Flotsam Float [Micro]

Base price: $40.
2 – 5 players.
Play time: 15 – 30 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 2 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Flotsam Float was provided by HABA USA.

I’ve been doing all these reviews in pieces, which is causing all sorts of hilarious problems. I’ve got a bunch of reviews that are partially-formed at different levels, from partially-written to partially-photographed to somewhere between photographed and edited. It’s a blast. It probably would be smarter to start and finish one review in one go, but I’m making hay while the sun shines in my own particular … idiom, I guess. It’s an ongoing process. In the meantime, we’ve got cool games to talk about! The next one up is Flotsam Float, from HABA USA! I’ve been a big fan of what HABA is doing in the kids’ space for a while, so, excited to check this one out!

In Flotsam Float (not to be confused with Flotsam Fight, the Oink Games title I keep typing), you’re picking up valuable treasures on your raft and taking them from island to island. The more treasure you pick up, the more shells you earn! Are they valuable? No idea, but having more seems generally beneficial. Unfortunately, your raft is finite, and stacking too much flotsam means that it will just fall into the sea. That’s perfectly good salvage, so don’t let that happen! In fact, if you can do particularly impressive feats of stacking, you can earn even more bonus shells! Each turn, you’ll take a piece of flotsam from the raft’s current island and stack it on the raft. If you’re successful, you’ll flip the now-empty card and reveal where the raft is headed next! The player with the most shells at the end of the game wins!

Overall: 8.25 / 10

Overall, I think Flotsam Float is a solid little dexterity game! Little dexterity game in a humorously large box, at least. Not … entirely sure why the box is as large as it is, but the choices and marketing around game boxes has vexed me for the better part of a decade. Some things are just beyond my ken, I think. Regardless, I think that the target audience won’t care all that much about that, so let’s get to the game itself. Flotsam Float inherits some of HABA’s best ideas, specifically around how much everyone loves the infinite variations of Animal Upon Animal that exist. No matter which one you play, it’s still fun! Everyone likes stacking silly shapes. The crux of this game is that you’re now not only just stacking silly shapes; you have to move them and live with your mistakes. It turns the stacking and balancing into a transportation challenge which makes everything a bit more hectic. Wouldn’t recommend this one for players with shaky hands or folks who are worried about either drinking or getting a giant red wooden wheel in their drink.

The transportation challenge of it all offers a pretty entertaining new spin on your normal stacking games, which gives Flotsam Float a bit of an edge. It feels like a more compact and updated form of those classic stackers, and adding the six little islands and the island cards is a nice touch to make the entire presentation of the game feel more cohesive. HABA does get table presence in a way that few others fully grasp, so it’s no surprise that Flotsam Float plays to their strengths. Unfortunately, this spin introduces a few odd choices that I don’t love, as well. There’s a lot of randomness cooked into the game, from the cards you get to the locations you have to move the raft with all the flotsam to to the values on the bonus cards. Generally speaking, the player who can get the most cards wins, but the game can be pretty close if one player is having much better luck with the cards than another. This is a bit of a common problem with kid-friendly games, though; you need some way to make sure that the skill ceiling of a dexterity game doesn’t fundamentally leave other players high and try. Even my favorite games (ICECOOL, for instance) do this. I just don’t care for it, I suppose.

Beyond that, though, Flotsam Float is a nice and engaging update from one of the best in the business when it comes to dexterity games. I’m not the biggest fan of their scoring, but, frankly, if you’re trying to figure out how to best set yourself up for winning a HABA game, you might be focusing on the wrong thing. Sit around the table, try to stack and balance some weird objects, and laugh hopelessly when everything tips over and clowns you. It’s really the dream. If you’re looking for that experience, you enjoy a good bit of stacking and balancing, or you just want to see a card with a really pleasant turtle on it, I’d definitely recommend checking out Flotsam Float! I’ve been having a blast with it.

If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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