I thought I would start off with one of my favourite game series, Fluxx. It’s an easy card game by Looney Labs that can be kept in your everyday bag, taught in a few minutes, and doesn’t take up much space in front of you (I’ve played it on a hotel bed once for example). The title is a reference to how the whole game is in flux all the time – both rules and the requirement to win can change on every turn. Doesn’t that sound exciting? What makes it even better is that there are many versions of the game, with different themes. But more on that later.
Fluxx is a pure card game – there are no dice or tokens etc, just 100 cards of different kinds. At it’s heart it is your basic draw a card – play a card type game. The base game Fluxx 5.0 (which I haven’t played actually) consists of four card types: New Rules, Goals, Actions, and Keepers. Other editions (including some older versions of the base game) can also include Creepers, Surprises and (rarely) Ungoals. You win by collecting Keepers in front of you, to match the two (or more) stated on the Goal card that is currently in play. However, you can also play Goals to mess with your opponents or get closer to that sweet win yourself. While the rule at the start of the game is to draw one card and play one card, New Rules will change the amount of cards you can draw and play, as well as add some other nifty things to the gameplay. Actions just do things, usually good for the person who played it. Surprises are nice to keep in your hand as you can play them out of turn, usually to negate what your opponent just did. Ungoals can make everyone loose, which is never fun. And finally, Creepers are evil and will keep you from winning even if you satisfy the goal. Doesn’t sound that hard right? It isn’t!
A lot is based on luck, but you also need some strategy when choosing what to play and when, while keeping a close eye on your opponents Keepers. Everything you need to know is written on the cards, they all come colour coded (Keepers have a green stripe, Creepers are black, Goals are pink etc), and there are clear symbols for everything. You do need to be able to read well as there is a fair amount of in-game text. This makes the first few games with new players slower as they tend to want to read everything on every card. You get used to it pretty fast though. There are a few versions of the basic game in other languages as well.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many themed versions of Fluxx. I personally own Cthulhu Fluxx (based on Lovecraft’s stories), Star Fluxx (sci fi, with lots of in-jokes), and Oz Fluxx (Wizard of Oz). There are decks based on zombies, pirates, Batman, Adventure Time, Monty Python… and more! I am really looking forward to Firefly Fluxx which will be released on March 18th (maybe look forward to a review of that when I get my hands on it). You can technically mix generic rules, actions, and surprises from one set into another, but it is not something I recommend unless you really miss something.
I use Oz Fluxx to introduce people to the game mechanics. It has all the card types apart from Ungoals, and very few Keepers have special powers. It’s the least exciting and challenging version I have played but it’s a very good beginner’s game. Cthulhu Fluxx for example, has far more Creepers of which some attach to Keepers. And more of the Keepers have special powers that can be useful. But for a beginner it can become overwhelming. I also recommend starting with two or three player games. Again, it’s less to keep track of. I was not that smart. I was just getting into boardgames as an adult (I did like it as a kid) and picked up Cthulhu Fluxx at a convention and brought to game night on campus. We ended up playing the Cthulhu version with six people. It was pure insanity. Don’t do that. But also don’t be afraid to start with one of the more complicated versions either. Just know it might be a bit confusing at first.
It’s a game that works really well with two players, but is a little bit more fun with three. Six is… interesting. It’s a very portable game and it’s one of those I like to bring with me when I know there might be some time to kill. You do need a table or a decently clean floor to play on. Your row of Keepers can grow long but it’s relatively easy to handle. I’ve played it in an airport, on a hotel bed, on a park bench, at several different kitchen tables, in a café… yeah, it’s a good one to bring with you in case of a gaming emergency.
Fluxx is a game I really recommend. So pick up a deck with a theme that speaks to you, and get playing!
- Title: Fluxx
- Designer: Andrew Looney & Kristin Looney (for the base game)
- Publisher: Looney Labs
- Players: 2-6
- Time: 10-40 min (usually quite quick, and you often play several games)
- Type: cards
- Size: small
- Release year: original in 1997, Fluxx 5.0 (latest basic version) in 2014, new themed versions pop up every now and then