Beautiful games leap off the shelf, grab a hold of the scruff at the back of your neck, and demand to be played. Flick ‘Em Up gives a wink from across the room and you can’t look away. With a huge western town made of towering cardboard and chunky wooden pieces that feel deluxe to the touch, this one’s all about reconnecting to that sense of childlike adventure playing cowboys and cowgirls.
Did I mention you get to actually flick bullets at your friend’s meeples and send them toppling over in the dusty streets?
Dexterity games immediately connect with that soft emotional part of the brain that drew you to gaming in the first place. This title does so with great fanfare as you’ll be flicking disks to mosey across the alley and flinging lead across the prairie to nail the black hat in the skull. When you connect with an expertly aimed snipe and your target’s little cardboard Stetson goes careening down the road–those are the moments that reinforce why you keep coming back to this hobby.
The visual awe and exhilarating physical mechanisms draw you in, but Flick ‘Em Up keeps you around to experience the emerging narrative through the strength of its scenario structure. Players enter the story controlling either the vile Cooper clan or the honorable Sheriff and his deputies; classic, easily digested tropes we’re all familiar with. Lines are drawn in the sand and blood is shed over a feud gone violent.
Players take turns activating a character on their side and performing two actions such as move or shoot. You can hole up in buildings, engage in duels, and even throw sticks of dynamite. The set of Western buildings, barrels, and huge cacti are placed upon your table with no boundaries. You’re building your own playground to frolic and quick-draw in. You can even blow it up and tear it down.
Each of the 10 scenarios is another chapter in the story and the variety is impressive. The first time you get to lay your eyes on that slick little cardboard gallows piece your eyes light up and your fingers begin to twitch in anticipation. It’s hard to shake that image of Tuco with the noose around his sweaty throat as The Man With No Name lines up a shot with his rifle in one of the most iconic scenes of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.
Image Credit: Pretzel Games/BoardGameGeek
You’ll rob banks like Bonnie and Clyde and toss dynamite like a slobbering maniac. You’re never quite sure what’s next around the corner and the game keeps pulling you deeper down the rabbit hole, itching for the next experience. The most fantastic part is that each of these slices of story is just the context framing the actual enjoyment. This tight loop of mechanism and theme feeds itself and is ingested organically with virtually no effort. You’re like a hound learning its first tricks, eager for the next lesson.
A game with toy-like appeal that can play 2-10 players in 45 minutes is the magic bullet we’ve all been searching for. The physical connection to the game is palpable and immediate in a way that will draw in gamers of all makes and interests. This is the type of experience analog gaming was created for. If you’re living, breathing, and have a soul then this one’s for you. Dust off your hat, grab your peacemaker, and tell the Cooper gang “not today”.
What are some of your favorite dexterity games? What’s your favorite quality of these types of physical games and why do you play them? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Feature Image Credit: Pretzel Games/BoardGameGeek