Flash Duel is a fast-paced card game that simulates a 2-D fighting game, a la Street Fighter. Set in the Fantasy Strike universe, which includes the games Yomi and Puzzle Strike, Flash Duel (2nd edition) features the original game plus all of the expansions, offering 20 character choices and several modes of play, ranging from 1vs1, to a solo practice mode, to a team vs. 1 game which even includes an optional traitor variant.
How It Plays
The goal of Flash Duel is to knock your opponent out simply by scoring one hit against them. The first player to win three rounds wins the game. Here’s the basic overview of the 1vs1 game.
Players have five cards in their hands, ranging from 1 to 5 (and five copies of each number are in the deck). At the start of each round, players start at opposite ends of an eighteen-space “bridge.” Each turn, a player can move, attack, push, or dashing strike by playing numbered cards. To move, you must play a number and move that many space forward or back. When you push, you must be adjacent to your opponent; then you can play a numbered card to move that player that many spaces back. To attack, you can play any number of cards with the same number, but this number has to be the exact distance between you and your opponent. When you attack, the opponent must attempt to block by matching your attack. That is, if you play two 2s, your opponent must play two 2s to block or be knocked out. Since there are only five of each number, playing three of a kind is a guaranteed hit.
Finally, the dashing strike allows you to move by playing a card, then attack as normal. The difference is the opposing player has the option to retreat instead of block by playing a single card and moving that many spaces backwards. However, if your opponent retreats, they must spend their next turn “recovering” which basically means doing nothing.
At the end of your turn, you draw until you have five cards in your hand.
When a player gets hit, they are knocked out. The round ends, and players reset their positions to start.
Players also have access to three special actions by choosing a character at the start of the game. These actions provide special bonuses or defensive abilities, and each can be used once per round.
The game finishes when a player has won three rounds.
In addition to the 1vs1 mode, the box also includes rules and components for a 2vs2 mode, a cooperative mode, and a cooperative-with-a-traitor mode. Each mode relies on the same basic action structure, but 2vs2 adds more cards in the mix and allows players to help defend each other. Cooperative mode pits multiple players against one player controlling the “Dragon,” which can take more than one hit in a round, has a bigger hand size, and has some very powerful special abilities. The Traitor mode, only playable with five, makes one player a traitor who can attempt to sabotage his or her team and eventually join forces with the Dragon to defeat the other players.
Flash Duel is a very simplistic game; simple by design, and in that intent the game has certainly succeeded. It takes about two minutes to explain and about twenty minutes to play a full game of five rounds the first time. But it might just be too simplistic to be anything more than a quick filler game.
There isn’t a whole lot of substance to the game, not a whole lot of strategy. You basically just try to grab a bunch of matching cards and then get in range; it’s almost a guarantee that whoever gets the first attack in is going to win, because even if you block, or retreat from a Dashing Strike, you’re put at an immediate disadvantage. If you block, you have fewer cards to work with on your turn, so good luck with a counter attack. If you retreat, you can’t do anything on your turn, which means that the other player will likely just dashing strike you again and again until your back is against the wall. The result is rounds that will last you about thirty seconds, but not a substantial “fight.”
The player characters spice things up a little bit, but the powers are pretty limited. They don’t change the overall dynamic of the game; they just give you something a little more interesting to do. Occasionally the powers will save you from demise.
The game is the most fun when you engage in the theme. If you imagine your two fighters squaring off, sizing each other up, advancing, a few preliminary attacks, all the while shouting classic video-game style “H’yah!” it’s a fairly enjoyable experience. You do have to bring a lot into the game yourself though.
I think the 2vs2 version is a lot more enjoyable, if only because working with another player gives you a few more options. One player can sacrifice him or herself to put the other in a great position to take out the opponents. Players can help defend each other, and the number of cards doubles, so a set of three is no longer a guaranteed kill. The same is true of the Team vs. 1 option. Still, it never really breaks out of the super-simplistic mode, and the game will not really stand up to frequent, repeated plays. The Traitor variant is an interesting thought, but it doesn’t really add enough. I’d personally rather play any number of hidden traitor games than this, if I’m looking for a traitor experience, but for what it’s worth, it’s there.
To be fair, this game is an intentionally simplified version of Yomi (which I have not played), and it is designed to be extremely fast with limited rules. It seems targeted towards younger gamers, with more cartoonish art, and I could see a couple ten-year-old boys getting into the game. It’s certainly less of a financial commitment than any CCG, and it would be easy and quick enough to whip out during recess or after school or whatever.
The components are reasonable enough. The fighters themselves are simply colored wooden pawns, which works but doesn’t really evoke the theme too well. I suppose it had to be generic considering there are twenty characters to choose from, and it would be a little expensive to have minis for each.
The cardstock is fine though not stellar; the best thing about the components is that it contains all the components necessary – four small pawns, a large Dragon pawn, tokens to use as coins/markers/points, and a thick playing board – but it also includes a small deck box that holds all the cards necessary for a 1vs1 game, including an extra set of cards to replace the playing board, about the size of a deck of playing cards, which is great for portability. Given that it is the kind of game you would whip out to play for five minutes while in the doctor’s office waiting room or something like that, this is an excellent inclusion.
All in all, Flash Duel is a nice little box that contains a nice little “2-D fighting game” that is easy and very fast to play. It’s nothing particularly outstanding or special, but it’s decently enjoyable in a pinch, especially if you have an imagination. If you’re looking for a substantial card game to represent a 2-D fighting game with all those blocks, attacks, and special moves, look elsewhere. But if you want a quick-and-dirty fighting game that works, plays extremely quick, and can even fit in your pocket, Flash Duel might just fill that gap in your gaming collection.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Game Salute for providing us with a review copy of Flash Duel.