Flag Dash: Review

Wanting to relive his more athletic days, Fairway takes a look at Flag Dash, a team v. team board game implementation of the classic, outdoor game capture the flag. See if the game captures Fairway’s heart.

Flag Dash is a two- to four-player capture the flag board game by designer Kirk Dennison of Piecekeeper Games. Teams of two players join together and move their pawns around a board to snatch the opposing team’s flag and return it to their territory. The game plays in under thirty minutes and offers a whole host of neat game play.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. I was originally skeptical about whether I’d enjoy a game about capture the flag. Turns out, I was wrong.
  2. The art is simple, but cute. The art is reminiscent of things you’d see on cartoon network.
  3. The use of priority tokens turns a ho-hum programmed action game into a real strategic powerhouse.


Game play ^

In Flag Dash, players divide into two teams, red and white, with each player taking on one (or more) of the characters in the game. Each team consists of three characters: two runners and one defender.  Players each control one of the runners, and teamed-up players share control of the defender. The team who can cross into the other opponent’s team, snatch the flag, and return to their territory will win.

To start, each player is given a character, a starting set of action cards, a player screen, and a set of standard priority tokens. The action cards represent the type of actions a character can take: run in a direct (one each of forward, backward, left and right), flag, push and repeat. Each character has a special ability which is represented by either a special action card or a special priority token.

The standard priority tokens are numbered one to seven. During the game, players use the the priority tokens to bid on the order in which actions will occur (compared to other players) as well as what can occur on that priority–taking a lower priority might enable you to take additional actions.

In the middle of the able is a game board. The board is divided into two territories separated by a sidewalk/no-man’s land.  The board is essentially an 8×9 grid.  Players’ runners and defenders are placed on the board on their own side. The board also features two walls and four tunnels — these elements are placed on the board in particular places for the standard arrangement but can be customized too.  Finally, the two team flags are placed on opposite sides of the board.

The game is played over a series of turns.  During the turns, players simultaneously select two actions from their action cards. The cards are played face down in order in which the player wants to take them. Each player also assigns a priority token to each of their action cards.

Then the players resolve their first action by determining the action order. The player with the highest priority will take their action first (e.g., 1st priority goes first).  Players in priority order will resolve their action and take any bonus action permitted by their priority token.  When a move action is revealed, the player can choose to move their runner or their defender.

Certain priority tokens give you special powers.  For example, priority two and four let you add boosts to your players.  You can use a boost on a subsequent turn to move additional spaces.  Priorities four and five let you repeat the played action two or three times.  Priority three and six let you play the face down action as well as another card from your hand.  Finally, the priority seven lets you return already used priorities to your supply–conversely, once you’ve used a priority, it’s not available until you’ve played the priority seven.

There are also two special actions: flag and push.  The flag action lets you grab the flag from a space or player.  The push action lets you move an opposing, adjacent character. It also causes another player to drop the flag if they’re holding.

After reveal their first actions in priority order, players reveal their second priority tokens and then take their second actions. The game continues in this fashion until someone is able to sneak their opponent’s flag into their territory.

On the green ^

Courtesy of the Flag Dash rulebook

I think that this game is a bit of a diamond in the rough.

The flag-holding meeples.  Let me just say, I love that the characters hold the flag. Each meeple, in addition to be a different color, is also a different shape too.

Priority token mechanism.  If you just thought the game would be a roll and move or similar, you’d be forgiven for writing off this game. But, the genius of the game is the combination of priority tokens and limited action cards. Playing just two cards in a programmed movement game would have been fine. The use of multi-faceted priority tokens give it the feel of sport. The tokens let you do the board game equivalent of juking a competitor out of their shoes. These priority tokens impose a real strategic element to the game: do you go first or do you take the extra actions?

The fact that priority tokens aren’t reset at regular intervals, but instead triggered by using the seventh priority, is also clever.

Variation.  The game does a good job of providing a range of useful, but balanced, player-specific abilities.  The variability in your team provides some different strategies, both while on offensive and on defense.

Similarly, the game comes with movable components that enable you to set up different maps.  Nice for adding a bit of replayability and challenge.

Play time, Player Count and Age.  This game plays quickly enough and can play between two (players controlling multiple characters) and four.  The game was also reasonably easy to teach and could easily be played with younger players (with some minor modifications), but offered a good amount of strategy and planning to keep older players interested..

Saturday morning cartoon comes to a game. More than one person commented that the art looked a lot like your modern equivalent of Saturday morning cartoon. So the game has a bit of nostalgia thrown in for good measure.

Where it comes up short ^

Without a doubt, this game exceeded our expectations.  We didn’t have many issues with the game at all. The set up, the first time, was a bit much for what it was, but this was just a minor quibble.

Quick note about two players: The game “works” with two. But it really defeats two things that are somewhat integral to the four player game, “teamwork” and “guesswork”, because that information is known to the player who is controlling both. This is probably not the best choice if you’re only looking for two player games.

In the hole ^

Flag Dash is a strategic and engaging team game that creatively uses game mechanisms to recreate the fast paced game of capture the flag. This is one game you probably shouldn’t judge by it’s cover. It has a lot to offer a gaming niche that doesn’t have a lot like it.  If you can find a copy of Flag Dash, you should definitely check it out.

Flag Dash is in the hole for a Par. ^

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