Dexterity games have a place in the wider canon of tabletop games because, well hey, they’re played on a tabletop. But in other respects, they’re odd fish. While most board games want to flex a combination of chance and strategic skill (see our list of the best strategy board games), most dexterity games are entirely about physical skill, literally a totally different ball game.
Combining that physical skill with a modicum of strategy is thus a bit of a golden goose when it comes to dexterity games but success stories are few and far between. The most successful is actually a classic older game called Crockinole but that demands an expensive wooden board. Flick of Faith, by contrast, is trying to do the same thing for $35 (see it on Amazon).
What’s in the Box?
Before you get into the box, it’s worth taking note of its size and shape. Unlike almost every other game on the market, Flick of Faith comes in a long, narrow box that isn’t going to fit on a standard shelving unit or stack with other games.
Levering the lid off makes it plain why: inside there’s a big, rolled-up vinyl mat to use as a play surface, depicting four islands surrounded by clouds. You might presume this kind of mat isn’t smooth and shiny enough to slide the included wooden disks across, but it facilitates the flicking just fine.
Aside from your small flicking disks, there are a number of chunky wooden temple cylinders. Other components include a deck of cards, some stickers to decorate the disks with 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 it Plays
Flick of Faith is a really simple game, making it well suited for families, friends and accessible play (see the best family board games). Your aim is to flick your five prophet discs across the map and get them onto the four islands. If you can land it within the small city circle on an island you get to replace it with a big temple disk, which is permanent. At the end of each round you get a point for each island where you have at least one disk and three for each island where you have a majority of disks.
Each round starts with a vote between two law cards, which changes the rules either for the round or for the remainder of the game. These range from the ludicrous, such as having to flick two prophets at once, either stacked atop each other or with separate hands, to the strategic. The latter includes effects like King Ape which adds a single disk to the map that you can push around with your own shots, and it nullifies scoring for any island it ends up on.
Players also start the game with a special god power. These cards are two-sided and you can pick which effect you prefer. The Egyptian card gives you a choice between Ra, who replaces one of your prophet discs with a bigger, beefier sphinx disk, or Anubis, who lets you re-shoot the first prophet that drops off the map each turn. These powers are not well-balanced. In particular, Dagda’s Hand of God ability, which lets you hold a cardboard hand on the map vertically as a backstop, makes it very easy to get temples and is extremely powerful.
Those temples are the key element with which Flick of Faith seeks to elevate itself above the competition. They’re essentially scenery, like the pins on Crockinole, as they’re too big and heavy to move with flicks from other disks. And when you place one you can put it anywhere on the island, which is a strategically interesting choice. They can be placed to protect islands from easy entry shots by a leading player, or to stop or ease access to the temple space itself. Where you put them depends on the game state and the relative positions and skills of your opponents.
In other respects, Flick of Faith resembles any number of popular flicking games, like Carrom. Getting your prophets where you want them is only the basic skill required, and that’s hard enough to master. Once you gain more confidence, you can try things like shooting for temples, knocking other players’ discs out of position, or leveraging whatever laws are in play for maximum advantage.
Another common trait it has with its peers is that it’s often raucous and loud entertainment. There are plenty of silly laws to give the game variety and excitement. No one can predict what’s going to happen when you take a shot, whether it’ll hit the target, crawl half an inch or go careering across the mat, scattering disks madly in its wake. The more people you add, the tighter the board is and the louder and better the game gets, up to the 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 on how to use your prophets. Most of the time you want one on each island, saving the last to see where you might be able to get a majority. Laws and special powers mess up the formula but five shots is simply too few to do anything tactically interesting with, especially when you consider the likelihood of misses. And while temples are the most interesting aspect of the game, it’s hard to make the required shots so they tend to be too few to make much difference.
Furthermore, while the game is best with more opponents, additional players tend to result in one of them being a runaway leader. Ganging up to take them down can be part of the fun, but the combination of few flicks per turn, plus unbalanced laws and god powers, can make it very difficult for other players to do so, draining the game of tension. On the rare occasions the win does come down to the final couple of shots, however, the excitement and pressure can ramp up to epic proportions.