Fled Preview – Odd Bird Games

Flrd, Oddbird Games, Front Cover Box
Odd Bird Games were responsible for Feudum, a game that had systems within systems, a huge table presence with one of my favourite board game art styles of all time. It was also slightly divisive in terms of its reception with it either being a game people loved to bits, or didn’t enjoy their time with it. My concern with Feudum was always my ability to devote the time and teach required to get it to the table, and therefore I’ve toyed with adding it to my collection so many times, its almost an in joke that I have with myself. what that means is that I’ve never experience the design mind of Mark Swanson, and so with Fled I’ve now got that opportunity to experience if he lives up to his Odd Bird name and persona.

Overview

In Fled, you play an Irish prisoner in the mid 19th Century, jailed for petty theft and looking to use a mixture of contraband and tools to navigate the prison, gain the necessary equipment to plan and implement your escape and take you back to your beloved. 

 


Main Play

Fled gives the impression of a simple tile laying game, but there are a number of systems interlinked that you will be working with as you play. Every action is based around the use of one of the tiles from your hand. Every round you’ll play a tile in order to increase the size of the prison, making sure that the tiles connect up properly to each other. The layout of the tiles define how you move around the building but you can never really shut down paths by laying tiles only expand the potential for gaining contraband. Then you’ll play a further two tiles to either move yourself or one of the wardens. Wardens have the ability to punish prisoners that they catch who aren’t where they are meant to be and put them in shackles which brings in a victory point penalty for the end of the game. Get caught twice and you’ll end up back in your cell without the penalty but wasting time and resources. Sitting at the side of the board is the warden track which dictates whether it is night time but also which rooms contain contraband which is required to gain inventory to allow you to escape. In essence what you are trying to do is to explore to gain contraband, which you’ll use to buy tools which you will then use once you reach the prison wall in to escape. Sometimes you’ll need to move a warden in order to give you the rooms you need to find the contraband in the first place. All the while you are using your hand of tiles to move about the prison. Luckily you can also store tiles in an open row next to the warden at the risk of others being able to take those tiles as well. If it sounds a bit complicated it’s just a serious of layered systems that interact with each other and you need to keep an eye on not only what you are doing, what what is governing what can be traded.

Winning 

The end game is triggered when either a player manages to escape or the deck of tiles runs out. At that point the winner is the player who has the most number of total points based on their shackles, escape bonuses and overall inventory they have. That whistle though. 

Looks 

Klemenz Franz puts his own style stamp on the game and all the main characters certainly have character and I really like the individual printed meeples as they with creating the atmosphere of the game. I would have preferred the icons to be slightly bigger across the board to make them as legible as possible and I’m being picky by saying it would be good if the tiles were slightly bigger, but all in all it doesn’t take up a huge amount of space on the table and works well with the theme. That whistle though. That whistle is class.
 

Learning  

You’ve got a clear well explained rule book with well laid out diagrams and iconography. I think the biggest road bump you’ll find its that there is a reasonable amount to learn here and grasp, but because it follow a logical step of events, it ends up fairly being fairly straightforward after a few rounds to figure out what you should be doing. I think it would be good to have a crib sheet with a reminder of the various actions but I’m hopeful this is something that will appear on the back of the rulebook or as a separate sheet in the game. That whistle is class.


Timing 

This is going to be player dependent, but expect a normal game to hit over the our mark with a maximum of around two at the very most if you are playing the higher player counts. Due to the limited number of components the set up and tear down is pretty quick.

Final Thoughts

Fled interests me because it is almost in the direct opposite side of the scale when compared to Feudum and its various systems and components. It is almost as if Mark Swanson ran out of materials when he was designing it and decided to create something with a box of seventy domino tiles and eight meeples. Due to these restrictions I think that Fled is all the better for it. It starts as laying tiles, but once you are into the meat of the game it becomes a full on resource management game, where you are balancing moving to gain contraband while trying at the same time to prevent others from doing the same, while the prison area grows until the prison walls and potential freedom can be found. It comes across as quite a lean game, that unfolds as the game plays with the introduction of more wardens, a helpful chaplain and the punishment of solitary confinement which delays your turn. It also does a good job of forcing you to plan in the early rounds because the methods and means to escape don’t exist from the outset of the game thus giving you the chance to get accustomed to how the game plays. You never are stuck fully for actions to take on you turn as there always seems to be something to do to move things forward, or prevent other players or in the worse situation, give up a tile to the warden to be played and collected another time. Fled makes me wonder what else Mark has in store for us in the future, are this seems to be just one of a few titles he is planning on releasing in the next year or so. It also seems to come fully formed and ready for production and I have few complaints on the overall package on offer here. Fled is something to keep an eye on when it comes to crowdfunding in the future. Did I mention that the whistle you get is class?

Any Tips? 

Remember to move the wardens to change the contraband that can be traded. It is one of the easiest ways to scupper your opponents plans.

This preview is based on the prototype version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this preview. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned. Quotations from this preview may possibly appear in relation to any marketing associated with this game. 

 
The majority of the games that we are play are going to take a reasonable number of sessions and playthroughs to fully understand every possibility that they offer. We hope this write up gives you an idea of whether or not this game is something that you will consider playing or even add to your collection. 
 
Our Six Degrees of Expectation have been written to make it easier for you to find out what is important to you as a player. Even if we don’t like something, hopefully it helps you to decide if it is something that you should find out more about. We always suggest you check out a gameplay video to give you a better understanding of the game as it is played. 

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