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Flip City

“Flip City” is rather difficult to pin to any one genre.  It has a deck-building and a push your luck mechanic, all wrapped around a light city-building theme.  The idea here is to draw enough cards on one turn so that your accumulated total reaches eight or more victory points…though it’s not that simple.  Some cards cause unhappiness that, if enough pile up, can wipe every card you’ve played on your turn and thus prevent you from taking any actions to build upon your deck.  Before I delve into that however, I’d like to thank Daniel Hadlock from Tasty Minstrel Games for providing me with a free press copy for review purposes.

 

Flip City

Flip City: 1-4 Players, Ages 8+, Average Play Time = 30-50 Minutes

 

Components

The game includes 86 double-sided cards.

Setup & Gameplay

Firstly, the cards are sorted by type and flipped to their front side (in most cases, the side with the purple arrow on the bottom right corner).  The office deck is optional and can be removed from the game if all players agree.  Each player gets four residential area cards, an apartment card (the reverse side of the residential card), and one card of each other type (convenient store, office, hospital, factory, and central park).  The remaining residential area cards are removed from the game.  The rest of the cards remain in their stacks and form a supply pool, which players will be able to buy from throughout the game.  Each player shuffles their deck, being careful not to accidentally flip the cards or look at the top card until shuffling is completed.  Throughout the game, it’s important that players ONLY be able to see the top card in their deck.  Whoever last flipped a table, goes first.

A player’s turn is broken up in phases:

1. Play Cards – The current player deals the top card from their deck and places it in front of them.  At that point, the player will decide if they want to keep going (by drawing another card) or move on to the next phase.  Some cards will force you to draw them even if you want to stop, so it’s important to pay attention to the card that is currently on top of the deck.  Cards will either provide cash or victory points (located on the bottom left of the card, above the effect)…earning eight victory points and stopping voluntarily wins you the game!  However, if you accumulate three unhappiness symbols, your turn immediately ends and the cards played go into your discard pile.

2. ??? – If a player stops voluntarily but doesn’t have the victory points necessary to win, they can perform one of three actions:

A. Purchase a card from the supply using the money accumulated from the cards played (no change is given).  The cost of a card is in the upper right corner of the card.

B. Upgrade a building in their discard pile by paying the flip cost (next to the purple arrow).

C. Purchase a card from the supply and flip it, paying both the cost of the card and the cost to flip it.

All cards played & purchased (some cards allow you to buy more than one card) go into your discard pile.  Cards purchased this round can’t be used until drawn on a future turn.

 

Flip City

 

When a player runs out of cards in their deck, they simply shuffle their discard pile and use it as their new deck.  Players continue taking turns until one player satisfies the victory condition.  Whoever does, wins the game!

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.

The Review

While not a true city-builder in the sense of the term, “Flip City” does appeal to me for a number of reasons.  For one, it’s extremely simple to play and satisfying the victory condition is easy to identify.  The real challenge here comes from the “push your luck” elements as there are cards that force you to draw them even when you don’t want to (residential cards), making it tempting to upgrade them to their reverse side the first chance you get (which eliminates that rather nasty effect).  Alternatively, you may opt to seed your deck with a bunch of cheaper cards to offset how often you may come across unhappiness and forced draws.

As for what I didn’t like…well, I just found it odd that the game allows you to construct buildings that you’d typically find in a city, only to discard them when your turn is over.  It’s like playing “SimCity” but being forced to start over every fifteen minutes.  Some may not mind, but it’s hard for me to equate a city-building theme with a deck-building mechanic.  I guess I’m just used to games like “Suburbia“, “SimCity“, and “Sunrise City” in that your city grows over time.  I imagine that the reason most people play city-builders is for that sense of satisfaction one gets for sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your labor.  The fruits of my labor in “Flip City”, oddly enough, sits in my discard pile.  Being a city-theme, I would have liked to have seen more card types with varying effects.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that if you go into this game expecting a city-builder, you’ll be relatively disappointed.  If you view this game as a deck-builder with a push-your-luck mechanic (which just so happens to have a city-theme), then you may find yourself to be a bit more receptive.  As games go, I found this one to simply be average.  There is some strategy in what cards you buy/flip, but a lot of it also involves being lucky with your card draws and being able to count the cards in your ever-growing deck.  The double-sided cards, while cutting down on the number of components, are inconvenient when it comes time to shuffle or draw the top card from your deck (without revealing anything below the next top card).  I would have preferred single-sided cards with a guide telling me what card upgrades to what and simply placing the old card back into the supply.

“Flip City” isn’t a bad idea, but it unfortunately falls short in my book for the above mentioned reasons…that is, the theme doesn’t seem to fit and the double-sided cards makes things incredibly inconvenient at times.  Still, there is some fun to be had here and it’s not a terrible game…I just think there’s room for improvement.

Final Verdict: 5/10

You can learn more about and purchase “Flip City” here:

http://playtmg.com/products-page/card/flip-city/

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