Flip City Board Game Review

Game Design: Chen, Chih Fan
Graphic Design/Localization: Adam P. McIver
Executive Producer: Brent Lloyd
English Development: TMG Development Team

Players: 1-4
Duration: 30-50 Minutes
Age: 8+
Time to learn: 5 minutes
Board Game Types: Deck building

Flip City Board Game Review

So many unhappy citizens in this hand. Better start building some churches! (For real, it's in the game!)

So many unhappy citizens in this hand. Better start building some churches! (For real, it's in the game!)

Game Description/Gameplay

In Flip City, you take on the role of city planner whose goal is to expand and renovate the town, with minimal tax increases. If you raise taxes too quickly, the townspeople get upset. Plan your city correctly, and you will earn the points you need to win the game. We can bore you with the minute details of the gameplay, but since Flip City follows the definition of a deck building game to a T, here's the gist of it. All players start with the same set of cards, and use those initial cards to build their deck into a more powerful hand. If you are already familiar with this game mechanic, then learning to play Flip City will be a breeze.

Here's where Flip City is unique: Double sided cards. In addition to improving your "City" by purchasing new building cards, you can buy upgrades/alterations to your current buildings by flipping your cards over and revealing the back side. Pro: You get twice the cards for the size of the box, making this a highly portable game. Con: Shuffling. You can't look while you shuffle because you can see what cards are where, but you can't accidentally drop cards unless you have every single card in your hand memorized. 

Same card. Different town amenities depending on which side is showing. Pay the 3-coin flip fee, and this handy little Convenience Store can become a full-fledged shopping mall. 

Same card. Different town amenities depending on which side is showing. Pay the 3-coin flip fee, and this handy little Convenience Store can become a full-fledged shopping mall. 

Another interesting aspect of this game: in addition to using the functions of the cards actively played, players will frequently look through their discard pile in search of buildings to flip. They are also forced to consider the top card of their draw deck. Sometimes the top card is a "must play" card, which is usually not in the best interest of the player. (Those pesky neighborhood cards barely make any money and cost so much in taxes. Ugh. Neighborhoods.)

That brings me to the most prominent feature of this game. The chains. Did you play Street Fighter II? You remember chaining together combos. Ok, ok. This is a board game blog. You've played Dominion. You know when you play +2 actions, draw 2 cards, +1 action, etc... until you've covered your side of the table with cards, and no one has any freakin' clue what you're doing, and after 5 minutes of muttering to yourself to keep it all straight you reveal that all of your cards have allowed you to buy... a measly gold? But it's ok, because the fun of it was creating the ridiculously long chain that made your turn last longer than anyone else's. Ok, well, Flip City is like that. Only, not all the cards are good. Many of them increase taxes, which can force you to lose your hand to the discard pile. Your goal is to try to fill your hand with enough tax free cards, and cards that negate the taxes, so that you can lay a long chain. You can only win by creating a hand that allows you to lay down a long string of cards.

This early game chain gives you a whopping 9 coins which you can use to either 1) purchase a new building from the supply piles at the top, or 2) upgrade a building in the discard pile on the right by paying the amount shown by the purple arrow.

This early game chain gives you a whopping 9 coins which you can use to either 1) purchase a new building from the supply piles at the top, or 2) upgrade a building in the discard pile on the right by paying the amount shown by the purple arrow.

Verdict

Flip City is a fun, though limited, compact deck building game, ideal for the traveling gamer or for solo play. When it comes to strategy and replayability, it doesn't hold a candle to the more indepth Dominion (and its many, many expansions). However, the light city-building theme and cute Sim City-like artwork makes it a less intimidating introduction to the deck building world. If you like this game mechanic, or you are interested in trying a deck builder, this is a great game to try.

Solo mode has the same level of satisfaction that a game of solitaire has, only with more foresight and skill. Personally, I am a huge fan of deck building games, and I have loved having this little deck available for times when all of my board game buddies are busy.

Pros

  • Simple introduction to deck building games
  • Pleasant graphics
  • Straightforward, easy to interpret cards
  • Solo mode feels like a real solitaire game, not just tacked on
  • Great for players who like to create long card chains

Cons

  • Finite playability
  • Solo mode is easy to beat once player learns a few tricks
  • Luck can easily make or break a round

Gateway Game Score: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10

Article by May Begaming, who isn't convinced that turning a hospital into a church is really an upgrade, at least when it comes to public health, but it makes the people of Flip City happy, so... Amen?

Tell us what you think. Do you agree or disagree with the comments above? Do you have a favorite deck building game? Let us know in the comments below.