warriors and their fellow gang members alike. The co-op board game by Funko Games The Warriors: Come out to play replicates this situation and the massive stress that comes with it. But to enjoy the game, players must be willing to be harassed, hunted, and desperate.
Two to four players each take on a role from the film – members of the Warriors gang Swan, Snow, Cochise, Cowboy, Fox, Vermin, Rembrandt or Mercy. Each character has some distinctive abilities represented by cards, with unused players’ cards going into a common war deck in a given game. Each player builds their own little deck as they travel from the Bronx to Brooklyn along a game board, collecting weapons or war cards to use in the frequent gang fights along the way.
the Warriorscredited collaboratively to “the boppers at Prospero Hall‘, keeping the plot tight and claustrophobic. Players have few choices on the board at any one time, and almost every choice has a cost. They have very little time to build their hands between conflicts, and many of the battles require them to permanently sacrifice cards from the game just to keep going. Every fight is a calculation: spend resources to guarantee a win at the expense of future fights, or play conservatively and risk a loss that also burns the gang’s minimal resources?
Every fight pure the Warriors is a small game of chance where players have to generate certain numbers on the dice to win, but they have to earn these dice by playing cards or burning them permanently. One of the more innovative elements here is how often cards are completely removed from play. These sacrifices may be necessary to salvage a failed fight or improve a mediocre hand, but letting go of a card for the rest of the game still feels like a nerve-wracking exercise in narrowing your future options.
The game requires no previous knowledge warrior movie (or the 2005 beat ’em up video game that spawned from it), but cult movie fans will find that the game’s design is tightly integrated with the movie. One event deck that adds additional conflict is called “Hey, Boppers,” referring to the radio show in the film that spreads rumors about the Warriors’ whereabouts so other gangs can track them down. The eight Warriors character options in the game all have abilities that reflect their role in the story. (Each is lovingly detailed, in an art warmer and more attractive than the film itself.)
And players go up against the ridiculously costumed gangs that are one of the most memorable elements of the film: the suspiciously mimic-esque hi-hats, the vaguely mechanical Rogues, the all-female Lizzies, and yes, the baseball-themed Furies. Each gang has their own themed complication in battle, and each gets their own intricately detailed plastic miniature. (Aww, look at that itty-bitty crowbar the villain wields.) These miniatures occupy a reputation bar on the board, moving up or down as the warriors battle each gang in turn. Winning gives players better reputation, granting them a small combat advantage and a buffer against losing the game by draining their reputation.
Most importantly, the game consistently reproduces the film’s sense of horror and wearyness, which perhaps determines whether a particular group enjoys playing it. A group of Polygon play tested the Warriors They hated the feeling of never having reached the point where they could easily dominate a fight. As each new battle became a spasm to hold on to on their shrinking decks, they felt overwhelmed and defensive in a way they didn’t like. (Players who like race-versus-defeat board games winter dead or Pandemic should stay away from this one.) In a playtest with a completely different group of people, the group strategically dodged some early fights, accepted a few hits, and emerged victorious. This team enjoyed the challenge and the tension of feeling like they were going to lose most of the game. Your mileage may vary based on taste.
the Warriors is not for everyone. It’s an unusual experience – a game that’s fairly easy to set up and learn, but feels like every choice could be meaningful and dangerous. But in an industry where media games often feel little connected to their source material, the Warriors can at least boast of one solid connection: it pulls you right into the action of the film and won’t let up until you either make it home or die trying.
The Warriors: Come out to play has been verified against a physical copy provided by Funko Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find For more information on Polygon’s Ethics Policy, click here.