A microscopical city builder in deckbuilder form. Keep your fellow citizens happy by building new buildings or renovating old ones. But watch your pace or otherwise the people of Flip City become grumpy!
What do you get for your money?
You get 86 double-sided cards and the rules.
How do you play the game?
Flip City is a microdeckbuilder. I don’t exactly know what micro means these days, but that’s just what’s written on the box.
Every card has two sides, so it is crucial to never accidentally flip a card during the game. You start with a couple of cards in your hand and during your turn you will draw cards from your hand and place them on the table. At some point you stop or have to stop. If the former is the case and you have eight or more points on the table, I explain this in more detail later on, you win the game.
Every player starts the game with nine cards in their draw pile or hand as I explained it above. On the front side of every card you find four important assets. You have the cost-to-buy in the upper-right corner, the cost-to-flip in the lower-right corner, the amount of coins, points or unhappiness it gives you in the lower-left corner and a special ability at the bottom of the card.
In your turn you draw a card and place it in front of you on the table. After you played a card, you have a choice; stop or draw another card to gain more points or coins. There’s a catch here, because on some cards you’ll find unhappiness icons, a little frowny face, and when you have three frowny faces on the table you have to stop and your turn ends immediately.
You think; ‘Why would I play a card if it makes me lose my turn?’. Well, sometimes you just don’t have a choice, because there are cards, like the Residential Area, that make you play a card.
If you decide to stop drawing before you bust, you can go on to the building phase. You can do one of three things during this phase. You can buy a card from one of the four or five stacks in the general supply, you can flip a card that in your discard pile or you can buy a card and flip it at the same time, paying both the buying and the flipping cost of course.
When you flip a card to the other side you’ll find another feature of the card: the Recycle ability. At any point during your turn, you can flip a card from its ‘advanced’ side to its initial side to gain something extra for that turn, like a coin or plus one to your unhappiness limit.
Like I already said, some cards have a point value and when you have eight point laid out on the table you win the game. However, there’s another way to win the game. When you have played the Convenience Store in your turn, you can also win the game by playing eighteen or more cards during one turn.
A microdeckbuilder, what an invention! It’s like a regular deckbuilding, but then smaller, or, better said, fewer. The fun thing about deckbuilding is that you all start with the same cards and then you buy more and more card from the market consisting of many different types of cards. So when you take away the ability to vary endlessly with different card combinations you are left with microdeckbuilder like Flip City.
Isn’t that a bit simplistic?
Maybe, but it is also a bit true. It’s a how I feel about Flip City. The idea of flipping cards is a good one, it’s fun, especially in combination with the ‘drawing cards until you bust’ mechanism. You’re pushing your luck, you want more. More points, more coins or maybe more special abilities. All to buy more cards or ‘improve’ cards you already have by flipping them. This idea is great, but because there are only six types of cards or, more accurately, six types of card pairs, of which only five of them are for sale, the amazement about this new way of deckbuilding quickly fades.
The reason for it is you start doing the same thing over and over. You can switch between two strategies, the point strategy and the eighteen cards strategy. That’s two ways to victory, two destinations.
It’s not much, but that’s not the problem I think. It’s the fact that, because there’s a very limited amount of cards to be bought, the road you have to take is exactly the same during every game. Sometimes this road is a bit longer or shorter, depending on the way the cards come out, but the houses along the way look the same.
A game with an expiration date
Flip City in its current state is a game with a clear expiration date. I think it’s quite fun, but with every game it will feel more and more the same. It depends on what kind of person you are. In the summer, do you go to the same place to relax? Every time, year after year, and are you still amazed by its beauty? Then Flip City might also bring you joy for a long while.
This all sounds a bit negative and I don’t mean it that way. The game itself is fun. The new view on deckbuilding is clever and the combination with the push your luck element is very enjoyable. It looks good too, but it just desperately needs more cards.