Fluxx Roxx!

4 07 2009

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a game review- they’re harder to get around to since I have to find time to get extra people together to play with. Nevertheless, I finally got around to playing Fluxx and Zombie Fluxx, which I’ve had sitting around for way too many months now, convinced it didn’t look interesting. If you’ve been avoiding it for the same reason, I urge you to ignore your suspicions and play Fluxx as soon as possible! It’s quite a fun game, engaging for both non-gamers and hard-core gamers alike.

The basic principle of Fluxx, (as hinted by it’s name,) is that the rules are always changing, or in a state of flux. There are 4 basic types of cards: New Rules, Actions, Keepers, and Goals. The game starts with each player having a hand of 3, and only one basic rule: Draw 1 and Play 1, with new cards on the table replacing anything they contradict. So on my turn, I would draw one card and play one card, which could be a New Rule, Action, Keeper, or Goal. A New Rule might be “Play 2”. So now that the rules are Draw 1, Play 2, I would have to play 1 more card, so that I would have played 2 cards on my turn, satisfying the current rules of the game. An action card might instruct you to do something like taking a card from another player or taking another turn, things of that nature. Keepers are basically just object cards, like a Sandwich, Money, the Sun, Moon, etc, which you simply play in front of you. Having a specified pair of Keepers is the most common way of winning the game, as dictated on Goal cards, which may say something like you win if you have the Sun and Moon in front of you. But as the Goal of the game can literally change on every turn, or even several times within a turn, it can be quite hectic trying to win. With just these basic mechanics, the game could feasibly finish on the very first player’s turn, or last hours, though an average game might be between 20-40 minutes.

As you might imagine, the game can get quite out of control just trying to follow every rule on the table, and it’s quite fun and unpredictable. On the surface, it might seem to be a rather random and fruitless exercise, requiring no amount of real skill. That’s what I first thought as well, which is why it took me so long to finally get around to playing it. But in practice, the game is nevertheless quite engaging and fun for any number and type of gamers. And the best part, which you may have already figured out, is that this is a GREAT gateway game! The basic mechanic of playing a hand of cards which change the basic rules, playing permanent cards in front of you, special cards that have instant effects… sound familiar yet? Magic: the Gathering, anyone?? Maybe it’s just the geek in me, but I think this is a great aspect of Fluxx.

And since we’re talking geek here, I bet you’re really wondering about Zombie Fluxx by now. Well Zombie Fluxx doesn’t disappoint. The basic Fluxx mechanics remain the same, a couple small new rules and card types are added, and all wrapped up in a great, fun, lighthearted Zombie theme, satisfying to you zombie nerds while not being offensive to everyone else. The basic premise of Zombie Fluxx starts with adding a new permanent card type, called Creepers, which generally prevent you from winning, (unlike their counterpart Keepers, which generally help you win.) Most Creepers are Zombies, (though there is a hilarious non-Zombie Creeper card, which I won’t give away here,) and must be played in front of you whenever they’re drawn. (This does not count towards the number of cards you must play on a turn.) Most Goals require you to have no Zombies in front of you to win. Many Action cards help you dispose of Zombies, but the most direct method is by killing them with the new, more weapon-like Keeper cards, like the Shovel, Chainsaw, and Shotgun. Overall, it’s a fantastic expansion. Yes, it can be added to base Fluxx, or played by itself. In fact, in a remarkably generous move by the game publishers, you may even remove the Zombie-themed cards in order to play a regular game of Fluxx without needing to buy the base set.

Both games are published by a small game house called Looney Labs, whose motto is “Smart Games for Smart People.” They’re clearly a nice bunch of people, and they make you happy to support them by playing their games. There are other Fluxx expansions, including a Monty Python set, which look well worth checking out. And the Looney crew have a really complete wiki set up for all their games. Check ’em out!

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