I’ve heard of Looney Labs’ Fluxx card game for years but never had the opportunity to play it until Amazon Vine. We keep trying (and failing) to institute family game night, so this seemed like a great opportunity to test it out. What I discovered is that Fluxx has a simple set of rules combined the open-ended elements of Magic: The Gathering. That’s how it starts, anyway.
Fluxx is a game that reinvents itself every time you play. In Fluxx 5.0 there are four types of cards: New Rules, Actions, Keepers, and Goals.
The game begins with just one set of rules: each player draws one card and plays one card. But that one rule can be massively modified by other New Rule cards, which can tweak how many cards you can draw, how many you can play, how many you can discard, and which players can draw, play, or discard cards.
These Rules are how each player attempts to reach a Goal card, of which there is usually only one (“usually” and “sometimes” are required descriptors for any rule of Fluxx, which has no absolutes). All players strive to reach that Goal, but part of the fun is replacing the Goal with one more favorable to your hand. They can be replaced at any time by another player’s Goal card
Goals require a set of Keepers, which are noun-cards with simple illustrations representing something. Goals usually require a combination of Keepers. Hot Chocolate, for example, might require a chocolate Keeper and a sun Keeper. Sometimes it’s just the number of cards in hand, which can vary depending on the Goal. Keepers are one of the few cards that “stick” with a player, but are visible to other players.
Finally there are Actions. Actions are cards that affect all the other types. Goals can be eliminated, Keepers can be stolen, and Rules can be tweaked.
What makes Fluxx so much fun is that the game is defined by the people playing it. It also becomes rapidly chaotic, particularly with more than a few Rules in play — I frequently forgot a Rule and was only too happy to use an Action card to remove some of them from play. Rule creep is probably the biggest challenge for players not accustomed to the ever-shifting landscape of Fluxx.
Magic: The Gathering players, who are accustomed to new rules on every card, will find a curious thrill in how the game works. On the one hand, there are a finite number of Rules, Goals, Keepers, and Actions. On the other, it’s the combination of them in play that makes the game so much fun.
Players who aren’t inclined to go after specific Goals may find the game drags on. If you don’t have a clear strategy, the game can be erratic at best as other players can bloat the game with so many Rules that it becomes difficult to follow.
My kids enjoyed it, although my four-year-old found it a bit difficult to follow all the rules (she liked the simple Keeper pictures though). For adult play, it’s recommend you play either very sober or very drunk.
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