Review and photos by Scott Rubin
You’re probably accustomed to seeing HeroClix reviews here on Figures.com since the game features awesome miniature figures, but WizKids Games has so much more than just that. In addition to Dice Masters, fantasy miniatures (painted and unpainted) for both Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, Star Trek Attack Wing, and more, WizKids has a large and ever-growing catalogue of new and unique board games. The latest takes a familiar property and goes boldly where no one has gone before with Star Trek Conflick In The Neutral Zone! No, that’s not a typo; this is a “finger-flicking” game of resource gathering and battling that’s fully immersed in Star Trek. We were lucky enough to get to check out this fast and fun game early, so read on to see if flicking through space is something you’d like too!
I have to admit, I was hesitant when I heard that this game not only involved, but centered around flicking game pieces around a board. It’s not what you’d call a super popular game mechanic, but there are certainly other finger-flicking games out there. It’s a pretty straightforward concept; you field your pieces near your board edge and then flick them toward strategic locations on the map as well as your opponent’s pieces to knock them away from said locales (and off the board). Of course, WizKids has wrapped all of that in a cool Star Trek theme with a story right out of that universe, great artwork and graphics, and all the familiar terminology for your tokens, actions, game pieces, etc.
Speaking of which, Conflick in the Neutral Zone comes to you in a big, flat square box covered in Trek branding from images of the Enterprise-D and a Klingon Bird of Prey to the overall “red alert” theme. The back of the package outlines the scenario (a mad rush for resource gathering in an area of the Federation-Klingon Neutral Zone found to be full of Dilithium Crystals), gives you some examples of the cards and ships, and provides a list of what’s included in the game.
Inside the box you’ll find lots of cool components. A two-sided, fold out heavy-duty cardboard game board offers two vibrant spacescapes where your battles will take place. The “ships” of Conflick are discs (round for collecting and octagonal for attacking), and you’ll find a collection of blue for Federation, red for Klingon, and beige for Neutral (other species/factions). There’s a sticker that goes on each disc, and each ship also has a corresponding card with images from Star Trek shows or movies and all the game info you need. Finally, you’ve got a punch out Range Ruler and Command Points, and handfuls of cuboid asteroids and fun little translucent orange Dilithium Crystals. The rulebook is only eight pages with lots of graphics and couldn’t be easier to follow. Applying all the stickers to the discs takes a few minutes, but that’s really all the pre-set up you need.
Ready to play? Grab one friend or more; the game is played in teams of either two or three with corresponding sides of the game board divided into appropriate sections. Assuming two players/two teams, one side chooses to play as Federation or Klingon and starts with that faction’s basic fleet of two collector discs and two attack discs while the other gets the other. In front of each player/team is the Fleet Area where you put the cards for the ships in play, asteroids, Crystals, Command Point tokens, and the Shipyard area for destroyed ships. To the side of the board will be piles of Dilithium Crystals and Command Points, and then the Display; here you’ll draw four cards from the shuffled pile of all non-Starting Ship Cards and place them next to their discs. Then let the flicking begin!
Each turn is broken up into six, easy to follow steps. First are prep and upkeep steps before the real action happens. Reassign lets you remove any of your ships on the board and place them in your Fleet Area (this is especially important for any of your ships that find themselves in enemy territory); don’t worry, you can deploy them later. Second is the Collect step that generates Dilithium Crystals and Command Points. You get one of the former automatically, and one of each if you have a ship on their respective resource-generating planets. The Purchase step is pretty obvious, and it’s here you can spend accumulated Dilithium to buy ships from the Display area (anyone can purchase ships of any faction, making the initial choice mostly cosmetic). Deploy and Move is perhaps the most exciting phase, when the active player fields up to two ships from his or her Fleet Area AND gets to flick them and any ships you already have out in your territory! Get your collectors onto the planets and destroy enemy vessels with your attackers by knocking them off of planets and/or off the board (every time you destroy an opponent’s ship you also get a Command Point). Place or move an asteroid in the Asteroids step, naturally. Finally, in the Rebuild phase you can return any “destroyed” ships from your Shipyard to your Fleet Area. Keep the fun going until one player has accumulated ten Command Points, then continue until everyone has had the same number of turns and compare everyone’s totals. The player with the most is your winner!
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? It is, but there’s a lot more to it. First off, it takes a lot of practice to get good at the flicking! It’s somewhat easier for the attackers, since you’re trying to hit an enemy ship hard enough to knock it off a planet and/or off the board. But for your collector ships you need precision flicks to land them on the resource-generating planets. The game gets really interesting once you start purchasing more powerful ships from the Display. Not only are many of these vessels physically bigger discs, but they also have special abilities! These range from possibly generating bonus resources to being able to move twice, letting you move nearby asteroids for free, holding a ship with your finger while your opponent flicks, and more. The shuffling of the deck of cards to fill out the Display means every game will feature a unique lineup of ships, giving you a lot of replay value. And the difference between two players/teams and three is huge thanks to the very different board and tactics.
Conflick in the Neutral Zone has another benefit in that it doesn’t take hours to play. I love hardcore, drawn out, complicated games like the next geek, but sometimes you just want something fun and light and this certainly fits the bill. As advertised, you can play a standard game of Conflick in about 20 minutes (box says 10-30), making it perfect for busy gamers or as part of a longer game night. It also might be fun to add a chess clock/speed round mechanic to keep the action fast and furious. And, while the box suggests ages 14 and up (certainly for safety/legal reasons), I have to say that my 4 ½ year old loved it and was quite good at flicking the pieces! The only warning I’d provide is that before you set up you’ll want to think about space and find the right size surface for playing; you need the freedom to move all around the board to set up shots while being able to reach across so a very large table is not ideal. Lastly, there’s no getting around the fact that this game requires a degree of mobility and dexterity, though you could probably rig up something to tap/push the ships from afar if you need assistance.
You can get your flicking fingers on Star Trek Conflick in the Neutral Zone in July wherever you buy your board games. It will have an MSRP of $39.99 which feels right on target for the amount and quality of the components especially the big and heavy game board. I can see this game becoming a fast favorite for gaming groups, especially those including Star Trek fans. And who knows, WizKids may offer future expansions with more ships, factions, boards, etc. Good luck in the Neutral Zone and have fun flicking!
Review and photos by Scott Rubin
Review sample courtesy of WizKids Games
[See image gallery at www.figures.com]
Keep up with all the latest toy news by following Figures.com on Facebook and Twitter!
To buy action figures, take a look at Hobby Link Japan, BigBadToyStore.com, TheToySource.com, Toynk.com, and BriansToys.com.