Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Flip City and Flip City: Reuse (Tasty Minstrel Games)

Of all the different types of games there are to play, there are some that I just inherently enjoy more than others. Deck-builders fall into that category. In a deck-builder, generally everyone starts with the same small deck of cards (usually 10). Throughout the game, you use those cards as resources/currency to purchase more cards, which allow you to buy even more cards and eventually score enough points to win the game. They are simple to learn and quick to play. Today, I would like to tell you about one from Tasty Minstrel Games called Flip City and its expansion Flip City: Reuse. In Flip City, you are using your deck of cards to build and improve the neighborhoods in Flip City, carefully balancing how quickly to build and how much to collect in taxes. The game plays 1-4 players, ages 8+. It retails for $20 for the base game and $10 for the expansion, and can take 30 minutes to an hour to play. Let's get to the setup!

Setup - All cards are double-sided, so make sure you are using the correct sides during setup.
1. Form the Starting Decks - Give each player 4 Residential Area cards, and 1 each of the following - Convenience Store, Factory, Apartment, Hospital, and Central Park. (Note: When playing with the expansion add 1 each of Plumber Shop and Flea Market.)
2. Form the General Supply - Form the following stacks of cards in the middle of the table: 12 Convenience Stores, 12 Hospitals, 8 Factories, and 8 Central Parks. You may also optionally include the 10 Offices. (Note: When playing with the expansion add 10 each of Plumber Shops and Flea Markets.)
3. Starting player is said to be whoever last flipped a table, but I prefer to just pick randomly.
Game Play - During your turn, there are two specific phases. Play then passes clockwise. The game is won when one player gains 8 points (denoted by a medal symbol).
1. Play Cards Phase - Play cards from the top of your deck onto the table one at a time. Check each card for additional rules/functions. Cards you play can provide you with cash (coin symbol), points (medal symbol), and/or unhappiness (frowny face symbol). After each card, you must decide whether to play an additional card or not. (Note: You may look at the top of your deck when deciding).
a. If your deck runs out of card, you can stop or shuffle your discard pile and continue.
b. You can have a maximum of two unhappiness. If you reach three unhappiness, your turn ends immediately and all played cards go into your discard pile.
c. If you have any cards in your discard pile with a down green arrow, you may recycle those cards by flipping them to gain their effect on the other side of the card.

2.  Building Phase - With the cash you gained from your Play Card Phase, you may choose one of the following actions.
a. Buy - Choose a card in the General Supply. Pay its cost (found in the top right corner), and put the card into your discard pile.
b. Flip - Choose a card in your discard pile. Pay its Flip Fee (found in the bottom right corner), and turn the card over to its other side. The card will remain into your Discard Pile.
c. Develop - Choose a card in the General Supply. Pay its Flip Fee to turn the card over, and put it into your discard pile.

At its core, Flip City is a typical deck-builder in that you are using cards to buy other cards to score points and win. HOWEVER, that is where the game stops being a typical deck-builder. For starters, the cards are double-sided. This means you have access to twice as many cards in half the space. It also gives you interesting choices to make, like whether you should flip a card or not. Second, you are not limited to a hand of five cards each round. You can keep playing cards until you choose to stop or are forced to stop. This is known as a "press your luck" element. I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to this game element, but it can pay off big time, if you're lucky. Lastly, there is a "take that" element in the game, which allows you to mess with other players. This is seen slightly in the base game with the Apartment card, because you can load up your opponent's deck with Residential Areas, which produces more unhappiness for them. It can really be seen in the expansion with the Plumber Shop, especially in a three or four player game, because you can discard the top cards from their decks and make them potentially start with fewer coins or points and more unhappiness.

This is a clever little card game that tweaks your traditional deck-builder just enough to make it a fresh game mechanic. The expansion, as noted earlier, provides some more "take that" action, but also provides you with ways to generate more cash and have a little bit more control of your deck and discard pile. The cards of nice quality, which is vital in a deck-builder, because these cards are going to be shuffled...A LOT! The artwork feels a bit retro, like an NES game, but it serves its purpose without distracting from the game play. With a decent price point and a unique twist on deck-building, Flip City and its expansion Flip City: Reuse are worthy additions to the genre and worth trying if you enjoy deck-builders.

These games were provided to me for free by Tasty Minstrel Games in exchange for an honest review.