On a far-off planet named Shangri-La, the most valuable resource in the world has been discovered. No, it’s not unobtainium. It’s flick. Everyone’s after it—welcome to Flick Wars. Okay, what you really need to know about Flick Wars is that it’s a flicking-based battle game, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and it’s a lot of fun.
At a glance: Flick Wars is for 2 to 4 players, takes about 10 minutes to play, and the basic pledge level for a copy of the game is $35. (For $70, you get the game plus the playmat—more about that below.) I didn’t spot a recommended age on the Kickstarter page, but I’d say 8 and up. There are some good strategic elements that would give an advantage to more experienced players, but I think any age that can handle the dexterity part without going crazy would enjoy playing it.
- 37 1″ unit discs with stickers
- 4 2″ base discs with stickers
- 1 range ruler
- 28 Unit cards
- 4 Player Aid cards (not shown above)
- 40 plastic money chips
There are four factions included, and each one is slightly different. Each faction has three different types of units, with a couple of cards representing each unit. So for your infantry unit you might have a choice of different abilities, even though the piece itself just shows the generic infantry image.
One of the designers, Andrew Tullsen, was able to swing by to give me a demo with a prototype, and it was pretty nice. The tokens will be painted wood with stickers (that you’ll apply yourself), and they slide pretty well.
Tullsen also brought a sample of the neoprene mat, produced by InkedPlayMats, and it’s pretty slick—literally. The surface is like a mousepad, allowing the discs to glide smoothly, but the mat itself is very thin, which lets you do cool things like put objects underneath the mat to create terrain. While the mat isn’t necessary to play the game, I found that it definitely added to the experience when we created one large hill in the center of the play area.
The cards themselves are fairly easy to read: each one shows the cost to deploy the unit, the number of flicks the unit gets when activated, and its attack range. Below that is a list of abilities that the unit has.
How to play
The rules are available here as a PDF. You can also order a 2-player sampler set for $9 which will ship now, in case you want to give the game a try, or download the print and play files to see all of the different cards. (Though unless you have a lot of smooth wooden discs around, I’m not sure making your own print and play set is going to be that easy.)
The object of the game is to eliminate all of your target player’s ships from the board. If more than two players are playing, you’re actually just targeting the player to your left, so it makes for some interesting dynamics because you don’t want to eliminate the player who’s hunting you, because it helps somebody else.
You each start with 30 unium (the currency), and take turns placing your base on the play area, roughly spaced evenly around the play area. Each player chooses 2 starting units secretly, and then reveals them, places them near their base, and pays the deployment costs for them. You can play the game using just the Basic cards, or if you use the Advanced cards then you would select which card you’re using for each type of unit you deploy.
On your turn, you may either activate a unit, or take two reposition actions. To activate, you choose a unit, and then flick it a number of times equal to its Flick value, using abilities as appropriate. To attack, you must be within range of the target, as measured by the ruler, and you must have at least one flick left to hit the target. So if you use up all of your flicks just to get within range, then you have nothing left to actually hit the target. Conversely, even if you can hit the target on your flick, if you started out of range then you can’t actually attack.
There are several different abilities, many of which give you extra flicks for certain conditions: for starting within a certain distance of your base, or starting far away from enemy units, for instance. Generally once you’ve made an attack flick, your turn ends, but there are also abilities that change this.
If you successfully attack an enemy unit, it’s flipped over and then becomes an obstacle. Pieces that are knocked off the play area (yours or an opponent’s) are placed back on by one of your opponents wherever they choose, so you have to be pretty careful about overshooting, because you know you’ll end up in the least advantageous place.
To reposition, you can either take a move flick with a unit, or you can deploy a new unit by paying its cost and putting the disc on the board near your base. You can take two of these actions in one turn, but then you can’t attack or use abilities.
That’s basically it: you win by killing off all your target’s units first.
I like dexterity games of all sorts, and I’ve played a lot of flicking games. Catacombs (which just closed a successful Kickstarter campaign before Flick Wars launched) was a lot of fun because although you were using the same types of discs for the different characters, the abilities shown on the cards led to different behaviors and strategies. The same is true of Flick Wars: even though the discs are all the same size, you might have heavy infantry which behaves differently than my light infantry. The blue faction has flyers that have yet another set of abilities. Victory is not just a matter of having good aim, but making wise choices about how to use your abilities.
The choice of types of units is fun, too. When I deploy a heavy tank in the red faction, I can choose which of three types to deploy. The basic version is cheapest but has the fewest abilities. Or I can put in the expensive 10-unium version, which has shields. Or maybe go for the middle-cost version, which has a “Hit & Run” ability that lets me take an extra move after I attack.
The difference between Flick Wars and Catacombs is that it’s a much faster game—rather than a long dungeon crawl, it’s a fast tactical battle (with no dungeon master). Another flicking battle game that I like, Disc Duelers, also has variable character abilities, but there are really wild character abilities and it’s more like a street brawl. Flick Wars seems a bit more calculated, with abilities that aren’t quite as super-powered but have subtle differences.
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy all of these games, depending on your mood. Got a whole bunch of players who want to pound on each other? Disc Duelers is great for that. Want to send a group of players through a dungeon, developing the characters a bit and taking down the Dungeon Lord? That’s Catacombs. Need a tactical sci-fi game that plays in 10-15 minutes? Flick Wars is perfect.
The attack/range mechanic is a little different from what I’m used to, so rather than rewarding long-range accuracy, it’s more important to be able to get into attack range with enough flicks left to attack. So in some ways it’s more about tactical maneuvering than flicking skills … though don’t underestimate accuracy, either.
If you like dexterity games, check out the Kickstarter page, and be sure to watch the terrain video about halfway down the main page. I think it really shows off some of the possibilities with the playmat, and having tried Flick Wars on the mat I think it’s a great accessory if you can afford it.