09 January 2019
SEAL Team Flix has everything you need to live out your Tom Clancy tactical military fetishism to the max. Weapon attachments? You got ‘em. Batman utility-belt levels of equipment? Absolutely. Shooting around corners? Check. Communicating to the rest of your team with silent hand signals and ending every sentence with “Over”? Well, the rulebook doesn’t say not to…
In other words, even though the bullets are brightly-coloured discs – metallic grey would presumably get lost easier after stray shots, of which there will be plenty – SEAL Team Flix feels like a fully-fledged military shooter. Positioning is vital, using your limited equipment is key and recklessness can quickly lead to bodies piling up.
This might make it sound a bit overly stern for a game about pinging wooden slugs around your table, but it’s anything but dour when you’re in the thick of it. Few games let you defuse a ticking time bomb by flicking discs to cut the right wires on a dedicated mini-game sideboard, or give you the chance to snipe a terrorist holding a hostage by curling a disc onto their head – and missing the captive, obviously. Many of SEAL Team Flix’s greatest moments ingeniously recreate the sweat-inducing heroics of action movies and novels one moment, before erupting into hilarious pratfalls the next as grenades ricochet off doorways, expert soldiers shoot themselves in the foot, alarms go off and everything descends into chaos. It’s hard to take it all too seriously.
There’s plenty of amusement to be had, but that doesn’t mean that it’s messing around, either; your SEALs will go down in a few hits from a couple of unlucky rolls of the enemy attack dice if you leave them in the open and, in the campaign’s run of branching missions, that means they’re dead for good (at least until the whole squad is wiped, which lets you bring them back minus their valuable experience).
Like its commitment to making every shot (or miss) count, one of the game’s most impressive feats is just how brilliantly realised its tactical edge is. The box packs in half a dozen different environments laid out on massive one-piece boards with 3D walls, doors and destructible cover that pop from the tabletop and provide ample challenge when lining up a shot. Enemies spawn, patrol set paths and stand guard in specific areas, before closing in on the squad, taking cover and unleashing reaction fire when they hear noise or spot SEALs.
The alert system and cardboard AI can be a little fiddly to get to grips with at first, but they bring each level to life in a way that makes it much more than a simple shooting gallery. That said, there’s never a feeling that the game is rigged against you; your own mistakes, whether down to tactics or poor flicking, are almost always the reason for a friendly wound or failed mission.
SEAL Team Flix is a strange beast. It’s part grid-based tactics game, part dexterity challenge; part po-faced military sim, part wacky toy box. But somehow, everything comes together in an experience that’s brilliant all the way through.
There’s plenty of silliness to be had as you flick your way through terrorists, bombs and hostage situations, but SEAL Team Flix grounds its hugely fun gameplay quirks in smart design that brings each mission to life and makes this much more than a gimmick. It’s right up there with the best dexterity games on the tabletop.
Designer: Pete C. Ruth II, Mark Thomas
Artist: Josh Derksen, Michael Phillippi
Time: 60 minutes
This review originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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