Your soldier’s cover has been largely destroyed by those last shots. She stands up, alone, and needs to make her two shots count or they will be her last. The player assesses the situation and… rolls 11 dice to find out if that happened or not.
To my mind, the core achievement of Seal Team Flix is in modeling the tense and physical act of personal combat with a ludonarratively matching tense and physical mechanic. In so doing, the game put in stark contrast the mechanical issues I’ve had with dungeon crawls over the years: dungeon crawl is a genre that should be exciting in play but is, in practice, one of the most intensely calculated and elaborately strategic genres in existence. Adjusting modifiers and constantly minimizing risk every turn is the order of the day. That central conceit has never worked for me. That doesn’t mean the games are bad, but rather that the mismatch between theme and mechanics was off-putting to me. Even a widely praised innovator like Gloomhaven falls for it---if anything, it takes the genre into an even more puzzle-like direction: how should I order attack cards, when will I have resources for my attacks, how do they synergize, when do I pick up my discard? And even though many dungeon crawlers are known for their drama and uncertainty stemming from dice rolls, I’ve always felt that the risks represented by dice were still a distinct thematic mismatch since the final roll usually stems from an extremely carefully calculated optimization process.
By contrast, Seal Team Flix boils down the most important action, your character’s attack, into an intense moment of concentration paired with a physical action that can be short circuited by the player’s own tension and drama of the moment. The designers seem to understand this and streamlined most of the other parts of the game beyond the player’s actions and flicking. Although I have some issues with the rest of the game, this fundamentally makes the game worth playing for a wide audience. Anything else I say about the game pales in comparison to the game's central strength.
Beyond the immediate play, the game handles the meatier bits of a campaign style dungeon crawl in a way that makes it more thematic and interesting than a game like Catacombs. Seal Team never devolves into a war of attrition, ticking off hit points and adjusting modifiers due to equipment. There is impressive variety in the base box along with some clever game modeling decisions. In essence, equipment differences are represented by different sizes and numbers of discs being flicked or their effects, somewhat like the magic spells in Catacombs, but in ways that I consider far more creative. The sound, door, and cover systems provide a lot of avenues for unusual and innovative uses of the flicking mechanic. As an example, when your soldier fires a shotgun, you are allowed to fire through a door in front of you by stacking two discs on top of one another and, with luck, the top disc will travel over the cardboard door token and into the room to cause havoc. Similarly, the difference between a loud assault rifle firing three medium sized discs that blow up cover and stun enemies compared to a submachine gun firing lighter, smaller discs that do not affect cover became extremely telling when running through the campaign missions. Seal Team also carries flicking into game models of other activities, using sideboards for lockpicking, sniping and bomb defusing. The sideboards create the same sense of tension as the firing, though I found myself using these rarely enough that they were not quite as notable as they have been for other reviewers.
On the whole, the components are also a bright spot for the game, particularly for its low mass market price. While I’m indifferent to the theme, it fits right into a world dominated by modern special forces games in the digital space. The standups generally worked well and I had little trouble gluing and putting the boards together. The variety of environments and the idea of physically representing the tight spaces, corners, and rooms in real life environments in a non-miniatures game is still shocking and, from a gameplay perspective, had me actually considering the importance of corners and cover physically rather than mechanically, a fun twist. A physical issue with the game, however, is space. By representing doors, walls, cover, individuals in a non-abstracted fashion on a grid, it also meant that shots that would seem easy for my soldier became difficult for me simply due to the need to get my fingers into flicking position. I found myself taking “worse” shots due to extra room for my fingers, which significantly hurt the verisimilitude of the model. This is an intractable problem: ideally everything in the game would be scaled up to be twice as big, meaning your fingers would be trivially sized and shots would be easy to perform from all positions. But, of course, then the game wouldn’t fit on my shelves and would be some hilariously expensive niche Kickstarter.
Finally, unfortunately, Seal Team Flix does highlight some of the genre’s larger unsolved problems. The relatively tedious (and critical!) concept of Line of Sight remains, despite the flicked player shots, due to the AI enemy’s use of a simplified dice roll system for its own shots. Running the AI, too, is slightly tricky until mastered, putting it squarely in line with its co-op dungeon crawl peers. There are also some slightly unintuitive tactical consequences of the AI move, fire, and take cover system that you need to play several times to appreciate. In your first few games, you will likely be brutally flanked by enemies when you thought you were in good shape.
On the whole, Seal Team Flix is an innovative game with a shockingly low price that manages to salvage dungeon crawl games for me. I generally play the game solo---it is quite amenable to being played that way---and when I have a little time for setup it is an extremely welcome diversion. I look forward to any additional content for the game and suggest you take a look if you have found dungeon crawls wanting in the same ways that I do.
Your soldier’s cover has been largely destroyed by those last shots. She stands up, alone, and needs to make her two shots count or they will be her last. The player assesses the situation, gets their finger into position and carefully lines up the angles. It will take a precision shot that bounces off the wall to get around the corner and hit the enemy standee. You line up the shot, take a breath, flick the small blue disc… and misfire it straight into a nearby wall. Gulp.