KerFlip: Review and Interview with Inventor Damon Tabb

KerFlip: Review and Interview with Inventor Damon Tabb

KerFlip arrived and I’ve played it and I’m going to tell you that I’m still just as enthusiastic as I was about it now as when I saw it at ChiTAG.  As far as 2-player word games go it’s good, not great.  But with 3 or 4 players it’s outstanding.  Let’s keep in mind two things: 1. I like word games and 2. I like speed games – so fast word games are definitely up my alley!  Added bonus: you don’t really know who is going to win until the end, so it’s a nail-biter.

KerFlip is a quick game to pick up on.  There are 2-sided letter tiles, one side is cream the other is orange but both have the same letter on them.  Each player randomly draws their tiles from the bag, places them on the board but keeps them covered.  When the letters are uncovered it’s a race to find a 3+ letter word!  When a player shouts a word, the start their timer.  When the next player shouts a word, they start their timer.  Once everyone has a word (or the most recent timer flipped runs out) the round is over and it’s time to score.  Starting with the player who shouted their word first, it’s 10 points for each letter in the word, but once the letter is used once it is flipped over so it’s orange.  From then on, each player who has a word that uses an orange tile they only get 5 points for that tile.  Any tiles that have numbers on them indicated the number of bonus cards that player may collect – but they’re only collected by the first player who uses that letter, once it has been turned orange no cards are collected.

When the scoring is over, the tiles that weren’t used are put back in the bag and the rest are swept off the board into one of the holes.  This is such a cool feature!  At the end of the game you pick up the box, shake it and all of the tiles are in a little container and are easily dumped back into the bag!  Sure, it may be unnecessary BUT we all know how it stinks to have to pick up tiles after a game of Bananagrams, Scrabble or Rummikub so I really appreciate the thought put into this one!

The game goes until you don’t have enough tiles for everyone to select their allotment for a round.  At that point everyone looks at their bonus cards, totals them up and they get tacked onto their score.  The winner is the player with the most points (obviously) but the thing I think is interesting is that not all of the bonus cards have bonuses on them.  They range from 0-25pts so collecting as many cards as you can isn’t sure-fire winning strategy.  Throughout the game we found that who was leading would fluxuate and at the end there was some finger crossing before we had the final totals.

As most of you know, I love hearing a game’s “story” so I asked KerFlip’s inventor, Damon Tabb a bit about his game.  Here’s what he had to say:


1. How did you come up with the game KerFlip?

Back in the heyday of Scrabulous, my wife and I would play a lot online. There was a streak of about ten games where I simply couldn’t catch a break and get any decent tiles, even after trading in. And, of course, there goes my wife–dropping the Z, then the V, then the Q, and on and on, game after game. And here I was struggling just to put down AIOLI and AEON. (We’ve all been there, right?) So, that’s when I had the germ of the idea for KerFlip: a game that levels the playing field for all players, and that isn’t another Scrabble or Boggle clone, or a generic crossword-style game. The idea evolved over a period of about a year and went through a number of iterations before I had that aha! moment about flip-scoring.

2. I love the “tile corral” feature in the box, what made you decide to include it?

Well, first off, thank you! I love to see people’s faces when I demo the game and funnel the tiles into the cup. They don’t expect it, and have no idea what I’m doing. I think some people like that feature as much as they like playing the game! For me, it wasn’t so much a “decision” to include it–I mean, once I realized what could be done there, there was no decision to make. I think it’s more that I’m a tinkerer at heart and, after the rest of the game was complete, I’m thinking “Wow, there’s all this unused space in the box. What can I do with it?” I had plans for a standard plastic tray that holds the game parts. But, I just got it into my head that I wanted to use the space better than that, and it struck me that if you put the board in the box, you could do this whole thing with a tile return and collection cup. Since this also fixed one of my pet peeves about Scrabble and other tile games, namely cleanup, there was really no turning back.

3. Do you have a picture of the prototype you’d like to share?

The board was used to score before the advent of flip-scoring (at right). This box is one of only two prototypes I made (Box exterior top right, box interior above right).

4. Is game inventor your primary job, and if not what is?

At the moment, I’m juggling a few hats: game inventor, instructional designer, software tester, and Papa. My primary job, though, is as an instructional designer. I’m currently the lead designer of an online training course about a specific treatment protocol for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) called prolonged exposure therapy, or PE. The training will be released to tens of thousands of mental health providers across the U.S. over the coming months. It’s pretty exciting, and the feedback so far has been fantastic. Eventually, though, I would like to be wearing the game inventor hat a lot more. I’ve got two other games lined up and ready to go, and about five more in early development.

5. What was your favorite game growing up?

This is a tricky one. Does anyone have just one favorite game when they were a kid? I had a few: Life, Careers, chess. I loved Stratego! When I was a little older, I discovered Risk, D&D, and Titan. I don’t think I even played Scrabble until my late teens, but by then I was already a Boggle fan. Another game I remember nostalgically (that happened to be the first game I thought up… I think I was five or six) was called “One, Two, Where’s My Shoe?” With a couple of friends, you could play this pretty much anywhere, indoors or out (although it was quickly banned from my house, for reasons you can probably guess).

Thanks to Damon Tabb (pictured at right) for his time.  You can find out more about KerFlip at:

KerFlip! Stats:

$26 Amazon and Mom & Pop Stores
2-4 players
Ages 8 and up



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  1. Mary Couzin

    Great description of game and interview with inventor Damon!

    I went by his booth a few times and it was always busy!

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