Seal Team Flix Review

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Michael Barnes     
 
4.0
287   0
Seal Team Flix

Hardcore FPS Tactical Combat Meets Finger Flickin' Fun.

We've got to get a disclaimer out of the way up front on this one, folks. I've known the designers of Seal Team Flix, Pete C. Ruth II and Mark Thomas, for several years and they have been Distinguished Members of this very website for as long as I've known them. So there is perhaps a tinge of impropriety in my reviewing this game, but there here we are. And it would be dishonest for me as a reviewer to not come forward on this title because it's a good one that you should know about, regardless of the fact that Mr. Ruth once bought me a cup of coffee. And another time doxxed me.

Seal Team Flix is published by Wizkids under the auspices of the legendary gaming icon Zev Shlasinger, and for those who wondered if Zev would be able to put out the kinds of more leftfield, quirky titles that his Z-Man imprint was known for at the Heroclix company- here you go, this is it. Seal Team Flix is a sort of tactical, squad-based combat game with a modern Rainbow Six-like special forces setting. It's loaded up with enough military hardware, terms like "intel" and "tangoes", and counterterrorist goings-on to please any armchair gunman that enjoyed the Modern Warfare video games, and in fact I sort of feel like this game is coming along a little late as the military FPS genre's primacy has long waned and the kids are now shooting up more colorful characters than rogue Russians and various brown-skinned bad guys.

But it is also a case of better late than never, because this particular concept is actually quite underused in gaming. There aren't many games about modern special forces operations. However, before I dig into what this game is going to put on your table, I want to take a moment to address this very issue. I've gotten older- by some ten years- since I was interested in playing Call of Duty games. And to be honest, at 42, now I kind of understand why there's not a lot of games about this subject. There is no history to pad or shield the subject- it's about soldiers busting in and killing people with an ideological difference or objectives counter to US interests. I've found myself sort of at arm's length with Seal Team Flix because it is about US military operatives using real weapons to battle a radical Environmentalist group. Granted, this group is presented as dangerous and definitely "bad" in the game's fiction, but as a radical environmentalist myself, I kind of see the problems of gameplay that presents modern conflict between this kind of faction and special forces with a degree of realism. The funny names for the bad guy characters and the lighter tone of the game are often at odds with the subject matter, and it comes across as oddly serious for a finger-flicking dexterity game.

Yep, you read that right. Per the game's title, this is finger-flicking game close in spirit to Catacombs or Flick 'Em Up. But it is also quite a bit more involved than those games, and there is a level of sophistication in the design that is surprising. It's fairly complicated, a little fiddly, but the result is a hugely variable scenario-based game that offers players not only traditional tactical gameplay, but also skill-based attacks and resolutions requiring disk-flicking for everything from firing an MP5 to deactivating a door lock to hitting a headshot with a sniper.

Each player gets a Navy SEAL character and standee. Characters can actually level up over the course of a campaign and unlock access to special skills and more advanced weapons. There are a ton of scenarios, all of which are linked in the campaign game but also playable as one-offs. All play out on one or more of the game's large boards, which are marked off by tiny little walls creating rooms, doorways, and boundaries. There are a wide variety of missions and objectives ranging from escort missions, disarming bombs, collecting intel, and in one really cool one assaulting a plane on a tarmac.

Each SEAL gets two actions from a pretty extensive menu but the key actions are moving, which is square by square, and shooting. The map is marked off in a grid, and in one absolutely brilliant stroke the corners and other spots where a figure has cover are marked with arrows. This means you can be in cover, but fire from a "linked" arrow. It's cool, simple, and it completely automates cover determination.

And you'll do plenty of shooting in the game, as it is very FPS-influenced. Each weapon "fires" a small, medium or large disc. Some shoot more than one or more than one type depending on the fire mode they use. Shotguns can shoot through doors. All create sound, which can be reduced with suppressors if they are equipped. When you fire, you simply flick a disc from an eligible space close to your SEAL and try to hit a bad guy standee. Naturally, this means that dramatic shots can travel through doors, ricochet off walls, and hit some poor dude ducking behind a cover block. There are also optics, grenades, flashbangs, and other tools with various effects.

Now, the opposition operates in a completely different way. There is no "overlord", and a fairly complex AI system runs all of their spawning and actions based on patrol paths, availability of reinforcements, if the figure is in cover or not, if they can see a SEAL or not, and how much sound has been generated in nearby areas. This is the most complex part of the game, but it is mostly successful in simulating enemies converging on suspected intruders and seeking to not get shot in the face. With elements in play such as sound, it also encourages stealth, planning and smartly coordinated strikes so that the SEALS can avoid getting overwhelmed or piled on once things get hot.

I am particularly in love with the way the game handles how the terrorists attack the SEALS. It's a special die that they roll any time they are in LOS of one of our good guys. So if you successfully deactivate an e-lock by flicking all the discs off the keypad board within three shots, and there's a Tango on the other side, they react by rolling this die. It's smart, simple, and effective. But most significantly, it allows for players to take risks- running from cover to cover, breaching a room, or trying to get a hostage out of harm's way becomes more dramatic when you have to roll that yellow die.

It's all really smart stuff, and I think it is near-genius that the game splits its design between the tactical gameplay and the dexterity elements. Indeed, you could almost play this same game without the finger-flicking and traditional dice or card resolutions and it'd probably still be a pretty good Dudes on a Grid game with a military concept. But moving all of the resolutions to physical skill tests makes it all more viscerally fun and exciting. Believe me, hitting the tiny red dot on the sniper shot board is just as if not more exciting than rolling a natural 20.

I do kind of wonder if its juxtapositions are going to relegate it to more of a cult item. I'm not sure the mainstream market wants a game like this- finger-flicking isn't something you usually find in more detailed combat games. And Colt assault rifles are not something you usually find in more accessible dexterity games. Likewise, the fairly dense and detailed rules can seem incongruous with the "miracle" round-the-corner shots and laughs when someone bungles a bomb disarm attempt. You either roll with the mash-up or check out. That may keep some folks away from a surprising and sometimes great game.

I'm also iffy on the production. I've been playing a preproduction copy and I'm concerned about the durability of it. The walls fit into the boards, and as stated they are not supposed to be disassembled. The boards are put into the box with the walls, but I have yet to open the box (which seems about to burst with all the boards in it) and not find little walls all over the place. A little glue might be in order, but there are concerns about fraying and splitting. You almost want there to be a deluxe wooden set or something, but the cost would be astronomical given the number of boards and walls it would need.

I like this game a lot despite some personal misgivings about the subject and a few minor logistical complaints. It's singular, smartly written, and it has that scrappy spirit of imperfect innovation that is often in the games that I take notice of and care about the most. This is one of those "oh yeah, THAT game" titles that makes a mark. But that mark is in two very distinct, very different genres that this game mostly succeeds in bringing together.

Michael Barnes

Editor-in-Chief

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film. 

Seal Team Flix Review There Will Be Games

Editor rating

Michael Barnes
Rating 
 
4.0

Summary

Game Name
Seal Team Flix
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Posted: 11 Jun 2018 17:50 by hotseatgames #275146
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Thanks for the review! I applied some Elmer's Glue to some of my walls on my set. It makes it much easier to handle them.

I'm curious, did your kids give it a go?
Posted: 11 Jun 2018 18:09 by Michael Barnes #275148
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No, I haven’t played it with them...honestly, the real world manshooting stuff is sort of not a good look for mom to see/hear about. We can get away with Warhammer and Gaslands, the more fantasy stuff...which is arguably more violent, but we are KOing robots, orcs, etc. and even then I edit it a little- no bloodzerking Slaughterpriests for example.

River REALLY wants to play it though.
Posted: 11 Jun 2018 18:11 by hotseatgames #275149
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I figured you'd tone down that aspect. I was mainly curious if young kids could adequately play it. Parts of it are pretty difficult.
Posted: 11 Jun 2018 18:23 by Michael Barnes #275151
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The more complex parts are the automation. I think most reasonably intelligent kids around 7-8 could handle most of the SEAL stuff with guidance. And the adult handles the AI process.
Posted: 12 Jun 2018 02:56 by SuperflyTNT #275173
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He forgets that my 9 year old and her 7 year old neighbor friends are beasts at this game
Posted: 12 Jun 2018 06:24 by hotseatgames #275178
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I have never met your neighbors, and I've never played this game with Hannah. We did play that volcano game... that was pretty good. Pompeii?
Posted: 12 Jun 2018 07:04 by Southernman #275181
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So basically all us who couldn't flick a marble if our life depended on it should give it a miss and just watch and jealously admire others playing it.
Posted: 12 Jun 2018 11:43 by SuperflyTNT #275213
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This isn’t “hard”. That’s kind of the crazy thing about it. You can be a bad flicker (read: Mark) and still love the shit out of it. All the more exciting when you make an awesome shot.

I built the maps with three “circuits” per map where you have a minimum of three ways to move around the map, with a minimum of three choke points that have clean lines of fire from cover.

We also came up with three (down from four) sizes of disc so that shitty flickers can use bigger discs which are more likely to defeat enemies, or if you’re good, you have smaller discs and more shots for less sound.

This is a game for everyone.

Also worth noting that the original terrorists were Islamofascist terrorists, but we figured that would be too sensitive, so I came up with a doomsday cult. They’re not ~really~ environmental terrorists, as much as anti-humanists.

The irony is that as much of an environmental radical as Michael is, I am at least his equal in that regard.
Posted: 12 Jun 2018 11:54 by Michael Barnes #275214
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I’d say the skill level is pretty much right where it needs to be. Tricky or critical shots require more accuracy/control. But you can choose to take a single aimed shot at a dude hiding behind a block and you get a larger disc to make it. Or, you can burst and get a few smaller discs to shoot with, and these are more likely to ricochet for that clutch miracle shot.

I’d say that skill wise it’s probably easier than Catacombs because of the wall layouts. There is less of an emphasis on dead straight shots with perfect power.
Posted: 12 Jun 2018 16:09 by SuperflyTNT #275252
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I’m a massive fan of Crokinole and I wanted it to be about the same level of difficulty as a beginner to intermediate player would need to play.

The sniper sideboard really was made for bad asses. It’s intentionally hard AF to be a real challenge. As a long range shooter IRL I wanted it to be legitimately tough.
Posted: 15 Jun 2018 11:25 by SuperflyTNT #275463
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Just got a report back from Mark. He did 2-1/2 hours of demos and people are raving. The sideboards are a big win, apparently.

They’re selling fast. If you’re at Origins and want one, don’t lag.
Posted: 15 Jun 2018 12:08 by Sagrilarus #275466
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
Just got a report back from Mark. He did 2-1/2 hours of demos and people are raving. The sideboards are a big win, apparently.

They’re selling fast. If you’re at Origins and want one, don’t lag.

Congrats on the good news! I may make this a gift for my one buddy.
Posted: 15 Jun 2018 13:23 by Southernman #275480
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Where's the youtube video to provide the final slam dunk ?

OK, found some.
Posted: 15 Jun 2018 13:49 by Shellhead #275484
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Great review. I'm not a fan of dexterity games, but I will definitely give this one a try if it shows up at a local gaming thing.
Posted: 15 Jun 2018 15:23 by Southernman #275495
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Southernman wrote:
Where's the youtube video to provide the final slam dunk ?

OK, found some.

Watched one, definitely doesn't look like something I could be any good at ... but if someone makes a rule set to replace the flicking with dice and/or card combat that would help people like me.
Posted: 15 Jun 2018 15:48 by SuperflyTNT #275501
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Southernman wrote:
Where's the youtube video to provide the final slam dunk ?

OK, found some.

m.twitch.tv/videos/273568024
Mark with BGG News At 2:24:00

And Tom, I have the original dive based rules from a long past version if you want to convert to dice. It won’t be perfect because one face was an “empty mag” where you’d discard an ammo token. We dumped that becuase it wasn’t great - kind of fiddly and luck became kind of oppressive
Posted: 16 Jun 2018 01:33 by Southernman #275518
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If I'm flicking luck won't even be involved, the tangoes will cream us all day !!
Posted: 16 Jun 2018 01:46 by Southernman #275519
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Double post
Posted: 16 Jun 2018 21:53 by cranberries #275578
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
Also worth noting that the original terrorists were Islamofascist terrorists, but we figured that would be too sensitive, so I came up with a doomsday cult. They’re not ~really~ environmental terrorists, as much as anti-humanists.



Posted: 18 Jun 2018 09:28 by SuperflyTNT #275681
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www.boardgamegeek.com/video/180020/seal-...looks-seal-team-flix

A preview that goes over how to play. Some gent at Origins apparently was pretty jazzed
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 11:17 by WadeMonnig #275691
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Shut up and sit down did a thing on STF www.facebook.com/145544318875221/posts/1696346280461676/
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 11:33 by hotseatgames #275693
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Paul: Impossible to ignore this week is SEAL Team Flix, a Catacombs-a-like dexterity game of counter-terrorism and Tom Clancy-ish special ops. SEAL Team Flix has you and your friends chasing down terrorists, disarming bombs and rescuing hostages, all performed via fierce token-flicking. It has a branching campaign, all the guns you’d expect for an experience like this, cover that can be destroyed and a sort of sniping mini-game that uses a separate board.

AWESOME
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 13:15 by WadeMonnig #275709
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Random observation: MM had 20+ available for pre-order pre origins, noticed it was down to six earlier today. Good sign people are preordering it?!
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 16:30 by WadeMonnig #275718
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Rob "I think you are going to like it" looks at STF. Can't link properly from my phone
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 17:27 by SebastianBludd #275721
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WadeMonnig wrote:
Random observation: MM had 20+ available for pre-order pre origins, noticed it was down to six earlier today. Good sign people are preordering it?!

FWIW, I got a (preordered) copy for Father's Day yesterday after mentioning it a few times to my wife. I used to play a lot of Carrom as a kid so I can't wait to find out that I'm not as good at flicking as I remember.
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 19:08 by hotseatgames #275724
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SebastianBludd wrote:
FWIW

To Pete and me, it's worth a lot. Thank you very much! We hope you get a kick out of it.
Posted: 18 Jun 2018 21:46 by Disgustipater #275726
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
m.twitch.tv/videos/273568024
Mark with BGG News At 2:24:00

Was that as awkward as it looked? Maybe just because they didn't edit out the dead air.
Posted: 19 Jun 2018 06:19 by hotseatgames #275737
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Well, it was my first time doing something like that, but I was pretty relaxed, really. The false start didn’t help but I would totally do it again.

There’s a little sign when you sit down that says “YOU ARE ALWAYS LIVE”