Let’s face it – most games use deckbuilding. The game mechanic almost doesn’t seem to be able to express it with cards, be it a fight in Fights in Tight Space, a city building in Stacklands or summoning monsters in the Black Book. There is a deckbuilder for everyone. Floppy Nights, through Rose City Games, dedicates itself to a combination of my two favorite gaming styles, turn-based strategy and deckbuilding, with cards expanding and limiting your options at every turn.
You are in the role of Phoebe, a young inventor who takes her floppy nights out – these are digital creatures, saved on floppy disks, who fight for her. Unlike turn-based strategy games like Fire Emblem or Into the Breach, the round doesn’t require movement and attack. Instead you can use the card as long as you have the energy, so easy. But the movement plays an unusually large role in Floppy Nights, not because you cover large maps, but because each map contains points from which enemies constantly re-emerge. Things can end really fast if you don’t give yourself the right place and move your deck out of their reach unless you have the right attack.
That’s because losing your commander, your strongest unit on board, means ending the game immediately. Because of this rule, floppy knights are very close to chess. The big draw of floppy nights for me is to carefully weigh or lose the risks and rewards of going with your best unit.
It’s not that it wouldn’t be wise to play it safe. There aren’t many turn-based strategy games where I’ve played them as safely as Floppy Nights, where I’ve easily spent 20 rounds and more in a boss encounter. After all these efforts, restarting can be frustrating. Winning, on the other hand, comes with instant prizes – money to buy a shiny new card and / or a new card. It’s always nice to have new cards, but this is especially true in Floppy Nights – your deck isn’t that big, so the more time you play, the better the game gets and the more cards and fun card combinations you get. Playing the level again with a different commander can make it seem completely different and this encourages you to go back and try for alternate goals that you previously lost.
For all those who enjoy Floppy Knights’ brand strategy, I’m also a big fan of his glamorous look. Tactical games are usually centered on war, which understands the chess-like nature of the game. Floppy Knights, on the other hand, tells a short story about Phoebe and her AI-powered robotic arm Carlton, traveling to find out where they can help – even if it means “Fat Stack of Cash”. In this game, you stop lava monsters from hugging volcanoes and play catch the flag instead of fighting and I think that’s pretty much it.
Floppy Nights are perfect standouts in themselves – little plant people and monsters, each with their own unique skills that will add game to your deck as soon as the unit board arrives. Once played, skill cards can be used by any unit, which seems to make the game a lot easier, but in reality it helps a lot. Floppy Nights is a challenging game, perhaps because of the number of enemies you encounter or their large movements and attack range. Yet I never felt that there were not enough options at my disposal to reach a level, I just had to be patient.
Floppy Nights, following its cute story and unlocking new cards, combines a sense of discovery, game mechanics that are easy enough to pick up quickly. Everything about it feels light and accessible, which is what I needed at the moment – something fun, simple and straightforward.