Which is the Best Version of Fluxx?
Please note: This article was written in June 2018 and so the data is representative of then. New versions of Fluxx may have since come out that are not included in this article and the data may have changed. That being said, this should still be interesting to read.
For those who are just beginning their journey into gaming, Fluxx (by Looney Labs) is an absolute must play. It was one of the first ever games we purchased as gamers, and due to its accessibility I know we are not the only ones who have invested in a copy or two. It is not a perfect game, and for every gamer who loves it you will probably find a gamer who dislikes it, but it is easy to pick up. It is fast. It can be furious. Most importantly however, Fluxx is original.
Fluxx has become famous in the board game world because its rules are always changing. Where this is a mechanic that makes it hard to strategise about the game, it is also a mechanic that can help keep the game (and the franchise) fresh.
Personally, I love Fluxx – not necessarily every incarnation, as I haven’t played even nearly every incarnation, but enough that I know that I have a huge respect to the developers for the idea of the game. I think everyone should own a version of Fluxx because it is a game that has helped evolve card games. It is also a good family game and one of those games that works well as an entry level experience. We have taken it traveling more than once. What is more – yes, there are a lot of franchise versions – however, that just means you are more likely to find a version of Fluxx you like.
In fact – we own six versions of Fluxx which is probably around four too many as we only really play a couple. But hey, what can I say? We’re Fluxx connoisseurs.
Which is the Best Version of Fluxx?
So, you’re just getting into Fluxx or looking to purchase your first version, or you may just be curious about which the best version of Fluxx is in accordance to the data? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Hopefully, this article will help you decide which version of Fluxx is for you.
Like we have done with Munchkin, Pandemic, and Love Letter in the past, today we are going to look at the data surrounding Fluxx. This includes looking at 21 different versions of the game. Where we have not played every single version (I’ve only played seven versions personally) we will instead look at two major sources of data on what people think about each version of the game. These are Amazon.com and Board Game Geek (the international repository of board game data – also known as BGG). Not all versions are available in the UK so we will not look at Amazon.co.uk as a source this time around.
How to decide which versions of Fluxx to look at
So, to qualify for this analysis each version of Fluxx has to adhere to three rules:
- It has been released. This rules out the two new Star Trek Fluxx versions that are coming out. They have not been released so they cannot be judged.
- There has to be enough data to analyse. Anatomy Fluxx has been ruled out as there haven’t been enough ratings to be able to draw any form of conclusion. If there hasn’t been enough data for BGG to aggregate the numbers then we cannot judge the game.
- There has to be a BGG page for the version. This is a strange rule, as I had to bring it in when analysing Love Letter, but I kept coming across versions online where so few copies had been made there wasn’t a page available for analysis on BGG. Once again, expansions don’t count and neither do promos.
This leaves us with 21 different versions of Fluxx, including, need I say, Fluxx: The Board Game version.
Different Themes for Different Fluxx Games –
First thing is first, let’s look at the breakdown of themes within the 21 Fluxx games we will be looking at.
There are a few things going on with this graph that are worth looking at. The first thing to point out is that I counted Cthulhu Fluxx as a horror genre and not as a franchise. This is because Cthulhu has kind of passed through the realm of “franchise” now and has become a sub-genre in its own right – sat firmly beneath the horror genre.
The results are this:
- Historical – Pirate Fluxx
- Christmas – Holiday Fluxx
- General – Fluxx, Fluxx: The Board Game
- Sci-Fi – Martian Fluxx, Star Fluxx
- Horror – Cthulhu Fluxx, Monster Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx
- Educational – Math Fluxx, Chemistry Fluxx (it is worth noting that Anatomy Fluxx would also be here)
- Other – Drinking Fluxx, Family Fluxx, Nature Fluxx, Stoner Fluxx
- Franchise – Adventure Time Fluxx, Batman Fluxx, Dr Who Fluxx, Firefly Fluxx, Oz Fluxx
What we are seeing is around 30% of the Fluxx games are of franchises (this will change ever so slightly once the two Star Trek Fluxx games have been introduced, and Anatomy Fluxx has enough data), and this is really interesting.
“Why is this interesting?” I hear you ask.
Well, when we look at Love Letter and Munchkin we can see comparisons. In Love Letter we see around 57% of the games being of franchises, but in Munchkin we saw 37%. This means there is very little between the number of Fluxx franchises and the number of Munchkin franchises.
What does Board Game Geek say about Fluxx?
Which Fluxx is the most complicated?
Where it may not be a ranking factor for which version of Fluxx is the best, complexity is something most people take in mind before purchasing a game. This is slightly more difficult to do with a game where the rules are always changing, as a game can be incredibly simple, or it can go on for hours with a whole host of rules that make the game a force of Chaos within its own right.
Still, we’ll use the crowdsourced complexity ratings from BGG as an idea. Now, these are not a perfect representation as they massively vary when we take the number of voters into account. For instance, only one person has rated the complexity of Dr Who Fluxx, meaning we can probably ignore it as an accurate representation of being the most complex.
As we can see, the complexity varies by Fluxx, but not by much. The board game version of Fluxx is the most complex, with Family Fluxx and Holiday Fluxx being seen as the simplest. If we ignore Dr Who, due to it only having one vote on complexity, Math Fluxx is seen as the most complex – and seeing the subject it is mathematics that isn’t hugely surprising. After that, the different versions of Fluxx seem to have a relatively similar complexity rating, which again is sort of what you would expect when you keep in mind the fact the rules change, beneath a fundamental “draw a card, play a card” system.
Which version of Fluxx is the highest rated?
Once again, this is subject to the number of people who voted; however, looking at what the BGG community thinks of a game will tell us what the serious gaming crowd thinks. It is not a perfect system, which is why we’ll look at other sources later; but, this is a good indicator of what gamers think of each version of Fluxx.
Once again, Dr Who Fluxx needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as there have only been around 120 ratings. That being said, these are interesting. Once again, since the core mechanics are (more or less) the same we are seeing little variation in what people think of them. The Fluxx base game, Family Fluxx, Holiday Fluxx and Stoner Fluxx are the worst rated, with Firefly Fluxx being the second best (or “the best” if we ignore Dr Who Fluxx).
Of course, it is also worth looking at the mode of user reviews as this will take into account any extreme votes balancing each other out to a weird average. Instead, we see that universally, across the board, bar Dr Who Fluxx have been rated 6/10 as the modal review.
This doesn’t tell us a huge amount bar the fact that the reviews are fairer than they would be if they kept getting modal reviews of 10 or 1, yet still had a mean average of 6.
How are the Fluxx versions ranked?
Of course, including the Dr Who Fluxx low number of votes, the BGG formula for overall raking takes the numbers of votes and what those votes are into account. This balances out to a fairly decent ranking.
The lower the bar in the graph above, the higher it is in the rankings. This means that Star Fluxx is the highest ranked (at position 1,706), with Stoner and Drinking Fluxx being the lowest. Stoner Fluxx is ranked 10,587 out of all games.
What we see is that the franchised versions of Fluxx are actually amongst the highest ranked. This is, once again, leaving aside Dr Who Fluxx where now, the low numbers of votes acts against it.
What does Amazon (dot com) say about Fluxx?
As mentioned before, the BGG crowd tends to be made up of what we could consider “board gamers”. This is great, but it doesn’t necessarily give a fully holistic image of how a game is. For this we look at another, consumer led, source. That source is Amazon.
There are downsides to Amazon. Namely, it tends to have fewer votes, and because people only tend to vote if they love something or hate something on Amazon, we tend to get a higher mode of review. It is almost always 5/5.
We need to keep that in mind, as results may be conflated or inflated based on those sociological observations.
Which version of Fluxx is the highest on Amazon?
The below graph shows the versions of Fluxx on Amazon, and what their average score is.
As you can see, Family Fluxx is the lowest rated, once again joined by Stoner Fluxx. We also see the Fluxx board game enter the ranks of the lowest rated.
Now we are seeing Dr Who Fluxx at the top of the table again. This time however, it is joined by Drinking Fluxx, Firefly Fluxx, and Monty Python Fluxx. Where we could theorise as to why (Fluxx makes a novel and interesting drinking game compared to other drinking games for example), the “why” isn’t as interesting as the “what”. Again, we see franchises doing better. The base game also does quite well.
How much are the different versions of Fluxx?
Where it doesn’t tell you what version of the game is the best, the price may have an impact as to which version of Fluxx you might want to buy, so just before we wrap this article up we’ll have a very quick look at how much different versions cost.
For this, there are two graphs, and after you see the results of the first one you will understand why.
So, it turns out that every version of Fluxx is not necessarily still in print. You can still buy it, as people do have copies; however, they are over the Amazon market place. As such we are seeing Family Fluxx, Martian Fluxx, and Oz Fluxx being sold for obscene amounts.
So, we’re going to look at the prices again, but remove the extremes to present a more useful graph. The below graph shows the price in US dollars per version of Fluxx.
Zombie Fluxx is available on the Market Place and is the cheapest version of Fluxx at just over $8. Drinking Fluxx is the most expensive card version of the game, with the board game being the most expensive game of Fluxx in total, and then every other version is between $11 and $17.
What does all this mean for Fluxx?
Aggregating the Reviews –
When doing the same analysis for Pandemic, Munchkin, and Love Letter I have always tried to find a way of equalling out the number of Amazon reviews to the number of BGG reviews, to find a fair representation; however, for this analysis we are going to look at something a bit different. Rather than using any weird formula, we are just going to add the different review values together and give a total score out of 15 instead of 10. Where this is not perfect (like so much of the analysis in these articles apparently) it does give some concept of which version of Fluxx may be best.
What we see is there is very little between each version of Fluxx. Obviously, due to low numbers of reviews, we see Dr Who Fluxx coming in top. After that we see Firefly Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx, and Drinking Fluxx come in next.
Conclusion – Which is the Best Version of Fluxx?
The question we keep coming back to is what does this kind of analysis tell us? Does it give is an answer to the question as to which is the best version of Fluxx? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, there are two answers. There is a “Yes, but” and there is also a “No, but”.
Yes, this does give us a breakdown of aggregated reviews. However, that is assuming that the highest rated denotes the best game. As we have seen, sample size can serious skew results.
No, it doesn’t tell us what the best version is because it all depends on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for a specific franchise however, so let’s say you like Batman, then go for that franchise Fluxx (Batman Fluxx). If you want to just try the game then you may be looking for value for money, in which case Zombie Fluxx is a good idea. Alternatively, you may want a board game, in which case the best version of Fluxx for you is the board game.
That being said, what these articles do is put all the data in one place for you to decide. Let me know your thoughts and favourites in the comments.
So, with that in mind – what is your favourite version of Fluxx? Do you like the game or would you rather avoid it? Do you prefer the franchises or the more standard versions? Do you love it or do you hate it? Let me know in the comments below.
I entered into the Fluxx world with Holiday Fluxx – it was on clearance at Barnes and Noble. Since then, I’ve been selective with my pickups, and now have Batman, Cthulu, and Star Fluxx as well. I haven’t played the Cthulu version yet, but the other 2 are cool for both theme and some unique mechanics. In one game of Star Fluxx I played a card where I switched spots, hands, everything with someone across the table. I ended up handing someone else the win that way, but it was insane nonetheless haha!
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Haha sounds like great fun! I imagine that was just chaos at the table! We also have Star and Cthulhu, and weirdly I actually once played Batman Fluxx with Andy Looney, the game designer, when he was demoing it at the UK Games Expo in (something like) 2015. Good games. Cthulhu was the first Fluxx I bought and I got it because I wanted a Cthulhu game. I haven’t looked back – it got me into Fluxx and helped get me into gaming!
Interesting read. I own quite a few versions of Fluxx, because it is a game my non-gamer husband will play occasionally. I find that I like the versions where I like and/or know something about the theme, i.e. I like Monty Python so I like that version of Fluxx. There are other versions, which reference things I don’t particularly care for or know much about, and I find that while the game play might be equally solid, I don’t like those versions as well. Also, I find that I like the lesser or greater complexity of various versions based on who I’m playing.
I also like the fact you can mix decks together though in practice I don’t really do that because it is a paint to untangle them again.
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Yeah? I think that’s one of the big strengths of Fluxx as a franchise. You don’t have to like and feel connected with all of them, but since they have so many the odds are you will find a theme that you have a certain affiliation with. What other versions do you have and are there any specific ones you would recommend?
I can’t imagine mixing the decks together – but I guess it would reinvent what the word Chaos means!
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I still (probably) need to pick up a copy of Fluxx, though I’m not sure how often it would get played. Probably a themed one to start with, though again that presents a quandary, since I’m not sure how the themes affect the game itself.
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So the themes tend to add one or two new mechanics per theme. The Firefly theme has the smuggling mechanic for instance. Cthulhu has a madness mechanic. Pirate is more of a party game as it involves talking like a pirate etc. Batman had way more creepers than keepers. Do you have any themes you like in particular from the list?
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