1.21 Gigawatts of fun…

By Shawn Robare

This past weekend I stumbled upon something pretty cool while I was browsing through Alternate Worlds, a Baltimore area comic shop, with my girlfriend Jaime.  A co-worker had suggested the store to her since they have a great selection of comics, games and toys.  I was curious if there was anything eighties-centric that I might want to pick up, so we jumped in the car and took a trip over to check it out this past Saturday.  Though the store did have a few vintage G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and Transformers, the item that caught my attention was actually something that was released just a few years ago, the Back to the Future Card Game by Looney Labs


Though the game debuted in 2010, this is the first time I saw it and I couldn’t pass up the chance to snag a copy.  I mean, it was my density, er, destiny because Jaime and I were looking for some more 2-player games we could play and, well, Back to the Future.  I mean how often do you see 80s movie-themed card or board games that aren’t stupidly expensive?  When we got home, after a quick game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trouble (which we found an the 5 Below in the same shopping center as the comic shop), we ripped open the shrink wrap so we could check out the game…

BTTF Card Game 2

Included are three sets of cards, the main game deck, a small stack of player character ID cards, and set of 28 timeline cards that act as a game board of sorts.  The concept is pretty simple, each player is randomly dealt an ID card featuring a descendant of one of the main characters from the Back to the Future movie trilogy.  There are various McFlys, Browns, Tannens as well as some of the more obscure families like the Needles and Berrys and Stricklands (even the Strickland descendants know the McFlys have always been slackers…)

BTTF Card Game 3

Each character has a list of events associated with them that they need to make sure happen in order for them to both exist and to win the game.  These events are recorded on the timeline cards which are spread out chronologically and act a game board.  Each timeline card has two possible variations of the event listed, and these can be manipulated by the players using cards from the game deck…

BTTF Card Game 4

In the set of timeline cards there are specific “linchpin” events that the player can alter (flip to show a different outcome – like when Marty McFly Jr. agrees to help Griff Tannen and his gang in BTTF 2), and changing them has a ripple effect that flips subsequent cards.  Based on the character that you draw you’ll be targeting some of these “linchpin” events, changing the past so that your den…destiny can be fulfilled.  (Alright, stopping with the density jokes.)  The characters/players alter these event cards by using cards from the main game deck which consists of various items and actions.

BTTF Card Game 5

For me this is where the game really shines as the cards feature a bunch of fun stuff from the movies like cases of plutonium (thanks to your friendly neighborhood Libyan nationalists), the Gray’s Sports Almanac, hooverboards, or copies of George McFly’s debut novel A Match Made in Space.  There are also six time machine cards which feature the various incarnations of the classic DeLorean as well as the train from BTTF 3.

All in all the game is a little confusing on the first play through as it takes a while to get used to how the cards interact, and there are some play/draw variations that are hard to keep straight, but the game goes pretty quick and by the second time it should be a lot smoother.  I wasn’t familiar with Looney Labs when I picked this Back to the Future game up, but apparently after doing a little digging it looks like it’s this set is based on their Chrononauts Card Game.  So if you’re familiar with that than this one should be a cinch to pick up on the mechanics.

Unfortunately the BTTF Card Game is no longer in print, but there are still reasonably priced copies available on Amazon.  Now, if only someone would come out with a Monster Squad-themed card game I’d be in heaven…

  • Sounds like a lot of fun. And not very complicated. I like the idea of having to keep your timeline in proper order to make sure your character exists. And like you said, the item cards are BTTF eye candy! Awesome post man.

    • Thanks, yeah I was really happy to stumble upon this game. I really like the aspect of dual players mucking with the timeline, reminded me of BTTF 2. Now I’m itching to sit down and put on the trilogy…

  • Paxton Holley

    When we have the eventual CFC Pod meetup, THIS is what we are playing. Have you guys ever played that Munchkin card game?


    I hear it’s awesome. PJ is still too young for it but…SOON.

    • Yup, I’ve played the base Munchkin game and really enjoy it. Curious about all the different variations too. Man that’s is going to be so fun to introduce these games to your kids Pax!

      • Paxton Holley

        Totes. I’m slowly bringing in things like Star Wars characters, Pixar/Disney movies and super heroes. Plans are coming together.

        2015 may be the year of PJ’s indoctrination into the actual Star Wars movies. #fingerscrossed

        • Cool, if you do, you should totally consider recording a Nerd Lunch segment with him to get his reactions to the films. Also, totally envious…

  • The Sewer Den

    This game is worth is just to see some of these words printed. “Youth Jailed” cracks me up.

    I’d love to host a game night with this deck. Fun, fun!

    • Yup, have the fun was the “flavor” of the game, the art and terms. Seriously, I need a Goonies version stat!

  • How’s it feel to have finally beaten me at a card game?

    • Like I was the frumpy girl who got picked for and won the Miss America pageant ;)

    • Also, I think, bearing the subject matter of the game in mind, I totally Bill & Teded it to win. By that I mean I totally made a mental note that when I invent time travel I need to cheat by hiding essential cards for my win at your place in the past so I could easily get them when we played. Need to remember to do that. And to wind my watch…

      • Paxton Holley

        LOL! That’s awesome, but there is NO WAY I personally would remember to do all that shit by the time I invent time travel. And also remember where I was supposed to hide the cards. I don’t trust future Pax that much.

        • I need to make a list. Mental note to future Shawn, make that note and leave it in the past #TimeTravelProcrastination

          • Paxton Holley

            When I invent time travel I’m going to go back and leave notes where you expect to find these things. You’ll reach between the couch cushions for a vital BTTF card and find a slip of paper that says, “IOU 1 Gray’s Sports Almanac card. Suck it, Shawn. Jaime wins again.”.

  • I’ve came close to buying the card game many times. It’s in my wish list.

    • Glad I snagged it when I did since it’s out of print now, though it’s not jumping up in price on the secondary market which is good….

  • jtcarter

    Looney Labs has a lot of great games. My family loves the Oz Fluxx card game, and my parents enjoy Choose One.

    • I need to pick up a copy of one of the Fluxx games. I’ve heard they’re a bit chaotic with lots of rules changes during play which sounds like it might be fun for larger family group game nights.