Flick ’em up has always been a game of interest to me. I knew that there were several ways to set the game up and it was quite literally a beer and pretzel game (made by Pretzel Games originally) so is an ideal party game. But the thing which always put me off was the hefty price tag. I completely understand why it was so pricey since all of the components were made of wood including the box that everything was kept in so production costs must have been pretty high, and with good quality tends to come the price to match.
Imagine my delight when I found out that Z Man (who also own Pretzel Games) have since released a plastic version of Flick ’em Up! A Flick ’em Up I can afford at long last!
For those of you that may not know, Flick ’em up is a Wild West themed game in which you have different objectives varying in setup and play from killing 3 of the other team to having stashes of gold in certain places and also saving someone’s daughter from kidnapping. There are 10 scenarios which come with the base game and they have released a couple of (wooden) expansions for more variety.
The Good, The Bad, and the insanely neat!
I read somewhere once that every person has a small amount of autism, be it not being able to have the curtains open even a fraction at night (yes, that’s me) or feeling the compulsion to eat a bag of crisps in size order making sure that the broken ones are eaten first, we all have something quirky. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box for Flick ’em up and saw this:
Whilst I’m generally not a neat freak, this borderline obsessive organisation struck a chord with me on some level. There are some board games which are a nightmare to try and keep organised (Roll for the galaxy and Escape I’m looking at you) but there is no way that you can’t keep Flick ’em up all nice and neat all of the time. Admittedly, since I have now punched out all of the tokens, the buildings sit on top of this insert, but I think this is a miracle of modern organisation and I had to acknowledge the amount of time and effort which someone would have put in to make it look this neat. Mind you, because of the kind of guy I am, if it was someone else’s copy I think that I’d have to move all of the components around inside just to mess with them… come on, you know you would too!
Got Wood? Errr not this time.
The components are exceptionally well cast and there’s not a blemish in sight. I have not been able to find fault with any of the Flick ’em up components, including the punchboard (which is sturdier than the foundation of a Wild West bordello) and Z Man have done a fantastic job doing the original game justice while making it more accessible to everyone. Aside from the material they’re made from, the components are virtually identical from what I have seen of the original so it is a genuinely faithful recreation, which looks to have been made solely to be more accessible to everyone’s wallet, and for that I am really grateful.
The only thing which was in the wooden version which I thought would have been a nice addition to the plastic version is a place to hold your cards, especially considering it looks like the holders in the original are made from punchboard. However, without it it is much easier for the opposing player to be able to see who they have killed and done damage to and who they haven’t. This can be pivotal in making decisions in some of the scenarios in the beginning of the game.
Paint your wagon (OK, hat) red
Flick ’em up is really easy to set up as all you have to do is follow a picture! Each scenario has a different setup and shows you where you need to place all of the cowboy meeples and other parts of scenery including building (and even Cacti). Also in the setup it will tell you what time to set the town hall clock to and what “time” the game will end if there’s no clear winner by then. It also tells you what colour the cowboy hats need to start with. The idea of the hats is that once you have used your 2 actions on your turn, you turn the hat over. That way you can easily see which of your players have not taken a turn yet. Once all cowboys have had their turn, the town hall clock moves on to the next hour (which also shows another colour) and the next round begins.
For more information and to have a look at the rule and scenario books for yourself, you can find them here.
An important observation to make at this point is a matter of scale. The first time I played Flick ’em up, I set up the first scenario as per the book, and it took up half of a table. When compared to other games, I figured that this wasn’t too bad and equalled the size of a moderately large board. I soon found after my first couple of movement flicks that it was too small though. So, I doubled the size of the play space and set it up across most of the table. Whilst it wasn’t entirely necessary, it has made Flick ’em up feel that little more… well, epic. I actually feel like if there’s a good distance between the shooters and that if you make an eagle eyed shot from one end of the “board” to the other that you are truly a gunslinging badass. I have since changed my name while playing Flick ’em up to Eagle Eye Christophe and have downloaded the famous theme for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to play every time I have a turn which results in a shootout. Mind you, I think I’d do that just for psychological torture to my opponents anyway. A win from annoying someone to death is still a win right?
Whilst not really related to the game I have a nugget of trivia I’d like to share. The movie “Paint your wagon” is the only Western film made which has Clint Eastwood singing in it. If you’ve ever wondered what Clint’s dulcet tones sound like then you can check it out here. (You’re welcome).
Good with no wood, or tacky plastic poop?
I am exceptionally pleased that I managed to get a copy of Flick ’em up. The game is fantastic fun (an opinion which is not shared by all of my game group mind you) and I can see that once we have gone through all of the scenarios in the book we will likely be going back to visit our favourites again. This does raise an interesting point though. Given how the game is set up, it is prime for people to be able to create their own scenarios, but having had a look around while reviewing I couldn’t find any at all which was a massive surprise.
The game itself is really clever in the set up and execution of the theme and I can use it as an hour or 2 of complete escapism. During later parts of the game you can get yourself an additional colt so can dual wield pistols like I suspect a lot of cowboys actually did. You can also get dynamite, and a Winchester rifle which is used for enhanced accuracy (plus it looks quite cool when you’re using it) to enhance the theme that little bit more.
There is a necessary comparison between the 2 versions of Flick ’em up and now I have played the plastic version a few times I am quite keen to have a go at the wooden version as I (controversially?) think that the plastic version would be better, for one particular reason: Friction. In my experience wood on wood tends to be quite slow and since I play on a normal wooden tabletop (as I am sure a lot of people do) the highly polished plastic skims along like a dream. It’s something akin to a belly flopping penguin on an ice floe or the effortless redirection of a request from a lazy person with slopey shoulders. However, I’m not sure that there’s enough polish in the world which would get the same result from wooden components. After a few plays now, I’m starting to get great control over both the movement token and the bullet tokens, so if I had to change to the wooden set now I think I’d be a little scuppered.
Really, there’s not much negative to say except that it would have been nice to have a few more scenarios or a bit more in the way of community driven content.
I think Flick ’em up is a great game for groups of adults or the whole family. It might even be worth trying to get everyone in character to see how awful all of your cowboy accents are (mine was really really awful).
If Flick ’em up tickles your fancy you can find a copy here:
I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.