A little while ago I was asked to review Fluxx by a fellow blogger. I have a confession to make though – I don’t own the original game, so I’m having to make do with one of the four versions I do have. With that in mind, let’s talk about the cult science fiction parodic card game – Star Fluxx.
THE PREMISE OF STAR FLUXX
Fluxx is a small card game, created by Looney Labs, for two to six players. Star Fluxx could easily be considered a comedy-based Science Fiction card game without much dispute; however, the theme doesn’t overly matter hugely. Fluxx is all about one simple and amazing game mechanic.
Fluxx is, at its core, a very simple and a very complicated game. The base game only has three rules:
- Start with three cards each.
- On your turn, draw one card.
- On your turn, play one card.
That’s it – literally. There are no winning conditions, no additional complications, and no additional rules to begin with. Those all come into play later.
There are, essentially, six types of cards in Star Fluxx: Keepers, Creepers, Actions, Surprises, New Rules, and Goals.
Keepers are, for want of a better term, collectibles throughout the game. Some give you special abilities when in play or to you specifically on your turn. Others just look good. All can fulfill goals.
Goals are exactly what they sound like. When put into play they change the victory conditions, discarding the old goals and taking over as the thing everyone is working towards. The second someone (anyone) completes a goal, the game is over.
Actions let you do actions (duh) like searching the discard pile for a card or allowing you to mess with other players. These just spice the game up a bit. Surprises stop other players playing cards on their turn. These are the only cards that can be played out of turn.
Creepers are the evil version of Keepers and usually attach themselves to Keepers. They can be things like an electrical malfunction or the essence of evil. Unless the goal states otherwise, you cannot win with a Creeper in your hand.
Finally – there are New Rules, and New Rules are what Fluxx is all about.
Fluxx is called Fluxx because the game is always in a state of motion, and this is no more apparent than when New Rules are put into play. These can change the number of cards you pick up or play each turn. They can give you additional abilities such as searching through a deck or stealing cards. They can even get you to empty your entire hand. This is where Star Fluxx turns into an absolutely crazy game.
Interesting fact, I once met Andy Looney and played a game of Batman Fluxx he was overseeing. The man is a legend. I have a card signed by him.
I had no idea how to get that into the review – so there it is.
QUALITY AND COMPONENTS OF STAR FLUXX
Fluxx is a very simple game. It comes in a small cardboard box, and cards are standard playing cards. It is a fairly cheap game and presumably one of the reasons they can keep it cheap is because the components are physically fairly standard. I’ve played the game a lot now and my box is fairly shabby, but I just think that adds character.
What makes the game though is the references. If you don’t watch anything science fiction then, to you, it will be a fairly standard game; however, if you like sci-fi (like I do) then it is filled with references from Dr. Who to Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica. Star Wars and Firefly also makes an appearance, which makes me chuckle because they later acquired the Firefly intellectual property for a version of the game called Firefly Fluxx that I, coincidentally, also own.
The artwork is fairly simple, but it is cartoony and, although subjective, I like that. It is in-keeping with the feel of the game.
WHAT IS IT LIKE PLAYING STAR FLUXX?
Fluxx is chaotic. There is no doubt about it that chaotic is the word. At some point in the game, more often than not, you will find yourself drawing as many as seven cards and potentially playing all in your turn. This can be incredibly fun, and lead to a game where everyone is laughing by the end.
Fluxx has, alongside games like Munchkin, received mixed reviews within the blogging sphere. There are so many versions of both now that it can seem like the creators have created cash cows that they are milking for all they are worth. Personally, with Fluxx (unlike with Munchkin so much), I have found that all the versions of the game play differently to one another. They have different vibes, different experiences. I have four versions (Cthulhu being my first, then Star, Pirate, and Firefly) and all play as completely different games. I will use a different version if playing against my younger cousins (Pirate) than if I am playing with my gaming group (Star).
Personally, I love Star Fluxx, but you have to go into it with the right attitude. In as much as it can be a competitive game, Fluxx is not remembered by who wins or who loses. Instead it is remembered by the absurdity you, as a collective group of players, find yourself in and that can be incredibly rewarding.
It is not all fun, however. There is a real risk when introducing someone to the game when they don’t necessarily fully understand the complexities of their actions, that it can become a slog. It can easily become draw one card, play all. When this happens the game becomes a card drawing exercise and slows to a horrible halt. When this happens there is no strategy and you may as well be playing Snap.
At its best though, Star Fluxx (and all Fluxx versions) can be incredibly fun to play. They encourage quick thinking strategy, as you need to decide what you are going to do and what you are going to hold onto. The winner can be called in an instant, and this adds a real urgency to the game. You need to play your hands right and well to try and get a victory. Even then, it is not guaranteed.
I know this can frustrate some more strategically-focused players. If you prefer games of long strategy and drawn out plans then this is not the game for you. If, however, you want a quick and crazy game then it can be.
VERDICT FOR STAR FLUXX
Fluxx was one of the games that first got me into gaming (Cthulhu Fluxx to be precise). Each deck tends to sell for under £20, and that makes it incredibly accessible to new players. It is a fantastic gateway game, and I would whole heartedly recommend it.
So, let me know what you think. Have you played Fluxx? If so, what is your favourite version? Let me know in the comments below!