Flick 'em Up! review Flick ‘em Up! by Pretzel Games is a ‘bullet’-flicking dexterity game in which your posse of outlaws or law...

Flick 'em Up! review Flick 'em Up! review

Flick 'em Up! a board game review

Flick 'em Up! review

Flick 'em Up! review

Flick 'em Up! review

Flick ‘em Up! by Pretzel Games is a ‘bullet’-flicking dexterity game in which your posse of outlaws or lawmen has to out-gun the other team. It comes in a wooden box, of standard game-box-dimensions size (thank goodness) with a sliding lid to open. This is my first game to come in a wooden box and after the initial novelty wore off, I now wish the rest of my collection were in wooden boxes. They’re much easier to open and close, they’re stronger, you cant dent the corners, it cant be ripped, etc. The only disadvantage I can think of is the extra weight, which will affect shipping and production costs. However, there’s a lot more interesting wood to talk about inside the box…

The box in all its glory
Pretzel games has used thick and sturdy wood for the main game elements; the figures, scenery objects and bullets. The game also comes with 5 sheets of heavy duty 2 mm card stock that contain the rest of the game's components; buildings, tokens, and two team boxes which will need to be assembled before your first game.  Let's be honest, who doesn't enjoy punching a new game? This game was a joy to punch out as there were no rips or tears whilst punching out the cardboard. The 'gamers delight' increased even further as after the team boxes are assembled, they fit back into recesses in the main box and serve as an insert to hold game components without any extra plastic bags required.

 
Wood, glorious wood, hot lead and cacti! (just a selection from the game)
The rules are very well written and the base game, which consists of 2 opposing teams of 5 characters that carry 1 pistol and have 3 health can be taught to new players in less than 5 minutes. The first scenario uses just the base rules and each additional scenario (there are 10 provided) add additional items or figures with their own specific rules. None of these extra rules are complex and they fit the theme of the game well; for example, Scenario 6 adds a rifle token which the sheriff starts with. When the sheriff shoots the rifle a cardboard template is used that directs the bullet down a cardboard channel, supposedly increasing the accuracy of a player's shot. In my experience, usually on the receiving end, the rifle is very effective for those longer range shots.

I consider one of the best rules to be the loss of a movement action if your movement disc bumps into anything before it stops; in that case you lose that action and reset the pieces to where they were before you flicked. The opposite is true when you decide it's time to flick some bullets, if they knock over or move a cactus, or any other object it stays where it is. Bullets permanently change the environment, move attempts do not. The only time a movement disc can touch the environment is when entering a building, which is also the only way to engage in a cowboy duel - more of that later.

I endorse the designers recommendation, that new players should play the scenarios in order, otherwise the rules overhead for jumping in to Scenario 8, for example, would be excessive for what should be, and is, a very simple game. When you've played out the 10 included scenarios you'll be ready for new rules and new scenarios. Unless you're introducing new people to the game or playing with younger children I can't see wanting to play a given scenario more than twice with the same group i.e. playing on each side once. The game designers actively encourage you to make your own scenarios and this game is a great Western sandbox to explore with your children; there's nothing to stop you incorporating other toys and self-made expansions into the base set.

 
Sharp shootin' sheriff taking care of business
There are two official expansions, each with a further 5 full scenarios and 3 practice fields, which are used to introduce the expansion rules and get a bit of 'flick-time' before playing one of the full scenarios. 365 Games were kind enough to send both the Stallion Canyon and Red Rock Tomahawk expansions, each having a RRP of £32.99. Both expansions introduce half-a-dozen rules across the various scenarios to fully immerse players with cowboy-themed options that include horses - wild and tame, lassos, high shots - played with a ramp, native Americans, tomahawk weapons, bow weapons, flaming arrows and Gatling guns. Also included across the expansions are new environments: mountain, forest and canyon. Given the build-it-yourself scenarios ethos and access to the the two expansions, players' options feel limitless when designing and playing DIY scenarios.
 
 
Even more flicking goodness
The expansions unfortunately come in quite flimsy fold-flat boxes that will not survive for long. I tried fitting both expansions into the base box - I wasn't successful, primarily as the Red Rock Tomahawk expansion comes with a native American team box and a mountain environment which is a 3d box-like structure. Even more egregious, to the overly pedantic board game collector, is once assembled the expansions components do not fit back into the boxes they came in. Instead they provide a drawstring bag to store the components in. This is really only nit-picking as the core audience for this game, families and casual gamers, will probably not have the same level of board game collection needs that are so prevalent in this hobby. If anyone has managed to organise the two expansions in with the base game please let me know how in the comments below.

The game setup can be a bit of a chore. It's still quick when compared to many other games but you will be placing tokens and setting the environment up for up to 10 minutes prior to getting down to serious flicking. The more of this I've played, the more relaxed I was for how precise the setup should be for the scenario. The scenario book contains a picture of where each component should be placed but the reality is you're playing this for fun, relax a little (I'm talking to myself here) and just set it up as quick as you can. There is no room for 'rules-lawyering' in this game.

The game designers, Jean-Yves Monpertuis and GaĆ«tan Beaujannot, state that this is a 2-10 players game and I have tried nearly all player counts. It is a fantastic game and plays equally well from 2 players right up to 6 players but I have some reservations about playing with more than 6 as the time between turns for individuals would start to feel too long. Given ideal playing conditions, i.e. a large table with lots of walk room all the way round and 10 players who didn’t need any advice then I could see higher player counts working well. In all my plays, however, we were battling chairs and sometimes literally falling over each other to get the proper angle for that crucial shot.

On a player's turn they have two actions which can be one or two of: move, shoot and dropping/picking up a token. The player then chooses which of their team’s characters to move, as long as it hasn’t moved already in this turn – shown by flipping a red/blue hat token that sits atop each lawmen/outlaw meeple. There is no player attachment to a particular figure which I think prevents those inclined to be sore-losers to become such when the rifle picks them out from across the town - a boon for party games. When set up this game looks great and attracts gamers and non-gamers alike. I found people would come over intrigued and it was very easy for additional people to drop in and out. It is definitely a light-hearted and fun game and as such, missing a turn or letting someone ‘flick’ in your stead just adds to the fun.

 

The lawmen are surrounded by horse-riding natives and also being shot with flaming arrows from the mountain. It's not looking good.
Aside from not fitting back into their expansion box, I also found the bow and arrows from the Red Rock Tomahawk expansion to be very fiddly. In my copy the bow (see above picture) would rarely stay in the meeple and flicking the arrow induced arthritic contortions to do so without sending the figure or scenery on the same trajectory as the arrow. That may have been down to my good ol' sausage fingers or distinct lack of flexibility as my Son, (8 yrs old) had no problems whatsoever in raining pointy death down on my poor posse. When I was punching out the expansion material I almost threw out the horizontal piece along with the totem pole holder. Buyer beware, watch out for indistinct grey cardboard cutouts that seem to serve no purpose, they're probably part of the game ...

Dexterity games tend to induce lots of laughter and groans in equal measure, some of the loudest moments in this game are heard in the archetypal cowboy duels; included from Scenario 2. Thick western drawls and actions mimicking a high-noon stand-off were almost compulsory, adding further to the friendly and fun atmosphere this game creates. When figures from opposing teams enter the same building they will have a duel and the victor gets to flick the loser out of the building. Being able to flick the opposing teams cowboy really captured the theme of throwing them out of the swing doors of the saloon and was inordinately fun. In a normal move you replace your cowboy with a movement disc and flick the disc, replacing the disc with your cowboy wherever it stops.

 
The Good The Bad and The Ugly...note the dual-wielding lawman - two shots for one action
Although I consider myself a wannabe-grognard I will admit that I loved playing this game. It has an extra layer of rules complexity, beyond something as simple as Pitch Car or Crokinole that satisfies my appetite for rules. It is also much more fun than those games, I think because the theme comes through strongly in the pieces and in the rules, which creates your own Wyatt Earp story every time you play. I prefer competitive games and being able to shoot another player or the risk that you will be shot whilst attempting to poison the water barrel or lasso a wild stallion*, makes the game for me. I will continue to play Flick ‘em Up! as my go to party-round-a-table type of game and will happily introduce it to as many as can be persuaded of my non-gaming friends. Most of my gaming partners are already converted.

The game is available in either wood or plastic from different publishers, the Pretzel games edition (the wooden version) has an RRP of £64.99. Z-Man games publish a weighted-plastic version, reportedly it is good but I haven't seen it and can't compare it to the wooden set which is just dripping with high production value. If you want to pick up this game and support your Friendly Local Gaming Store in the UK then use this handy-dandy store locator to find your nearest retailer.

[EDIT: Since the summer school holidays have started my son has requested, not only to play this game every day but also to include the expansions as well. The Indians with their flaming arrows (in more than one sense) are his favourite posse.]

If you have any comments please leave them below.

*stallions only available as part of the Stallion Canyon expansion.

 


2 comments :

  1. Thank you for a great review. I'm quite inclined to order this game in Japan! (^_^)

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  2. I'm new to war gaming and had to lookup the meaning of "grognard". I have played the game at a friend's and it's one I would like to play again. Good review - thanks.

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