#257 – FlickFleet [Preview]

Box

Base price: £27.
2 players.
Play time: 10 – 20 minutes, depending on scenario. No more than 60.
BGG Link
C
heck it out on Kickstarter! (Will update link when Kickstarter is live.)
Logged plays: 8 

Full disclosure: A preview copy of FlickFleet was provided by Eurydice Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game. 

Heyo, I’m back on the Kickstarter train again after a bit of a break for Gen Con and such. I think most of what I’ve done in the meantime have been Gen Con releases and assorted other games, which is nice and all, but you know, you need to review a few Kickstarters every now and then to stay regular. To that end, let’s check out FlickFleet, from Eurydice Games.

In FlickFleet, you’ve gotten yourself into the classic science-fiction conflict — you’ve got the Uprising against the Imperium of Earth, as one does. Naturally, the only way to settle this is with some pretty aggressive space battles across a variety of scenarios. Grab some dice, some ships, and get set — can you eliminate your opponents before they take you down?

Contents

Setup

So, for setup, I’m not gonna go through the setup for each scenario, but I would love to see the scenarios you invent, since the game’s pretty flexible. The game includes various scenarios, each with their own specific setups. The easiest way to set the game up is to ignore all of those and do a Free Play scenario, instead.

 

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In such a scenario, players would take ships in their color (red for Uprising, grey for Imperium) according to a set point value decided in advance (the game recommends 30 – 40 for your first game; I generally agree).

  • Fighter Wing: 5 points
  • Bomber Wing: 8 points
  • Destroyer: 10 points
  • Carrier (+ 1 Bomber / 2 Fighters): 25 points
  • Dreadnought (+ 2 Fighters): 35 points

Place them on a table space (3′ x 3′), along with their reference cards outside that playing area but still nearby.

There are also a variety of pieces and parts that go with each ship; just add those accordingly. They’ll be in the bag.

Also keep the Defense Grid / Nuke dice handy:

Laser and Nuke Dice

Choose a start player (the player with the most ships; Uprising if tied) and have them each place one ship at a time 2″ away from the edge of the playing surface. Once you’ve placed the ships, you’re probably ready to start!

Setup

Gameplay

Gameplay 1

So, over the course of a game, you’re going to have many different actions. Keep a purple cube on each of your ships.

Each round will consist of both players activating a ship and using up to two of its abilities. Generally, the first player to activate is the Uprising player; in subsequent rounds, the player who activated most recently will go second. Generally that means that you alternate turns, but if you run out of ships to activate, your opponent gets to activate all of their ships before you both refresh, so they’d then go second after that. Once both players have activated all of their ships, put the purple cubes back on any remaining ships and start fresh.

Generically, you’ll be able to Move and Attack from most ships, so let’s talk about that.

Move Action

To move, flick your ship at the indicated point (I’ll explain where those are with each of the ships further down, but it’s also highlighted on their sheets, if available). If you send your ship off the edge of the play space, it’s removed from play and your turn ends. You essentially just defected and left your station, so, you’ll be lucky if they let you back in at all. That ship cannot be used again.

You can declare a Ramming action against one of the Capital Ships (not a Fighter or Bomber Wing), and you must declare before flicking if you want to be successful. If you do that, just kinda smack the ships together. The ship you used is immediately removed from play. If you knock the other ship out of the play area, return it 2″ from the edge near where it left and let the owner choose its direction. That said, no need to overdo it. When you ram, the outcome depends on your ship:

  • If you’re flying a Fighter Wing or Bomber Wing, they deal one damage to a location on your opponent’s ship of your choice. If the opponent’s ship still has shield cubes, remove one shield cube instead.
  • If you’re flying a Capital Ship (Destroyer / Carrier / Dreadnought), you destroy the target ship unless it had shield cubes. If it had shield cubes, you remove all shield cubes and the disc from the ship’s Shield Generator.

Note that if you fail to declare a ramming attack or you hit the wrong ship, nothing happens — they simply take evasive maneuvers and your turn immediately ends.

Combat Actions

Gameplay 2

For combat, you may attack ships provided you have discs on your Defense Grid (firing D10s) or Nukes (firing D6s). For Fighter / Bomber Wings, the number of pieces remaining in the unit determines how they fire.

If you are close enough together that missing is impossible, you may opt to skip firing the die and just roll it for its number, if needed. Otherwise, place the die anywhere on top of the attacking ship and flick it towards its target. Your die damages the first ship it hits, even if that ship belongs to you. You should probably not do that, by the way. The only exception is if it leaves the play area before it stops rolling; that’s a wild shot and it doesn’t count.

When you hit a ship, it’s damaged. For Wing Units, remove one piece for each damage inflicted. If you remove the last piece, remove it from the board. Both Fighter Wings and Bomber Wings have three units, so they can take three hits. For Capital Ships, you first always remove shield cubes (white). If there are no shield cubes remaining, check the number on the die:

  • 0 / 7 / 8 / 9: The ship’s armor absorbs the hit. No further damage is taken and nothing happens.
  • 1 – 6: 
    • If there are one or more discs on the corresponding location on the ship, remove one disc.
    • If there are no more discs, remove a grey hull cube, if the ship has one (only the Dreadnought has hull cubes).
    • If there are no more discs and no more hull cubes, the ship is destroyed. Remove the ship from play and flip its dashboard face-down.

Generally, D10s are lasers, which are fun but not always effective, and D6s are nuclear missiles, which are much stronger. When you use a D6, inflict two points of damage to that location. This also means you’d remove two ranks from a wing.

Moving and Combat are not your only abilities, though. To better understand what your actions are, let’s look at each ship.

Ship Types and Abilities

Fighter Wings

Fighter Wing is a pretty small ship that’s good at lasers, basically. Actions include:

  • Move: Flick the ring basically anywhere to move the set of rings that comprise your Fighter Wing.
  • Attack: Place the D10 on the Fighter Wing unit. Flick it towards any ship once per ring remaining in the Fighter Wing.

Bomber Wings

Bomber Wing is a pretty small ship that’s good at nukes, and that’s it. Actions include:

  • Move: Flick the back of the Bomber Wing unit to move it forward. I assume in the final version it will be cut a bit tighter, but if it comes apart when you flick it just kinda choose to reassemble it from the top or bottom; your call.
  • Attack: Place the D6 on the Bomber Wing unit. Flick it towards any ship once per level remaining in the Bomber Wing.

Destroyer

A Destroyer is a fairly standard-issue ship with 2 shield cubes. Both sides have them due to what I can only assume is war profiteering. Actions include:

  • Move: Flick the back of the Destroyer unit to move it forward, or the bottom-sides.

Locations include:

  • 1 / 2 / 3: Defense Grid. While this location is active, you may spend an action to fire one D10 for every disc on this location.
  • 4: Weak Point. If your opponent rolls a 4 when they attack the Destroyer and its shield is down, it’s destroyed. Tough luck; probably should have paid your engineers more.
  • 5: Shield Generator. While this location is active, you may spend an action to add 1 white shield cube back to your ship’s dashboard.
  • 6: Engine. You may only perform a Move action while this location is active.
  • No number: Engineering. You may spend an action to return 1 disc to any location that has been damaged.

Carriers

Carrier is a … carrier. The real ships were inside it, all along. The Carrier has 2 shield cubes. Actions include:

  • Move: Flick the back of the Carrier to move it forward; you can also flick the straight vertical sides near the back if you want to provide some spin.

Locations include:

  • 1: Defense Grid. While this location is active, you may spend an action to fire one D10 for every disc on this location. That’s just one, by the way.
  • 2 / 3: Fighter Bay. While this location is active, you may spend an action to deploy one of your remaining Fighter Wings (you have two, total).
  • 4: Bomber Bay. While this location is active, you may spend an action to deploy one of your remaining Bomber Wings (you have one).
  • 5: Shield Generator. While this location is active, you may spend an action to add 1 white shield cube back to your ship’s dashboard.
  • 6: Engine. You may only perform a Move action while this location is active.
  • No number: Engineering. You may spend an action to return 1 disc to any location that has been damaged.

Dreadnought

Dreadnought is uh, Imperium-only. Good luck, rebels. The Dreadnought has 4 shield cubes and 3 hull cubes. Actions include:

  • Move: Flick the back of the Dreadnought to move it forward; you’ll note that this requires a bit more force than the others. You may also flick the slightly-diagonal areas along the back, near the engines.

Locations include:

  • 1: Nukes. While this location is active, you may spend an action to fire one D6 for every disc on this location. That’s also just one, but it’s strong.
  • 2 / 3:Defense Grid. While this location is active, you may spend an action to fire one D10 for every disc on this location.
  • 4:Fighter Bay. While this location is active, you may spend an action to deploy one of your remaining Fighter Wings (you have two).
  • 5: Shield Generator. While this location is active, you may spend an action to add 2 white shield cubes back to your ship’s dashboard.
  • 6: Engine. You may only perform a Move action while this location is active.
  • No number: Engineering. You may spend an action to return 1 disc to any location that has been damaged or add a hull cube back that’s been removed.

Gameplay 3

Game End

Anyways, play continues until you satisfy the condition for the scenario (or, in the case of Free Play, one player eliminates the opponent). That’s pretty rad. When that happens, the player who completed their objective (or died the least) wins!

Player Count Differences

None, two-player. Though you may be nice and have players basically manage space fleets as teams, if you want. It’s still a two-player game, just with a committee. Can’t practically recommend but I understand that that might be the reality of how some people get this to the table. Live your truth.

Strategy

  • Deal with Bombers first. Bombers can do a ton of damage, if they’re active and ready to roll. If you’ve got bombers, get them out there and firing nukes. If you see bombers, take them out! They’re fairly wide targets, so that helps a lot. You do not want to get hit with more than one nuke, unless you hate the ship in particular getting attacked.
  • Weigh your options. I find that it’s usually better to weaken ships instead of eliminating them together in most circumstances, but this might open you up to a ship attempting to ram yours (which is bad). Just don’t waste your nukes, is all I’m saying.
  • Don’t get too aggressive. You don’t want to slam tokens off the board in a wild shot; this isn’t Dino Dunk. Be precise with your flicks so that you keep your shots on-target.
  • Fighters are nice and annoying. They’re kinda big, very mobile, and can usually get three shots off. Use lasers to take down the shields, since they’re kind of unreliable against the actual ship itself.
  • Remember that you’re as close to them as they are to you. If you close the gap to make your shot easier, you’ve now made it easier for them to hit you. It’s essentially Reverse Space Chicken.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Fun theme. Who doesn’t like space battles? I imagine you could also have done this as a nautical-themed game with boats, though then shields wouldn’t have made as much sense.
  • I like the scenario content. I haven’t shared it with you all because it’s essentially flavor text and additional setups, but I’ve played several of the scenarios and they’re quite good. Plus, it’s easy to take the content that’s part of those scenarios and weave it into a story to bolster your Starfinder campaign or make your own story sequence, which I like. There’s some potential for emergent narratives and that’s neat.
  • The pieces are pretty slick. I’m not going to comment too much on this either since it’s a preview, but they’re satisfying to flick.
  • I mean, you know me; I love dexterity games. They’re goofy and excellent and you can spin a ship off into space and just spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and it’s gone.
  • The mechanical parts of the game are also satisfying. Having these grand space battles is cool, but the actual tracking of how ships are hit and the abstractions around shielding and various systems gives the game a very FTL-sort-of-feel that I haven’t seen in a while. Actually, to that end, you probably could implement an FTL-style campaign in this, especially if you were willing to like, set up timers between attacks and such. Make it sort of an Active Time Battle kinda system. I’d be into that, a lot. Either way, it’s a very interesting concept for a game since it’s a tiny bit complex but the mechanisms themselves are fairly simple. I think there are a lot of ways to expand!
  • Yeah, like I said, there’s a ton of expansion potential, here. More ships, more weapon types (imagine flicking a D4 or something), more scenarios; the sky is kind of the limit for these and I’m pretty excited to see what they come up with.

Mehs

  • Real-space games are generally pretty space-intensive (I think pun intended?). It’s part of the difficulty I had with Turbo Drift, Mars Open, and Getaway Driver, so you’ll really need to make space for this game if you want to play it the way it’s intended to be played. Just make sure you’ve got that.
  • Some of the rules need a bit of house-ruling. We weren’t quite sure what to do if the die “hopped” over a ship, so we’ve been counting that as a miss, for instance. (That said, after talking to the designer, that’s actually a hit, so, you know.) With a lot of these dexterity games, you need to plan for weird outcomes and understand what to do. It’s not really the fault of the game as much as it is the nature of dexterity games to be impossible to plan for every outcome.
  • The scenarios are pretty delicately balanced (which is good!), which makes some mistakes difficult to recover from. If you accidentally remove one of your ships from play by flicking it off the table (especially a good one), in my experience you might as well concede. Thankfully, the rounds are pretty short, though, so hopefully you can get ’em next time.

Cons

  • There can often be “stalemate” points where you cannot win (or winning is very unlikely) but you can drag the game out a bit. I think there are fixes for that, sure, but the problem does exist. One proposal I’d suggest is just adding more ships every few rounds in a “reinforcements arrive for both sides!”-sort-of-way. Adding a couple more Fighter Wings or Destroyers might be an interesting way to spice it up but otherwise, yeah, it can occasionally hit that point (due to Shield Generators combined with players being Kind of Bad At Dexterity Games).

Overall: 8.25 / 10

In Progress

Overall, FlickFleet is pretty super! Like I said, I’m a big fan of what I’ve already gotten to see, here, sure, but I’m also a big fan of the game’s potential. I can see so many possibilities for a simple, light space fighting game to be appealing to a lot of players, and I think the components here are simple and digestible enough for that to be workable. That’s actually the one disappointment about it being on Kickstarter — I want to see what people come up with now. Do you buy a few sets and host epic space battles that would put TI4 to shame? Do you instead focus on the narrative and use the ships as “AI-controlled opponents” fighting against you on your journey? Do you just kinda flick dice at each other because well, that’s what you do? Sky’s the limit with FlickFleet, and I think given the space theme, it’s not terribly surprising that this cool little dexterity game has managed to push even beyond that.


If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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