Publisher Perplext
Design and Art Credits Chris Handy
Game Contents 31 cards, rules
Guidelines Picnickers’ pest-collecting game
Reviewer Andy Vetromile

Shoo, FLY, don’t bother the gamers – unless you’re worth points, of course, and they are in Perplext’s fourth entry in their Pack O Game line.

The object is to swat the most valuable sets of flies.

The play surface is a series of cards 3 × 9, some with flies and some not. Each fly has a colored symbol on its abdomen. Like a swimming pool high dive, the game box (yes, it makes use of the container) overlooks the entire scene with a “Sky” Card poking up out of it. Two to four picnickers take turns trying to liquidate the bugs spoiling their outing.

The sky's not just the limit, it's the minimum requirement

Players pass another card, the flyswatter, around the table. On his turn the diner holds the card up at the level of the Sky Card and drops it anywhere on the picnic table. If he completely covers any flies, he takes those cards and puts them in front of him. Then all the other cards slide together so the tabletop is again a coherent, convenient, bulky target, and the swatter moves to the next player.

Call in S.W.A.T.

When all the cards have been collected, the colored symbols on these pests are counted up. Sets of three or more of the same symbol or color garner that player a point per card, and the most points wins.

The cards in FLY are a little flimsy but they don’t have to withstand a lot. On the other hand, the game’s biggest problem is the constant fiddling with the bits. Players drop one card onto a selection of other cards; if he succeeds he has to remove some of them from the display, but in either case they can be pushed about by the impact or one’s attempt to retrieve the swatter from wherever it landed. It’s not as big a deal if you grab a fly – the rest of the cards have to shift to reconstitute the board anyway – but every miss is followed by intrusive fingers, as hopeful as they are careful, trying not to cause additional disturbance. The use of the Sky Card snuggled into the tuck box is cute and works, so long as you make sure at the time of purchase you don’t get a box that’s been dropped on a warehouse floor and smushed like a . . . well, anyway. (The rules suggest weighing down an unsteady container with a coin.)

You sit on a throne of flies

FLY is a simple sort of Pick Up Sticks in reverse, a dexterity game (you’ve been warned, the fumble-fingered among you) with set collection that plays most anywhere. It’s quick and manages to insert some good strategy into a small space. Small cards means even smaller icons, though, so it’s hard to be subtle about checking out other people’s progress (and the white and yellow flies are tough to distinguish). You pretty much have to tell each other what you’ve gotten so far – repeatedly, if you’ve a bad enough memory. Of course, turning cards facedown makes card counting a bigger part of the strategy, so that can turn a problem into a feature for those who are serious about their games. (The rules express no preference whether the cards can be kept hidden.) If you’re willing to arrange and rearrange the cards over and again, FLY is fast, fun, and spares picnickers the issue of ants – at least until someone releases ANT.

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