It was just another ordinary day when the invasion happened. The sky went dark and, through the clouds, you could see a massive object floating for what felt like an eternity. There was an eerie calm before the invasion began as wave after wave of alien fighter crafts swarmed from the hull of their mothership. Thankfully for us, there were several brave squadrons of fighter pilots that met them head on to give the rest of the fleet time to assemble. We can only hope our fleet assembles in time and there is enough firepower to repel this invasion.
Designer: Kane Klenko
Artist: Kwanchai Moriya & Anita Osburn
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Genre: Cooperative, Dexterity
Play Time: 30-45 Minutes
Number of Logged Plays: 7
Flip Ships is a cooperative dexterity game where players take on the role of commander to a squadron of ships defending the planet from an alien invasion. Players destroy the invading alien fleet and its mothership to successfully keep the planet safe. To achieve this, players each receive squadron of level one ships to launch at the invading enemy waves. As the planet takes more damage, more reinforcements will join in on the fight with different abilities to aid the defense. Once players successfully fend off the waves of enemy ships, they’ll have to deal with the mothership. In a last-ditch effort, the aliens will destroy the planet in one blow if the players are unable to destroy the mothership in the last round of the game.
Flip Ships takes place in four different phases:
- Flip Ships – Players launch all their ships one at a time at the encroaching enemies. This will be done,by placing their ships at the edge of the table or on the provided launch pad and flicking their ship at the enemies.
- Resolve Attacks – Any enemy ships that are hit by player’s ships will be destroyed. Some ships will generate shields for adjacent ships that won’t allow them to be destroyed until the shield generator is taken out. There are also ships that require two hits to destroy. Any ships that land on enemy cards will be returned to the dock and the destroyed enemy card will go to the discard pile. If players land on shielded enemies or two health enemies, they leave their ship in the center of that card until the end of the round. Lastly, if a player’s ship successfully attacks the mothership, they will be placed back in the dock and the mothership’s health will be reduced by one.
- Enemy Marches – Enemies advance toward the planet by the number of spaces indicated by the symbol in the bottom left-hand corner of the card. This begins with the row closest to the planet and proceeds all the way back to the furthest moon row. Two-movement enemy ships are capable of pushing ships in front of them forward, while another type of ship continues towards the planet until it runs into another one of its ships. Any ships that breach the atmosphere of the planet, deal the amount of damage indicated on the bottom right-hand corner of the card. They will then be shuffled back into the invader deck. Once movement is complete, the two rows furthest from the planet will be refilled so that there are five cards per row.
- Clean Up – During this phase players will receive all of their ships back from the docking bay. They will also receive reinforcement ships if the planet’s health surpasses the thresholds shown on the life track (players must choose the lowest ranked reinforcement ship available).
To help players defend the planet, each person’s ships will have special abilities to aid them. Each tier of ship has a unique power for each player that they can utilize during the Flip Ships and Resolve Attacks phases. Some powers include being able to launch a projectile at an enemy ship if you’re within range or being able to re-flip a ship once. There are even some powers that allow players to select an enemy ship on the same row they landed on and deal damage to it, which is in addition to any ships you’ve already hit.
The game continues until either the planet is destroyed or the players destroy the invading forces. If there are only six invading ships left at the beginning of a round, this initiates the last invasion round. Any ships left alive after this phase will automatically deal double damage to the planet. If the planet survives this last assault, the “Final Assault” on the enemy will begin. This is the final battle between players and the alien mothership. If they are unable to destroy the mothership during this round, the planet will be destroyed and the players lose. If they are able to successfully destroy it before this phase begins or during this phase, the planet will continue to prosper. At least until the next invasion…
I always had a feeling the countless hours spent playing paper football would pay off someday. Flip Ships allowed me to put my skills to the test by flipping ships onto enemy cards to eliminate them, which is the exact same motion you use when kicking off in paper football. My initial thought when we played this game for the first time was that it was a board game version of Space Invaders. A slow wave of enemies slowly approaching as you try to eliminate them all before it’s too late. Unfortunately for me, my paper football days are behind me, but that didn’t stop me from having a good time with Flip Ships.
One Flip to Rule Them All
The hardest part of the game that we’ve encountered so far was trying to do damage to the mothership. In our first game, we were thinking that the game was kind of easy as we effortlessly blew through wave after wave of ships. That was until the “Final Assault” phase where the only person to do damage to the mothership was my brother who made it look effortless in his first two attempts, but then crumbled under pressure when we only needed one more hit.
After losing multiple times we ended up spending about 20 minutes just practicing trying to hit the mothership. We ended up finding that the best technique to use was to have only a small portion of the ship hanging off the table when flicking it. This forced the ship to go further with less of an arc, which worked really well for us.
This is where skill-based dexterity games differ so much from other board games. In a typical board game, you can discuss strategies that can be implemented by following steps. In a dexterity game, it’s much harder to teach someone a flicking technique that works well for them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can become frustrating for a person that’s struggling to hit very many ships.
The Right Tool for the Job
Players won’t have to just rely on their flicking skills to succeed in Flip Ships because each player will get a special power for each of their three tiers of ships. Most of the level one abilities are pretty strong, with the one exception being the power that allows you to flip your ship again if you successfully hit the mothership. Depending on how good the player is, it may never be utilized and in lower player count games it could be a problem if not enough enemy ships are getting destroyed. On the other hand, this is an amazing ability for someone who is good at consistently hitting the mothership.
Whereas the ability to hit any ship in the row that you land in feels extremely strong all the time because the enemies you land on are destroyed and you get that additional attack. The abilities on level two and three ships are all pretty good as well and can be put to good use throughout the game. It makes sense that the powers ramp for the upper levels is stronger because you only get one or two of those ships compared to three of the level one ships.
The one thing you’ll have to keep in mind is that if your planet doesn’t get damaged much before the “Final Assault” phase, you won’t have very many ships to attempt to hit the mothership. We learned this quickly in our two-player games where our base only took enough damage for one reinforcement ship before we started the last phase. Trying to deal three damage with three ships a person doesn’t leave a lot of room for error and is significantly harder than destroying normal waves of enemies. It’s almost kind of like the game is punishing you for being really good at destroying enemy ships and protecting the planet. You’d think that once the “Final Assault” you’d get all your reinforcements because if the team fails then the whole planet is blown up.
Overall, I had a great time with Flip Ships. It combines a good amount of luck, skill, and excitement every time you launch one of your ships at the invading enemies. There are multiple levels of difficulty to try out and a speed variant that has all four players racing to be the first to get all of their ships into the mothership.
I do wonder how many plays the ship tokens will last for since they are cardboard tokens and the game can be punishing in the “Final Assault” phase if your planet doesn’t take enough damage to bring in more reinforcements. I also had a really hard time using the wooden launcher stand because it’s really hard to get your finger at a good angle to launch your ship off of it. Other than those couple of things Flip Ships is a fun and quick experience that I’d recommend to anyone who has any interest in dexterity games. It would also be great for a family game night.
In the world of dexterity games, Flip Ships far exceeds expectations and is a fun and cool way to implement cooperative elements with a very simple mechanism. The concept of Flip Ships is incredibly simple – kill the enemy ships and the mothership. But it’s also SO. HARD. We have only beaten this game a few times, which may say more about our inability to accurately flip ships than it does about the actual game.
Not Your Average Dexterity Game
While I am typically not a fan of dexterity games, I found Flip Ships to be a very fun and engaging experience. Even when it’s not your turn, it’s exciting to see how others fare with their attacks. The cooperative elements tied into the game make this game successful. Without them, it’d be a very disengaging game and almost too simple to be fun.
Because this is a dexterity game, if you are not dexterous (Hello! My name is Mandee and I suck at this game!), it can be very frustrating to play. However, this really has nothing to do with the actual gameplay and says more about my skill level, or lack thereof.
Special Abilities Galore
In Flip Ships, the objective is two-fold – you must kill the enemy ships but also kill the mothership. The enemy ships are barreling down on you so you need to think about killing those before they do too much damage. But you also need to keep in mind that you’ll need to kill the mothership eventually. In most games we played, we focused on killing the enemy ships first and then went after the mothership. This could be why we typically lose because we only have one or two turns to try to kill the mothership.
What adds an interesting element to this game is the use of special powers per each size of ship. This keeps it engaging because each player’s ships have different abilities. Some are way overpowered (the moon space one being the most overpowered – although we appear to have misinterpreted this power a bit), but they’re all fairly decent abilities that really add to the gameplay.
Overall, I really liked Flip Ships. Although I’m fairly bad at this game, I have to say I still enjoyed playing it. As a whole, the theme of the game isn’t as compelling to me as it could be. The age of Space Invaders was a bit before my time, so I don’t have the nostalgia factor that many may have for the game. However, it does remind me of playing Tiddlywinks or Crazy Bones when I was younger – games I also was terrible at.
I would recommend Flip Ships for people who love dexterity games. If you’ve never tried a dexterity game, this one is a great one to try out and see what you think!
– Good variety of ship powers
– Challenging but fun dexterity game
– Strong theme
– Great replayability with various levels of expertise to play at
– Great cooperative game that is good to start off a game night
– Thematically doesn’t make sense that you don’t get all ships for the “Final Assualt” (unless health meter is low enough)
– Components may not last long (Per the designer, components should last for many plays)
He gives this game out of 8.5 Motherships out of 10.
She gives this game 7 Enemy Fleet Ships out of 10.