Kerflip! (2nd Edition) Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Approximately 20 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek rejected!

Overview

A fast mind and a fast tongue are only two of the tools needed to play this game. A player must also listen, observe, and search for words that score big points! As the words are found, the number of points letters are worth begins to drop. Using a word that was shouted by another player is strictly forbidden, but using the word to create a longer word is highly encouraged. First to find a word scores big! Just make sure it’s a real word before shouting it.

Kerflip! (2nd edition), by Creative Foundry Games, is comprised of 89 Letter tiles, 1 Lightening tile, 1 draw bag, 22 Bonus cards, 1 sand timer, 1 game board, and 1 Tile cup. The entire game is played in the box which has been creatively designed to cleanup the game while you play it. This makes game set up a snap and allows the game to be played in a small playing area. All the components are of high quality that includes a thick and sturdy board, cards, and tiles.  Note included in the game, but necessary to play, is a pen or a pencil and piece of paper to keep track of the players’ scores.

Game Set Up

Note: It is assumed that the game has been played and put away using the rules summarized here or the game is being played for the first time (as in “right out of the box”). If not, your game set up will be different.

To set up the game, first lift the game board to expose the inner box. Remove the draw bag that should contain all the tiles and the sand timer. Replace the Tile cup in its original position and replace the game board.

Second, shuffle the Bonus cards and place them face-down in the game box’s card slot.

That’s it for game set up! It is suggested that one player be the designated score keeper and a dictionary is available to help resolve any word challenges.

Playing the Game

The game is played in rounds which is completed by the following sequential steps. A single round of game play is summarized here.

Step 1: Draw Tiles

The first step of every round is to draw tiles from the draw bag. All the players will draw tiles every round and the number of tiles drawn is dependent on the number of players in the game. Tiles are always drawn blindingly. When the last player draws their tiles from the draw bag, they shout “GO!” and all the players drop their tiles onto the game board at once. As quickly as possible, all the players now flip over the tiles so that only the ivory (white) side of each tile is showing.

The one exception to this rule is the Lightening tiles. These tiles should remain on the side that it lands on and never be flipped.

Step 2:  Shout Words

Players now race to call out one word each using the tiles shown on the game board. A word must be comprised of at least 3 letters with words using more letters awarding more points. Proper nouns, hyphens, and apostrophes are not allowed!

When a player decides on a word, they shout it out. No other player can now call that same word, but variants on the word can be used. For example, if “foot” was called an opponent could call out “football”. Tiles must never be moved during this step of the round!

If two or more players shout the same word, the player who started the shout first will be awarded points first during the next step, but both players share the same word.

The sand timer should be used when only one player has not yet shouted out a word. This player has until the sand timer runs out (about 15 seconds). If they don’t call a word, they will not receive any points this round.

Step 3: Scoring Words

Players now score their words in the order they were shouted. The first person to shout their word will score first, followed by the second person to shout a word, and so on until all the players have scored their word.

When scoring a word, the player spells the word and then counts the tiles used in its spelling. Each tile that is used that is showing its ivory (white) side is worth 10 points and every tile that is showing its orange side is worth 5 points. Once the player’s score it tallied, all the tiles used to spell the word are flipped to their orange side. If the tile used is already orange, it remains. In this way, the number of points available to be earned slowly decreases. In the event of two or more players calling out the same word, the player who called it out first scores first. The tiles are then flipped over (as needed) and the next player who called out the same word scores using the same tiles, which are now all orange.

During the game, a Lightening tile can be dropped onto the game board. This signifies that the round is a “Lightening Round”. The round is played as normal, but the first player to call out a word is awarded an additional number of points. If the Lightening tile was dropped with its ivory (white) side face-up, the player will earn an extra 50 points. If the orange side is face-up, the player will earn an extra 25 points. The Lightning tile should never be flipped during step 1.

Step 4: Round Cleanup

Once all the scores are recorded, all the tiles that are showing their ivory (white) side are placed back into the draw bag. These tiles were not used during the round. All tiles that are showing their orange side are swept from the game board into one of the two return shoots that are located on one end of the game box. As the game continues, players who are paying attention to the tiles and remember the words that were spelled can determine how many letters are left and what they might be. To assist in this effort, a Letter tile distribution table is provided on the game board.

kerflip_ltrtiledistribution

Lightening tiles are always discarded after being used in a round regardless of the color that is showing.

This ends the round.

Bonus Cards

The Bonus cards are collected by players when they use a Letter tile in a word that also has a small number on the Letter tile’s lower right corner. As soon as the Letter tile is used, the player randomly selects a number of Bonus cards equal to the Letter card’s number value. Do not reveal these cards to any player at this time. Instead, the player who drew the cards will place them face-down in front of them until the game’s final scoring. Bonus cards can range in value from o to 25 extra points.

Word Challenges

Any player can challenge an opponent’s word during step 3, but only one challenge per word. A player should challenge a word if they believe the spelling is incorrect, is not a real word, or the word is not following the game’s rules.

The word is now found in the dictionary, if possible. If the word was challenged successfully by the player, the opponent’s turn ends and they score no points in this round. Any tiles that would have been flipped over are left on their current side. Any Bonus cards collected for the incorrect word are returned to the bottom of the Bonus card deck.

If the word was challenged unsuccessfully by the player, the opponent continues to score their points, but the player will not score any points this round.

Ending the Game

The game ends as soon as a player is  unable to draw their full allotment of tiles (based off of the number of players). The round stops and all the points are now scored, including the Bonus cards that are now turned over and added to the player’s overall score.

The player with the highest score wins the game!

Really Simple Cleanup

Once the game is over, simply pick the box up and gently shake it at an angle so all the tiles fall into the Tile cup. Then the tiles are poured  into the draw bag and the draw bag is placed back into the now empty the Tile cup. Make sure to cinch the string on the draw bag to secure the tiles. The Bonus card slot holds the cards when the game is cleaned up and there is a slot under the game board for the sand timer. If the game is put away with all the game bits placed in the correct position in the game box, future game sessions will be very easy to set up and start!

Version Differences

If you are wondering what the differences are between the first and second edition of Kerflip!, her you go. The second edition includes:

  • Revised bonus card distribution
  • Only 1 sand timer included in the game instead of 4
  • Lighting round tile added and the “Doubloon” tile removed
  • Revised game board graphics with a Letter tile distribution table
  • Revised game board tray
  • Revised game box graphics
  • Revised rules

For those of you who might have the first edition of the game, the second edition is a slightly more refined version. The game play is reportedly the same, however.

To learn more about Kerflip!, visit the game’s web site.

Prediction

Word and vocabulary games can be surprisingly challenging to players of all ages, but only if the game pushes the player to think faster than what they are normally used to. For example, if I were to ask you to name 10 words that start with the letter “C” and are no less than five letters long, you could do so without much effort if I gave you all the time in the world. If I told you to give me the list in 30 seconds, you  might be able to pull it off, but not without feeling the stress! The same can be said about Kerflip! The game is very straight forward in its challenge to the players: spell a word that is at least 3 letters long. There is no time limit, but it is a race. The first player to spell and shout words gets more points for the letters used than the next player who might use the same letters. As such, the game pushes the player. Gamer Geeks and Parent Geeks won’t have a problem with this, but the Child Geeks certainly might.

But we must also consider that Kerflip! still awards the player points if they spell a word that uses previously used letters. This will allow players to keep reusing the same tiles on the game board. That sounds pretty good, but players cannot use the same word previously called by a player unless they are building onto it. The more I think about it, the more I think this game will not do well with the Child Geeks. We’ll just have to play it and see. For the Parent Geeks, I don’t think we’ll see any problems, but I don’t think there is enough of a game here to satisfy the Gamer Geeks.

I taught the game by taking a handful of tiles, dropped them on the table, flipped them to their white side, and asked one player to spell a word using them. I told them how many points they got and then flipped over the Letter tiles used. I then asked the next player to spell a different word using all the tiles, and I pointed out how the tiles that were previously used count for fewer points. I then flipped over any used Letter tiles and asked the third player to spell a new word. They always understood the challenge and attempted to spell a word using as many of the non-orange Letter tiles as possible. Once that exercise was over, I flipped the tiles back and showed how some of the tiles had numbers on them and awarded the players Bonus cards. I explained the Lighting tile, how a player could challenge a word, and that was all it took. About 5 minutes, give or take. The only questions I was ever asked were about what words were legal to spell.

And so, as I set the first game up to play with my oldest little geek (my 5-year-old is not a strong enough speller to play this game), I asked him his thoughts on Kerflip! so far.

“I don’t like games that make me spell because it reminds me of my spelling homework.” ~ Liam (age 8)

Whoops! Looks like Kerflip! has a bit of a disadvantage right out of the gate! Let’s see if the game play spells “success” or not.

Final Word

The Child Geeks did not care for Kerflip!, but we were unable to find any Child Geek older than 8-years-old to play the game with. If we had an opportunity to play the game with older Child Geeks (ages 10 to 18, for example), I am guessing we would see a steady rise in the overall approval of the game. Kerflip! is a game that demands that the player be a good speller, have a fairly descent vocabulary, and a quick mind. The Child Geeks have very quick minds, but they lacked the vocabulary and spelling skills to compete. And really, that’s what ultimately caused the Child Geeks to reject Kerflip! This was not a game you could win if you played the game with a player who was a stronger speller. Since this was not a hurdle that can be cleared short of simply becoming a better speller yourself, the Child Geeks never had a chance or an opportunity within the game to get ahead or make use of a strategy or tactic that would allow them to win. As a result, the Child Geeks unanimously voted to reject the game.

Admittedly this is an obvious statement, but do not use the sand timer when playing the game with Child Geeks. We let them take all the time in the world and that greatly reduced the stress and increased the enjoyment for all players.

Feeling a bit too close to homework, my little geek's body language clearly shows his dissinterest

Feeling a bit too close to homework, my little geek’s body language clearly shows his disinterest

The Parent Geeks thought Kerflip! was a wonderful and challenging spelling game that took a quick mind and a quick tongue to achieve victory. Among their peer group, the game was happily received, but none of the Parent Geeks found that the game was a good one to play with their family at the moment. They did recognize the potential of the game to be an entertaining one when their Child Geeks get older, however. Until then, they agreed to approve the game. One Parent Geek said, “This is a game that kept me on my toes, kept me thinking, and kept me smiling!” Indeed it did. The game plays fast and kept all the Parent Geeks engaged from the very first tile drop to the very last tile pull.

The Gamer Geeks “respected” what the game was about but didn’t care for it. To them, Kerflip! was just a “spell as fast as you can” game. That didn’t interest them in the slightest. One Gamer Geek said it best by stating, “This is a well designed game, but it lacks the heart of a gamer’s game. Excellent for strengthening vocabulary and spelling skills, but it falls well short of a game I would pull out and play with my Gamer Geek friends.” The majority of the Gamer Geeks agreed and voted to reject it. They did state, however, that Kerflip! was a spelling and vocabulary game they would have no problem playing with non-gamers and the family.

As a Parent Geek, I greatly enjoyed this game. I think it’s a great way to challenge the mind and strengthen language skills. I could not be more pleased with the game box design, which I know sounds silly, but the way in which the game is played and then cleaned up is simply brilliant. Engineering at its finest as far as game box designs go. With my peers, I think Kerflip! is a blast to play and it can be played casually or very intensely as the mood and the Child Geek noise level permits. When my little geeks get older, they will be able to compete at a higher level of competency while playing Kerflip! then what is currently possible. A shame, but the game’s demand is also what makes it interesting and fun to play. I’m all kinds of ready to get rid of Scrabble, which seems old, tired, and terribly uninteresting when put next to Kerflip!

As a Gamer Geek, Kerflip! is not a game I would reach for. Don’t get me wrong, there are many Gamer Geeks who enjoy a good spelling or vocabulary game. I’m just not one of them. In order for a game like Kerflip! to win me over as a Gamer Geek, it needs to be more than just “spell really fast”. It’s almost there with the Letter tile flips and the Bonus cards, but falls short of being a game I would want to play with my elitist gamer friends. But it’s not a game I would turn down, either. It’s just a game I wouldn’t consider seeking out on my own during a Gamer Geek’s night of table top gaming fun.

I would recommend Kerflip!, but only to players who enjoy language, vocabulary, and spelling games. Players must be good spellers and have a fast mind to compete. The Letter tiles are random, disorganized, and a real mess to put together into words using just the mind. Sometimes there are a lot of words to find and sometimes only a few. For the Child Geek’s, there’s just too much to observe and organize before attempting to find a word. The game awards speed and spelling competency – the wide point spread difference between adults and kids will prove this. This is a great game for strong spellers, plain and simple.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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