Andrew Tullsen is a great guy whom I finally met in person during GenCon 2013. There, I played an earlier prototype of Flick Wars with 5 other friends. It was a blast! When the project went up on Kickstarter I knew I had to interview him. I’m interested in making a dexterity game and I wanted to learn from his experience.
My comments are preceded by HG, with Andrew’s preceded by AT.
HG: Andrew – you’re a game designer, publisher, entrepreneur. Introduce yourself so we know you a little better.
AT: You can add to that list “Christian, Student, Ballroom Dancer and Ultimate Frisbee Player.” My various other pursuits besides board games keep me as busy as can be. I currently run Print & Play Productions which is a prototype service for designers to get quality prototypes printed.
HG: Your service is fantastic and I’m quick to promote it. For those curious, you quickly mailed me some really nice cardboard tokens for Wozzle and you made me a few beautiful copies of York, which I used to pitch at GenCon.
To the matter at hand. What is Flick Wars?
AT: Flick Wars is my own game (okay, fine, I’m the co-designer). It’s a combat dexterity game where you control a faction of different units. You flick them around the board as you try to destroy your opponent. It’s very fast to learn and play, yet has more tactical depth than most dexterity games of its game length.
HG: Where did you get the idea for Flick Wars? What were your inspirations?
AT: The other designer, Shaun Austin, came up with the original idea. I took the idea and basically did all the design work after the initial prototype. I fell in love with the dexterity combat idea and expanded it to a more polished state and added a bit more flavor to the game.
HG: Do you have any favorite dexterity games? Mine is easily Ascending Empires. I love the mix of serious strategy and ridiculous flicks.
AT: I love Pitchcar. I was a part of an epic tournament at BGG CON last year and I came in first. The final track was spread over 2 tables, was 3 levels high, and it took us a few hours to do just 2 laps. My final winning shot went over a jump, 3 curves and past the current leader’s car to win the game.
HG: Dexterity is a difficult genre. How do you feel Flick Wars stands out?
AT: All the dexterity games I had played either were “abstract” dexterity (Pitchcar, Crokinole, etc.) or the dexterity aspect didn’t feel right in the game (Ascending Empires, Catacombs). That second statement is a little strange, so let me explain.
I do love Ascending Empires. I have a custom wood board that removes all the weird jumps you get from the gaps. But the rest of the game is this strict technology tree game, and then you have these tiny ships which fall over and roll around. And the range rulers are so small! I mean, I’m good at dexterity, but there’s a reason everyone loves the purple technologies where you get points for ramming or being rammed.
Anyways, I wanted a combat game where the entire game WAS dexterity, but it also had the tactical/strategy elements.
HG: Who would love Flick Wars? Who is it aimed at?
AT: People who love finger-flicky games but want something more. People who like FUN.
I have played it with teens and adults, males and females. Nearly every game we end up standing around the table, groaning and cheering at each flick. There’s a basic set of cards that allow people to jump right in. I had one gal who professes to not like playing longer games, sit down, learn and play the game. But I want something more for me, so there’s the advanced cards that allow you to pick your own set of units before each battle. So I guess it caters to both light gamers and strategy gamers.
It isn’t supposed to be taken too seriously though, so if all you play are 3 hour, unforgiving euros, Flick Wars may not be for you.
HG: The experience you describe matches mine with the game. Our game at GenCon in particular was just a hoot. Lots of trash talk, tension, and joking. Really fun.
What were some of the key development challenges you faced developing Flick Wars?
AT: Balancing the freaking factions! Or just plain balancing the units. I would make one rule change and then I would need to fix some units, which would break other units, etc. Since Shaun was in another country, we never got to sit down together and play the game. So I would be updating files on my end, and it was hard for us to always be on the same page. I will say, Dropbox for the win though. We are still using that to sync our files up.
HG: I’ve wanted to make a dexterity game for a while but haven’t found my idea yet. What advice would you give to someone pursuing a dexterity design?
AT: Don’t skimp on component quality. Most games can live with thinner cards or smaller tokens or what have you, but a good dexterity game lives by its components.
Try a design exercise. Take a game you like and come up with a dexterity game based on it. Sort of like converting a game to a card game or a dice game (both of which seem to be all the rage now), but convert it to a dexterity game. You know, say, Agricola Stacking. Where you need to stack the different pieces on top of each other, but you have certain cards showing you which combos (which pieces are touching) give you more points.
HG: That’s actually really clever. I have just the design that this might work for. Hmm…
Why did you choose science fiction? You seem to have a fondness for this theme. Care to elaborate why?
AT: So much space to do anything you want! I love the epicness and grittiness of sci-fi, where you can have huge space battles or little skirmishes, all with hi-tech equipment that of course looks really cool.
Theme to me is big in games. I need to really feel immersed in the theme of a game to really get drawn in. As a computer programmer and geek, Sci-Fi holds just enough math and science to be fascinating to me.
HG: Thanks Andrew, good luck!
Flick Wars is currently being funded via Kickstarter. Give it a look! I want to thank Andrew for taking the time to let me interview him.