Games of skill have a place in the broader tabletop gaming canon because they are played on a tabletop. But in other respects they are strange fish. While most board games aim to use a combination of chance and strategy (see our list of the best strategy board games), most skill games are all about physical skill, literally a whole different ballgame.
Combining these physical skills with a modicum of strategy is therefore a golden goose of sorts when it comes to skill games, but success stories are few and far between. The most successful is actually a classic older game called Crockinole, but that requires an expensive wooden board. In contrast, Flick of Faith attempts the same for $35 (see at amazon).
What’s in the box?
Before you climb into the box, you should pay attention to its size and shape. Unlike almost every other game on the market, Flick of Faith comes in a long, narrow box that doesn’t fit on a standard shelf or stack with other games.
Prying off the lid reveals why: Inside is a large rolled-up vinyl mat that can be used as a play surface, depicting four islands surrounded by clouds. One might assume that this type of mat isn’t smooth and glossy enough to slide the included wooden discs over it, but it makes flicking very easy.
Aside from your little striking discs, there are a number of chunky wooden temple cylinders. Other components are a deck of cards, some stickers to decorate the discs and a sheet of cardboard tokens. It’s all illustrated in a well-executed semi-cartoon style that fits the silly theme of mythical deities flicking prophets across a map.
rules and how to play it
Flick of Faith is a really simple game that’s good for families, friends, and accessible play (check out the best family board games). Your goal is to flick your five prophet discs across the map and bring them to the four islands. If you can land it on an island within the small city circle, you can replace it with a large Temple Disc that is permanent. At the end of each round you get one point for each island with at least one disc on it and three points for each island with the most discs on it.
Each round starts with a vote between two law cards that change the rules either for the round or for the rest of the game. These range from ridiculous, such as From flicking two prophets at once, either on top of each other or with separate hands, to strategic ones. The latter includes effects like King Ape, which adds a single disc to the map that you can push around with your own shots, and nullifies the scoring for each island it lands on.
Players also start the game with a special god power. These cards are two-sided and you can choose which effect you prefer. The Egyptian map gives you a choice between Ra, which replaces one of your Prophet discs with a larger, more powerful Sphinx disk, or Anubis, which allows you to re-shoot the first Prophet that falls off the map each turn. These forces are not well balanced. In particular, Dagda’s Hand of God ability, which allows you to hold a cardboard hand vertically on the map as a backstop, makes temples very easy to get and extremely powerful.
These temples are the key element that Flick of Faith wants to use to differentiate itself from the competition. They are essentially backdrops, like the pins on Crockinole, as they are too big and heavy to move with film from other disks. And if you place one, you can place it anywhere on the island, which is a strategically interesting choice. They can be placed to protect islands from simple entry shots from a leading player, or to stop or facilitate access to the temple area itself. Where you place them depends on the score and the relative positions and skills of your opponents.
In other ways, Flick of Faith is similar to a number of popular Flick games like Carrom. Getting your prophets where you want them to be is just the basic skill required, and that’s hard enough to master. Once you gain more confidence, you can try things like shooting at temples, throwing other players’ discs out of position, or using all of the Laws to gain the maximum advantage.
Another common trait it shares with its peers is that it is often rough and loud in conversation. There are tons of silly laws that add variety and excitement to the game. No one can predict what will happen when you take a shot, whether it will hit the target, crawl half an inch, or dash across the mat and scatter discs like mad. The more people you add, the tighter the board gets and the louder and better the game gets, up to a maximum of four.
However, despite all these good aspects, Flick of Faith is let down by the basic problem of only having five shots per round. With four islands, there’s no real decision-making about how you use your prophets. Most of the time you’ll want one on each island and save the last one to see where you can potentially get a majority. Laws and special forces mess up the formula, but five shots is just not enough to do anything tactically interesting, especially when you factor in the likelihood of misses. And while temples are the game’s most interesting aspect, it’s difficult to get the required shots, so they tend to be too few to make much of a difference.
While the game is at its best with more opponents, additional players will result in one of them becoming a runaway leader. Teaming up to take them down can be part of the fun, but the combination of few moves per turn and unbalanced laws and divine powers can make it very difficult for other players to do so and detract from the excitement of the game. On the rare occasions, victory depends on the last few shots, but the excitement and pressure can be epic.
Where to buy
https://www.ign.com/articles/flick-of-faith-board-game-review Flick of Faith Board Game Review