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Subject: Flix Mix debuts rss

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Sue Hemberger

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The kitchen table was completely clean for a change last night (usually it's an archaeological site piled high with the detritus of the previous week's/weeks' activities), so I decided to break out Flix Mix which has been sitting around waiting for just such an opportunity for more than a month now.

What fun! None of us -- my husband and I and our 7.5 year old daughter -- had ever played before. This is a simultaneous action game where the object is to be the first to place all of your cards on a common puzzle. There's a higher penalty for an incorrectly placed card than for an unplayed card, so you have to be accurate as well as fast. Each player has a different, color-coded deck to work with and you play as many rounds as there are players, rotating the decks each time. Basically it's kind of a 3-D dominos game where you place cards so that at least two of their six differently colored dots cover dots of the same color on an already-played card and so that none of their dots cover dots of different colors.

My sense is that this is a game that plays very differently depending on personalities and the three of us were certainly character studies of some sort. Each round my husband was trying to develop a new system both for remembering his cards (you have access to all 16 cards in your deck throughout the round) and for understanding how they might be used in tandem (so one play would create an opportunity for the next -- an opportunity he could seize before the rest of us even noticed what he played and had a chance to analyze whether we could use it). My daughter, perhaps not intentionally, takes a highly verbal approach. This involves a combination of cheering herself on, hand-wringing, color-naming and, as play progresses, mumbling darkly about how Mommy must be stopped. Of course from my point of view, LOL, I behaved quite rationally and calmly. My strategy was to pay attention to pairs on edges rather than looking for more ambitious placements (though I did feel the need to point out to everyone how cool certain placements were on the rare occasions when I did find places where 3 or 4 dots aligned, LOL!). Ok, I also started muttering about how my daughter was going to drive me insane with her non-stop chatter. My husband, who is the kind of guy who can study with any kind of music on, simply smiled and continued to concentrate.

I won 4 of the 6 rounds (generally by wide margins), but near the end my daughter and husband each won one -- usually by a single card. We checked everyone's accuracy the first couple of rounds and no one was making any placement errors, so we suspended the practice at the urging of both husband and daughter who were eager to get on with the play. Now that the margins are getting close, I think we'll have to reinstitute the accuracy check, but it may be an uphill battle, LOL!

In one way, this session was very typical of a game debut for us. I often have a good instinctive grasp of a new game and do the best initially, whereas my husband works on developing a system and it takes him awhile to hit upon one that works. He may be at that point now. (After that, he wins for awhile, until my daughter and I figure out his system and either emulate/improve upon it or find a way around it, then his system-building starts anew!)

The one unexpected thing about the game was how my daughter reacted to the stress induced by the time-pressure. Usually, competitions that involve speed make her twitchy and, especially if she's losing more than she's winning, she tires of such play fairly quickly. But this time, she was addicted. Almost relinquished her nightly dose of Unfortunate Events for yet another round, but we pulled rank and switched to reading on the theory that she'd be so wired she wouldn't get to sleep if we let her keep playing.

Bottom line: We had a blast playing this game, but I'm not ready to rate it yet. I think it's more fun than Blink (which I also like), but I also recognize that there are some people I wouldn't want to play Flix Mix with. As my daughter put it, "this isn't supposed to be a shoving game, but I think it could be played that way." Basically, all players are hovering over the same table trying to seize an opportunity before someone else does. So there's lots of potential for jostling and, even if you had a "stay seated" rule, there are potential sight-line issues. I'm curious to see how our family's play will evolve over time as we all get better/faster at this game.

UPDATED TO ADD: Since posting this review, we've played a number of 2 person rounds (sometimes mother and child, sometimes father and child) and it's just not the same game. It becomes slower and more of a puzzle -- perhaps you need at least 3 decks in play to create an optimal number/variety of connection points. Haven't played with 4 yet, but my hunch is that this may be a "shines with 3" game.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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thought more about why I like this better than Blink
Orientation is important here and the fact that you only need to use part of a card adds to the complexity of this game. In the other speed and visual/spatial relationship games I know (e.g. Jungle Speed, Set, and Blink), the cards are what they are -- the question is "do I have a match?" In Flix Mix, there are many more permutations both in how you read your own cards and in how you read the spaces available in the playing field. There's enough puzzle-like challenge here to keep your brain constantly active -- which means that it's not all about having quick eyes and hands (though that certainly helps!)
 
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Fraser
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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smithhemb wrote:
UPDATED TO ADD: Since posting this review, we've played a number of 2 person rounds (sometimes mother and child, sometimes father and child) and it's just not the same game. It becomes slower and more of a puzzle -- perhaps you need at least 3 decks in play to create an optimal number/variety of connection points. Haven't played with 4 yet, but my hunch is that this may be a "shines with 3" game.


Sue,

The first time we played this was four player and it flew along. A couple of months later our own copy arrived from Germany and Melissa and I tried it out two player a couple of nights ago. It went much slower. I think there really are a lack of connection points on the table at times when playing two player. With three or four there are you are less likely to have to wait for someone else to play a card before you do. I have a thought about getting around this, but since the "I've got this great idea but haven't actually tried it - what do you think?" posts annoy me, I'll wait until we have actually tried it meeple

Fraser
 
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Melissa
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smithhemb wrote:
In one way, this session was very typical of a game debut for us. I often have a good instinctive grasp of a new game and do the best initially, whereas my husband works on developing a system and it takes him awhile to hit upon one that works. He may be at that point now. (After that, he wins for awhile, until my daughter and I figure out his system and either emulate/improve upon it or find a way around it, then his system-building starts anew!)


Interesting. That's the way Fraser and I work as well - at first, it may go either way, then he usually starts to win consistently. If I study his technique, I can narrow the gap.

Of course, there are occasional games that go the other way (for us, Tigris & Euphrates and Louis XIV are probably the most notable exceptions).

smithhemb wrote:
UPDATED TO ADD: Since posting this review, we've played a number of 2 person rounds (sometimes mother and child, sometimes father and child) and it's just not the same game. It becomes slower and more of a puzzle -- perhaps you need at least 3 decks in play to create an optimal number/variety of connection points. Haven't played with 4 yet, but my hunch is that this may be a "shines with 3" game.


Fraser and I broke this out the other night and found the same thing - it's a much slower game with two. I imagine there wouldn't be much difference between playing solitaire or with two players.

We've played it with 4 and it was very chaotic (in a good way). The important thing is that all the players have equal reach to play cards on whatever side of the table they want.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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So did you ever try your great idea? Did it work?

I'm guessing (given that you had a good experience with four and the same sluggish one we had with two) that the key is at least 3 decks in play and a time, which makes it seem like the two person solution is play two decks each. That might drive you crazy from a hand management standpoint and/or might create a situation where players makes big chunks of interlocking cards out of their own decks and then just look for a way to play the bottom card to get the whole pile on the board. Presumably, though, these are problems that could be solved through experimentation (some draw system and/or an initial hand which is 16 cards with 8 from each of two different decks).

Oops, I've unintentionally subjected you to an "I've got a great idea" post. Sorry! I'm always eager to read other people's variants, but rarely interested in developing my own -- proof, I guess, that I'd rather play games rather than design them!
 
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