Review: Circus Flohcati

Come one, come all! Come on down to the most bizarre flea circus in town! See these tiny little bloodsuckers perform feats never seen before! See brave aerialists leap 50 times their body length! Laugh as the clowns entertainingly infest your home! Watch as the tamers force humans to give their cats and dogs medicine once a month! Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Circus Flohcati

Circus Flohcati is a simple card game that was released way back in 1998. You are tasked as a ringmaster, enlisting the help of 10 different types of performers to make your circus better, including strongmen, sharpshooters, and dancers. This recruitment is done by flipping over cards from the deck one at a time to create a lineup of potential acts. Each type of performer has 8 cards, numbered 0 to 7, and you are trying to get at least one card of each type into your hand in order to fill up your circus lineup. You may continue to flip over cards for the lineup for as long as you want, hoping that you get a higher valued card, which will be worth more points at the end of the game. However, if you ever flip over a card type which is already represented in the lineup, it is immediately discarded and you lose your turn. Play continues until one person has all ten types, declares their final gala (thus gaining ten bonus points), and players tally up the highest value of each card type in their hand. Whoever has the most points wins!

Welcome to the Freak Show

Back when it was first released, the artwork centered around cute, hand drawn fleas that were performing various stunts, like being shot out of a cannon, juggling blindfolded, or breathing fire.  Then a new edition was released in 2016 that is, well, bizarre.

The new illustrations look like someone cut out and glued together pieces from incredibly old photo albums and incredibly detailed entomology textbooks. Many people have found them off-putting when we play, but I must admit that I am in love with the artwork. It’s just weird and strange enough to sell an old-timey circus freak show vibe. I also love the use of color and various fonts for the different types of font. I’ll admit that some may not be able to get past this art to play the game, but others are going to think it gives Circus Flohcati an odd charm that allows it to stand out from other card games.

Circus Flohcati cards

Aside from just a few other mechanics (there’s another way to score points and there are 3 special types of cards in the deck), I’ve given you all the rules of the game. Circus Flohcati is super simple, and it can be taught in less than a minute to a group of up to six (yes, the rules say 5, but 6 seems to work for us just fine). Turns are quick, which is becoming more and more of a commodity that I seek out. I love a good thinker, but when people occasionally need to take a minute or two just to take one single turn, a game can quickly lose its luster.

There’s just not all that much to think about with this game, so you’ll be moving through the deck quickly. The push your luck mechanic of the lineup is a really cool mechanic. You might see a 2 or a 3 of a card that you need to add, but instead of taking it, you might keep flipping cards, hoping that a higher value of another performer type shows up for you to grab. The risk is sometimes worth the reward, but you may soon find that you’re several cards behind your opponent because you haven’t gotten to draw in a few turns.  

Games based on cards with different colors and numbers are a dime a dozen, but Circus Flohcati has really stood out for us.  It’s rare that we play a round without immediately jumping into another. I think it’s just the right combination of kooky style, push your luck mechanics, simplicity, and quickness.

I’ve owned the game for about 8 months, and already it is our 3rd most played game (behind Escape and Codenames). It has worked well with everyone we have played with, including younger gamers. If you need something to fill that lunch break, or are looking for a game that you can just mindlessly play at night while binge watching something, this game’s the ticket. So HURRY, HURRY, HURRY and pick up your copy today!

You can find Circus Flohcati at your local game shop or buy ordering it on Amazon today.

Highs

  • Incredibly quick to learn and play
  • A nice light mix of risk and strategy
  • A unique art style…

Lows

  • … that might freak some people out
  • Every game is pretty much the same