Monday, April 13, 2009

Fluxx 4.0, a review

Fluxx is a chaotic, fun family card game that's completely silly.

It's definitely not for everyone, and it's especially NOT for the kind of player who worries absolute winning or likes to design and execute intricate plans. Fluxx is, instead, an ever-changing game that rewards flexibility and seizing opportunities. Fairly often the winner of the game will be a complete accident.

The basic rules of Fluxx are very simple. Every player starts the game with three cards, draws one card and then plays one card. The twist in the game is that many of the cards are yellow "New Rule" cards that change the rules instantly (maybe you'll now draw three cards every turn). Others are blue "Action" cards that allow you to perform a one-time action like draw three new cards or exchange hands with an opponent. Some cards are green Keepers that you play in front of you and "Keep" and these are important because you generally win the game by matching the Keepers you have with the red "Goal" cards. A typical Goal card may ward victory to whoever happens to have the Keepers "Chocolate" and "Cookies" in front of them.

And that's basically it. Like other break-the-rules style games such as Nuclear War, Cosmic Encounter of Magic: The Gathering, almost any kind of rules variation is possible.

Fluxx has been around for more than 10 years now and gone through several editions and spawned a number of popular spin-off games such as Eco-Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx. All the games are more or less compatible and use a common game back, although the company cautions that mixing cards between decks can create unanticipated contradictions. They suggest just adding a few favorite cards from other decks into a Fluxx game. An example of this is provided by some small themed expansions such as Christian Fluxx, which adds one New Rule, one Action, two Keepers and three Goal cards for a total of 7 new cards.

If you didn't like the original Fluxx or its variations nothing about the new Fluxx will appeal to you. On the other hand, if you liked Fluxx, the new game is an improvement and worth adding to your collection. It adds just a little more oomph to the game.

The biggest change is a new class of cards, Creepers. First seen in Zombie Fluxx and appearing recently in Monty Python Fluxx, their inclusion in Fluxx 4.0 elevates them to a standard part of the game. Creepers are similar to Keepers, in that they are played in front of the player, but unlike Keepers playing a Creeper is not voluntary and they generally have the negative effect of preventing a player from winning so long as they have a Creeper in front of them -- but not always! Some Goals require a Creeper in order to win.

Several Keepers from the older version of Fluxx such as War, Death and Taxes are now Creepers, as wella s some new ones. There are 100 cards in the new set, up from the previous 84, but they are mostly the same, although there have been some changes. For example the new deck doesn't include the Reverse Order New Rule card. There are now 29 ways to win, up from 23.

Oh yeah, and the cards are prettier, in full color. All-in-all, if you like Fluxx,you'll like the new version.

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