Everyone with a soul loves dexterity games. Maybe it’s their inherent lightness, the way they push the most diehard rule-memorizing gamers off their pedestal and onto a level playing field with the rest of us. Or maybe it’s just the fact that everyone likes flicking things around a table and trying to cause as much damage as possible, from smacking quarters into other kids’ knuckles in the cafeteria to games like Catacombs, Ascending Empires, Rampage, and Disc Duelers letting us vent a little of our carefully suppressed anger.
Well, today we’re looking at another dexterity game, and like the best of them, it’s going to let you smack the hell out of anyone who stands in your way.
The basics of Flick Wars are roughly the same as those found in every dexterity game, so I won’t waste too much space covering what they are. In essence, you have some discs, and you flick those discs into enemy discs. To kill them, of course. What did you think your guys were doing — delivering flowers? Nope, they’re killing folks. Murdering them dead.
What sets Flick Wars apart is that you can’t just blast stuff across the table with immaculately-measured long-range shots. Sure, the ability to set up a position at range will come in handy, but unlike Catacombs or Ascending Empires or Rampage, your warrior/spaceship/kaiju can’t just charge across the dungeon/void/city and land a kill. Rather, this is the sort of dexterity game that rewards careful shots more than giving your soldiers whiplash with each and every move. Why? Because hitting an enemy disc without first getting your own disc in range doesn’t actually hurt them. And since a unit’s “range” is usually an inch or two, it’s best to gently slide them up next to your enemy and then declare the attack that will blast their brains out. And if your careful setup shot didn’t get you close enough, run away or flick your guy behind an obstacle so the enemy can’t take advantage of your proximity on their next turn.
In making Flick Wars more about careful slides than gargantuan feats of flickery, it becomes a somewhat more deliberate game, full of pushes and withdrawals. Which isn’t to say it’s too deliberate. The whole thing takes maybe fifteen minutes to play, after all.
Okay, so slide to get into range, then attack. Straightforward enough, right? Not quite — there are a few other things to keep in mind, all of which ramp up the required amount of tactical thinking considerably.
First of all, each unit is unique, or at least unique-ish. The basic units are fairly boring, very samey between each of the game’s four factions, but adding in the much more interesting advanced units lets you determine the composition of your forces. Suddenly, rather than each side having slight variations of the same infantry-tank-air theme, each faction is doing their own thing. The middle-of-the-road yellow team, for example, gets “blink” units, which allow you to pay resources (which I’ll talk about more in a moment) to jump their units across the board into range of friendly troops, giving them unprecedented mobility. The purple Zerg-ish team not only swarms their enemies with slightly weaker units, they’ve also got specialized troops like the flying Fire Breather, who’s great against ground forces but can’t hit other flying units at all. The red team fields the game’s most powerful tank, complete with massive range and shields that absorb the first hit, while the blue team has lots of airborne troops that stay off the board until they’re deployed from above. For such a simple game, there’s lots of variety.
And that variety manifests in different ways. I’ve mentioned the more flashy abilities, but little things matter too — infantry with the “melee” ability make a second flick so long as their first one didn’t hit an enemy unit, so they can make a positioning move and then attack; while other units with the “hit and run” ability can move after they’ve killed someone, letting them hide from counterattacks. There’s more to consider than first meets the eye.
Second, dead bodies stay on the table as obstructions. Hide behind them, then murder your enemies when they come around the sides. Awesome. Every game that features killing should make the heaped corpses of your enemies matter. And most train games should too. Somehow.
Third, though the most tempting option is always to activate one of your units, smart commanders will quickly realize that they have to divide their time between attacking, positioning, and deploying. Losing all your units makes you lose instantly, whether or not you have resources left over to buy more troops, so it’s not uncommon to find yourself in trouble when you realize you have one unit in a great offensive position — but that’s your only unit. Should you push your luck and hope they don’t kill your last guy on their next turn, or deploy another troop or two back home as a safeguard? Or deploy a troop and withdraw your main soldier? Or just retreat?
Best of all, Flick Wars is an incredibly simple and compact game, and only takes a few minutes to play. It has enough depth and options to appeal to adults, but it’s also easy enough that kids should be able to play. So long as they aren’t so young as to think the discs are edible, anyway.
Flick Wars is on Kickstarter right now, and there’s a good chance it won’t fund. That would be a shame, because this tiny dexterity game caught me by surprise. Check it out.