GTM #205 - Flatline: A FUSE Aftershock Game
by Kane Klenko

The flames are subsiding, the smoke is clearing, but your work is just beginning. You and your crew survived FUSE, but there’s significant damage to your ship, there are injuries among your crew members, and the life support systems are failing! As the ship’s Medics, you must work together to treat the injured crew, while dealing with other emergencies that are occurring at an unrelenting pace. You must work together, against the clock and against all odds, to treat all your patients before time runs out!

Flatline is the follow-up game to the highly successful, realtime cooperative game FUSE. But don’t let that fool you. Flatline is not just a slight twist on the FUSE mechanics, but instead it is a completely new game that offers a brand new play experience.

I like to think of Flatline as the reverse of FUSE. In FUSE, there’s a common pool of dice that players are drawing from to complete their own personal bomb cards. In Flatline, everyone has their own pool of dice, but they must work together combining their dice to treat patients and deal with emergencies on a common board. Flatline is a bigger game than FUSE, and will require even more coordination between the players. With a large board, 29 different emergency cards, 40 custom dice, 20 large patient tiles, and a power supply that is constantly draining, players have their work cut out for them.

Instead of setting players against a single 10-minute timer, Flatline is broken up into several rounds. Each round players will have time to discuss a strategy based on the current state of the board, then take their actions racing against a one-minute timer. The tension is high, and with the ability to take a breather and re-assess the situation every round, players are in constant communication with each other.

On the board are four different patient pods, each with a patient requiring treatment using specific medical equipment. It just so happens that you have this equipment on your dice (How convenient!). The icons on the patient tiles are separated into different sections, and require a specific number of players to play their dice there. One area might call for only one person to place dice, while another needs exactly two players to combine their dice to treat the patient. Another spot may require all players to contribute.

Unlike other realtime dice games where you roll your dice, frantically looking for the correct result, in Flatline, players only get one dice roll per round! This makes the game more about the communication between players instead of just speed. While you need to be fast, more importantly you must work out the best combinations of dice between the players and get your dice down on the board. But, what if you have a bad roll and aren’t able to get what you need? There’s a re-roll track on the board, and depending on the number of players, you’ll have a certain number of re-rolls each round as a team. However, allowing one player to re-roll a die requires another to sacrifice one of their dice for the rest of the round. Nobody ever said treating patients after explosions on a spaceship would be easy.

You might be thinking to yourself, “That doesn’t sound too hard. Roll some dice, dialogue with the other players, put the dice on the board, win!”. If only it were that easy. While all of this is going on, there are other emergencies to deal with. At the beginning of each round a certain number of Emergency Cards are revealed from a deck and placed along the edge of the board, next to spaces numbered 1 through 6. Then two dice are rolled, activating any Emergency Cards in those spaces. As you may have guessed, emergencies are bad for you. All manner of insidious things could occur, like making all players lose a die for the round or sucking power from the life support systems. Technically, you don’t have to deal with these emergencies to win the game, but if you ignore them, they’ll get out of control quickly and make the game even more difficult to win.

Flatline is a game that offers new and exciting gameplay for fans of FUSE, but even more importantly, it is a completely new game. If you’re ready for an intense, cooperative experience, gather your team and meet us in the Medical Bay!


Kane Klenko is the designer of FUSE, Covert, and Dead Men Tell No Tales.