“Small, simple and fun” must be the moto for Oink Games, as well as my review for the game. Thank you for tuning in. Goodbye....
Flotsam Fight is another, very small box game that fits in the palm of your hand. And seems to be the model of production for Oink. It’s also a continuation of a story from a previous title, Deep Sea Adventure. In that game, you were bringing treasure up from the depths of the sea to your submarine. In this one, your sub is taking on water and you have to evacuate to the lifeboats with your collection of priceless artifacts.
Unlike the first part of the story, that used a push your luck mechanic with dice rolling and space displacement, this is a pure traditional style card game, in which you still have the push your luck aspect of, which card to play that will let me play more cards and stop the other players playing more of their own. But done in a light, mathematical way, that is not only fun to play but educational for the younger ones at the table.
There are eight lifeboats on the table, each with their own number, between 3 and 10. And you will have a hand of treasure cards dealt to you, each has a different value, somewhere in the realm of 3 and 99. These treasure values are divisible by the numbers marked on the lifeboats. For example, 77 is only divisible by the number 7, so can only be played into the lifeboat marked with that number. Where as treasure 42 can be placed in either lifeboat 3,6 or 7. So far it sounds like a traditional card game, and you’d be correct in that thinking. I have played games similar to this with a standard deck of cards. And they have all been funnish. What makes this game stand out, is nothing to do with the artwork, that you will forget exists when playing, but the restrictions the game puts on the player.
To start, if you load a treasure onto a boat, it must be of a superior value to the previous treasure played there. Of course, the higher the value, there is less chance of another card being played on top of that by any player. And again, even less chance depending of the divisibility of that lifeboat number. You’ll also be restricted by the amount of lifeboat available to load upon, depending on the number of players playing. Therefore, in a two player game, only two lifeboats can be loaded up with treasure. Just until one or the other player can not or chooses not to play.
This resets the the lifeboats, as all played cards are removed to a discard pile and play continues with the one who never passed. Making a two player game quick, but also not so interesting, as there is not really much to risk due to most of the cards not being in play. Where as more players opens up more lifeboats and more risk. You’ll be tempted to play those higher cards earlier, to bring the game to a standstill, then the lifeboats can be reset and you take control of the round, like a trick taking game. You’ll also think a little more about passing, just to save your best cards for the final stretch. As being caught with only one card in your hand after the lifeboats are reset, inflicts a penalty of starting with two extra cards. Unless you haven’t passed. And that last card “can” be played. You can play it and claim that mini victory.
Your objective is to place all of these treasures into the lifeboats and get them safely out of danger. Being the first player to do so will rope you the largest score for the round. The other players will squabble for the second and the last place score tokens, by revealing the highest valued treasure of the remaining cards in their hands. The one that has the smallest value will scoop up the second prize score, whereas the player with the largest remaining treasure collects the negative point token. Their small values of 2 points, 1 point and -1 point are an added bonus to the fluffiness of this endeavor. Meaning that the end of game scoring, after the third hand, is quick and simple.
Technical score 9/10
Aside from a rule book that needs cleaning up a few keywords to help explain the game clearly, there is not much to say. It’s a small deck of cards with a few tokens of good quality. Meaning you can sneak it into restaurants and play quickly before your meal arrives. It’s simple mechanisms that resemble other cards games, make it easy to teach. And the strange art and colour pallet that does nothing, apart from try to make it stand out from everything else out there. And while playing, you won’t be looking at the individual campy art on the cards, but the number and the side numbers that act as a key to which lifeboat this treasure can be loaded on. Useful.
My BGG score 7/10 - Good, usually willing to play
I like playing games like this, especially with a group of players. The more the merrier. Quick and easy, no brainer games that require little to no planning. Maybe it the feeling that you are getting “one up” on the other players as you whizz through your hand. Or that it’s because of the many moments where you bite your tongue, as some gets “one up” on you and stops you playing cards. A good filler and holiday game.
Combined score 8/10
Now it's over to you...