Who thought that flicking segments of wood across a gameboard could get so competitive?
Not me for one but that was until I was sent a copy of Wizkids Conflick in the Neutral Zone. Combining Star Trek, gaming and a sprinkling of galactic combat, their latest offering is a little different to the usual HeroClix and Attack Wing materials produced in recent years.
Here”s the breakdown. Pitting the Federation against the Klingons you are in charge of a fleet of ships with the aim to collect dilithium crystals by landing ships (by flicking) onto one of the yellow planets or command points (which will ultimately win you the game) by landing on the larger purple planet.
Each player starts off with four ships; two hexagonal attack ships and two circular collector ships. These are the starting ships and are the basic fleet to begin the game. Collectors can only collect and attackers can only destroy enemy ships so just remember that OK? This can get fairly tactical but there’s more to it than that.
Initial set up is pretty straight forward with only the need to sticker up your playing pieces when unbagging and then getting the board set up as you would normally which takes just a few minutes.
Each player’s turn consists of six parts. At first you can recall ships from the board back to your fleet before collecting your resources. This depends on how the opposing player(s) turn went. At a minimum you receive a dilithium crystal for starting your move but you can also collect from the planets and also during the round if one of your ships has a special feature which gives you more crystals.
Following this accumulation of interplanetary wealth you can then purchase a new ship for your fleet and launch it immediately - but you can only launch one attacker and one collector per round.
Now, even if you are starting out as a Federation player you can purchase whatever ship you want and that includes an array of Klingon and Neutral vessels. Costs range from one to five dilithium crystals and are determined by its abilities and paralleled through an increased size of playing piece.
There are some inconsistencies with three point ships on both big and small pieces and the choice of ships for particular pieces or actions. Ships are purchased from a selection that is drawn from the ship deck. Four ships are offered up at one time with any purchased ship being replaced by another from the shuffled starship deck.
Features include the chance to place a finger on top of a ship to stop it being moved when under attack, gaining extra dilithium or Command points when collecting or even getting a second shot at survival. In all honesty the ships could be named anything but there's a certain satisfaction about purchasing the Enterprise-E or the Negh'Var.
Watch out for Bioship Alpha too because it might bring about a quicker win! Once you've moved you can reposition or place one of the cuboid asteroids anywhere on the board (but not within a range ruler width of a ship). The main advantage here is to block attacks and secure your position for the following round’s points tot up. With your asteroid placed you can then return any destroyed ships to your fleet ready for the next cycle.
Dependant on whether two, three or four players are involved will determine how often this sequence returns to you but you will need to be prepared to get very tactical. Conflick is easy to grasp after the first couple of rounds. A two player game can be fairly brisk with lots of ship purchasing, a lot of ships KO’d and all over and done in half an hour. Accuracy comes into play a lot with the likelihood that you'll overshoot a planet, miss a target or manage to knock yourself off a collecting planet.
To be fair that's half the fun and for once more cooks make it that touch crazier than Neelix cooking Plomeek soup. One challenge is that with three or four players - or even when you start buying ships to up your fleet you will need to keep a focus on which ships you've used, which are in play and which ones are yours since you're more than likely to have a mix of blue Federation, red Klingon and cream Neutral ships.
More players means there’s more targets and tactical play needed to overcome the larger amount of opponents. Certainly there will be more of a dash to secure the larger playing piece represented ships early on but that can be down to the luck of the draw.
For me Conflick in the Neutral Zone is the quick alternative to setting up an extensive game of Attack Wing. Its challenging, simple to set up and something a bit outside of the box. The age range says 14+ but my seven year old has helped test and won two games 10-4 (yes, I got slaughtered) and 10-7 so it's not that complex to pick up.
Being able to reuse pieces after elimination keeps everyone involved to the very end and it can get very, very close. The build quality of the pieces, the replacement set of extra stickers and even the thought given to the layout of the plastic tray in the game box are unexpectedly brilliant. It’s a ton of fun to play and doesn’t really rely on an exhaustive knowledge of the Star Trek franchise to play which makes it easily more accessible from the moment it’s unboxed.
It would be great to see expansion packs to offer up more opponent forces rather than just the Neutral selection and perhaps involve some form of missions in the future however its straightforward and easy to dive into nature make it extremely accessible.
Wizkids Conflick in the Neutral Zone is available now c.£35.00 from gaming stockists. You can find your nearest by checking HERE
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