Games without dice are often deemed to require more skill than those with; removing the element of luck means you’re utilising the skills you have and the cards you’re got. Flanx by Lark and Clam is one of those game! No matter the cards you draw, quick decisions and fast paced placement will guarantee victory. Hesitate for a moment you’re a goner! Whether you have the OMIGA, One Minute Game or Flanx version of the game it plays the same with the same simple concept; out manoeuvre your opponent and flank their position. Your aim it to get behind your opponent’s cards before they do the same to you. Enclosing your opponents cards and making it so they have no more moves available guarantees victory!
The game plays quickly (hence the prior names) and is very easy to explain, set up and pack down. Lightweight is this game’s middle name, but that being said, it may be easy to learn but I’d argue its impossible to master! The game is 2 player (with the original rules) and starts with players choosing either colour. After that, they shuffle their cards, play one each so that they are legally placed and then they draw three cards as their hand. The game is now set up and ready to play! Cards are comprised of four elements; the top, bottom and a colour on either side. Pay extra attention to what elements each card is composed of, what cards you can play is dictated by this!
A legal placement means it makes sense with the pieces played. Should a card have a symbol with a rectangular bottom on it, the attaching card must also fit with it. You couldn’t place a triangular topped piece against a circular bottomed piece; if it wouldn’t fit it’s not legal! In the same way, the colours on the sides of the cards must also match; e.g. yellow to yellow or red to red in my own set’s case.
The actual game begins when players lock eyes and one is brave enough to initiate the game by shouting FLANK! Immediately, all rhyme and reason is thrown out the window. No longer are you a rational, clear thinking human being. You’re thrown into a primal and instinctive panic, the only thing on your mind being “How on earth do I play this curved bottom piece!?” The pieces run primarily on a best fit situation, and sometimes you have no choice but to allow your opponent to get ahead to allow you more variety of pieces to connect to, but there’s no way you’ll have a clear enough mindset to plan that far ahead. There will be some moments of clarity and things will just fall into place, however most of that will be down to your opponent panic placing every piece they own!
Pieces must be placed diagonally or orthogonally adjacent to your opponents pieces whilst also being adjacent to one piece you have already placed. Your aim? Prevent your nemesis from placing any more tiles by flanking their cards. The game is not played in turns, it’s all immediate. Live action. The faster you can place pieces, the more advantageous your position becomes. Because you have two ends to work with as well, your options are there but can disappear quickly if your opponent plays pieces quicker than you. It’s far easier to just have to match to one card’s element than two because you’ll become trapped! A player’s card is flanked when you have placed a card behind it, so the faster you play the more panicked an opponent will become!
The game ends when… One player cannot play any more pieces as they’ve been flanked both sides, one player has been flanked on one end but has no more room or tiles to play, both players have flanked one another at either end, table space has vanished, or all cards are used. You get one point per flank, meaning you could score 2 in one game if you play an excellent game, or it could be a draw with both players scoring. This scoring system creates opportunities for small tournaments and opens up this 2 player game to a larger audience, making competition more exciting and including a wider batch of players! The games aren’t always down to the last card though, if you hit a table edge that’s the end of that, no more card can be played there!Although the number of end game conditions sounds numerous, it’s always clear which one it is; players get a point for each flank they manage, no flanks no points!
There is not a single moment during play where your mind isn’t on the game. The live action, fast paced competitive nature of the game doesn’t allow for distraction, making this an excellent super quick, on the go game! The components aren’t vast, but they’re clear. You can easily identify what tops will match what bottoms, the colours are vibrant and easy to identify, and the cards themselves are robust enough to survive the quick state of play. Although the game requires zero communication, you won’t be able to resist the odd comment, fist pump in pleasure and frustrated growl. Add to that the after game discussion and inevitable second, third and fourth games, the game is very good at getting you talking and discussing it! The final thing to add is the replayability. The matches only differ in what is played, yet you’ll find yourself eager for another game after your first. It’s addictive in the best possible way and it grabs the attention of observers and really gets people wanting to have a go. The speed a game ends coupled with this make it an excellently replayable game! Also! There are other rule variations to the game; although this review has only covered the standard game, there are a fair few alternative ways to play included within the rule sets, meaning if you were to ever exhaust the standard game there’s still plenty more ways for you to out flank and panic your opponents!