Fluxx, created by Looney Labs, is a card game for those who like chaos, because the rules are constantly changing—sometimes even several times during a single player’s turn! The Fluxx deck is good for 2 to 5 players, and the game is recommended for ages 8 and up, although the younger ones might have some difficulty learning some of the advanced play mechanics.
Game Mechanics (5 out of 5)
All aspects of the game can be changed by any player at any time, including the conditions for winning the game, called Goals. This ever-changing nature of the rules gives the game its name “Fluxx” (from “flux,” which means “change” or “fluctuation”).
Each player gets 3 cards to start. First player to play is determined by whoever calls it, or whoever draws a card from the deck first—meaning it doesn’t really matter.
There are 5 types of Fluxx cards: New Rules, Goals, Keepers, Actions, and Creepers. At the start of play, the card Basic Rules is placed in the middle of the play area. The Basic Rules are simple: on your turn, draw one card and play one card.
New Rule cards, as their name states, change the rules of the game. They can change the number of cards drawn per turn, number of cards that can be played, and the rules that affect the other cards: Goal, Keeper, and Creeper cards. They can also place limits (or remove them) on hand size and number of Keepers. New Rules that modify the Basic Rules are placed on top of the Basic Rules card. New Rules that contradict a New Rule in play cause the older New Rule to be discarded. Deft manipulation of the rules is the difference between winning and losing.
Keeper cards are played right in front of a player face up, and kept there (at least until someone plays a card that steals it or removes it from play). The Keeper cards are represented by items such as “Cheese,” or concepts such as “Love.” Keepers are usually needed to fulfill the conditions defined in Goal cards.
Goal cards contain the conditions needed for winning the game. Once a Goal is in play, any player who fulfills the conditions will win the game. There can only be one Goal in play at a time (unless a special Rule is played), so the most recently played Goal will cause the previous Goal to be discarded.
Action cards are played and then discarded. Sometimes they just cause mayhem, but usually they are a part of a winning strategy.
Creeper cards are undesirable cards that usually prevent you from winning. Creepers are immediately played in front of you when you draw them, and act like “negative” Keepers that are hard to get rid of.
Page 2 of the article describes Fluxx’s fun factor and card design.
Fun Factor (4 out of 5)
Fluxx is definitely a blast to play—the basic play is simple but the strategies are surprisingly deep, since the rules change constantly. Casual players will have fun just messing up the rules, while serious players will appreciate the strategy involved in manipulating the rules and playing Actions with the right timing. The only negative is that things tend to get confusing when players have more than 10 cards each and there are more than rules on the table.
Card Design (5 out of 5)
The Keeper cards are a bit plain, but serve their purpose. The conditions of the Goal cards range from the mundane (Chocolate Cookies: player with Chocolate and Cookies wins), to the quirky (All You Need is Love: player who has Love and no other Keepers on the table wins). Some Goals also have nothing to do with Keepers, such as 10 Cards in Hand: player with the most cards in hand wins as long as somebody has 10 or more cards.
New Rule cards can form the basis for a player’s strategy. For example, Play All forces all players to play every card in their hand every turn—useful for players trying to get as much Keepers in play as possible, since this overrides the Play 1 card Basic Rule. On the other hand, New Rules such as First Play Random disrupt other players’ strategies—useful when you sense that another player is about to win.
Played with the right timing, Action cards enable you to gain the advantage on your opponents. For example, play Trade Hands as the very last card you play on your turn, thus enabling you to trade zero cards for your opponent’s hand of many cards.
All in all, Fluxx cards are very well-designed and allow for a wealth of in-game possibilities and combos. For hardcore Fluxx fans, other flavors of the game are available, such as Family Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx. Expansion packs such as Christian Fluxx can also be bought to add more spice to the main game.
Overall Rating (5 out of 5)
Since Fluxx can be played in 5 – 30 minutes and is portable, the game is great to bring along for a group activity among family and friends. American Mensa’s endorsement of the game speaks highly of the game’s strategical depth—you can be sure that youngsters are developing their intellect while having fun at the same time. Fluxx can be ordered at the Looney Labs’ official website.
Page 1 of the article describes Fluxx’s game mechanics.