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Preview: Flick Wars

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Flick Wars box

Forget Unobtainium. “Flick” is the new ultimate power in the universe…and we suggest you use it. Harnessing the raw power of kinetic energy, you and your band of troops will face your foes on the field of battle. Can you position your troops to strike while the Flick is on your side? Or will your carcasses simply become obstacles on the battlefield?

Find out in Flick Wars!

(Note: While the final components should be similar to what I’ve photographed here, please keep in mind that these are prototype components.)

How It Works

Flick Wars is a tactical dexterity game for two to four players. The first player (or team) to eliminate his or her target wins.

These are the discs in Flick Wars. They are clearly colored and stickered, easy to identify. The disc icons match the faction cards, which list each unit's abilities.
These are the discs in Flick Wars. They are clearly colored and stickered, easy to identify. The disc icons match the faction cards, which list each unit’s abilities.

Each player receives all the cards and tokens, as well as a base, for one of the four factions. Players place “terrain” on the table (boxes, cups, coasters–anything can serve as terrain, really) and divide the table into sections, one for each player. Each player places their base within their section of the table and receives 30 unium (money). Players secretly and simultaneously choose two units to deploy around their base to start the game, then pay those units’ cost in unium.

On a turn a player may either activate a unit or take reposition actions.

The rules to the game are so simple, as illustrated by this player aid.
The rules to the game are so simple, as illustrated by this player aid.

Activating a unit entails flicking a specific unit and being able to use that unit’s special abilities. Each unit has a “flick” value, noting how many times it can be flicked when activated. Each unit also has a range value of 1-3, indicating how close that unit has to be to an enemy unit in order to attempt to destroy it. Flicks can be either movement or attacks, but if a flick is an attack flick, the player must announce this before flicking, and the enemy unit must be within range. (Otherwise, colliding discs do not destroy each other.) Any destroyed discs are left on the table, face-down, as new obstacles/terrain. Once a player uses an attack flick, his or her turn is over.

There are four factions in the game, each with unique units and asymmetrical special abilities. There are also advanced cards that change the game if you're up for the challenge.
There are four factions in the game, each with unique units and asymmetrical special abilities. There are also advanced cards that change the game if you’re up for the challenge.

Reposition actions involve either using movement flicks on any of your units or deploying new units by paying their cost in unium. Players may pay unium to take additional reposition actions.

If at the end of your turn all of your target’s units are destroyed, you win the game.

Watch out, red! Blue is in range.
Watch out, red! Blue is in range.

Flicktory Is Mine?

Confession time: It may not be a popular position for a primarily Euro-loving player, but I love dexterity games. I’m not good at them, mind you. But you don’t have to be good at them to enjoy them. I love that even skilled players mess up, and even novice players will make a lucky shot now and then. I love the tension of gearing up for a move and the thrill of watching the move either achieve its desired end or go radically off course.

Flick Wars captures the thrill that I most love about dexterity games and wraps it in a more fulfilling strategy game package that rewards both player decisions and flicking skills without breaking the bank or taking itself too seriously.

My son's toys on the table become Flick Wars terrain, without...
My son’s toys on the table become Flick Wars terrain, sans mat…

Flick Wars is mostly a dexterity game–there’s no way around that. Players flick their discs around the table, and where you flick the discs is important. In fact, positioning is a big deal in Flick Wars. Most player units have low flick values, and since players have to be within range of their target in order to attack, there’s not much margin for error in getting your pieces where you want them to be. If you get your piece within range of the enemy but don’t have any flicks left, chances are that unit won’t survive another round. Many of the melee units in the game have a flick value of 1, but their special ability is that if they don’t hit an enemy unit on their first flick, they get an extra one. But with a range of 1, you really have to be confident of your flicking skills to attack with them. If you flick too hard and hit the enemy unit out of range, you lose the bonus flick. If you flick too softly, you’ll end your first flick out of range and can’t attack on the second one. The game is thus an exciting tactical experience, trying to position your units close–but not too close–to your opponents while limiting their opportunities to attack you on their turns.

...or UNDER the mat, forming ridges and valleys. So, so cool.
…or UNDER the mat, forming ridges and valleys. So, so cool.

But there’s more to the game than just flicking stuff. While dexterity is a big element in Flick Wars, the game involves some resource management and tactical thinking as well. I mentioned the melee pieces that have little flick power and range. What makes them useful is that they’re cheap, so you can field a number of them at little cost. Some of the higher-range pieces have more flick value, but they also cost more. With a limited supply of unium and no way to get more, players must budget how best to spend it. Should they field lots of weak units? A few powerful ones? Should they field just a few units regardless and use their unium to reposition their units around the board? These decisions are important. Furthermore, it’s kind of boring to use your turn to deploy new units, but if an opponent knocks all of yours out, it doesn’t matter how much unium you had in reserve–you lose. And some unit powers depend on other units to work well, so you may have to move around the board in squads if you can. There are thus more things to consider than your typical dexterity game.

Blue eyes destroying red while another red disc scouts from the mountains.
Blue eyes destroying red while another red disc scouts from the mountains.

Flick Wars is bound to be compared to Crokinole and Ascending Empires, and with good reason–Crokinole because you’re flicking discs around, and Ascending Empires because dexterity serves as one aspect of a larger game. I would place Flick Wars’ complexity somewhere between the two: it has more rules than Crokinole’s simple “you must hit another disc,” but it’s much less complex than Ascending Empires’ civilization building. The game is more about combat than Ascending Empires, and the trick shots are not necessarily more difficult than Crokinole, but they are more varied, especially as terrain can change from game to game as can which units and abilities are in play. I find both of these attributes appealing. I also love that Flick Wars is very compact. I’m not sure how large the final box will be, but the components are small and simple enough that the game should travel well, unlike Crokinole, which often sees much less play than I would like because it’s too much work to haul it around.

Each of these cards represents a different possible unit. Did I mention there's lots of room for replayability in this game?
Each of these cards represents a different possible unit. Did I mention there’s lots of room for replayability in this game?

The game is customizable, and there are lots of options for players to hack. In addition to the basic game, which has added complexity over Crokinole, Flick Wars contains an expert’s expansion that adds more decisions to the game. Essentially, each unit in the game has three “modes,” represented by different cards, and each mode has different stats and special abilities (and also a different unium cost). Players may choose to deploy different units throughout the game, and while the basic rules remain the same, the timing of switching cards and utilizing the right ability for the right time makes this a more complex challenge to master. I think the cards are an ingenious way to keep the game fresh, especially since there are lots of cards. The basic game is more or less balanced with little variation between player units. The advanced game introduces asymmetrical player powers, as well as more complex abilities like shields. For my part, I’m content with the base game (for now), but this additional gameplay option does infuse the game with a greater lifespan and offers a greater strategic challenge for interested players.

If you love dexterity games and don’t own Crokinole, getting Flick Wars is a no-brainer. At $35, you get a lot of game in a small package, and it’s a package that travels well and can be played on just about any table surface. It’s also, simply, a blast, whether playing a head-to-head match or a team game. Even if you do own Crokinole (as I do), I think Flick Wars has a place in your collection. It’s more combative, more variable, and more strategic than its simpler ancestor. So, if you like dexterity games, I think Flick Wars is definitely worth your consideration. What takes a little more consideration is whether you should get the playmat as well, which is also priced at $35 in the Kickstarter campaign.

All the cards of one faction.
All the cards of one faction.

I was provided with a sample mat, and the quality is superb. The illustration is clear, the mat is big–definitely big enough for a roomy 2-player game, and possibly enough room for three players as well. And the ability to place terrain beneath the mat is fantastic. Instead of cups and boxes providing terrain, which give you obstacles to flick around, the mat provides 3D terrain options, creating ridges and valleys for players to flick their discs over and through. In this way, the mat provides even more replayability: have you mastered the straight flick? You may now move on to the new challenge of complex vectors. I love it. The discs slide easily across it, the 3D challenge is really cool to incorporate, and the mat turns any surface into a potential Flick Wars arena.

Destroyed discs remain on the table as obstacles for the remaining discs to flick around. Very cool.
Destroyed discs remain on the table as obstacles for the remaining discs to flick around. Very cool.

So…I realize I’m advocating hard for the playmat. Even though I’ve just listed all the cool features of the mat, I will say that while the playmat is a nice luxury, it is by no means essential to the game. Especially if you will be playing the game on a non-porous gaming surface, the discs should move well without the mat. And if you will play the game primarily with more than two players, the mat may not be useful. The mat does infuse the game with more thematic flavor (which, admittedly, doesn’t much matter to me). And it’s really cool to have the terrain “hidden” beneath the mat. But the real fun of the game is the discs and the flicking and the managing of resources, not the surface. The mat is quality, but not essential. (Of course, if you can spring for it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.)

See? The playmat isn't necessary: you can still flick discs around the table without it. Even if the terrain is a crew of Really Useful engines.
See? The playmat isn’t necessary: you can still flick discs around the table without it. Even if the terrain is a crew of Really Useful engines.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoy Flick Wars. It has enough strategic thinking to make this more than the stupid fun that usually surrounds dexterity games, yet it is just silly and unpredictable enough to make it a joy to play, when players don’t want a brain burn but don’t want Candy Land, either. At $35, this is a reasonably priced dexterity game well worth your consideration.

Flick Wars is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. The base game is $35, and the mat (optional) is an additional $35.

iSlaytheDragon was paid to preview Flick Wars.

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. I love the fact that random found objects and whatever playing surface you have are both integrated into the game rules as terrain. No one can cry “foul” because of a bump in the table causing a disc to go askew, because that’s just part of the game. And it adds a level of “fun” to game setup – what random junk can we toss on the table?

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