What’s the point of becoming a zombie-flicking expert if there’s no one around to watch your magic master fingers go?
Jeremiah & Kara
Publisher: Pretzel Games
Publisher: Plan B Games
Designer: Gaëtan Beaujannot
Designer: Jonathan Gilmour
Designer: Jean Yves Monpertuis
Designer: Isaac Vega
Artist: Atha Kanaani
Artist: Chris Quilliams
Game Type: Cooperative
Game Type: Team vs. Team
Game Type: Scenario Based
Game Type: Dexterity
Initial Year of Release: 2017
Age Range: 8+
Expected Playtime: 30 – 45 minutes
Number of Players: 1 – 10
Theme and What is it?
The wind whispers as it sneaks through town, whistling through the boarded-up windows of ramshackle buildings. Its icy fingers slip through your tattered coat and press the winter cold into your bones. You sneak noiselessly across the icy pavement toward an abandoned grocery store. It would have been hit hard when the apocalypse began, but if you could just find food – even a single sad can of beans – it would be a serious game changer.
You enter the building as quietly as you can. Most of the shelves have been knocked over, broken goods, and debris from outside litter the floor. There’s no time to waste. You drop to your knees and begin rummaging through the mess; there’s gotta be something here – there just has to be! After a few minutes of desperate searching, you find it – a dirty, half-crushed can of SPAM! Your heart leaps with hope, and your slip the can into your pack.
You stand and turn, preparing to leave when you see it – a hunched, misshapen form back-lit by the sunlight, stands in the aisle, blocking your way to the door. It moves toward you, slowly, laboriously, a gurgling growl emanating from it’s undead throat. Scrambling, you search the area around your feet, looking for anything that could be used as a weapon. Half hidden beneath one of the collapsed shelves, you see the handle of a sturdy wooden bat. You snatch it up, gripping it in both hands, and glare at the zombie shambling toward you. Bring it on.
Flick ‘em Up!: Dead of Winter is a zombie-apocalypse-survival-flicking dexterity game for 1 – 10 players. In it, players will explore the abandoned town, search for supplies, and take down zombies by flicking little disks around the table. With a little skill, and a little luck, players will lead their little band of survivors safely through their zombie-ridden adventure.
Flick ’em Up!: Dead of Winter is a scenario-based game. The first 5 scenarios in the rulebook are cooperative, and the next 5 are team-based competitive. Each scenario shows a little map of the town setup that you can follow, or you can make up your own really easily: Grocery store here, lamppost there, small annoying crate that will always be in the way … here! Done.
Each scenario has a team of survivors trying to achieve a specific objective. One thing that I really like about this game, is that a survivor isn’t controlled exclusively by any specific player. Anyone can take an action for any character, which helps everyone feel included in the game.
On a player’s turn, they’ll choose a survivor and take two actions. The most common actions are moving, attacking, and searching.
To move, a player replaces the character they chose with the movement disk, and flicks it in the direction they want to move. As long as it doesn’t hit anything, wherever it stops is where the character is moved to. If it does hit something, the move is ‘invalid’, the action is wasted, and the character has to try again. I understand why this rule exists, but it still bothers me thematically. Like, if I’m racing across a zombie-invaded town to save my friend, and I accidentally bump my elbow on a lightpost, I’m not going to run all the way back to where I came from and try again. Right? Oh well, it’s still fun!
To attack, a player places their weapon (firearm disk, knife, or baseball bat) next to their chosen character and flicks it at a zombie (or another character in competitive scenarios!). If the target is knocked over, it’s a successful hit! If not . . . too bad, do better next time.
If a character is inside a building with search tokens on it they can do a search actions. If there’s a zombie in the building though, they have to fight the zombie first. These player vs. zombie showdowns are one of my favorite aspects of this entire game.
The character and the zombie are placed across from each other on the table, about 30 inches apart. The character takes a shot at the zombie with whatever weapon they have. If it’s a hit, the fight is over! If not, the zombie draws a card from their action deck. If the card shows footprints, the zombie moves one card-length closer to the character, and the character takes another shot. If it’s a blood splatter, the zombie attacks — the character loses one health and forfeits the rest of their actions. These showdowns are so suspenseful, and I love them!
After defeating any zombie, the character can take a search token and add it to their player card. Some of the search tokens show crossroad cards — if a player draws one of these, they take a card from the special crossroad deck, read it, and apply the effects. These cards add a ton of replayability, excitement, and risk to the game.
After a character has taken their 2 actions, there’s a zombie rush. This means that depending on the amount of noise a character made during their turn, the zombies around them are going to activate, and a few will move toward the character — they might even try to attack!
There’s a lot more I could talk about, but I think I’ve hit all the major points. The game is really easy to understand, but requires quite a bit of skill to play really well. It’s challenging, interesting, exciting and fun!
The rulebook was short, simple, and to the point. Our first setup took a really long time, because all of the zombies and the survivors have to be stickered front and back, and the zombie tower has to be assembled. Our first setup probably took around an hour because of all the prep work.
Once we started playing, there were several times when something happened and we thought, “wait, that wasn’t in the rules”, and we were right! There are a lot of things that can happen in the game that just … don’t have rules. I’ve heard you can look up the clarifications of Board Game Geek, but we just ended up making our own rules and it turned out fine. We still had a lot of fun, despite a little confusion here and there.
Game Build Quality
Flick ‘em Up!: Dead of Winter is a dexterity game, which means the components play a huge part in the game – they’re not just aesthetic! The little stores and buildings stand up to form a little zombie-ridden ghost town, abandoned cars and scattered crates fill up empty areas, making it harder to move around, but also providing shelter from rampaging zombies. Everything plays a part, and each component is important.
The characters and zombie meeples that come with the game are large, sturdy, and fun to look at. All of the buildings slip into their stands really well and look great on the table. For the most part, the component quality of this game is fantastic. There are 3 things though, that really bothered me.
1. There’s a round tracker chip that hooks onto the top of the RV, and it slides along, counting down each round to the end of the game. It’s super handy, and plays a big part in keeping the game on track. Unfortunately, the gap in the chip (the slot that’s supposed to slip onto the RV) is waaaaay too big! It’s constantly falling off, which means players have to track the rounds in their heads, and it’s annoying.
2. The vehicles in the game only came with 1 tiny plastic stand, and it wasn’t enough to keep the cars stable throughout the game. Every time the table got bumped all the cars would fall over. We dug a few extra stands out of a different game and added one to each car – problem solved – but I feel like the publisher should have just included a few extra stands themselves.
3. One of the main components unique to this game is the little backpacks the characters wear. The backpack is rotated at the end of the character’s activation so that you know which characters have already taken a turn that round. It’s a really good idea in theory, but in practice it’s just fiddly. There’s so much stuff on the table, I don’t want to search for a tiny character backpack to figure out who hasn’t taken a turn yet. We’ve started just marking the character tiles with neutral tokens to show who has and who hasn’t acted that round. It’s a lot easier, and I feel like the designers could have just done that from the start.
Beyond these 3 annoyances, everything about the component quality is great! The tower is made of super thick cardboard, and everything fits well inside of the box (with a little creativity!).
It can be hard to find zombie themed games that are appropriate for families and kids, because so many are filled with disturbing images and excessive gore. I was really happy to see that in Flick ’em Up!: Dead of Winter, the blood-and-guts were left to a healthy minimum. There’s still blood splatters, and the zombies still defeinitely look like zombies, but they’re not so gross and scary that parents would feel uncomfortable about sharing it with their little ones.
In the last two weeks, we have played this game 6 times (which is a lot, for us!)! It’s just so easy to set up (now), easy on the brain, turns move quickly, and it’s so much fun! It’s so satisfying as you watch your movement disk slide right into the building you were aiming for; or when you take a risky shot with the shotgun and get 3 or 4 zombies at once! We’ve only played cooperatively, so I can’t speak to the competitive aspect, but in the cooperative game there’s such a lively atmosphere of suspense and excitement as you watch your teammates take risks, flicking the movement disk around, taking shots, and facing down zombies in the stores.
The game can be played from 1 – 10 players, but who wants to play alone? What’s the point of becoming a zombie-flicking expert if there’s no one around to watch your magic master fingers go?
Age Range & Weight
The manufacturer recommended age for Flick ‘em Up!: Dead of Winter is 8+, although honestly I think younger kids could play this one as well. The only thing that would prevent a flicking-capable person from playing this game would be their attention span! There would definitely need to be an adult present to help them remember the rules for zombie rushes, but besides that the game is incredibly simple.
As for weight, the game is not very heavy at all. It’s suspenseful, thrilling, and exciting – definitely – but It’s mostly luck and skill driven, with just a little strategizing involved.
Flick ’em Up!: Dead of Winter is an exciting, engaging, interactive game that is accessible to even the smallest of gamers. It’s incredibly versatile, has tons of replayability, and is just an all around good time. If you’re looking for a light, family-friendly dexterity game with lots of theme and a lot of fun, definitely check this one out!
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