Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 2 November 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Flatline

Game: Flatline

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Kane Klenko

Year: 2017

Flatline is a sequel to Renegade’s hit game Fuse, where you were working to defuse a bomb. Unfortunately you failed at that game and now Flatline reflects the consequences for your ship. Flatline is a game of real-time dice rolling where you need to work together quickly to make the right dice combinations to treat your patients, deal with emergencies and buy yourself time to ensure that you complete all of your tasks before the power runs out. We’ve had a great track record with real-time cooperative games. XCOM: The Board Game is definitely our favourite, but the only one we’ve tried and not enjoyed is Bomb Squad. In that context, how does Flatline fare?

In Flatline, each player has a set number of customized dice, showing 6 different symbols. Each turn there is a one minute timed phase where everyone simultaneously rolls their dice and then you try to use the faces to complete tasks on the board. At any one time there are 4 receptacles on the board representing your patients and on each will be a number of tasks where the right dice must be placed – sometimes by one person and sometimes by a specific combination of people. Once all tasks on a patient are completed, that patient is replaced with a new one until you complete all patients and win the game.
The game set-up - you can work on four receptacles at any time, but it's often best to focus on those that give you a reward for completion.
The game has a set number of turns represented by a battery life. There are other zones on the board that give you two opportunities in the game to charge the battery by one step and buy yourself more time. Finally there are emergencies in the game. If you don’t deal with a set number of the urgent emergencies then you will lose the game – but, if you deal with them, there are single use rewards to be earned. Otherwise the standard emergencies are just an annoyance at the start of each turn that you can choose to deal with in order to make your life easier, but you need to get the right balance between using dice to clear emergencies and using dice to cure patients.

We’ve been enjoying Flatline as both a two-player game and with friends as a 4-player game. We love to play cooperative games and find that adding real-time elements often fixes the problem of one player making all the decisions. For players who find real-time stressful, I also think that games like Flatline, which have a real-time element following by a more relaxed period of resolution and planning can be the perfect mixture. With 2-players, Flatline is no exception, although with 4-players it does seem as though someone tends to take control, shouting to all the other players to ask about different dice faces to complete different objectives, all within the one minute time frame.
An early stage of the game with only three emergencies to deal with. At the start of each turn you roll the emergency dice to trigger the emergencies. Here we were lucky to roll a 5 and a 6 and we didn't have to deal with the negative events this turn.
The theme is quite a unique one, but even though you are supposed to be treating people with injuries from a bomb blast, it has been completely sanitized with faceless capsules representing the patients, so that it’s not a gory, or upsetting theme. It’s definitely an immersive game in spite of this, with a real sense of achievement as you progress and win. The game also makes sure that you really need to be an effective team, since without good communication you’ll not complete tasks each turn and you won’t finish the game before time runs out.

The level of difficulty is high, but we have been pretty successful on the tutorial level and I’m looking forward to increasing the difficulty and seeing how efficient we can become at the game. Of course there is luck in this game which is all about dice-rolling, but there’s many ways to make the best of what you’ve rolled and if you’re really struggling, there’s ways to re-roll your dice or even change the face when you’ve solved some emergencies.

Flatline is a quick game and the balance of luck and mitigation is just right for us so that we feel in control, but the game is not too predictable every time, and I can see us playing it over and over again. For the Yellow Meeple, it’s an 8/10.

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