Flip City is a small card game for one to four players from designer Chen, Chi-Fan. Tasty Minstrel Games is publishing the game in the U.S. It was originally released with the name Design Town.
It works for ages 8 and up and plays in 30 to 50 minutes. It has a suggested price of $19.95 but can be found at several online retailers for less than $15.
Flip City is a deck-building game, which means you start with a small deck of cards and use them to buy more useful cards.
In Flip City, the cards are buildings.
What sets Flip City apart is that the cards are two-sided, and you can also pay to flip cards, which usually earns you points but can add unhappiness. Unhappiness is bad. You can only have so much in your city before your turn ends abruptly.
How it works:
Each turn, players play as many cards from their deck as they would like. They have to be careful because some cards must be played, and others require players to play the next card from their deck.
If they have two or fewer cards with unhappiness symbols (three if they also have a church), they add up the coin symbols on their cards and decide what to do with them. They can buy a new card or flip one in their discard pile. Some cards allow an extra buy or flip action, too.
Cards can also be recycled for extra cash, allowable unhappiness, or points.
The game ends when a player has eight point symbols in one turn.
Why you might buy Flip City:
If you like deck-building games like Dominion but don’t like the amount of cards you need for them, Flip City offers an interesting alternative. There are only six different cards in the game — five if you don’t play with the office expansion. But because the cards are double-sided, there are 10 or 12 buildings available.
The theme is good, and each building’s benefits and liabilities make sense. The hospital allows you to profit from unhappiness, for example, while upgrading your factory to a power plant gains points but produces unhappiness. It’s clever and fun.
This is a fairly quick game, and while it takes a bit to learn, it’s not difficult.
The single-player game is as entertaining as playing with other people. It plays well with any number of players.
There’s nothing mean about the game. You can put residential areas (which are the most frustrating cards in the deck) into your opponents’ decks, but it costs you a lot, so you won’t be able to do it often, and you may be sacrificing points to do so.
This is a great game for families. The art is cute and the way the theme is integrated will make it easier to understand for young players. Because there’s nothing hidden, adults can easily help younger ones, too.
Why you might not buy Flip City:
You’re not doing anything while other people are taking their turn. You don’t even have a hand to look at. I don’t mind that, since this is a game where people can talk and catch up with each other when it’s not their turn. But if you want to be doing something, or at least planning, this game will frustrate you.
This is a fairly light game. It’s a race to the most points, and once you understand the strategies, there’s not much more to it.
The game is all about pressing your luck, trying to play just one more card without hitting your unhappiness limit. This is a strength if you like that style of game, but a weakness if you don’t.
I like Flip City a lot. I have friends who like to socialize while we’re playing games, and this is a great fit. (Sometimes they don’t like to listen to the rules, either, but I can help them through the first few turns since they don’t have a hand of cards to hide.)
Pressing your luck in this game is fun. Each turn is a bit of a gamble, which means even though the game is straightforward, there will always be moments of small drama.
Flip City isn’t trying too hard. It seems to know exactly what it is. It offers just the right amount of choices, and it ends right before it starts getting old.
Full disclosure: I got a review copy of Flip City from Tasty Minstrel Games. I wasn’t required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.