Fluxx card game
by Aaron Mucciolo
Card game manufacturer:
Number of players:
Fluxx is a snap to learn, infinitely replayable, quick, addictive and lots of fun. Players of all interests and abilities will find something to like about a round or three of this always-shifting game. If you’re looking to upgrade your card game collection from poker and the UNO card game, the Fluxx card game is one of the best, most accessible places to start.
The game and gameplay
The standard deck of Fluxx includes four types of cards: Goals, Actions, Rules and Keepers.
These are shuffled together and dealt out three to a player with the remainder forming a draw pile. Also present is the Basic Rules card indicating that – for now – everyone draws one card and plays one card for their turn, with no limit to the size of their hand or the number of Keepers in front of them.
Play proceeds around the circle with each player drawing, playing and discarding as dictated by the rules. Deceptively simple, the game appears not unlike other card games out there – but it won’t be for long.The flux in Fluxx occurs as players continually alter the rules governing drawing and playing cards, hand size, and Keepers, as well as altering the very goal of the game.
At one moment everyone might be trying to collect a certain combination of Keeper cards (typically paired in bemusing combinations like Time and Money or Death and Chocolate). The next, the goal is to have a different pairing, or ten cards in your hand, or one particular Keeper without another.
Goals can be laid down at almost any time, as can new Rules – e.g. everyone now draws two cards; you have to play all the cards in your hand each turn; or you get a bonus draw if your hand is empty at the start of your draw. Also in your arsenal are Actions like trading hands, clearing all the Rules back to the Basic Rules, getting rid of an opponent’s Keeper, or forcing opponents to draw and use certain numbers of cards. In short, most ways that you could alter a normal round of UNO or War are present and playable, and then some.
Play continues until someone meets the conditions of the current Goal. Their victory is immediate and often without warning. Any cries of triumph and elaborate endzone dances are almost always drowned out by demands for “one more round!”
The Fluxx card game’s simple setup and short learning curve make it a great game for parties, airports, movie nights and any other time you and friends might want to fill five to fifty minutes. Its free-flowing style is omnipresent – players can even join a hand mid-round – and its tone is typically light-hearted without being too simple.
Strategy is rarely a long-term gambit. Since the goal can be changed by other players – to put themselves in a better position, or to disadvantage you – you will likely find your hand’s value shifting before it can be fully utilized.
This is not to say planning or paying attention is pointless. Fluxx is best when it moves quite quickly (as it often does) making any strategy involved more akin to speed checkers or party games like the Taboo board game.
Fluxx is a card game best played hard, but not too seriously. It is less about winning and losing and more about enjoying playing with friends and family. You can absolutely play Fluxx ‘seriously’, aiming for strategic advantages and trying to box out opponents for the win, but you’ll likely have much more fun if you temper a competitive edge with a healthy sense of humor.
Winning a hand of Fluxx is not fully a reflection of skill. Yet everyone I’ve seen play – from hardcore gamers to those who think dice and cards are the devil’s work indeed – has had fun regardless of who comes out on top.
Pros and cons
About the only ‘big’ negative on the Fluxx card game is its lack of strategic depth. Given that this isn’t really the point of the game, that it is so accessible (and often addictive) to so many, and that it still requires you to think and react, this is really a minor quibble.
As with all card games, every hand will be different but all the hands will be roughly the same. Some people will thus lose interest in Fluxx over time.
There are expansion options – each deck does come with a couple of blank cards you can use to add rules or actions of your own, and the company has produced a number of themed decks, some of them linked to their Amazon page from this review.
Another plus – so long as you get along with the other players, there’s no wrong way to approach playing. Are you your group’s unchallenged Texas Holdem champ, capable of reading everyone and bowing to no one? Expect to spend the game staring with wide-eyed intensity at a table where your endgame has once again moved outside your grasp.
Do you make sound effects when moving your armies in Risk? Play a round or three of Fluxx while narrating everyone’s successes and failures as the sportscaster of your choice.
Are you easily distracted by the TV or side conversation? Welcome! The other players will politely remind you it’s your turn with politely tossed potato chips and polite shouts of ‘Play! Play! I’m SO going to win this turn!’
If you own any number of games and don’t already own the Fluxx card game, get to your local game store post-haste. There’s no reason not to keep your playing muscles limber with this super-easy, super-engaging game.