The crowd begins to cheer and stomp their feet, shaking the arena. You wipe the sweat from your brow as Seth Curry makes his way down the court. With a quick no-look pass he gets rid of the rock, passing it to Brandon Ingram. Ingram passes to Boban Marjanovic, who slams home a flat-footed dunk. You're worn down, how can your team compete with this dream team? Steel yourself, grab the ball, and get it into the hands of your own superstars, making incredible plays to lower the confidence of your opponents. This is the drama of FLEX NBA, a brand new officially licensed NBA game from Sequoia Games.
In FLEX NBA, two players face off in a head to head battle for dominance on the court. But this isn't a game about sinking 3-pointers or slam dunks to end the game with a higher score than your opponent. Instead, FLEX NBA abstracts and puts into strategy game form the experience of whittling down the opposing team's confidence. Sequoia Games sent us a starter set to try out (along with an affiliate discount code, which we'll link to below), so head to the court with us as we preview FLEX NBA.
How Do You Play FLEX NBA?
There are two game modes in FLEX NBA - Easy Mode and Advanced Mode - but both modes revolve around the same core principal. Each player constructs a kind of dream team made up of real-life NBA players, from James Harden to Jamal Murray. Represented on "Flexigon" tiles, each player on your team has a CP rating. CP stands for "Confidence Points," and through special abilities and careful matchups, you can slowly chip away at the opposing team's CP. If you can remove all of your opponent's players from the board, you win!
To play Easy Mode, you ignore a lot of the special abilities and extra tiles in the game, and simply work to grind down your opponents. Each player has a specific type, like Assault, Power, Marksman, Flashy, and more. And each player has is either neutral against other types, "Soft vs." other types (meaning they generally deal less damage) or "Ballin vs." other types (meaning they deal more damage).
And while Easy Mode is a good introduction to the game, and can definitely be easily understood by newcomers to board gaming or younger fans, Advanced Mode is where FLEX NBA really shines. In Advanced Mode, players roll a custom die determining the action they can take for their turn. These actions include using special FLEX powers, unlocking more expensive powers, using special FX tiles which can alter the rules of the game, and even substituting out one player for another. Along with rolling a custom die, many special powers will require a player to roll the "ball" die, a 12-sided die that helps determine the success of certain powerful moves. All in all, Advanced Mode really opens the game up to a level of strategy that should hit home with fans of trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, where you're carefully eyeing up your opponent's team, thinking about the right matchups, and only striking out when you feel like you're one step ahead of your opponent.
What's Included In The FLEX NBA Starter Set?
The FLEX NBA Starter Set has everything two players need to jump into the game. It includes ten player Flexigons including "Basic" level (there are different rarities for each player, starting with Basic) NBA stars like Duncan Robinson, Jaylen Brown, Devonte Graham, James Harden, Seth Curry, and more. The game also includes two half-court game boards (one for each player), FX Tiles, and tokens.
To continue to build your roster, you'll have to purchase additional blind-packs. If you're a die-hard fan of a specific team and want that roster, Sequoia Games is also releasing team-based one-player starter sets. Building out a team of players from across the league really feels like bringing Fantasy Basketball to the tabletop, and I love the look and varied illustration style on the Flexigons. They give a lot of character and personality to each player, and add to their superhero-feeling nature.
How Does The FLEX NBA App Work?
Adding another layer to the game is the companion app, downloadable for free. Along with easy access to the rules, the app also includes the ability for players to register an account and scan each of their Flexigons into the app. Each Flexigon contains a unique barcode, so only you own the physical copy of the Flexigon you have in your hand. Along with this added layer of security, you can also activate AR functionality to bring your players to life on the court. Some of the Flexigons even interact with one another, though this is purely a fun add-on and cosmetic feature, and doesn't impact gameplay in any way.
All in all, FLEX NBA is doing something that's truly missing in the board game space: bringing the world of professional sports to the tabletop in an approachable way that still manages to scratch that strategic, tactical itch. If you're interested in trying out FLEX NBA for yourself, click here to use our Affiliate Link to get 10% off your purchase.
The copy of FLEX NBA used in this preview was provided by the publisher.
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