I’m always in awe of minimalist game designs; whether it’s minimalism in the small number of components or the overall size of the game, or even games with a small number of rules that still manage to feel bigger somehow.
Flip City is certainly minimal in physical size and the number of cards included (the whole game is on just 86 cards), but the cards themselves punch way above their weight in terms of the different functions they perform and the various icons they display.
Flip City bills itself as a micro deck building game; players have their own decks (representing their city) that they’ll play cards from, one at a time, creating a line of cards in front of them. Play too many sad face icons and their turn is over, losing any money and victory points for that turn. Players can choose to stop laying cards at any time, though if your next card is a Residential Area you have to play it (cards are double sided, so you can see what card is next on top of your deck).
As long as you stop before you accrue too many unhappy citizens, you can use any coins you’ve played in your city – either to buy cards to add into your deck, to flip cards in your discard pile to their upgraded side or to buy and upgrade a card in a single turn (which can be pretty expensive!).
The object of the game is to either earn 8 victory points in a single turn or play 18 cards in one turn without stopping (as long as you’ve played a Convenience Store).
Flip City plays very quickly and is very easy to pick up and play, though at first the multitude of icons on each card’s side can be a little overwhelming. The other issue is that it’s very easy to accidentally spot that a Residential Area is coming up, as your cards are always face up in your hand as you play; despite your best intentions, it’s all too easy for cards to slip a little as you’re dealing them to the table.
It’s a very fun little game though. The visual design is really nice and it’s very clear in terms of the icons and what everything does. It’s rare for a game to take any longer than 15 minutes, so it won’t outstay its welcome.
An extra card type is included with the base game that you can use to add an extra element to the game, and further expansions – which can also be played as standalone games in their own right.
Though long term it may get a little old, there’s an awful lot to like here and it’s an excellent game to introduce to people who are intimidated by more complicated games. The city building theme is a common one in board and card games – and is one that I particularly enjoy – though here it feels a little more abstract than most, it’s still really satisfying to ‘build’ your city every turn. Excellent stuff!
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