Updated: Aug 15, 2021
When this game was first announced, many folk dismissed it as a joke. Certainly, it seemed an implausible combination: a mash-up of the atmospheric fun Western dexterity game Flick ‘em Up! with the intense, dark survival game Dead of Winter. I’ve played and enjoyed both games countless times but they are games I’ve always regarded as being at opposite ends of a spectrum.
Then the mash-up was confirmed. It wasn’t a spoof after all. Disbelief soon gave way to eager anticipation.
There were plenty of doubters, however. If this was just going to be survivor players and zombie players flicking discs at each other, wouldn’t that just be a stale Flick ‘em Up! reskin? Worry not, ye of little faith. Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter isn’t a mere reskin. It’s a real game that genuinely takes on elements of both its parent games and which delivers an entertaining but challenging experience into the bargain.
I was initially disappointed to learn that publishers Pretzel had on this occasion gone with plastic components rather than the chunky wooden pieces used in the earliest version of the original Flick’em Up! game. However, once the characters and zombies have been stickered up, they look good and they still have a satisfyingly solid feel. Along with its townful of buildings and vehicle stand ups, Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter has a distinctive look, albeit lighter and more cartoony than the original Dead of Winter game.
As in the original Dead of Winter game from Plaid Hat Games, all the players in Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter control survivors. Through a clever and entertaining mechanic, the zombies don’t rely on a player to take their part, the zombies can look after themselves thank you very much. As in the original Flick’em Up! game, characters are moved by flicking a puck. They can be equipped with handguns, shotguns, sniper rifles, knives or baseball bats: each fired by flicking but each functioning slightly differently, particularly in the noise they are deemed to have made. As you’ll have come to expect from Dead of Winter and from binge watching The Walking Dead, noise attracts the zombies…
The game comes with ten distinct scenarios. These variously involve scavenging in buildings for food and supplies and they are designed to incrementally introduce additional rules and options. Each of the scenarios can be played co-operatively or competitively. The co-op option involves everyone working as a team to meet the objectives of the scenario; it means too that Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter can be played and works well as a solitaire game. The competitive option involves dividing the players into two competing teams of survivors.
Dead of Winter aficionados will be pleased to see that Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter utilises secret objectives (players have their own personal secret victory conditions to meet as well as ensuring a team victory) and the game even accommodates the original’s traitor mechanic. In a team game, a player’s personal objective could secretly involve them rooting for the other team to win. There is scope within the game too for team members to accuse a player of being a ‘betrayer’ and to vote to expel them from the team… Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter incorporates a nod as well to the Crossroads cards of the vanilla Dead of Winter game although, in this game, these are not conditional nor do they pose dilemmas: in effect, they are more like conventional ‘event’ cards.
But I haven’t explained how the zombies work… There are circumstances where their movement and attacks are controlled by cards but, in the main, the zombies are controlled using a modified dice tower with a trap door roof. Every time survivors use a weapon that makes a loud noise, and every time they use a quiet weapon or move but end their turn where their closest zombie is standing rather than fallen, the survivors have to face a ‘zombie rush’. This involves positioning the tower behind the nearest zombie, standing that zombie and others on the tower, removing the roof support so that the trap door opens, and hoping that the cascading zombies don’t hit any of the active characters. It’s an innovative way of directing the zombie horde and the threat of a ‘zombie rush’ makes for a fun and exciting game. This short slow-mo video should give you an idea of how this works. Only one survivor was hurt during the making of this video :-)
Pretzel have come up trumps again with this game. Flick’em Up! Dead of Winter succeeds in melding two very different games together to make a new game that delivers on its promise. Cast aside any scepticism about its odd parentage, this is definitely a game you’ll want to add to your collection.
Next stop, Flick 'em Up! Twilight Struggle?
(Review by Selwyn Ward)