I’ll try to review some games that are more or less neglected on BGG. I don’t think my review will help as the hundredth for Agricola, but if there is no better opinion, then mine shall be heard. I’m new to reviewing, so feel free to criticize and comment. Maybe I’ll edit a German review in later.
Fliegende Zeilen (Winged lines/verses) is a creative game around the difficult task of writing poetry. Each player has the same basis: One randomly chosen verse of an existing poem and a specific task, e.g. “Write a love song”. But who will be the next Goethe?
Unfortunately, I’ve only played the original version of this game once before receiving my own homemade one, which means I don’t remember the components too well, but they didn’t leave a particularly good or bad impression. The game includes the verse book, different task cards and a die. The verse book includes 216 different verses, taken from many different poems. They are numbered from 111 to 666, using every possible combination of three consecutively thrown D6. Every task card (I don’t remember how many there were, maybe 5-6) has five numbered tasks.
The start player rolls the die three time and uses the numbers to find the corresponding verse in the verse book. If he rolls a two, a three and a one, then he will search for the verse 231, which might be “Meinen Gatten will ich wieder” (“My husband I want back”) by Goethe or “ottos mops kotzt” (Otto’s pug vomits – an entire poem using only the vowel O) by Ernst Jandl. Everyone writes it down on a piece of paper. The player then proceeds to roll the die another time. The number indicates the task on the task card the players have to fulfil. If he rolls a six, he can choose one of the five tasks. Tasks could include “Write a lullaby with this verse”, “Write a fairytale with this verse” or “Create a scandalous headline with this verse”. One player starts an alarm clock on ninety seconds (or uses an hourglass, but either there was none or it was stuck, because we used a mobile). Now everyone tries to come up with the best/funniest text. The chosen verse can be integrated anywhere (beginning, middle, end) and can be adjusted in tense and person. The players can also decide in advance if it can be adjusted further, e.g. cut in several pieces or have changed words.
When the ninety seconds are over, everyone finishes their word/sentence. The start player begins reading his poem or text to the others, the other players follow clockwise in the same fashion. After every text has been read, everyone secretly chooses another player who has written the best text in his opinion. On count three, everyone points at this person. Players get one point for every person who points at them. The next player is start player and proceeds to roll the die for a new verse and task. The game can be ended after a chosen time (e.g. 20 minutes), after a chosen number of rounds (e.g. 3) or after someone reaches a chosen number of points (e.g. 6). The player with the most points is declared winner.
Fliegende Zeilen is greatly dependent on the group you play it with. There can be hilarious jokes – try to integrate overblown Romantic verses into a modern TV ad or modern words like “gamma radiation” into medieval minnesongs and you’ll see for yourself. The most important thing is not to have any reservations. You can’t write a perfect poem in ninety seconds (if you can: Congratulations, you are a genius I’d not have thought possible), it’s perfectly okay and funny to rhyme ‘sun’ and ‘fun’ a bunch instead. We often play without any points just for the laughs and are perfectly happy with that. But if someone is ambitious or a perfectionist, he will likely not have fun with this game.
You shouldn’t expect any deep game either. It’s more of a fun activity than any game at all, a nice filler in between two heavier games. Strategy-only-lovers, keep your hands off this game!
The verse book provides enough ideas for many plays and after having exhausted it, you could choose any random verse from any poetry book or even the internet. The tasks however are not very diverse and will repeat themselves soon. Unfortunately, even with different verses every time, the poems or texts start to feel the same using the same tasks repeatedly. Additionally, we regularly have the same idea combining verse and task and while the first text read is still funny, the second or third variation of the same will be much less interesting.
Despite these negative points, I think Fliegende Zeilen is a nice little creative game to play sometimes, not too often, not too long. The best is: You can easily build it yourself, using any poetry book, a die and self-made task cards. Get creative!