Reviews September 21, 2015
Reviewed By: Brandon Noel
Appropriate Ages: 8+
Average Game: 30-50 minutes
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games (Homosapiens Lab in Taiwan)
Designer: Chen Chih Fan
If you haven’t guessed by now, UFG is expanding our video game coverage into the realm of board games/table top experiences. In order to facilitate a smooth transition into this classic gaming realm, we reached out to several notable companies in hopes of obtaining product for review. One of them happened to be Tasty Minstrel Games (or TMG for short) – a publisher and designer of unique board games. Earlier this year, TMG sent us their hit dice based game, Dungeon Roll for review. This time we were able to receive are more recent property, namely a micro-deck building card game called Flip City!
Created by Chen Chih Fan, Flip City is obviously centered on cities. Each card features a front and back, with each side depicting a different structure. Structures range from residential areas, churches, parks, power plants, offices, shopping malls and hospitals. Each structure has a different set of attributes that range from cash points, achievement points and unhappiness. In addition, some cards have a building cost, flip fee and additional functions that can either assist or hinder your turn. The overall objective is simple; accumulate enough cards in one turn to earn 8 achievement points in order to win. Easy right?
Let’s take a step back. Flip City can be played solo or with up to 4 players. At the start of the game each player forms their deck consisting of nine different cards; four residential area cards, one residential area card flipped to the apartment side, and then one card from the remaining card types. Once the players have their decks you then form a general supply consisting of fifty different cards. After determining who goes first and shuffling the cards, you can then begin play. There are potentially 2 phases to each player’s turn – a play cards phase and a building phase. During the play phase you play from the top of your deck, one card at a time. After drawing a card (depending on its particular attributes) you may decide to either draw another card or enter the building phase. Some cards will make your citizens unhappy though. If you gain three unhappiness points via the drawn cards, you’ll be forced to forfeit the building phase as all of your drawn cards are discarded. That said, the more cards played before you get to the build phase, will mean more points and cash. It’s a risk or reward type of set up.
If you do get to the building phase, you use what cash you accumulated to either “build” a structure (take a card from the general supply), flip a card from your discard pile, or choose to develop a card, meaning you can flip a card in the general supply and place it in your discard pile. you can only buy, flip or develop 1 card at a time so a great deal of strategy is involved during the entire game. The idea is to have buildings in front of you after the build phase the equals 8 points (meaning you win). The cards that are in your discard pile are shuffled to create a new deck, which could be beneficial depending on what buildings you bought with the cash you earned.
Once your turn is over any cash, achievement and unhappiness points are removed and don't carry over to your next turn. Cards in your discard pile are not put back into your deck until all the cards in your deck are used. Different cards have functions that range from having to automatically draw an additional card to placing one of your cards of a certain type into another players deck. Some will even give you one additions turn during the build phase. Of course, each card has a different buy price and flip fee, both of which must be paid in order to develop a card. Basically, sufficient deck building has to take place in order to develop cards and get into a position to win the game.
Each game can take anywhere from 30-50 minutes to complete. That said, during my wife and I's playthrough it took roughly 40-45 minutes. I would imagine the game goes a little faster with more players but with only two, it takes a little while longer to get over the initial “hump”. That hump I'm referring to is the time it takes to build a sufficient enough deck to take longer turns involving multiple card draws and building phases. Once this occurs then the game gets really interesting with a lot of unpredictable turns occurring. The game is fairly enjoyable despite the learning curve in the beginning; the instructions while detailed are a little vague in some areas and the video tutorials on the website were not available during our playthrough (TMG’s site is currently under construction)*. We had to watch a few YouTube videos to get a full understanding of how to play but once we understood the rules, Flip City became a simple and easy game to play.
Ultimately, we found Flip City to be a pretty cool game with an interesting concept. Admittedly, I had never played a deck building game until now and it's a game type that I'm looking forward to getting into in the future. The theme may not be as exciting as other games but it does provide a nice change of pace that I think people will appreciate. The same can be said about its cartoon-like aesthetics. Each card features a neat and clean design, choosing simplicity over flash, which allows the illustrations to drive the theme home.
*A video explaining the rules can be seen here.