Dexterity games have a place in the larger tabletop gaming canon because, hey, they’re played on a table. But in other ways they are strange fish. While most board games want to combine chance with strategic skill (see our list of the best strategy board games), most dexterity games are all about physical skill, literally a whole different ballgame.
Combining this physical skill with a minimum of strategy is therefore a bit of a golden egg when it comes to dexterity games, but successes are rare. The most successful is actually an old classic game called Crockinole but which requires an expensive wooden board. Flick of Faith, on the other hand, tries to do the same thing for $35 (see on amazon).
What’s in the box?
Before entering the box, it is worth noting its size and shape. Unlike almost every other game on the market, Flick of Faith comes in a long, narrow box that won’t fit on a standard shelf or stack with other games.
Lifting the lid reveals why: inside there’s a large, rolled-up vinyl mat to use as a play surface, depicting four islands surrounded by clouds. You might assume that this type of mat isn’t smooth and shiny enough to slide the included wooden discs, but it makes swiping just fine.
In addition to your small flashing discs, there are a number of large wooden temple cylinders. Other components include a deck of cards, stickers to decorate the discs and a sheet of cardboard tokens. It’s all illustrated in a well-executed semi-cartoon style that matches the silly theme of mythical deities parading prophets across a map.
Rules and how it is played
Flick of Faith is a very simple game, which makes it well suited for families, friends and accessible play (see the best family board games). Your objective is to leaf through your five Prophet Discs on the map and bring them to the four islands. If you can land it in the small town circle on an island, you can replace it with a large temple disk, which is permanent. At the end of each round, you get one point for each island where you have at least one disc and three for each island where you have a majority of discs.
Each round begins with a vote between two law cards, which changes the rules either for the round or for the rest of the game. These range from the ridiculous, like having to cast two Prophets at once, stacked on top of each other or with separate hands, to strategic. The latter includes effects like King Ape which adds a single disk to the map that you can push with your own moves, and it negates the score for any island it ends up on.
Players also start the game with a special god power. These cards are double-sided and you can choose the effect you prefer. The Egyptian map gives you the choice of Ra, which replaces one of your Prophet Discs with a bigger, beefier Sphinx Disc, or Anubis, which lets you shoot the first Prophet that drops off the map again. every turn. These powers are not well balanced. In particular, Dagda’s Hand of God ability, which lets you hold a cardboard hand vertically across the map as a safety net, makes it easier to get temples and is extremely powerful.
These temples are the key element with which Flick of Faith seeks to rise above the competition. They’re basically sets, like the pins on Crockinole, because they’re too big and heavy to move around with movies from other discs. And when 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 easy entry fire from a leading player, or to stop or facilitate access to the temple space itself. Where you place them depends on the state of the game and the relative positions and skills of your opponents.
In other ways, Flick of Faith resembles a number of popular flick games, like Carrom. Getting your prophets where you want them is just the basic skill required, and it’s hard enough to master. Once you gain confidence, you can try things like shooting temples, knocking other players’ discs out of position, or taking advantage of existing laws for maximum advantage.
Another common trait he has with his peers is that he is often loud and loud fun. There are many stupid laws to give the game variety and excitement. No one can predict what will happen when you fire, whether it hits the target, crawls half an inch, or smashes across the mat, madly scattering discs in its wake. The more people you add, the tighter the board and the stronger and better the game becomes, up to a maximum of four.
However, despite all these good aspects, Flick of Faith is disappointed with the basic problem of having only five moves per turn. With four islands, there isn’t really any decision making on how to use your prophets. Most of the time you want one on each island, saving the last one to see where you could get a majority. Laws and special powers spoil the formula, but five hits is just too little to do anything tactically worthwhile, especially considering the likelihood of misfires. And while the temples are the most interesting aspect of the game, it’s hard to get the required shots, so they tend to be too few in number to make much of a difference.
Also, while the game is better with more opponents, extra players tend to make one of them a runaway leader. Grouping up to take them down can be part of the fun, but the combination of a few flicks per turn, along with unbalanced Laws and God Powers, can make it very difficult for other players, draining the game of tension. On the rare occasions when victory comes down to the last two shots, however, the excitement and pressure can reach epic proportions.