Designers: Jackson Pope and Paul Willcox, 2018
Publisher: Eurydice Games
2 players, 15-35mins
Reviewed by Alex Bardy
Disclaimer: FlickFleet is currently on Kickstarter, and I am a gaming friend of one of the designers (Paul). If you’re interested, you can back it here: FlickFleet Kickstarter page. Any photos included here are of the prototype and/or pre-production version and taken from the BGG entry: FlickFleet on BGG. Eric Yurko photos are used with his permission under Creative Commons Licensing Terms found here: CCL
I have been very fortunate to get several opportunities to play this dexterity-based space combat game – the first when the designers popped down to BM York for an all-day open demo session, and various times since – most notably when I went to Le Pas Opton (see 5-day report starting from here: LPO Day 1: A rocky start…) and shared a chalet with Paul, one of the designers, and a friend.
FlickFleet is a dexterity-based space combat game in which you take on the role of the commander of the mighty forces of the totalitarian Imperium or the ramshackle roughshod leader of a resistance group called The Uprising – either way you’ll get a tidy number of thick, chunky acrylic ships to play with, and depending on the scenario you concoct, a number of ‘dashboards’ for each of your larger ships.
I should add that because of the nature of this game, these acrylic ships are hard-wearing and durable — they have to be because you’ll be flicking these chunks of plastic all over the shop and they’ll inevitably fly off the table quite a lot, especially when you’re first starting out.
So how does the game itself work? Well, you just need to pick a scenario, gather your forces, and go at it…
There are two distinct types of ship: straight-up bombers and fighters (which are 3-part ships represented by interlocking arrow-shaped wedges and interlocking concentric rings respectively — and yes, they do break up into smaller parts, but I’ll get to that) and what are considered ‘capital ships’ that represent the Destroyers and Carriers each side have access to. The Imperium also has the rather mighty Dreadnought-class ship which is a HUGE chunky-looking thing that’s also an absolute bugger to take down, but very satisfying if you can do so.
Bombers and Fighters represent your regular ships, and don’t have dashboards. Instead, they have three parts, each of which represents a potential shot — Bombers have ‘nukes’ which are represented by flicking physical 1d6 dice at your opponent’s ships, while Fighters have ‘lasers’ which are represented by flicking physical 1d10 dice at them. To hit your opponent, you need to physically hit their ships with the flicked die, and the number showing tells you which part of the ship you’ve hit, and usually the lower the better, so you should be able to tell straight away that Bombers are instantly more dangerous than Fighters, and thus well worth targeting first if you can. On the flip-side, they’re also well worth defending, too!
Bombers and Fighters don’t have numbered parts, however, so if you hit one of these with your dice, that ship (or Wing) instantly takes damage, and bits of the ships will break off, making them harder to hit, but also reducing the no. of shots they’re subsequently allowed…
Hopefully you can already see some of the smart design that’s already gone into this, but it gets better with the capital ships, ‘cos these actually have dashboards, defences, and other bits that need destroying.
Each type of capital ship will have some basic shield defences (represented by white cubes), while the larger Dreadnought class has double the shields and some grey ‘hull integrity’ cubes, making them doubly hard to destroy.
You’ll also note that each dashboard has coloured discs and numbered dice representing different parts of the ship, and you guessed it, if you hit them with the dice showing those numbers, they’re damaged: hit the Engines and a ship can’t move (or be flicked if you prefer); hit the Shield Generators and the ship can’t repair shields; hit the Fighter or Bomber bays and the ship can’t launch those units; hit the Defence Grid and the ship can’t fire, etc. It’s all very intuitive, and although you cannot directly damage Engineering (which allows players to fix ONE thing on their dashboard per turn), you do destroy the ship completely if you hit the same spot twice. Again, the smart and intuitive design shines through, and is very welcome in a game of this sort, allowing you to concentrate more on the fun stuff than having to worry too much about any complicated admin.
Playing the game is just as smooth and hassle-free, and the tension really mounts when one or both players have a ship that’s hanging on by a thread… This really is stirring stuff!
The first few scenarios I played with the designers were the introductory small skirmish ones between an Imperium Carrier (with a couple of Fighters and a Bomber yet to be launched from it) and the Uprising represented by a couple of Destroyers and a Fighter wing. Needless to say, I lost several times irrespective of whether I played as the Imperium or the Uprising, and the games themselves barely lasted 10 mins or so (usually because my ships would fly off the table and get instantly destroyed or ‘lost in space’), although I was clearly making progress when I took one of the battles right to the end with my final Destroyer hanging on against a 2-part Fighter, a 1-part Bomber and a dying Carrier. Then I challenged Paul to a titanic points battle, with each of us taking a Carrier, a couple of Destroyers each (and Bombers and Fighters), and going at it with a straight-on battle – and this time Paul messed up by launching one of his Destroyers straight onto the floor, followed shortly by one of his Fighters too… The win was within my grasp, but my hits were all missing his ship’s important bits and he was able to repair stuff and mount a sturdy comeback for the win, but it truly felt like a massive space battle had just occurred on that table!
I’ve also played one of the novelty scenarios in which players have to negotiate around a neutron star which sucks the ships in towards it after each turn is played out (behaving a bit like a black hole). I really liked this, and the added complexity with the need to stay away from the centre of the table and flick away from it made for an increasingly fun and strategic challenge — you only get two actions per ship per turn, and if one of them is movement away from the centre of the board, your options and chances to shoot become increasingly limited, especially if your Engines get hit and you need to spend a turn repairing them – provided you’re not sucked into the neutron star first, of course!
While at LPO, I also concocted another scenario in which each side played on either side of an asteroid field initially (you can use anything to represent the rubble of the asteroid field, but I used bunnies from my Bunny Kingdom game!), the objective being to break through the field and get at your opponents by firing holes through the asteroid field initially — you can read more about that scenario here: LPO Day 4: Well, actually…
In summary, I really do like this game — it plays well, it’s a lot of fun, and it doesn’t take too long or need much in the way of time or space to set up and get things going. If I have a niggle (and it’s a minor one), I’d advise that you develop a good way of identifying which of your ship dashboards correspond to which of your ships on the table if you’re staging a bigger battle involving multiple Destroyers, but otherwise I’m struggling to find fault with this — it’s a genuinely fun, dynamic experience, and not only is every battle bound to be different by the very nature of the game, but the amount of scenarios you could conceivably concoct with the pieces supplied (22 ships in total) is truly limited only by your imagination (and table size!)
If you’re interested in finding out more and would like to support Jack and Paul in their first Kickstarter venture, you can back the project and get a copy for just £27 (+ £4 postage) here: FlickFleet Kickstarter.