Publisher: Piecekeeper Games
Game Designer: Kirk Dennison
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 20-40 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Capture the flag!
Piecekeeper Games brings us a unique treat with their first title, Flag Dash. Step back into those blissful summers of your youth and enjoy the carefree joy of playing capture the flag once again with your friends!
Flag Dash comes with a bevy of components; lots and lots of tokens for various uses, movement and character cards, meeples, player screens and a game board. The rule book is well done, explaining the game clearly while providing variants for different setups and ways to play to help keep the game fresh.
All of the action takes place on the dual-sided 8 ¼ x 7 ½” board, giving you a backyard setting on one side and two neighboring yards divided by a street on the other.
Ready, set, go!
Flag Dash is a programmed movement game, similar to Colt Express and Space Alert, among many others. What differentiates this game is the pairing of movement/action cards with priority tokens to offer more choices and a touch more complexity.
Your goal is to maneuver your way through your opponents, grab their flag and bring it back to your side of the board. An alternate means of winning has you snatching one flag off of the belt of each opposing player to get the win, similar to a ‘tackle’ in flag football.
Moves are programmed behind your player screen, where you select a movement/action card along with a numbered priority token which determines the resolution order of everyone’s moves. A tiebreak marker decides who goes first in the event of ties between opposing players. Choosing a lower numbered token lets you go early but going later nets you some nice spiffs.
Some of those benefits include earning boost tokens, playing two different action cards, or multipliers to your movement. Getting those extra moves is nice but you run the risk of an opponent being in your way and blocking you when you go later in the order.
This is where those boost tokens come in handy, if you’ve already snagged some. You can move one extra space for each boost used (two tokens max per character), in any direction before or after your move. This is a great way to get out of a pickle, or to setup a sweet move around a blocker.
There are fun special powers for each character, adding some unique flavor and strategies to explore. Jumping over obstacles and seeing an opponent’s move card before you make your move are a couple of examples. My favorites are the cat lady who can sic her cats on you and the tech nerd who can place traps to hold you up. It’s quite fun to unleash some chaos like that on the board!
When playing with a team mate you can look at each other’s cards and discuss strategies freely at the table. You’ll find a groove with your partner pretty quick, coming up with your own codes and audibles for every play. “Omaha”!
Speaking of teamwork, although the game says it plays 2-4, I think Flag Dash definitely works best at four players. It does work at two but can become a bit of a chore to set your moves for multiple characters each turn, drawing the game out longer than it should. There is a two-player specific variant in the rules but I didn’t think it was as good as the full four-player game is.
The board is small but the large assortment of components allow you to customize it for it to play differently each time. One of the more interesting terrain pieces to use are the tunnels, which can quickly transport you to any other tunnel on the field. However, you can’t use them when you’re the flag carrier. You stole it, to carry it home where everyone can see you and snatch it from you!
While I do like the cartoony character art, the meeples on the other hand were one failing of the game. I know they are supposed to represent the character poses from the cards but it didn’t carry over well to the wood. While it’s a fun idea, I think it would have been better off handled by standard color matched meeples myself. I really do like how you can place the flags into the meeple when they are the flag carrier, it’s both cute and important to see where that flag is on the field.
Should I get it?
Blending smart pre-programmed movement along with variable player powers for spice, Flag Dash is a speedy and fairly meaty strategic game that rewards the cagey player. Pairing numbered priority tokens with varied benefits to movement cards is a clever mechanism that sets this game apart from other programming games and adds to its depth and challenge.
While all of the planning provides some meaningful decisions, it can feel a bit confusing and more like work if you are handling it all by yourself in a two player game. Stick to playing this with a teammate and your enjoyment level will be much higher.
If you’re a fan of programmed movement games that rewards good strategic play for your group, I think this is one to check out.
Company Website: https://www.piecekeepergames.com
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/PieceKeeperGame
Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.