Full disclosure: A preview copy of Flip & Find’s Diner was provided by Spontaneously Combustible Games. Some rules, components, and art assets may change between now and the Kickstarter’s fulfillment, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
I think March must just be Kickstarter Month for me. Almost every game I am reviewing this month either came off Kickstarter, is on Kickstarter now, or will be on Kickstarter shortly after. What a time to be alive. There are a couple exceptions — I’ll inevitably review at least one Oink Game and I think I’ve got some (spoiler-free) thoughts on Charterstone coming up, so stay tuned for those.
Anyways, Flip & Find’s Diner is a memory game from Spontaneously Combustible Games, and tasks you with some extremely busy cooks with a very questionable food organization scheme. How do you preserve food like that? Is it even safe or sanitary? Who can say; it’s an actual mystery. (Probably more sanitary than Cooks & Crooks‘s kitchen, at least.) Anyways, you need to get food for orders but you’re pretty tight on time, so you better just remember what’s in the boxes before you get the orders swiped by other enterprising employees looking for that tip. Will you be able to make the most of your weird storage solution? Or should you just forget it?
Relatively simple setup, to be honest. Shuffle the ingredient tiles:
Place them in a 5×5 grid, like so:
I imagine you could make this more difficult by varying the grid (or maybe a bit more lucky), but I’m not here to talk about variants; I’m only here to speculate baselessly. Anyways, now shuffle the Order cards:
Place five below the grid. Finally, shuffle the Tip cards:
Place those by the Order deck. Once you’ve done that, yeah, you’re ready to start!
Gameplay is pretty … simple. On your turn, you’re going to flip over four tiles. You see, each order has a list of required ingredients, and if the ingredients you flip over are a superset of the order’s requirements (not a proper superset, mind you; I mean that all of the order’s required ingredients are present among your flipped ingredients), then you can claim that order. Few rules around that:
- You can claim up to two orders per turn. Nothing fancier.
- You cannot use the same ingredient to fulfill more than one order. That’s nasty.
Take the completed orders and add them to your hand, so that your opponents can no longer see them. You’ll score their cost at the end of the game. Also, discard the ingredients you used for those orders and put new ones into the grid, face-down. If you revealed any Tip tiles this turn:
You may also gain one Tip card for each Tip tile you got. Keep those secret; they’ll be end-of-game points. You will then discard the Tip tiles, as well.
If you did not complete an order this turn, just flip all of your ingredients face-down. Sad times.
You’ll notice the Order cards have special abilities, such as:
- Flip five ingredients, this turn;
- Take an ingredient from the trash to complete a recipe; (this is also nasty)
- Peek at an ingredient.
You may use these abilities on your turn by revealing the card from your hand and then setting it in front of you, face-up (sort of like Ice Cool‘s ice skates). Once you’ve done that, you may not use that card’s ability again. Also, you may only activate one ability per turn.
Play continues until one player has completed 5 orders, at which point you play until the round is complete. The player with the most money at the end, wins!
Player Count Differences
Major differences are going to be that you get more information (but also run the risk of losing more “known” tiles) at higher player counts, so the game is fairly self-balancing on the information / tiles-in-play boundaries. I wouldn’t say that I have a strong preference for it at any player count, though there might be some tendency for analysis paralysis at higher player counts to make the game take longer.
- Uh, get good at remembering stuff. It’s a memory game, so, uh, the whole thing is memory. You’ll find some things easy, like, what’s the center tile? What’re the corner tiles? But mnemonics are probably going to be helpful or something, otherwise you’re gonna have trouble figuring out where the tips are
- Using abilities is basically a must. I mean, you can’t use them if you’re going to waste them, but, use them to try and guarantee you better plays or use them to get an order, even if it’s less valuable than an order you want. It’s better to have some points than no points, unless taking some points ends the game and you’re not in first place.
- A good strategy is going for lower-tier cards and then trying to get tips and lucking out, there. I mean, a $2 order + two $2 tips is still better than any other four-ingredient card in the game, which is pretty nice.
- If you’re not going to get an order, don’t reveal any new information. This one’s kind of interesting to try and leverage, and I can’t guarantee it’ll always work, but I’ve used it to some success. Generally, I try to go for “unknown” tiles, first, to try and get new information while keeping the information I already know in my brain. If I’m lucky, then I can rely on the tiles I remember to finish the order and I eliminate known information from the board, so my opponents can’t rely on it for their future turns. That’s good! If I’m unlucky, then I should pick out tiles that have the same ingredients so I’m not communicating new information to my opponent. Sure, I might get a lucky pull and get an order, but I also might get unlucky and show them where the bacon they need for a $4 order is, and now I’m super behind. The best one for these is revealing Tip tiles, as they’re useless unless you’ve already completed an order, so there’s no harm in showing where they are, generally. This is especially true if the only Order cards available are 4-ingredient meals. In those cases, you can’t score a Tip without an ability, so, you should know if that’s a risk or not.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Incredibly simple to learn. You’re just flipping over tiles to try and match them up. But, with abilities!
- Very fast setup. It rivals Cake Duel, but it does have a 5×5 grid, so that takes a while. I suppose The Fox in the Forest is one of my fastest-setup games, being real, but this is a pretty quick game to set up.
- Good execution of a simple concept. At its core, it’s a very simple memory game, but the abilities add some complexity and depth without making it overwhelming. If you like very light games with a bit of memory to them, this will definitely be worth checking out.
- Seems like it would be a great family game. It’s light, fast, and straightforward, so it seems like you could play it with younger gamers.
- The flipping mechanic of the ingredients is fun. In Betrayal at House on the Hill, we instituted a house rule that we roll the Haunt dice (six dice that signify if you’re moving into the next phase of the game or not) one at a time to heighten the drama. I think the one-at-a-time flipping mechanic does that as well. It’s hard not to cheer for your opponents trying to figure out exactly what they need to figure out an order, and it makes the game fun to play and fun to watch, in my opinion.
- I like the Tip aspect of the game. It’s a nice way to add tiles that are essentially useless, unless you get them at the right time. It’s an interesting problem for memory — do you waste “space” in your brain trying to keep track of those so you can use them when you need them, or do you risk forgetting about them and accidentally flipping them over or not knowing where they are when you can actually use one? It’s a nice little dilemma, especially for a lighter, short game such as this.
- The abilities / orders could be a bit larger / bolder. I think they’ll be on full playing cards when they’re in the actual release version, so I’m hesitant to complain about them, here, but it can be hard to read them from every angle.
- It’s kind of odd that the abilities become hidden after they’re earned, even though they start out as public knowledge. I’m not sure how you’d fix that, but it seems weird that I go from knowing that you took a card that lets you flip five ingredients next turn to that having to be a thing that I need to remember? I’d like to see the rules be a bit more explicit over whether the order cards you’ve gained are public knowledge or not.
- It would be nice to have a few things be a bit more cleared up by the rules. For one, when do you play Order cards on your turn for their abilities? Can you play at any time on your turn, or only before you start flipping? What happens if you are stuck in an unplayable loop?
- Pretty much a pure memory game. I’m generally not a huge fan of games with a significant memory component (I find them both a bit frustrating and hard to get better at), but this one is light enough that I don’t particularly mind it. If you do not like memory games or memory mechanics in games, this game is … pretty much that, distilled to its purest form, and then some extra abilities added. Not much more than that and I don’t think it’s trying to be more than that, so, better to know what you’re getting into before you get into it.
- The game can be a bit frustrating just due to bad luck. If every one of the Order cards (or a majority of them) require an ingredient that’s in scarce supply, your first few rounds are going to be pretty frustrating as you try to narrow down where the bacon or mushrooms are. I don’t expect this to happen that much, but when it does, it’s pretty frustrating. We’ve had it happen a couple times, and our general consensus is that if it does, you should reset the grid (not the orders) completely. All players must agree for this to happen; that’s been our house rule.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, I’m pretty positive about Flip & Find’s Diner! Is it a simple game? Sure. But I play simple games all the time! There’s nothing wrong with them. Is this going to have a $200 edition with 500 minis to paint and all the bells and whistles of another major company’s campaigns? No. But it’s a nice, light, fast game, and it’s never a bad idea to have one of those around. If you don’t like memory games, this will not be the game for you, but if you’re into them, it’s a nice, quick one. I’m looking forward to the Kickstarter since a lot of my components are missing final art, as the nice thing here is that this sort of theme affords a lot of opportunity to have a diverse cast of characters, which is something I look for in a game. Hopefully that’s reflected in the final product once the art assets are finalized. Either way, if you’re looking for a neat little memory game or something quick, simple, and fun, Flip & Find’s Diner might be a game for you!