Last week I deviated from video games in favor of other Christmas gift ideas for the whole family. I had planned on a follow up which was just strengthened yesterday when a colleague and friend at work asked me if I knew any good games that she could buy her daughter as a little bonus Christmas gift. Obviously, this was well timed! When you need a game that is fun to play there is one game that I find is grossly ignored by many game retailers. FLUXX. It’s a strategy card game for 2-6 players ranging from 8 years of age and up. The pictures on the cards are easy enough to follow, but some of the actions require reading which means you want a child of the right age to play. Game time can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. But what exactly is Fluxx??
Fluxx is a game that is always in flux! The original one was very basic. There are goal cards, keeper cards, and action cards. The object is to play the keepers that match the goal. Simple! But with things in flux all the time, the goal can change in a heartbeat. Play is simple: a 3-card hand and the rules are simply draw a card, play a card. The game starts with nothing else going on; there’s not even a starting goal. But one player might have a keeper card like Milk. So they play it. On their next turn they play the goal, “Milk and cookies”. They’d better hope they can find the cookies card and play it before someone changes the goal. Get Milk and Cookies in play though, and you win the game! Like I said: simple! The action cards help; you might have a “steal a keeper” card that can be played. Or play 2 cards, 3 or even 4 cards! Imagine, you have Milk down, and on the next turn play Cookies and the goal card? Yep! So easy! But watch out, because it’s that easy for everyone. And it’s just a single card move to change a goal!
So what makes it so noteworthy? The company that creates the game, Looney Labs, knew they had a good product on their hands but let’s face it… milk and cookies?! C’mon!? What are we, 5 years old? The game isn’t even marketed to that demographic. So they created ranges. My first one was Martian Fluxx and if I’m honest, I didn’t love it. I found it difficult to grasp on my first play through, which it isn’t, but that was the take away. Luckily my kids wanted their own copies. My younger son wanted Monty Python Fluxx and my older son went with Star Fluxx. This changed the game, literally. The Monty Python version offered bonus moves for people who sang songs from different movies as we played. I snagged Cthulhu Fluxx, as you might imagine, knowing what you know of me. While overseas, having foolishly not packed any version for our travels, we bought the only one we could find; Eco-Fluxx, an eco-centric version of the game. My nephew liked it enough that we grabbed him Family Fluxx which gives special moves to grandparents who are playing, hopefully enticing my parents to play with him. Recently, we picked up Pirate Fluxx which has the added benefit of letting anyone who speaks with a pirate accent to take more than one turn. Aye, matey, it’s a fun game indeed! Yohoho… We picked up Batman Fluxx for a friend of mine who has an aversion to fun, so he returned it to us but it was very kid-friendly.
Most of the themed versions add an additional breed of card: the Creeper. A creeper is a card that prevents you from winning if you have it in hand. They have to be played immediately upon picking them up and to win, you have to either find a way of getting it out of your hand or finding winning conditions that allow for it to remain. Not easy, but it sure is fun! This card, pictured, is a special order. The player who picks it selects a word and hopes one of his opponents uses that word so he can offload it. (I already know the word I’d assign it!)
What adds to the collectability of the series is that they discontinue them after a time. Martian, Eco, and Family are no longer available. Oz Fluxx, a Wizard of Oz themed version, has also gone the way of the wicked witch of the west. But there are still Doctor Who and Star Trek (classic and Next Gen) versions available as well as a Firefly themed one for those fans of the different genres. There’s a version for everyone. Love Christmas? Get the Holiday Fluxx pack! Into the Universal Monsters? Yep! There’s one of those too. My niece is big on Fairy Tales… guess what? You know it! From Anatomy to Zombies, there’s something for all. (Yes, those are two real versions!) There are even upgrades, to add additional cards to the mix.
The best round I ever played though was against my older son. We were using his Star Fluxx and it has some great tech in it, like the Holographic Projection, which enables the player to clone a card from another player. In this particular round, we had a rule in place that allowed TWO goals to be on the table at the time. “These Aren’t the Droids…” and “City of Robots” gave the winning conditions of either combination: robot and alien city or robot and unseen force. I was delighted when I put down the Robot keeper. He already had Unseen force in play, and I had the Alien City. Putting down the robot would make me the winner! But he had the Holographic projection in play. I was stunned and delighted: I never thought it possible, but we tied in a game that typically can only have 1 winner. Well played, AJ…. well played!!!
This bundle of fun can fit in a jacket pocket too. Typical retail price varies based on the version. Most seem to be around $20, but I’ve seen them for $10 as well. It makes a great stocking-stuffer, and the best part is, everyone can have their own distinctive pack. I might play a round right now… ML