Limber up your fingers, because it’s time for FlickFleet, a dexterity-based spaceship battle between the totalitarian Imperium and the rebellious Uprising.
What Is FlickFleet?
FlickFleet is a dice-flicking dexterity game for 2 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. The game originally funded on Kickstarter last year and delivered to backers this summer. Now, FlickFleet is back on Kickstarter: you can pledge for a copy of the base game if you missed out, or for new scenario content if you already own the base game. There are various reward tiers, as low as £5 (about $6USD) for files to create your own copy if you have access to a laser cutter, to £27 (~$33USD) for a standard copy of the game, to £68 (~$83USD) for a deluxe copy of the game with the new scenario pack.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
Eurydice Games sent me a deluxe copy of the game from the first Kickstarter, which is the same thing that will be included in the “Alpha Wing” tier in this current campaign.
- 11 Capital Ships
- 11 3-part Fighter/Bomber Wings
- 11 Capital Ship Dashboard cards
- 56 wooden discs
- 49 wooden cubes
- 2 ten-sided dice
- 2 six-sided dice
The difference between the standard and the deluxe edition is that the standard only has one of each die, and the ships do not have the etching on the surfaces. Otherwise, the components are the same.
The ships themselves are 5mm acrylic cut into various shapes and sizes. The Imperium’s Dreadnought is enormous, about the length of my palm, while some of the other ships are shorter than my little finger. The bomber and fighter wings are each 3-part ships: the fighters are concentric rings, and the bombers are a chevron shape with small interlocking tabs.
The ship dashboards are large cards that show various locations of the ships and their functions. The graphics are functional but somewhat rudimentary. One nice touch that I enjoyed: the backs of the Imperium dashboards—seen when a ship is destroyed—simply say “Contact Lost,” but the Uprising dashboards (those plucky rebels!) have messages like “They live on in our memories” or “Gone, but not forgotten.”
The various wooden cubes and dice are pretty standard. The whole thing comes in a fairly small box: there’s no insert, but the ships and components are bagged up separately so that it’s easy to sort out what you need per ship.
How to Play FlickFleet
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The base game comes with five scenarios (including an introductory scenario), each with its own objectives, though destroying all your opponent’s ships is typically one path to victory. You can also play “free” games, where each player assembles a fleet using an agreed-upon point value and battle each other.
The game is played in a 3’x3′ area, which you’ll want to mark off somehow on the playing surface. Each scenario has its own setup: usually, enemy ships are set up along opposite edges of the playing area, though this can vary. Place one wooden cube on top of each ship.
The fighter and bomber wings do not have dashboards, but the rest of the ships will have dashboards set up outside the play area. Each one starts with white cubes on the shield spaces and colored discs where indicated. Keep the dice handy nearby.
On your turn, you choose one ship to activate, removing the wooden cube to show that it’s been activated, and then take two different actions with it. (Each ship can only activate once per round.)
You may take an action as long as the corresponding ship’s location is not damaged, which is indicated by removing the colored disc. For instance, if your engine is damaged, you can’t move that ship. Not every ship has the same set of actions; fighter and bomber wings can only move and shoot (1 die per piece remaining in the wing).
The actions are:
- Shield Generator: Refill shield cubes (1 or 2 depending on ship)
- Defence Grid: Fire d10 (1 per disc remaining)
- Nuke: Fire d6 (1 per disc remaining) — does double damage
- Fighter Bay: Launch a fighter wing
- Bomber Bay: Launch a bomber wing
- Engineering: Replace a disc that was removed
- Engines: Move your ship
Movement is pretty straightforward: you simply flick the ship to move it, though there are restrictions on which parts of the ship you’re allowed to flick. If you flick a ship outside of the play area, it is lost.
There are also options for ramming—you must declare ramming before you move, or else a collision doesn’t do any damage. When ramming, the ramming ship is always destroyed if it collides. Wings (fighters and bombers) will do 1 damage if they hit. Capital ships will remove all shield cubes and the shield generator disc from the target ship; if the target ship had no shield cubes remaining, it is destroyed instead.
To fire, you place the corresponding die on the ship that is firing and flick it from there. The first ship the die hits (friend or foe) takes the damage, as long as the die did not continue outside of the play area (in which case the shot went wild). If the target ship had shield cubes, it loses one. If it had no shield cubes, then it loses the disc according to the die value. Note that since the locations are only numbered 1–6, if the die result is 7 or higher, it does not do any additional damage. Finally, if that numbered location had no disc on it, the ship is critically damaged and is destroyed. For fighter wings and bomber wings, you remove one piece of the wing when it is hit.
Here’s a quick clip of a couple of shots with a d10:
Those are the basics! The round continues until each ship has been activated once, and then you place wooden cubes on each ship and continue with the next round.
The game ends when one player has reached their objective. In the introductory scenario, the goal is to destroy all the opponent’s ships. Other scenarios include the Uprising trying to launch freighters into space from a moon and a target practice where players need to shoot down drones (but not each other).
Why You Should Play FlickFleet
I’ve always enjoyed flicking games, even when I’m bad at them, and FlickFleet is apparently a game I’m particularly bad at! At least so far—I could definitely use some more practice.
The story in FlickFleet is about a growing rebellion, the Uprising, battling against the Imperium of Earth, which has ruled the galaxy for ten millennia. Okay, so it’s not hugely original, but it works. The two factions share several of the ship designs, but the Imperium is the only one with the massive Dreadnought (which looks a bit like a Star Destroyer from Star Wars). What sets them apart isn’t so much the differences between the ships but in the scenario setups and objectives, which use the ships in different ways.
Flying the ships is a bit different than most flicking games I’ve played, simply because you’re not just flicking discs, which are unidirectional. These ships are long, and you can only flick portions at the back, which means that turning around or changing direction gets tricky. The maneuverability is an interesting challenge to consider, particularly because you typically don’t want to present your broadside to your opponent as a target.
Firing on an opponent involves flicking a die from your ship at theirs, which also presents a number of new challenges I haven’t seen in other flicking games. First, the dice themselves don’t glide across the playing surface like a flat disc, which means you get some really wonky projectile trajectories, especially with the d10s. (It’s even possible for a d10 to roll back around and hit the firing ship!) There’s a rule that if both players agree that there’s no way you could miss, you can just roll the die to get a result and skip the flicking… but in my plays, we were never certain of a hit even when we were only a couple of inches away. The d6s (which are the more powerful nukes) roll a little more in a straight line, giving you a better chance of hitting your target.
I like that you have to be careful of friendly fire: it means you don’t just fire wildly at the opponent if your own ship is nearby. The “wild shot” rule is also intriguing: since you miss if a die rolls out of the playing area, it means that you can’t just flick hard and try to graze a ship on the way past. You really need to hit it, and then have the die stop soon after. Another implication of this rule is that hanging out on the edges of the playing area can make you harder to shoot—but you do have to be careful that you don’t fly off the edge of the world, or get knocked out.
And then there’s the damage done by the die: any die value removes a shield cube, but then once the shield cubes are gone, that’s when the real damage begins. For the d10, you only remove discs (and thus disable locations) if you roll between 1 and 6, so you only have a 60% chance of doing damage. And since you really want to hit the same location that’s already damaged, it’s a bit like having lightning strike twice. With the d6, you’re guaranteed to roll a value that does damage, so those are much more powerful—but only the Dreadnought and the bomber wings can fire them.
Many of the ships can fire multiple times for a single action (particularly when the defence grid is still undamaged), so one turn can be pretty devastating even if you have a couple of shield cubes at the beginning of the turn. The bombers and fighters fire one die per segment, so there’s an interesting balance there: as they get hit, they lose pieces and fire fewer dice, but they also become harder to hit (especially the fighters, which become a single small disc). The destroyers, the smallest of the capital ships, can fire 3 dice per round, but they also have a vulnerability: if you hit them with a 4, they’re instantly destroyed. Meanwhile, the Dreadnought is a huge target, but it also has hull cubes that absorb additional damage before it can be destroyed.
Flicking aside, the other piece of the strategy is knowing how to manage your two precious action points, and also choosing which ships to activate. The first time I played, I made the mistake of flying my Imperium carrier into battle instead of just launching all my fighters and bombers first—not only would they have provided a little shielding for my carrier, but I would have gotten to activate them during the same round, giving me more opportunities to strike at those pesky rebels! For the wings, you just have two actions, so it’s more about which order to do them: do you fire from your current position and then fly away, or do you fly closer for a better shot but then leave yourself vulnerable to attack? For the capital ships, as soon as you’re damaged, you have to decide whether it’s worth repairing your shields and other locations, or getting into a better position and returning fire. With only two actions to choose from each turn, it can be a tough decision. And I know from experience: if you fire now and hope you can make your repairs on the next round, you might not be around on the next round to do anything at all!
I’ve never been much of one for assembling fleets or armies before playing a game, so I prefer using the scenarios, but I like that FlickFleet provides the option for the free games in case you just want to have a skirmish. There are some fun thematic story elements that play out depending on the scenario you choose, and that would also be the appeal of the new scenario content in the current Kickstarter campaign.
Will FlickFleet make a believer of you if you dislike flicking games? Probably not: it still requires flicking things around, and while there is definitely luck involved with the dice values, there’s still a basic degree of skill and finesse required. However, because of the wonky way that d10s roll, I think it does level the playing field a little because of the extra bit of randomness. I found it to be some silly fun, even while trying to be serious about my strategic choices. For those who already enjoy flicking games, FlickFleet has some new features I hadn’t encountered before—they’re challenging, but engaging!
Overall, I found FlickFleet to be an entertaining mix of dexterity and tactical battles. It blends luck and skill, so it’s definitely for players who enjoy a bit of each and won’t get frustrated when their d10 veers off to the side at the last minute. If you enjoy space battles and flicking things around, this is definitely one you should check out.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the FlickFleet Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.