A seriously twisted card game, published by Looney Labs. The rules start off simple: draw a card, and play a card. But practically every card played modifies the rules of the game (in fact, it is impossible to win until someone plays a card that changes the rules so that you can). Excellent fun at gatherings where people have been taking weird drugs.

Some people on the Nomic bulletin board were discussing creating a nomic-like card game, and some of the discussion suggested it would be like Fluxx, but wilder, with the ability to have cards that change the rules in more fundamental ways than happens in Fluxx, and also players would have some limited sort of ability to add new cards to the deck during the game. (Fluxx comes with some blank cards so you can create your own new cards, but only a few, and the nature of such things seems to suggest they should only be used to replace lost cards or to create mutually-agreed-upon new cards between games.)

Anyway, since some of the people in the discussion did not know of Fluxx, I wrote the following review:

Somebody deals a few cards to each player (I think each player starts with 4, but I forget, and I don't own this game, I've just played it a few times.)

Initially, the rules are determined by one special card that begins the game in play, which states that each player draws 1 card per turn, then plays 1 card per turn. Cards fall into a few general categories:

  • Keepers are the easiest cards to explain. They don't do anything themselves, but just represent objects you can play on the table in front of you. Most goals require you to have specific keepers.
  • Rule cards can change either the 'draw' or 'play' part of the initial rule, or establish a limit on the maximum number of cards players may keep in hand at the end of a turn (discarding the rest), or the maximum number of keepers a player may have in play, or a couple other weird things like forcing the last card each player plays in a turn to be chosen randomly from his hand. Any rule card played supercedes any previous conflicting rule, and (except in the case of the initial rule card) causes it to be discarded.
  • Goal cards determine the way to win the game. Most of the goals set the winning condition to having two specific keepers in play, but some of them use other goals, like having one specific keeper while another specific keeper is not in play, or collecting 10 cards in your hand, etc. Playing a goal card causes any other goal card in play to be discarded. Any time you meet the winning condition, just yell it out. You've won!
  • Action cards cause various other sorts of things to happen immediately. Some of them may allow you to discard specific rule cards that are in play, or make players discard keepers that are in play, or steal a keeper from another player, or trade hands with another player, or to draw extra cards from the deck, usually with some extra requirement like "draw three cards; play two immediately and discard the third".
Note that the plays are mandatory; if "play 3" is in effect, you must play 3 cards, unless you don't have enough cards in your hand. (Not being able to play a card is usually not an issue; it's almost always possible to play any card, even if sometimes they won't do anything or just get discarded immediately. For example, you can exceed a keeper limit during your turn, but you will have to discard keepers back down to the limit again at the end of the turn.) This sometimes results in players doing things they don't really want to do, in preference over other things they want to do even less.

If the draw or play rule changes during your turn, the new one comes into effect immediately, as much as is possible. If it tells you to draw more cards than you did this turn, draw more cards to reach the amount specified by the new rule. If it tells you to play more cards, keep playing. If the number of cards to play or draw is reduced to less than you've already played, don't play any more cards. You don't put cards back on the deck or unplay cards, though.

The amount of control players have over the game is largely controlled by the number of cards they have in their hands, which is turn is controlled to some extent by the rules in effect. Some sets of rules tend to drive players to play and/or discard all their cards, resulting in a really random game where players have to draw one or more cards each turn and immediately play them.
On the other hand, in a "draw 5, play 1" situation, players accumulate cards quickly, and don't be surprised if somebody begins a turn by changing the rule to "play 4", then plays a goal and the two keepers needed to win under that rule.

Fluxx
A Perfectly Simple game for 2-6 players.

Simple? Fluxx has but one rule: "Draw one card and then play one card." What cards might one play? Well, one might play Time, or War, or perhaps Love. I shall play Chocolate-- it is a fine thing to have Chocolate. What's this? You have played the card "Play two cards." Well, play a second card! Do you not know the rule of Fluxx? It is this: "Draw one card and then play two cards." Well, that's what it is now. Perfectly simple. The goal of the game? Ah, I'm terribly sorry. No one has played one yet.

(from the box of Fluxx 2.1)

Fluxx version 3.0 came out in December 2002, with several much-needed updates. The full list of changes can be found at Looney Labs' site (http://www.wunderland.com/LooneyLabs/Fluxx/); it goes something like this.

  • Weak keepers removed, new ones added
  • Ditto for actions
  • Goals changed to reflect new keeper mix
  • Kepper-hiding rules removed; individual card bonuses removed; new interesting rules added. My favorite is X = X + 1, which makes it so that any numeral on another card is incremented by 1.
  • The rules included in the box are a lot cooler; however, I traditionally lost the rules every time I purchased a new deck, so I can't compare individual changes.
  • The game now costs about $2 more.
  • But this is made up for by the fact that the box is now black.

The only way in which the new vesion is inferior to the old is the back of the box, which now has some unfortunately informative picture instead of the text above.

A freeware Palm version of Fluxx is available under the name "MicroFluxx."

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