Published: 26 July 2016
Fluxx has been around for nearly 20 years now, but in so many variations and expansions that new people are discovering it all the time. Created by Loony Labs, Fluxx was originally released in 1997 as a 5000 print run it has seen expansions and re-releases up until the Cartoon Network version released in 2014, and a dice version in 2015, and a Firefly variant in 2016. It has been translated into 5 languages, has 9 different release versions, 8 expansions, and 17 variants including Zombie Fluxx, Monte Python Fluxx, and Adventure Time Fluxx. Loony Labs also landed a Mensa Select Game award in 1999 for the base game.
Fluxx is played with the popular draw one, play one setup that's seen in a lot of card games currently. Players are dealt three cards and play begins however the group decides, as stated in the rules. The first player draws a card, and plays a card. It's a very simple beginning for what soon becomes the most chaotic game I've played.
The core of Fluxx is a few basic cards
Most decks consist of the same basic cards, though some variants change the number of them. New rule cards are exactly that, new rules. They replace a rule on the board, or add a new rule, such as 'Draw 2' which replaces the draw one rule making everyone draw 2 and play 1. There is no hand limit, unless someone plays a hand limit rule, which can be as low as 0 and much pity on the player that puts that rule on the table. There can be as many unique rules on the table as there are in the deck, since rules only replace rules that are worded exactly alike. There are a few ways to remove them but often the game is more fun the more rules that are out on the table. As the game progresses the rules stack up, some replace others, and eventually the game barely resembles anything you started with.
Keeper cards are quite simply cards depicting items from the theme of the deck that the player keeps in front of them. The keepers go with the Goal cards, which set the circumstances for winning. The goal card can be changed by anyone playing a new goal card, so strategy becomes important, not playing goal cards you might need to win, while also trumping goals that others have played by replacing them with your own goal cards. Keepers can be stolen, traded, or discarded to keep your opponents from winning, or to help yourself win should you need one of their keepers to meet a goal you've been holding onto.
Creeper cards don't come in every deck, but they are essentially black marks on the player when drawn. They immediately go into play so you can't avoid them, and they often have conditions applied. Except with specific goals players with a creeper in front of them cannot win the game, even if they meet the goal displayed. The last of the common cards, Action cards are things the player can do to effect the game, and are usually one time effects. Everything from steal a keeper or change a rule, to shifting entire hands around and taking cards at random from other players.
In a decent-sized group, Fluxx is a lot of fun
Playing the game is a lot of fun, if you have enough people. While two can play, it's far more interesting when you have five or six, and everyone is in a competitive mood. It's also one of those games that can be over-played, which is why I like the variant decks. You'll eventually learn every card in the deck, if you stick to one, and games become less exciting, though adding new people to the table can help because seeing their reaction to the chaos is often just as entertaining. It's easy to learn, even for young people, but it can get a little complicated when the table is full of rules. From time to time a lot of rules in play can slow the game down, which is one of the drawbacks of Fluxx. As the rules get more complicated it takes players longer to figure out what they're supposed to do each round. When it becomes over-complicated like this players can lose interest or become easily distracted by conversation or other things. This makes it a great game in small chunks, but not always something you'll want to play for hours.
Probably the best thing about the game is how much it changes. No two rounds play alike, and while you will eventually see every card there are so many alternate decks and expansions it's easy to keep things fresh. At a price point of less than $15.00 for most decks it's very affordable to have a variety of themed decks to keep play interesting. Each variant deck has its own theme, art, and style that matches the source material that inspires the deck. For example Monty Python Fluxx has rules that allow you to draw an extra card if you speak in a horrible british accent, or special circumstance rules if you can quote three consecutive lines from the movie. Of all the variants I own, the Monty Python deck is by far the best. The theme and comedy of the movie fit the game perfectly.
The themed deck expansions seem more like a reskin
I also have Zombie Fluxx, Space Fluxx, and recently purchased Firefly Fluxx as well as having the base game. As excited as I was to get a deck featuring the crew of Serenity, it's was the least fun to play. There wasn't enough variation from the base game, really making it a reskin rather than a unique version. Where the other versions have different rules and action cards, and some special features specific to the source material, Firefly Fluxx really just had new art, less Creepers, and a couple of unique cards. It was fun to play the game with the art from such a beloved show, but that's about it as far as being unique in the series.
So far all of the versions I've played are very safe for work, and great for families to play. They aren't hard to learn for kids, but could be challenging to follow if children are too young and too man rule cards are in play. It's a fantastic party game, and can be almost as fun spectating as it is playing. Everything needed for a round is contained in one small box so it's easy to take wherever you want to have a game. Games are usually quick, but can take up to 45 minutes to an hour. I've played hands that were over in ten minutes, so it's great for a quick game wherever you happen to be. The game is available pretty much wherever you can buy games, including at Target stores.