In a game reminiscent of old card deck games yet with the vibrancy of modern games, FlipOut creates something unique. During our playtesting, we tried to think of games it reminded us of and finally came up with a strange mix of chess for its strategy, Old Maid for its luck, gin rummy for its organization, and blackjack or poker for its memory. Originally known as Patchwork and created by Daniel Weaver, this Gamewright game is certainly something on its own level.
FlipOut consists of a deck of 90 double-sided cards, each bearing a series of colors and shapes of green bubbles, purple loops, blue teardrops, red fortune cookies, and yellow plus signs (or whatever the imagination can conjure). Some are the same on both sides, but most have different sides, such as green and then yellow. Each player receives a holder with six cards, seeing his or her own side of the cards but not the backs. Others players can see the backs, which creates a different field of play everyone. This is the point where memory becomes key: players see the backs of their cards as they are drawn and then never again, giving but one chance to know the maximum possibilities of strategy.
The overall purpose of FlipOut is to collect sets of four, five, or six similarly colored cards. To do this, there are six actions that may be performed, two per round: Flip, in which the back becomes the front; Switch, in which two of the player’s cards are moved; Swap 1, where a card is taken from another player’s holder and replaced with one from the acting player; Swap 2, two matching cards taken from another player and replaced by two matching; Score, where a player collects four, five, or six same-colored cards in a row from his or her holder and sets them aside; and Swipe, where a player collects a set from another player, using the backs of cards as the matches. In the final two, cards are drawn to fill up the holder again. The game ends when the draw deck runs out of cards.
The series of possible plays initially creates a steep learning curve, but the chance of luck makes it possible for even players resisting strategy to enjoy themselves. In fact, as more players join, strategies quickly go awry, and some of the best strategy may simply be to act on what one sees at the moment. Once players get the hang of the game, however, it speeds up and takes on a fascinating form that those who like games like gin and rummy will immediately love.
Most striking about FlipOut is its possibilities for house rules. The in-box rules sheet already includes variations for “purchasing” a third action with tokens and drawing as an action for two-player games. Already we suggested new variations like being able to swap “sandwich” cards with one spaced between them and rainbow sets of all five in a row.
FlipOut is listed as for two to five players, ages eight and up, with games lasting about 15 minutes. However, younger players might not recognize all the possible strategies and games with new players still mastering the rules will definitely take longer. It is definitely a thinking person’s game, but still with enough balance of luck for casual and younger players to become enthralled.