Thursday, February 5, 2009

Review -- FLUXX


Every once in a while you just want some really mindless fun at the gaming table. It can't get much more mindless, or much more fun, at least for a game, or two, than the card game Fluxx.
Designed by Andrew and Kristin Looney, and first released in 1997, Fluxx garnered some attention when it was awarded a Mensa Select Award for 1999. Now before you think that means the game is high brow, or complicated, or even requires a great deal of thinking, that is not the case. The Mensa recognition was probably based far more on the innovative game design than on how the game plays.
The basic game of Fluxx revolves around four card types, rules, actions, goals and keepers.
Keepers are just that, cards which a player lays out in front of them, with the hopes of collecting the cards necessary too satisfy the goal card conditions.
So for example, if the goal is bread and jam, you need to have both the bread and the jam keeper.
The trick though is that there are numerous goal cards, and when a player lays out a new goal, the old one goes bye bye. So collecting the winning cards is very much luck.
Then there are the rules. To begin with each player is dealt three cards. On your turn you draw one from the stack, and play one. Sounds simple enough. However, there are a number of rule cards in the deck too, and as those cards are played the rules change. For example is someone plays the rule card 'draw four' players then draw four cards, while still playing one.
The next player might then play the rule card 'play all' leaving players drawing four cards and playing them all each turn.
And finally just to add a further twist to the growing madness, there are the action cards, so a player might plop down an action allowing them to take another card.
So imagine a player drawing eight cards, and having to play them all. The rules and goals can go through significant changes even within a single players turn.
It's all good old random madness, which usually has a player stumbling into a win more than creating a strategy to come out on top.
The game is recommended for two to six players, but since the strong point is the fun social aspect of twisting the rules on your fellow players, the more the merrier is the rule here.
Since the game is so random, it holds its charm for a couple of games on occasion, but doesn't really have the over and over re-playability in one sitting of say cribbage, or Magic The Gathering, other card games previously reviewed here.
That said for a little game night warm-up, or wind down Fluxx is a good fit.
As is the case the original Fluxx spawned a number of variants, including Eco Fluxx, Christian Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx.
The zombie version adds creepers to the weirdness, zombie infested cards that can help you win, or lose depending on the rules at the moment. It's a nice twist, but if you have the basic I wouldn't suggest buying the zombie version too.
Monty Python is just weird enough on its own merits to fit Fluxx madness to the 'T', so the variant is one to look for if you are a Python fan.
Fluxx is ultimately a fun little filler game worth picking up and playing on occasion, but too much of it at one sitting can get kind of ho-hum in a hurry.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb. 4, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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