Red Flags Game Review (Red Flags)

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Developed by the creator of Superfight, Red Flags is the "game of terrible dates." A Cards-Against-Humanity-style game, Red Flags challenges everyone involved to come up with the perfect date for you. From there, it's up to everyone else to sabotage it. She may be a brain surgeon with a Tardis, but she also collects human skulls. There may be a bodybuilder whose kisses cure cancer, but he is on every fad diet at the same time. Ultimately, Red Flags becomes a game about figuring out which date isn't as bad as the others. Red Flags is undoubtedly a party game, designed as an ice breaker game that helps everyone get to know each other -- and challenges preconceptions on the way. 

Before I get into this: Red Flags is a good game. It's a solid casual game -- and if you have a couple of party games out, one of them should probably be Red Flags. I want to say this now, because I kind of hate this game, and I'm not justified in hating it. Unlike some other games, which are objectively bad (still looking at you, Punderdome), Red Flags is a good game for people who aren't me. 

Game Details

Players: 3+

Game Time: 30 to 60 Minutes

Age: 17+

Genre: Party Game

How is Red Flags Played?

Everyone draws four white cards (perks) and three red cards (red flags). Players will play two white cards in front of themselves that represent good traits that a date might have; for instance, they could be a "supermodel" who "owns a castle." The goal is to create a date for one person at the table (with that person changing each round). 

Everyone reveals their good dates, often telling a story about this person. Once good dates have been revealed, the person to the right will sabotage that date by playing one of their red cards. This all works together because if you know someone well, you know the traits that they would like the most. If you don't know them well, you get to learn something about them. Elegant, right? 

How Does Red Flags Look?

Like cards. There aren't any flourishes; it's just a card game. But there's a nice thing about Red Flags, which is that each expansion is very easy to pick out. Nerdy Red Flags (for geeks), Dark Red Flags (for psychopaths), and Sexy Red Flags (for sex-starved maniacs) are all easy to separate once the game is done. The cards are, again, cards. But they're stylized and nice and easy to read, unlike a lot of games that try to get fancy with the fonts. 

If there's any objection to the theme, it's that the red flags tend to be less like red flags and more like deal breakers.

What's in the Box?
175 perk cards * 225 red flag cards

How Does Red Flags Feel?

Panorama Gone Wrong
I'm really happy with exactly how wrong this panorama went. 

I'm not a fan of this type of game. Like Cards Against Humanity, it isn't a game so much as an excuse for people to talk dirty to each other in a social context. It's intended to be twisted and titillating for all the wrong reasons; every time it's played, there are two or three players who are invariably trying to make a point of the fact that they're chronically single or a beast in bed. 

It doesn't help that the game is catering to some milquetoast lowest-common-denominator; without the extra packages, it's clearly intended to be as unobjectionable as it can be while still seeming edgy. Like Cards Against Humanity, it's packaged, corporate-designed fun, intended to make you feel just a little bit naughty. Try to count the times you hear "Oh my GAWD, we are SUCH BAD PEOPLE!" at a Cards Against Humanity playthrough and you may begin to understand where I'm coming from.  

But the real problem with the game is that it's not a good game. It suffers from the same problem as Cards Against Humanity; there are certain cards that are always going to trump others, and the expansion packs are significantly more interesting than the base sets. Since you ditch your hand every time a new round begins and pull up new cards, there's really no strategy present. You can't hold on to a card that you know would be good against a specific player. You can't plan ahead to create twisted pairs.

That doesn't change the fact that:

  1. People have a lot of fun when playing this game.
  2. It reveals weird things about people. More than even Cards Against Humanity, Red Flags reveals what people will put up with to get laid. And that's... valuable?

In a few playthroughs of Red Flags, we discovered that one person was incredibly racist, and another person actually thinks Hitler was not all wrong. For some reason when dealing with the abstract idea of a "hypothetical" date, people are far freer and far more likely to slip with their bizarre notions. 

That's why even though I don't like the experience of playing Red Flags, I can't deny its utility as an ice breaker game. 

Red Flags Game Review
  • PRO: An excellent ice breaker game that introduces a surprising number of conversational topics.
  • CON: The expansions really do trump any of the base cards, with cards like "is a superhero" or "owns a TARDIS."