Full disclosure: A review copy of Flash 8 was provided by Le Scorpion Masqué.
I think I’ve played enough games at this point that there are definitely companies that I get consistently excited about trying a new game from. Button Shy, for instance, or Oink Games, or a variety of places. Based on my experience with Scorpion Masqué, they may be making their way onto the list sooner rather than later. Stay Cool was a blast, I had a great time with Zombie Kidz (though I didn’t review it), and Master Word looks pretty neat, as well. Naturally, when the opportunity to check out Flash 8 came along, I was pretty interested. But what did I think? Let’s find out!
In Flash 8, you’re in charge of a bustling city of electrons. They zip and zap around the board and you want to get them in the right combinations and the right spots so that they can properly do their jobs. Can you do that quickly enough, though? Time is of the essence, so you better be fast!
Two pretty different modes, so let’s cover both. For either game, you’re going to want to set up your board:
You’ll need three blues, two yellows, and one each of red, green, and purple:
Place them in your board however you want so there’s at least one space empty. If you’re playing with other people, shuffle the cards so that they’re multiplayer-side up:
Make a stack of 10 for each player in the game, but place them all in the center. Players should make sure that their boards are aligned such that they’re facing the cards from one side. It’ll make sense later. If you’ve done that, you’re ready to start!
For the solo game, flip the cards to the solo side:
Shuffle the cards and make a 3×3 grid (9 cards total) in front of you. If you reveal a fourth green, purple, or red, instead of adding it to the grid, put it on the bottom of the stack and draw a new card instead. Place the other cards nearby. Place one unused electron from the box nearby as well. Set a four-minute timer and you’re ready to go!
Yeah, the core game is pretty straightforward. Count 3, 2, 1, and then start! Your goal is to recreate the pattern on one of the visible cards as quickly as possible. Do so by using a finger to move an electron to an available spot, and repeat until you’ve got a match. Once you do, say, “Flash!”, and everyone else stops. Check to make sure your configuration is valid, and if it is, take the card and set it next to you. Play resumes immediately.
Once all the cards have been taken, tally up your scores! Each card is worth one or two points. The player with the most points wins!
The solo game is a bit more complicated. So you’re going to take that 3×3 grid, and you need to make your board match any row or any column. If you do, choose a symbol on one of those cards and cover all cards with that symbol from that row or column with new cards from the deck. To finish up, place the Reminder Token (one unused electron from the box) next to that row or column; you cannot score that row or column again until the Reminder Token is moved.
Play continues until you have either run out of time, cleared the deck, or run out of possible valid configurations. Once you have, count the cards left in the deck and check the rulebook to see how you did!
Player Count Differences
Depending on how fast you are, your scoring threshold can go way up since there are more stacks in play when more players are in play. This is great if you’re, again, the quickest mover in the game. If you assume all players play at approximately the same speed, then, sure, the number of cards in play scale linearly with the number of players. Beyond that, everyone’s basically playing entirely distinct games, but they can occasionally steal cards that the other players want, so, there’s a bit of interaction but not much. Having more cards available can be fun, though, so, while I definitely have a blast at two players, I will say that there’s a lot more going on at higher player counts.
The solo game is entirely different! Just a completely different game. Lots of fun, but fairly challenging!
- You generally need to learn some common patterns. Specifically common movement patterns; how do you swap the location of two pieces? How do you clear the middle? These are generally useful things to be able to do fairly quickly so that you can manipulate your board into the state that it needs to be in so that you can score.
- Try to see what your opponents are going for. It may not be worth cutting them off if they’re close to getting it, but it might be worth avoiding the thing they’re going for so that you don’t waste your time. I’d recommend playing that part by ear; it’s not always one thing or the other.
- Remember that rotations aren’t considered valid. Common error from players in this game: they think that, like many other games, they can rotate or mirror their boards as needed to get the point. You cannot. Keep that in mind and that’ll save you at least one heartbreak during the game.
- Keep in mind what’s on all available cards; it may be worth going for the “easiest” card (the card that requires the fewest edits from your starting orientation). That’s what I generally go for. In Computer Science, they refer to the amount of changes required to get you to a target as “edit distance”, so, going after cards with the lowest edit distance from your card may be ideal. Sometimes it’s worth going after the most valuable card, though, specifically because few players may find it worth their time to score.
- If you’re having trouble keeping track of what’s on multiple cards, try draining the piles one by one so that there are fewer piles in play to track. It’s a useful way to shrink the decision space that you have to deal with, but it does mean you’re kind of stuck with everything in that pile.
- In the solo game, try to go for patterns that have a lot of the same symbol. This will help you clear the board more quickly, but it may waste more of your limited time if you try to overoptimize, so be careful!
- Also, don’t let too many of the unique electrons (red / green / purple) pile up. This is very much how you lose; getting too many uniques on your board can stack up so that you can’t get any lines working. That can get you stuck, and when you’re stuck, you’re done.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- It’s just one of those old-timey puzzles, but as a quick game. That makes it really appealing to a lot of people who like that sort of thing. And, I think that it’s cool that they adapted it to a competitive board game! I like seeing that kind of thing happen. I wonder if there are other titles that could work in the same fashion? Would be cool to see that peg game that everyone played at Cracker Barrel moved up in some way.
- I really like that the number of piles scales with player count. It helps give players different things to focus on, which is good! It makes the game only slightly competitive and it makes it harder to track who is doing what. Also provides a nice tension for players: should you go after the cheapest possible cards, or should you try for the most valuable ones?
- This game is extremely easy to teach. I think the nice thing about Flash 8 is that at least within the cultural sphere of the US, I think everyone I know intuitively knows how to play this game. That makes the teaching part of the game go by relatively quickly.
- The solo game is very clever! And hard. I would definitely not say I’m good at it, but it’s a very good way to learn the game system if you’ve never played a game like this before.
- Very portable, as well, though it would be nice if the electrons locked in a bit better. I think making the electrons slightly heavier would go a long way towards achieving that goal.
- I like the art style! It’s very fun and colorful. It’s essentially the electron equivalent of Osmosis Jones; it’s a tiny and brightly-colored city. I’m very into it. It makes the game feel upbeat and exciting.
- I’m going to spend the rest of my life wondering if I got the stickers for the electrons on correctly. I can think of at least a few cases in which, specifically, I did not. And those deeply trouble me. They probably will forever, and I’m just making peace with that. So, that’s healthy.
- There should be some kind of penalty for calling “Flash” when you don’t have a valid configuration. At least something to disincentivize players playing hastily. It can really throw you off your rhythm when someone yells “Flash”, so it seems only fair to compensate you for the inconvenience.
- These skill-based games can often lead to bummed out players getting devastated by extremely experienced players. I think that’s the case for a lot of speed games, but, it’s worth noting.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, I think Flash 8 is a lot of fun! It’s exactly my kind of game, which helps: similar to 5er Finden, it’s a quick game of pattern recognition with some solid real-time play. What I think it does particularly well is that it takes a fairly classic game and creates a fun, novel board game experience around it, even at one player. I think that the solo game is particularly innovative and interesting, which isn’t something I say often about games that support more than one player. Maybe it’s the pandemic. Who knows. The problem I have with these games is similar to Zogen and Anomia: while I love them, nobody will play with me anymore because the skill barrier is a real thing when you’re trying to teach this game to new players. Though, for this particular title, that problem is lessened slightly by having a robust solo mode. Who needs friends? I do wish there were a bit better guard rails for the multiplayer game, though; I’ve had situations where another player calls “Flash” incorrectly and throws me off, and there’s nothing really stopping them from doing it maliciously other than the sort of basic expectation of civility. I guess that’s true for most games, though? Either way, I think this is a great title if you’re looking for something quick and colorful, and if that sounds up your alley or you are looking for an interesting solo title, I’d definitely recommend taking Flash 8 for a spin!