Seal Team Flix Review – A Unique Experience
Game Type - Dexterity Co-op
Number of Players - 1 - 4
Mechanics - Flicking, Campaign Play, AI
Difficulty to Learn - Medium
Release - 2018
MSRP - $59.99
Publisher - WizKids
Recommended for fans of - Catacombs, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Flick ‘em Up
Seal Team Flix is an interesting game. When I first heard about it, I was immediately curious. Here we have a game that mixes a number of mechanics you don’t often see together. At its heart, this is a dungeon crawling campaign game, not unlike Descent or Gloomhaven, albeit on a much smaller scale and with a military theme. You play through a set of narrative driven branching scenarios wherein your characters will level up (or rank up in this case) and gain access to new abilities and weapons. There are AI driven enemies to play against and a number of different objectives to given each mission a unique feeling. Where this game differs from other games of its ilk is the combat, because Seal Team Flix is a dexterity game.
Each mission is played on a cardboard grid map with little cardboard walls making up rooms and such. In addition, there are a number of wooden cubes representing crates and other various obstacles. On a player’s turn they get two actions which consist of things like moving, picking up objective tiles, using items, and most importantly, combat. While all the AI use the simple roll of the games custom die to see if they hit or miss, the players actually flick physical disks down the board’s labyrinthine hall ways to strike down the enemy standees. Different guns use different size disks and, depending on the weapon, allow multiple rapid-fire shots or even stacking a pile of disks together and flicking them in a giant shotgun blast. All guns produce sound tokens which increase the chance of more enemies coming on to the board while also drawing existing enemies to your area. The bigger the weapon the more sound it makes.
If this game sounds cool to you so far, rest assured, it is. However, I said earlier that this was an interesting game, not a great game, and there’s a reason for that. Seal Team Flix is very ambitious. It does things I’ve never seen in other games do, at least not together, and until I heard about it, I didn’t realize just how much I wanted to play a game with all those things combined. It’s not with out it’s faults though, and for me some of those faults were pretty big. The biggest of which being the rule book.
Once you learn the little intricacies of this game it’s really not very complex. The AI can be a tad fiddly, but the system works well. The problem is that this game feels like it was made for people who like light and medium weight games, while the rules were written the dense tomes that come with heavy weight games. While it’s not quite on par with the technical manual style of war game rulebooks, it’s also not written in an easy to digest way. There are a ton of little situations when running the AI that are easy to overlook the ways rules are laid out. I’m a veteran when it comes to learning complex games and there were still things I missed or got wrong after three reads of the rules. Now in all fairness, writing the actual rule book is said to be one of the hardest parts of game design, and do I have to give credit for including the holy trinity of rule books, examples, index, and player aids. This doesn’t mean though that the rules don’t require a bit of streamlining.
Another issue I had here were the components. The general quality of everything is pretty high. The boards and pieces look and feel great, and for the most part no expense was spared, except that once you put the all the walls on their boards, the box no longer shuts with everything in it! I know it’s more expensive to make the box a little bigger, but in exchange you’re left worrying about part of your $60 game being crushed when you want to take it somewhere. You don’t want to take out the insert either because it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ll even make the bold claim that it’s one of the best inserts I’ve ever seen in a game! It makes it more of a shame that it takes up a little too much space.
While were on the subject of components, I also need to address a major manufacturing issue. When setting up the game each map has a number of marked spots to place sentries, which guard specific areas. These guys can have a pretty big impact on the difficulty of a mission, so it’s pretty egregious that the spots were not actually printed on the boards! I didn’t find this out till after my first couple of plays and that was only because I happened to go to the games page on BoardGameGeek. WizKids have issued errata but that’s no indication that people will actually find it without knowing something is wrong. It wasn’t until I got to the third map that I thought something was fishy. I had just assumed the first two maps didn’t have any sentries. Not to mention with the cluttered feel of the rules it’s an easy thing to forget.
So, at this point you’re probably thinking of passing on Seal Team Flix and never looking back and I have to say…that’s a terrible idea. For all it’s flaws, I really enjoyed this game! The mechanics may be a little clunky at times but they come together to make an unforgettable experience. There are so many cool things that make this game unique. The number of options you have when it comes to equipment, weapons, and specializations is vast. When you have to do special actions like sniping or defusing a bomb, there are little flicking mini games to play. There is a level of tactical planning and teamwork way beyond what you’d expect out of a flicking game. All of this makes it even more of a shame that it has such glaring flaws hanging over its head.
I had a very difficult time rating this game. There’s not really anything out there like it, so if you read this review and this game sounds like something you’d like, you’ll probably love it. However, I can’t give a broad general recommendation to run out and buy this one right away because it’s flaws might keep some people from even getting it to the table. I really hope this game gets the revised edition it’s deserves someday. With a little polish and fine tuning, it could go from a cool hidden gem to an all-time classic.
Gameplay - While the AI has some clunkiness at times, it’s mostly a fun fast paced experience.
Rulebook – I was able to play, but it definitely needs a streamlined version.
Theme – Some people might not be down with the military theme, but I had a blast embracing the goofy 80’s action movie-ness of it.
Set-up/Take down – To say connecting all the wall pieces to their respective boards is chore would be an understatement, but once it’s put together set-up goes pretty quick.
Components – Fantastic quality outside of notable printing errors.
Solo Playability – While it’s a decent solo experience, for me it was a lot more fun strategizing with your teammates.