Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 6 October 2015

Bop-it! Twist-it! Pull-it! Flip-it!:- Flip city

Game: Flip City

Manufacturer: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Chen Zhifan

Year: 2014

This used to be a nice neighbourhood, suburban bliss really, two local hospitals, a couple of offices so you didn't need to commute, a corner shop to save you the trip to the supermarket and a whole acre of parkland should you have a dog, or kids, to walk. But things started changing. When they knocked down St Mary's hospital for St Mary's church, well that was fine, we still had the royal hospital. But now that's a mosque and let me tell you, you can't pray away arthritis! Where there used to be semi-detached bliss there's now towering apartment blocks built by 'developers' Oh sure you can cram people into to them, but are you truly living if you don't have a strawberry patch in your back garden? 

Flip City is a deck-building game for 1-4 players, the game has a unique element of dual-sided cards with differing, though usually related, abilities on each side. You have no hand, instead you simply play cards off the top of your deck, your goal is to make a profitable, productive city, but if you cause too much unhappiness and you can lose it all.

Each turn you draw the top card off your deck, the deck is always face up so you can tell which card is coming next, you may then choose to draw the next card or to stop and move onto the buying phase. Individual cards have special abilities, perhaps the most notable is the residential area which forces you to play it when it is the top card of your deck. If you ever reach 3 unhappiness then your turn ends immediately and you get no buy phase, but assuming you haven’t drawn that many sad faces then you get to spend your hard earned money.

An example turn, the player was forced to play 2 residential areas in a row and now cannot safely play their factory for fear of revealing another so they stop with 3 money to spend.
Money can be spent in a couple of ways, you can use it to buy cards from the central stock, you can use it to flip a card currently in your discard pile (not to be confused with cards you have currently played) to its alternate side, or you can develop one of the cards from the stock, paying both the cost and the card’s flip cost to gain the card on its alternate face as one action. The second side of cards usually have similar, but superior, abilities though some can be wildly different. For example the Hospital is a money-making card that gives 1 unhappiness, 1 money and then gives you 1 money for each Unhappiness you have already played that turn. But should you flip a Hospital over then you have a Church - a card that gives you no money at all but instead increases the limit of unhappiness you can play in a turn.

The Residential Area is one of the most crucial cards in the game, they are cheap to flip, but the alternate side is almost as bad, it still generates unhappiness, but it doesn’t have to be played. Deciding when it’s best to flip these cards is crucial to a winning strategy. Should you be able to afford the 8 to flip an Apartment back into a Residential Area then you will be in for a treat, the card doesn’t just flip, but you get to put it into another player’s deck, meaning that they now have an additional Residential Area to deal with!

The game has 2 win conditions; either you can collect 8 points in 1 turn or you can play 18 cards in one go including a Convenience Store. Both of these tend to require you to have a good way to deal with Unhappiness. Fortunately then you have a few tricks up your sleeves, those upgraded cards you now have in your deck often have abilities that you can use while they are in your discard, they might get you an extra unhappiness allowance or an extra point for the turn, at the cost of flipping the card back to the starting side.

All of the basic cards and their alternate sides. Note the powers on the bottom right of the cards which can be played while the card is in your discard only.
Flip City is a fun game for 2-3 players, but I would say it suffers from a lack of player interaction. If you do play with 4 players then you will often find yourself sitting and waiting for your turn to come around. There is nothing to do between turns and the lack of a hand means that you can’t even plan ahead much. The game is very much a race between people playing by themselves, sure you can occasionally attack another player’s deck with Apartments/Residential Areas, but these are few and far between. The basis of the game is fun and unique, but dual sided cards do leave potential for shuffling slip ups. As a two player game Flip City can remain fast paced, but with a reasonable amount of tactical play, this is how I feel the game shines.


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