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Elephant's Board Games

Review: Flash Duel – quick sword fights

Category:  strategy  action  beginners  for two 

Sharpen your swords, it is time to stand up to your fate. Fights man against man are always a matter of honor and it eve does not has to be life or death battle. Andrenalin will still pump up your blood into heart with incredible speed. And something familiar awaits you in board game Flash Duel.

Flash Duel - packaging

The sun peeked over the tip of the tree and its first rays gleamed on pulled blades of swords. The rumble had few minutes earlier startled deer calmly grazing in the nearby meadow. Fighting still continued with both opponents constantly changing their attacks.

Passersby would be scared at first sight. One of the enemies had a long, white beard, which waved ominously around as he moved. Unnaturally large eyes and small ears indicated, that he is definitely not human. The other fighter was even scarier - his blue skin looked through torn clothing made by enemy sword. His own arms were now his only weapons. His blade layed nearby on the ground, kinked in half.

We could stay and look at the battle, but we prefer to move away from unpredictable rivals and look together at a game, that offers such fights, but safer. Name of this game is Flash Duel and was creation by David Sirlin from Sirlin Games company. You can know them for a great Puzzle Strike or Yomi, however Flash Duel was the first one in line. And so it is today here with us and we thank Sirlin Games company for sending the review piece.

Flash Duel - game is ready

Sirlin Games uses an interesting policy, when taking care of both production and distribution. You can order games on their site, from where they send it all over the world. We received Flash Duel in second, improved edition of the game, which builds on the battles of digital game Fantasy Strike.

Whether you buy the game directly from them or order it from some retailer, you will get in mail an unobtrusive little box in a dark brown color. On its cover, there are characters, who are participating in the game and you can play in their skin..

The box is really of a rigid material. When you remove the lid, you will finally get an overview of all components in the package. At first glance, there is not many. Pack of 128 cards, portable box and game plan folded in half. Below them, there are only four smaller figures representing heroes, one more for the black dragon and also five victory tokens. Rules in our box were in version 4.1.

Flash Duel - game in progress

And as is customary for our reviews these days, we will together re-analyze this deck of cards. This time it's really a lot of different cards in there, but the main part consists of two packages: the first comprises fifty cards numbered from one to five. Second, even a larger package of sixty cards, contains three ability for each of twenty (!) present characters.

The rest of the cards is already expanding the game in variants - eight dragon cards with special skills and loyalty cards for a variant with traitor. The last five cards, we have not mentioned yet, allow you to take your Flash Duel with you in a smaller box, without having to carry rather large game plan. You will build its copy from these five cards, which is an excellent idea.

Rules offer even simplified version for beginners without the character abilities. In order for you to pass the gaming system of Flash Duel into your blood, it's really a good option. We will not describe the extended rules of figher skills in our rule section. We will return to them a little later, when you have an idea how to fight in the game.

Flash Duel - cards

It is all really simple and intuitive. Two characters (the basic version of the Flash Duel is just for two players) stand on opposite sides of the plan with eighteen numbered fields. Warriors collide probably somewhere in the middle, but each of them begins at one end. You will split the package of 50 numbered cards and keep exactly half of them - five pieces of each number - ones, twos, threes, fours and fives. You will shuffle the whole deck and prepare it next to the game board - it is common for both players. Each of them draws their initial five cards from the pile.

One game takes place in several rounds, as well as in combat computer games (such as Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Virtua Fighter). Individual round ends immediately, when one player manages to hit the opponent and his attack is not blocked. In this situation, the player gets a victory token. The whole battle is won by the player, who gets three tokens. Whole game can therefore take up to five rounds.

Each player plays his turn in only one action, then draws up to five cards. Then gets his chance the other rival. Thus the chances are even, because the players constantly alternate in giving blows. Round may end up also with emptying the drawing deck, when nobody is able to hit opponent till then. In this case, the winner is determined by distance of characters from their starting position. Whoever is further is the winner.

Flash Duel - game is ready

But how you will achieve that actual blow? You simply play cards from your hand. You can use the total to four different activities with the numbered cards. Given that the fighters are far apart at the beginning of a round, you may first need to use some numbers to move.

At a time, when the players come to a distance of five boxes between them, the real fight might start. It is that far, their attacks can reach. If you are holding a card, that corresponds to the distance of the enemy, you can play it and try to attack him. You can also play more cards of this same number and thus make your attack stronger. Your opponent has to play the same number of cards with equal value to defend. If you do not have enough cards, you failed to parry an attack, you are hit and lose the round.

Players can also perform two other actions. If the fighters get all the way to each other, opponents can use one card to push the other away for a distance of just played card value. And then there is the last, fourth possibility. Only this one gives you the option to play two cards with different values from your hand - one of them is used to move and then you can attack with the second, if your distance is right. This is called a dashing strike, is very effective and leads to unpleasant consequences for the opponent. However, it is harder to play, because you have to have the right combination of cards. The enemy, however, can also block this attack like the regular one.

Flash Duel - cards

Once you succeed in dashing strike, the opponent can escape before you make the final blow. He can run back with any number and his character finches that much boxes to avoid an attack. But he will pay for it with loss of the next round, during which he is recovering from the escape. However, if your dashing strike is successfully blocked, it still provides a disadvantage for your rival, because he will have only four cards to choose from during next turn - he draws up to five at the end of his turn.

This concludes the description of the basic Flash Duel options. Four extremely simple actions are obvious and clear. The most complicated of them is dashing strike, but even that offers no challenge for learning. Everybody learns this game without problems and non-players will really enjoy, mainly its flashlike speed of each round. Each round usually lasts about five minutes and ends with either a hit or emptying the package of 25 cards.

You can easily tell from the previous sentence, that Flash Duel got us excited for its simplicity and speed. Even the five duels fit into a half of an hour and then nobody can say no to call for retaliation. It should be noted however, that Flash Duel is not entirely original. Author himself admits this fact in rules, because gameplay is inspired by En Garde game from Reiner Knizia. However, all extensions and variants, which we will talk about now, are unique to Flash Duel.

Flash Duel - game in progress

You should dedicate the first few matches to learning. Despite the real simplicity of the system itself, to grasp the whole game really well and have good strategies will take you some time. Continuous monitoring, calculating and combining numbers is simply something you have to get used to.

At the beginning of the game, you can choose from an incredible twenty characters (ten more than in the original first version). And believe us, that each is completely different and requires a different strategy. Imagine then the time you will need to try each of them or even master their tactics.

We promised yo,u that we will mention special abilities, that each character has. This is the systém, that differs fighters from each other. Each character requires a different approach in play. Someone is simple hitter, some other just purely defensive, trying to empty the numbered deck.

Flash Duel - cards

And that alone is just the beginning, because it is only the classic version. The original game was made only for two players, but that changed with this reedition, which brings five other variations in a box. The first is called clockwork soldiers and simply lets you choose (or draw) three cards with abilities of characters instead of picking the original ones. This gives you another unique (and almost infinite) variation of a strategy to discover.

First, you will find a team duel, where you finally use the second package of 25 cards with numbers. You must shuffle all of them to form a drawing pile for all four players. Each team must work together in order to hit both opponents with their attack. Team of last man standing wins. The game also brings special dashing block. You can help your fellow colleague out, when he is under attack.

The biggest news, and greatest variant of the game, is Deathstrike Dragon Raid. One player seizes the role of a dragon and another two to four tries to defeat him. It will not be simple and heroes must really work together to accomplish this. Dragon is truly strong and has really respectable skills. According to the number of players, his strength and health varies. The last option to play Flash Duel brings traitor into the dragon fight. His role is a secret and he tries to help a dragon so the other players would not notice.

Flash Duel - game is ready

Flash Duel was a duel game originally designed for two players. With the new release, designer has added new variants options into the box and really raised the gameplay value of the box. All these options make Flash Duel virtually everlasting, without a chance to repeat itself. Each round is exciting until the end. This is simply because round ends with the first hit, which can occur virtually any time.

The strategy is present rather quietly in the background in this game. Do not forget to use your character abilities in the best way, but above all you need to properly combine the cards to move forward and retreat in the right time.

Matches also contain its share of luck. Not just because you can only make moves, that come from the drawing deck into your hand. You still have some sort of control over this movement. But when you are attacked by your opponent, you must hold in your hand a card with corresponding number. And if you just did not draw it, then you are out of luck. Nevertheless, this situation can be avoided, if you watch the right distance and think every move through.

Flash Duel - cards

Unfortunately Flash Duel encourages cards counting. Both players can see, which cards have been played and accordingly adapt their tactics and attacks. They know, which ones can be more successful. In the end everything depends on the players, if they agree to not use card counting, but it is a regular strategy, that rivals may ensue in their battle.

UPDATE: This can be easily avoided, if you add discard piles for all the card types. They can easily be seen by all players and they no longer have to remember everything. It offers a nice little touch, that makes this game even more perfect.

Flash Duel has a luxury treatment provided with just the illustrations of the cards and characters. Number cards are simple. But everything else is also good, cards do not wear, like players used to complain in the first edition. Also chips and game plan are made of quality material.

Flash Duel is a great game, that perfectly captures the atmosphere of a fencing duel somewhere on the meadow at dawn. You will enjoy the battle and victory each round, and all the three rounds leave you full of experiences. Not to mention the other options, that allow the involvement of more players and provide a completely different experience. If you do not mind randomness of drawing cards and you are looking for a quickie, in which you really go for your opponent's neck, then you have nowhere else to reach, but for Flash Duel.

Elephant's opinion: 

Flash Duel is something, we craved for long time in our editorial office. Thrilling quick game, which does not rely too much on luck, but is mostly about strategy. This game fulfills these requirements without problems and adds twenty playable characters as a bonus. They all have their unique fighting style. You can play basic fight with two players, but there is an option for team duel or fight with the dragon. One player will turn against all here. Offer of this little box will constantly amaze you. Although it is really a remake of an older successful game, Flash Duel manages to stand out of its shadow and walk its own apth. Every matchup is atmospheric and ends in a while with playing the right strike card. And even when this play is not to life or death, Flash Duel will strike you with its sword right into your heart on first sight.

Published: 2012-04-02 07:30:00



+ sturdy box
+ simple gaming systemjednoduchý herní systém
+ superquick fights (rounds)
+ four options to play cards from hand
+ twenty unique characters
+ team variant
+ dragon fight
+ portable packaging included


- only regular pawns
- luck will influence your defense

Title: Flash Duel

Author:  David Sirlin
Graphics: David Sirlin
Publisher:   Sirlin Games ()
Distributor:   Sirlin Games ()
Year: 2010
Players: 2  - 5
Suggested age: od 8 let
Playing time: 5 - 30 minut
Price: 35 USD


Players rating: 100%

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Name: CWheezy

Hey there, great review!

I was wondering about you stating that card counting is an issue. When I play my friends, we organize the discard so all the ones are togther, all the twos, etc. Since the discard is public it makes it much easier to know what cards are floating around in the deck

Date: 2012-04-03 01:37:46

Name: Dusan      Email: dusan@deskovehry.com

Hello CWheezy,
thank you, that is an brilliant idea! I'll put it in the article right away!

Date: 2012-04-03 07:34:00

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