A board game for 2-4 players by Friedemann Frieses from 2F-Spiele (Germany)
These comments copyright 2000 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated January 11, 2001

What Is It?

Flickwerk is a quick little puzzle-solving game for 2-4 players. Everyone starts with identical components and is given a puzzle to solve with them. The first one to solve the puzzle correctly scores a point. There are twelve rounds (hence twelve possible points), and whoever has scored the most points at the end of the 12th round wins the game. The game takes about 20 minutes to play.

The theme is computer networks: a nine-cubicle office needs two pairs of computers networked together, with no extraneous wires when you're done. How quickly can you figure out the best path for the cables?

What Do You Get?

The game is very inexpensive - I paid US$7 for my copy. It comes with a cardstock board, five sets of twelve tiles each, also in heavy cardstock, and four wooden disks (two each of two different colors) to represent computer servers. The board and tiles contain deliberately vague, pixel-large images of various office equipment: desks, chairs, phones, filing cabinets, printers, etc.

In addition, the tiles contain cables, which stand out against the slightly out-of-focus background quite clearly. There are six different types of cable layout on the tiles:

  • three tiles have a straight cable, running from one edge to an opposite edge;
  • three have an elbow arrangement, with cable running from one edge to an adjacent edge;
  • three have a "tee" connection, with cable running off three different edges;
  • one has two straight cables crossing each other at right angles (these are not spliced together!);
  • one has two elbow arrangements on the same tile, also not spliced together;
  • one has a plug: cable runs from one edge to a plug in the center of the tile and does not exit the tile from any other edge.
Unfortunately, all the backs of all of the sets are identical. It would be nice to have each set of twelve tiles printed with a different back, as the game comes in a ziplock bag, and they get all mixed up between games. So you have to start each game by sorting the sets. I've simply written a letter on the backs: one set has all As, one all Os, etc., leaving the fifth and master set with blank backs.

The board resembles a tic-tac-toe board: 9 squares in a 3x3 pattern.

How Does it Work?

Everyone starts the game with a complete set of 12 tiles, described above. The master set is shuffled and turned facedown in a pile, while everyone else arranges their tiles so they can easily and quickly grab a given type. The board is placed in the center of the table, and one player is chosen as boss (which is no great honor).

First the boss arranges the computer markers adjacent to the board edges, on the table itself. My set came with two green markers and two orange markers. You can put the markers adjacent to any edge square you wish - corner cubicles can have two markers, if desired, one on each edge. Make sure it's clear which cubicles have the computer markers, and then the boss turns the top master tile over and places it in the center of the board.

At this point, it's a race. Each player must find the same type of tile and place it on the table in front of them, in the same orientation as the master tile the boss just randomly drew and placed. Then, working on the table, not the board (which remains blank except for the one tile in the center), each player tries to solve the puzzle.

You must build a nine-tile network connection in a 3x3 square, just like the board. (Yes, this means you'll have three unused tiles once you've solved the puzzle.) The center tile must be of the same type as the master tile drawn, and with the same orientation. One orange computer server must have cable running to the other orange marker, and the two green markers must be similarly connected. (They can all be merged into one network if desired, but that's optional.)

In addition, you can't have cable leaving the 3x3 space except where the computer markers are. Likewise, you can't have cable running to another tile unless that tile also contains cable leading to that edge.

The first one to complete the puzzle calls "DONE!" and the other players look at it. If there's an error, the player who called done is out of the round, and the others go back to finishing their networks. If there's no error - all cables connect to other cables and the servers are correctly networked - the round ends, and the player who called "done" collects the master tile as a victory point.

That player then becomes the new boss: they adjust the computer markers as they see fit, and when everyone is ready, draws the next master tile and places it in the center of the board. Continue until all 12 master tiles have been collected, and the player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

That's basically it. In some ways it reminds me of Take It Easy in that everyone has the same components and is trying to assemble them into an optimum whole. The difference is in what is optimum: in Take It Easy it's maximized points. In Flickwerk it's quickest accurate connections.

You could easily get two sets, by the way, to play with more than four players. In this case, I'd award a victory point each to the first two players to successfully complete their networks.

Why Wouldn't You Like This Game?

You might not like simultaneous action games where the winner is the fastest.

You might not like puzzle-solving games that rely heavily on the left brain. In fact, some people are simply slower at such puzzles than other people, and you really have to play with people of roughly the same abilities or the game is very boring - see below for a possible fix.

You might not like inexpensive games with flimsier components than most German games have.

Handicapping Variant

The more I play this, the better I get. This becomes a problem when I teach the game to new players, as it takes a few games to get really quick at seeing the network solutions. So I've come up with a handicap mechanism to help me teach others the game without having to "let" them win:

The better player simply closes his/her eyes for certain length of time when the new tile is turned over. Only after counting softly out loud for a set number of seconds do they open their eyes and begin work on the puzzle. How long? You'll have to experiment. Start with 10 or 15 seconds, and adjust it up or down depending on their level. The ideal handicap will make for a close race once the more experienced player opens his/her eyes.

Summing Up

This is a quick, fairly light game (yet one which requires thinking) that will appeal to those with the type of mind that can solve connection- and maze-types of puzzles. It'll probably frustrate the heck out of folk who don't do well at those types of puzzles - be warned. On the other hand, it's a good trade-off game: "I'll play your word game if you'll play my network game when we're done ..." It's short enough for this to work, so everybody can play the type of game they like in the same evening.

I consider it a fine little inexpensive brain-teaser of a game that only lasts about 20 minutes. For my tastes, that's a perfect amount of time - I wouldn't want to play this type of game any longer. But I do enjoy it for 20 minutes, so it was a good design call. Given the low price, and the fact that I'll pull it out at least once a month as a quick filler, that means it'll cost me about 55 cents per month for the first year ... a bargain!

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