Pack of Flies
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Let's introduce the players... You are all flies happily buzzing around the farm, looking for delicious things to eat. Bread & jam on the kitchen table? Pretty good -- but whats that over there? Oh YUMMY a huge cow patty! But watch out for the fly swatters and spider webs...
In this fast-paced bluffing game, you will use your liar's poker skills to outbid your opponents, setting traps for them while trying to avoid the ones they set for you.
- 25 Black plastic flies
- 1 Blue plastic fly
- 6 Fly Food cards
- 3 Fly Danger cards
- 3 Special cards
- 1 Illustrated rule book
Average Rating: 3 in 2 reviews
Now, you have to be honest with me. How can you not appreciate a game where the biggest point card is a steaming pile of cow dung and the components include 25 plastic flies? No, I'm not being disgusting -- this is, after all, a Pack of Flies we are talking about. (And as I am typing this, I just understood the pun in the title! How embarassing... =) Pack of Flies will never be mistaken for a heavy thinker, but how is it for what it is?
Gameplay can almost be summed up in one paragraph. Each player starts with 5 flies in his left hand, and one of the cards in the center of the table is flipped over. The deck of cards is slim (this is not a long game) and contains both point cards and action cards. Once the players have seen the cards, they secretly choose a bid (zero is allowed) which they put into their right hand. Before revealing the flies, the players must all make a guess as to how many flies they think there is total amongst all the players -- and these guesses are NOT in turn order, but rather as quick as you shout them out with the quicker bids winning ties, and the player with the closest guess winning the card. All the players then lose all the flies they bid, but if any of the players had an exact correct guess, all the players who did so claim a fly from the center of the table.
When you can boil nearly the entire game down to one paragraph, you know your not talking about the latest Alea game. But Pack of Flies is a surprisingly fun game. In one sense, it is like a poor-man's Liar's Dice / Call My Bluff in the sense that you are guessing at a total where you only have a small part of the information. But since you lose any flies you bid, most of the time players will bid 0 or 1 fly. This makes the guessing quite interesting since adding, say, 3 flies to your hand would allow you to wait out everyone else's low bids, then you come in with a higher bid to win it. Of course, that won't work if someone else thought the same thing! Also interesting is that normally in a bidding game you want to be the first in with a correct bid, but in Pack of Flies, if someone has already made the guess you wanted to make, you may still be wise to make that same bid, since all players with exactly correct guesses get a bonus fly, even if they didn't get the card.
Most of the cards in the deck are fairly basic point cards worth 2-4 points. (So what sort of things are valuable to a fly? How about steaming dung, a cow's face, a sandwich left out on a counter...) There are also negative point cards (-2 and -3 points respectively if I remember correctly) which help check a leader (the dreaded fly swatter!) But it's the special action cards that throw some spice into the game. The most basic one is the Baby Flies card, which gives the winner flies equal to the number players in the game. But the last two cards are not only cute, they are neat mechanics too: Muriel the Trained Fly allows you to call Muriel back to your left hand AFTER you have seen the results of the bidding and revealing, allowing you to potentially pick up the card, or at least deny it to the leader; the Fly Spray allows you to empty out a player's hand after guessing but before revealing, allowing you to kill some flies that may have pushed the total higher.
Pack of Flies is very quick, has an unusual theme, point cards that are appropriately chosen for the theme, and a bundle of plastic flies. It scales very well from 2-5 players, and has a great fit as filler on game night, or a fun game to play with non- gamers and tends to ellicit a lot of laughs. My only complaint is that the negative point cards (and to a lesser extent, the Muriel card) allow for some kingmaking. But, you know what? This isn't a strategy game, and the whole thing is over in 10 minutes, so ask me if I care if you play a -3 card on me to take the win away from me and give it to Tim. I don't care -- I'll be too busy laughing.
Ive always delighted in plastic insects and reptiles. For one of my childhood birthdays, I received hundreds of realistic plastic ants, flies, and spiders - which I put to good use in various places and occasions. I was pleased to see; therefore, that a game has put the plastic flies I used as a youngster to use in a game. Pack of Flies (Caf Games, 2004 - Philippe Des Pallieres) has several factors drawing to its success, not the least of which are the pile of cool little plastic flies you receive with the game. The small box, catchy name, and nice (relatively speaking) artwork all definitely catch ones attention.
After my first playing of the game, I wasnt quite as impressed. The game seemed to me like a poor mans version of Liars dice, just not quite as fun. The theme worked well, but the game seemed too random, with a touch of obvious king making involved. After later plays, however, I realized that there was a decent amount of strategy and guessing; it just wasnt too evident. I love the theme and would not mind playing this game occasionally, but the game play just doesnt really hold up for me. While its interesting and fun, why not just play a game of Liars Dice, which basically uses the same mechanics and seems to be more pure?
Each player in the game is given five plastic flies (up to five players), with the remainder of the flies placed aside - out of the game. A pile of twelve cards are shuffled and placed in a draw pile face down on the table. A blue fly, Muriel, is placed on top of the box while each player secretly hides the amount of flies they have in their left hand. The game is ready to begin and will last twelve turns. The lightest person is the first player on the first turn.
On each turn the top card is turned over, with all players trying to win that card. Each player secretly chooses a number of flies (from zero to however many they may have in their hand) and holds them out in their closed right fist. The first player then guesses the total sum of all the flies held over the table. After they have guessed, all the other players must also guess and can do so in any order. The flies are then revealed, and whoever guessed the closest is the winner of the card. If a tie results, the winner is the player who bid the most flies, and further ties are broken by the player who first stated their guess. The player who wins the card places it in front of themselves (or another player) and all flies bid are placed in a reserve pile. All players who guessed the exact number of flies (if any) receive one fly from the reserve pile, if any are there.
Each card has a different affect on game play.
- Six of the cards show a tasty area for a fly to feast, such as sweat beads on a persons face or a steaming pile of cow dung. (lovely, eh?) Each card is worth from one to four points for the player who wins it.
- Three cards show hazards for flies, such as a fly swatter or a spider. These cards are worth negative one to three points to the player in front of whom they are placed (by the winner).
- Baby flies: The winner of this card receives as many flies as there are plays, with the second place bidder getting one less fly, etc., etc. If the reserve runs out of flies, its just too bad for those who get stiffed.
- Fly spray: The player who wins this card has a certain amount of charges, depending on the amount of players in the game. Before the amount of flies is revealed, the player may expend a charge and spray an opponents hand, killing all flies there which are sent to the reserve before the total is calculated.
- Murial, the Amazing Trained Fly: The player who wins this card gets the blue plastic fly, Murial. After the total sum of flies is revealed, if the player bid Murial as one of their flies, they may whistle, calling Murial back to their hands, changing the total count. This can only be done twice a game, after which Murial is lost permanently.
After the last card has been bid on, the game ends, and each player calculates their score. All points on cards are totaled (both positive and negative), and one point is added for each remaining fly that players might have. The player with the most points is the winner and receives the title The Lord of the Flies (haha).
Some comments about the game...
1.) Components: The little bag of plastic flies is a big attraction, and I must confess its the sole reason I bought the game, knowing nothing about it. But still, I must admit that it is indeed much cooler to have a pile of flies than some wooden or cardboard tokens. The cards are square and fairly large, with rather detailed artwork on them (if one has the urge to see close-up artwork of smelly cheese or cow dung, this is the game for you!). Everything fits nicely in a little square box that is just a little larger than the cards, covered with artwork and game information. The box isnt as sturdy as Id like - mine is getting demolished, and Im not playing the game enough for it - but I love the size and portability.
2.) Rules: The rulebook is really snazzy for such a small game. Its a square full-colored booklet the same size as the cards, and explains the rules quite well. What I found really nice was that there were five pages dedicated to showing an example game, with almost every situation that could happen occurring. This really helped me understand the rules quite clearly and settled some rule questions occasionally. I found that the game is quite simple to teach, but that the strategy isnt very intuitive.
3.) Bidding and strategy: As I said, the strategy isnt really intuitive, and Ive seen many players at a loss of how to bid and guess each turn. Once players find out that they get a point per fly at the end of a game, they end up hoarding all their flies, and the total sum of flies is often zero or one. Some people were so bad at guessing the numbers and had no clue as to how to bid, that they swore off the game altogether. I eventually caught on to a strategy (not sure if its good or not), but found that even that strategy could change depending on which cards were revealed first.
4.) Cards: I think that perhaps too few cards were included with the game. In several of the games Ive played, the winner is very obvious after only a few turns. If one player wins the +4 and both +3 cards, they are going to be hard to beat, even if every other player plays the negative cards on them. Besides, the winner gets some flies back oftimes, giving them an advantage in future bids. If you start out poorly, chances are good that you will end even more poorly.
5.) King making: Since all cards won are open, and its not too difficult to keep track of how many flies each player has. Its not too difficult to figure out who is winning during a game. Because of this, players are often put into a kingmaker position when they win a negative card - something many players abhor. I really didnt enjoy this aspect of the game that much, but read on the internet about a variant that changed all negatives to positives; something Im sure would increase the enjoyment of the game.
6.) Fun Factor: There were times when a lot of laughter was heard from our games; but it was mostly because of the artwork on the card, sound effects from players, or comments from spectators. It was often that the laughter was coming from game play itself. Very few people told me that they disliked the game, but I noticed that no one asked for me to bring it out again, and I heard more groans during a game, and sighs that Bills winning, whats the point of continuing play.
I love the toy factor of the game, and enjoy its portable, interesting theme. The mechanic matches the theme well, and the game seems to work fairly well. That being said, however, I dont think the game offers enough to warrant purchasing it unless you want a cheap little game with some plastic flies. Liars Dice is a superior game and has the same kind of bluffing/bidding tactics. If you dont like Liars Dice, youll definitely dislike this game, but if you own Liars Dice and are searching for a thematic variation that is just as quick as that game, then perhaps youll enjoy Pack of Flies. If nothing else, youll get some cool little flies that you can play practical jokes with.
Real men play board games.