Game Night Verdicts #46 – Flick of Faith

Let’s start with the easy stuff. Flick of Faith is fun. It’s a flicking game in which you try to position your tokens on the board, so that they score points at the end of a round. Since it has found its way into my collection, it has hit the table almost every other day with two, three and four players.

If this is all you need from a review and consider this enough of a recommendation, you can easily skip the rest of the review and just look at the pictures.

Flick of Faith is a well produced game. Its presentation is friendly, colorful and inviting. The neoprene mat, that serves as a game board, has enough texture that the flicked wooden disks don’t fly off the table when hit. But you still need to carefully dose your finger strength, so as not to overshoot your mark. The tokens have the right size to serve as weapons against your opponents’ tokens as well as a way to defend against opposing attacks. They could have been a tiny bit heavier, to emphasise the game’s tactile quality. In a dexterity game in which you have to use your fingers as carefully and thoughtfully as you do here, just a few grams would have made a big difference.

Seen here: a tense fight over property rights

This is more than superficial nitpicking. The tactile experience plays an important role in shaping the feel of a dexterity game. It’s the quality of the pieces that turn a game of Boule from hurling cheap plastic around to a distinguished quality time with some of your favorite drinking buddies. Flick of Faith’s wooden tokens, pieces and cards are nice to look at and to hold, without coming across as gaudy or overproduced. This is a reasonable move, since it’s the game’s concept itself that delivers most of the enjoyment.

But in order for the disk flicking and point scoring to become a game, it needs some kind of a framework that gives player actions some weight. Flicking disks is an entertaining activity that requires some structure to sustain the initial enjoyment and keep it from petering out. It’s an issue that Flick of Faith chooses to avoid instead of dealing with it head-on. The game is simply over before you can get tired of playing it.

Each of the three (or four) rounds begins with a law card that introduces a simple new rule to the game. Sometimes scoring is made easier, sometimes harder. Other times flicking disks gets a little more elaborate. Some of these rules last a single turn, others until the end of the game. These cards make the game feel quite dynamic and cover up the otherwise monotonous nature of each turn. In some cases you may feel reminded of Fluxx, a card game in which players would play cards that routinely changed the rules of the game. This kept Fluxx from from ever slowing down enough to allow for strategic decision-making. Which isn’t the intention here, although it is a side-effect.

To most players getting their tokens (prophets) onto one of the map’s four islands is sufficiently demanding as is. There’s rarely an opportunity to position yourself cleverly or become a hindrance for your opponents. The rules changes feel like the rapid editing and skewed camera angles that directors employ to inject some energy into a scene for fear of losing their audience’s attention.

The Dagda (green, Irish) scores some valuable points

But to reiterate: Flick of Faith is fun. You’ll flick, you’ll laugh and before you have the chance to be bored by it all, it’s over. People who don’t really want anything more from a game will not be disappointed. You could argue that Flick of Faith doesn’t want to be anything more than that. Entertaining 2 to 4 people for about 20 minutes may be good enough.

But I’m not sure that a game should only by evaluated by the goals it (might have) set for itself. I think it’s worth looking at what it actually offers to players. Does Flick of Faith bring more to the table than half an hour of small talk with your friends? With my children the game is often the more satisfying alternative to talking about their day at school or kindergarten. If I were to bring it up with my regular gaming group, curiosity would win at first and get the game played a few times. But I’m not sure that after a while, it would feel any more satisfying than a chat about our everyday banalities. But for those few games at least, we’ll doubtlessly have fun.

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