Slide your electrons into place before your opponents in Flash 8!
Flash 8 is a real-time puzzle game for 1 to 4 players, ages 7 and up, and takes about 15 minutes to play. It retails for $24.99 and is available for purchase in stores and online. The game is based on sliding-tile puzzles, so if your kid is old enough to play with one of those, they can learn this game, too.
Flash 8 was designed by Joan Dufour and published by Scorpion Masque (distributed by Iello in the US), with illustrations by Sabrina Miramon and graphic design by Sébastien Bizos.
Here’s what comes in the box:
The electron discs are clear plastic discs with some ridges on one side and a lip around the edge of the other side. You’ll have to sticker them up yourself before you play, so that each one shows an electron. There are 5 types of electrons, which can be distinguished by both color and shape.
The player boards are dual-layered, with a cutout square sized to hold a 3×3 grid of the discs. Placing 8 discs into the player board allows you to slide the discs around easily. The board itself is made to look like a top-down view of a city that has a few fun sci-fi and gaming references, like an Atari-style joystick and a TRON-esque lightcycle. Admire the board before you start playing, because once the game starts, you won’t have time!
The cards themselves are large square cards, showing a simplified version of the player grids, and with an arrangement of anywhere from 3 to 6 electrons. The back of each card shows one electron inside a shape—these are used in the solo game mode. One thing I noticed about the cards is that the electrons aren’t all oriented the same way, which is nice, because that helps to reinforce that there isn’t a “right-side-up” for these cards.
Everything fits nicely into the plastic insert: the cards go underneath the boards, and there are four wells for the discs.
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to score the most points by matching electron configurations on the cards.
Give each player a board and a set of 8 electrons (3 blue, 2 yellow, and 1 each of red, purple, green), placed in the board in a random configuration. Shuffle the deck of cards and make a stack of 10 cards per player, face-up in the center of the playing area.
(Note: for slower players, you can remove 1 blue electron to make it a little easier.)
When everyone is ready, give a signal and everyone plays simultaneously.
You must slide your electrons around on your board so that they match the arrangements shown on any of the cards. Note that you must match the configuration so that it matches the orientation you’re facing, and you’re not allowed to rotate your board.
When you get a match, you say “Flash!” Everyone pauses to confirm that your board matches the card—if so, then you take the card and add it to your own scoring pile, revealing the next card in the stack. Then play continues.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
The game ends when all of the cards have been claimed. Add up your score: most cards are worth 1 point, but some have a gold corner with 2 stars—those are worth 2 points.
The highest score wins. (There’s no tie-breaker rule.)
The solo game is slightly different and uses the back side of the cards, which show one electron each inside a shape.
You lay out a 3×3 grid of cards, and keep the rest in a reserve stack. You’ll also need one extra electron disc as a reminder token. Your goal is to get rid of as many reserve cards as possible in 4 minutes.
Start the timer, and then try to make a match with one column or row. When you do, place the reminder token next to that column or row—your next match cannot be the same one.
When you make a match, you then choose a shape in that row, and replace all of the cards in the row with that shape. For instance, in the match above, I could either replace both circles or the X, using cards from the reserve.
When time runs out, count the number of cards left in your reserve and compare it to the scoring chart—the lower the number, the better your score. The scoring cards let you write down your scores.
Flash 8 is essentially a gamification of the classic sliding-tile puzzle I’ve been playing with since I was a kid. Whether it was a 4×4 or 3×3 grid, numbers or a picture, a cheap plastic toy or an app on my phone, it’s a puzzle that has staying power despite its simple concept. And despite the fact that I’ve been playing with these puzzles for a few decades, I still hit those points where I just can’t figure out how to get these two tiles to swap places already.
Flash 8 mixes it up a bit by giving you a portion of the puzzle that you need to solve: you don’t have to get all 8 tiles (or discs, in this case) into a specific configuration, just a fraction of them. You get 1 point for the cards that show 3 or 4 electrons, and 2 points for the cards that show 5 or 6 electrons. It does make the puzzles easier to solve than if you had to complete the whole square, but because it’s a race against the other players, that adds a different type of pressure.
Since the electrons are removable discs, they slide very easily and you don’t run into the issue where things stick, like what would happen with the cheaper toy versions. The dual-layered player board does a pretty good job of keeping the electrons contained, though if you get a little too enthusiastic with the sliding, it’s possible for discs to go flying. For the most part, though, the system works as designed.
The solo mode adds another twist: you only ever have to match 3 elements at a time, but there is a bit of strategy involved in choosing which row or column. Since the cards are randomized, it’s possible to have a row or column that is impossible to solve—like if it has two green electrons, for instance. So you have to pick rows that you can solve, and then decide which cards to cover up. Generally, since you want to use up as many reserve cards as possible, you want to cover up whichever shape appears the most, but it may also be worth covering up a particular color if it’s making other rows or columns impossible. Meanwhile, you’re doing all of this under time pressure, so you have to think and act quickly.
If you like puzzles (and racing to solve them), Flash 8 is a nice, light game that can work for a range of players both old and young. It does require manual dexterity, so it would be harder to play for anyone who has difficulties with mobility in their hands. If you can’t stand sliding-tile puzzles, I’m not sure Flash 8 would change your mind, though the fact that you’re only solving a portion of the puzzle at once may make it a little less frustrating.
It’s rare that I find a game that all three of my kids enjoy, because they have different tastes, but for whatever reason Flash 8 clicked with all of them. My two older kids are a pretty good match for me, so the three of us can play against each other and it feels like a good, competitive game. We let my youngest play with the handicap rule to remove one blue electron, and then she can keep up, too. It turns out all of us like the sliding-tile puzzles, and Flash 8 is a clever way to implement it.
For more information, visit the Flash 8 page on the Scorpion Masque website.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.
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