Flipships is the cardboard version of the daddy of arcade games: Space Invaders. During play, hundreds (or 25, at least) spaceships leave the deadly Mothership and hurtle towards Earth – you, the players, must stop them!
The game is played collectively, and the basics are this: a slim scoreboard keeps track of the Mothership health, the health of Earth, and supplies a framework for where the attacking ships will be laid out. In each round some hostile spaceships – in the form of cards – will leave the Mothership to descend Earthwards. Each player begins with two or three flipships of their own (small cardboard discs) which you will ‘flip’ (or flick) from either the edge of the table or the launchpad supplied, trying to land either on a card (or several) – or in the Mothership itself, looming distantly. The Mothership can take several hits, whereas most of the cards only need one to destroy them and take them out of the game (exceptions: one or two need two hits, and some may be protected by an adjacent ship with a shield, in which case you have to destroy that ship first).
After all players have flipped and resolved their hits, the remaining alien ships now move towards Earth. If they arrive in Earth’s atmosphere, the players take damage and the enemy is shuffled back into the draw deck, ready to attack again! As Earth’s health decreases, however, it does allow the players to gain more ships of their own, plus some handy special powers, such as reflipping or using a target computer to destroy a ship you’ve landed close to.
When there are six or less ships at the start of a round they run kamikaze: all will move three spaces, and do double damage this round! When all hostile ships – bar the Mothership – have been destroyed, there is a final assault where each player gets to flip all of their ships in an effort to wipe out the Mothership. If they fail, the Earth is destroyed and the players lose. If they succeed… they win! hooray! (You can also destroy the Mothership earlier, but still need to take care of the smaller ships)
If your gaming ideal is a relaxing coffee/beer and a thoughtful strategic ponder, leave Flipships well alone. If you like a gentle game of gathering resources with little tension, stay away. But if you like the absurdity of an epic theme with a silly challenge (flicking-powered spacecraft save the planet) then this could be a big hit. The way the extra ships come out – triggered by more damage to Earth – means there is inbuilt tension every time. My kids love it, and I have to admit I’m really enjoying it too. The flipping is a great leveller, and the team spirit is something else when your 7-year-old makes the winning hit on the Mothership in the dying seconds of the game.
Although there is a variant in the rules for competitive play, the default game here is one of players v game, so you're working as a team.
Minimal at best. When it's not your turn you're urging on your team-mates to save the Earth.
There's not an enormous degree of variation in play with Flipships, but the game is really all about the dexterity aspect. If you get a kick out of that, there's a lot of play to be had here.