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Flu Season

Flu Season and Flu Season Dice are two games currently on Kickstarter that are seeking to be "super spreaders" of fun. In this preview, we will break down each of these games, identify the strengths and weaknesses of each one, then summarize our overall thoughts of both games.

Flu Season

Protect yourself from virus and flu, super spreaders, and even sudden death, in this take-that card game for 2-6 players that is all about getting sick (and trying to avoid it!).

Gameplay

The deck of cards is shuffled and each player is dealt seven cards and given five health tokens. The goal of the game is to be the last player with any health left.

On your turn there are four phases. During the first phase, you trigger any abilities on any cards in front of you that have a pre-draw ability. Also, if you have a class card in your hand, you may play it now if you do not currently have one played. Class cards give you unique abilities such as protecting you from certain cards or allowing you to discard two cards from your hand to stop another player from playing a card, as long as they’re not playing a card against you.

Next is the going out phase. You draw one card from the deck face-up. If it is a curse card, you must immediately play it on yourself. These will have negative effects, often costing you one health token. Sometimes a curse card will affect multiple players. If it is not a curse card, you add it to your hand.

During phase three of your turn, you must either play a card on yourself or another player, or draw two cards and add them to your hand. Cards you can play will have a variety of effects. Some will have one-time abilities that activate at once, some will be curses against other players, some you will play in front of yourself for long term benefits.

The final phase of your turn is the 'aid the sick' phase. If you have more than five cards in your hand, you must discard down. If you are the player with the lowest health, you simply add these cards to the discard pile. Otherwise, you pass them to the player who does have the lowest health. Your turn is now over.

Players continue taking turns until all but one player has reached zero health and been eliminated from the game.

Flu Season components

Review

Flu Season has a lot of back and forth interaction between players, with plenty of take-that. There’s a nice range of abilities across the cards. There are lots of ways to play cards against one another and options to block those effects if you have the right card in hand. The class mechanics in particular alter the gameplay in clever ways, that are fun to watch play out.

Turns are fast, so the higher player counts aren’t going to slow down the game too much. The rules are quite accessible and easy to teach. The rulebook does a good job of providing explanations for each card type in case you get confused. There are also excellent reference cards included and the game has an intuitive flow.

The fact that the 'going outside' card goes into your hand (if it’s not a curse) can lead to some interesting moments, as it gives other players a bit of an insight into what you’re holding, as does the ‘aid the sick’ mechanism. If you have to pass some of your cards to someone, you’re going to think carefully about which ones you choose.

On the downside, we wished that we could play at least one more card on our turns, just so that we could have a little more time to set up plays, but there are some abilities in the game that allow you a little extra flexibility.

There is some terminology in the game that is going to be familiar from the pandemic. Some players will be bothered by this, so you do want to be sure of your game group before bringing this to the table. The dependence on luck in this game is also very high — one card can straight-up kill you if you don’t have something to counter it. This could be another turn-off for your group.

Overall, if you enjoy these fast, luck-of-the-draw style take-that card games, take a look at Flu Season.

Pros: Intuitive game flow, lots of player interaction, range of abilities

Cons: Theme and some terminology in the game may bother some players, very high luck factor

Flu Season Dice

Roll the dice and hope that luck is on your side to keep you healthy and alive. But one bad roll could see you out of the game permanently!

Flu Season Dice is a light and fast dice game for 2-6 players, designed with six game modes. So choose a mode, and roll away.

Gameplay

Each player takes ten health tokens. You may never exceed this number of tokens during the game. The goal of the game is to be the last player left with health.

On your turn, you take all nine dice, roll them, and then follow the results. The dice can roll a health icon, a booster icon, and virus and flu icons. For each health symbol you roll, you gain one health, for each virus, you lose one health. You then count up how many booster shots and how many flu symbols you rolled. If you rolled more booster shots you gain a health, if you rolled more flu you lose a health.

If you happened to roll all virus and flu icons, this is sudden death and you are immediately out of the game. If you happen to roll all health and booster shot icons, this is a hospital stay and you are immediately restored to full health. This set of rules is called the 'quick play' rules and there are a few other variants included as well.

In Re-Roll, you set aside any virus and health you rolled to apply their affects later. You will then pick up any sets of one flu and one booster shot icons, setting aside any leftover dice. You re-roll the ones you picked up. You keep doing this until you roll no more sets. You then count up the results the same as in quick play.

In Diminishing Dice, players remove one die after each round. The game keeps going until there are no dice left. Sudden death and hospital stay do not apply. There is also a two-player version of the game in which each person rolls four dice each turn.

Resurrection mode has players starting with zero health and trying to work their way up to ten. Virus icons are worth negative two health, flu icons are worth negative one, health symbols are worth plus two, and booster shots are worth plus one.

Finally, there is the character mode. You shuffle a deck of character cards at the start of the game, and deal one character to each player. Each character has his own amount of health tokens that he starts with a unique ability (such as being able to reroll four dice every three turns, or ignoring all virus and health icons on dice).

Flu Season Dice components

Review

Flu Season Dice is easy to learn and has fast turns. The dice are fun to chuck, and it’s a nice touch that no one is ever entirely safe and no one has ever entirely lost until they’re actually eliminated. There is always the threat of the sudden death roll and the hope of returning to max health.

Unfortunately, the game doesn’t give its players much control over the outcomes. You simply roll the dice and apply the results. Some of the class cards do give you a couple of choices of how or when to use your powers, but it’s not quite enough to give players the feeling of being able to affect the game.

We did like the idea of the characters, and the reference cards are a nice touch. Additionally, it is a neat idea to have both a dice and card game built on the same theme and sharing an aesthetic. The game just needs to build in some choices for players.

Pros: Character variant, player reference cards

Cons: Lack of choices during gameplay

Overall Thoughts

While there were some aspects of these games that we enjoyed, there are a couple of reasons why they fell flat for us. First, the theme of viruses, disease, booster shots, etc., did not evoke happy emotions for us — though we recognize that this is simply a matter of personal opinion. The whole purpose of these games is to re-experience the unique emotions of the pandemic in a light-hearted way, and some people will enjoy this aspect.

Second, while we are not seeking after a great depth of strategy, the luck factor in these games felt very high — particularly in Flu Season Dice, where players primarily roll dice and carry out the pre-determined outcomes. Perhaps this game is ideal in a more social setting where gameplay is not the focus, but dice-rolling can serve as an activity to evoke conversation among the participants.

In the end, if you appreciate the theme, enjoy a lot of luck in your games, and/or you would like to support an independent publisher (which is always a good thing), check out Flu Season and Flu Season Dice on Kickstarter.

Disclosure: this is a paid preview based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of these games, which are subject to change prior to publication.