Fluxx is a card game, and Pirate Fluxx a variety of it, in which everything is constantly in flux. And by "everything", I
mean everything: the rules, the sequence of play, and yes, even the goal itself.
I found Pirate Fluxx when I was searching for a good 2-player tabletop game for my girlfriend and myself to play. Fluxx kept popping up as a good option, and it came in several flavours; there's a Cthulu Fluxx and Space Fluxx and several more. We chose the pirate flavour because...pirates.
In a funny twist of fate, the first time we played it was with four players and it was riotously entertaining. None of us had played it before, but I read over the rules (there aren't many), and then we jumped right in. In fact, in a pinch, you don't even have to read the rules; you can just start playing (the base rule card is Play 1 / Draw 1; simple, right?) because the rules are spelt out for you as they change during the game.
A typical game goes something like this:
The base rule card is placed on the table. It is always the same: draw one card, and then play one card. A card can be of four different types: a Rule card which sets a new rule into play, like Draw 3, or Play 4, or Plunder cards from each other at the end of each turn, and so on), a Goal card (tells you how you can win), a Keeper card (treasure!, or sometimes a curse), or an Event card (do something extra, like discard your entire hand, or cancel something that another player is trying to do, and so on).
The initial gameplay can be a little slow until some new and exciting rules come into play, but my girlfriend and I solve this by enforcing a starting rule of Draw 2 / Play 2. That gets the game under way quicker.
Once the game kicks into gear, it's fun and frustrating and easily keeps you on the edge of your seat. After all, you might be playing your game fiercely to get hold of a ship and a Jolly Roger, only to have the very goal of the game to suddenly become to get a barrel and a bottle of rum.
It's not all just changing rules and goals. There are a few elements of surprise by way of Event cards (some are literally labelled "Surprise!" and can be played out of turn), which can force a player to walk the plank (discard their hand) or draw cards and then distribute them to other players, or lose all their treasure, and so on. There are also a few special kinds of treasure cards; a captain's hat that grants the player a few privileges under certain rules, a treasure map that permits a player to protect their other treasure cards, and so on.
And finally, there's the Talk Like a Pirate rule. If you talk like a pirate for one full round, you get bonus draws. Yes, that's a potential rule that you can have in play.
We first played the game with four players. After the holidays, we started playing with just two.
Between these two options, truth be told, he game is *probably* more fun with four players, but just barely. The more players, the more motivations and the more complex the potential threats, but the game holds up quite nicely with just two players. All the right elements are there either way; an ever-changing goal, ever-changing rules, the potential for plundering and back-stabbing, the gloating and mis-placed confidence. It's simple. It's fun. It's a great way to spend an afternoon.
The great thing about tabletop gaming with friends is that everything is malleable. It's not a computer game, where the game is exactly what the developer programmed; you can modify gameplay on a whim.
So far, we have not come up with any brilliant mods for this game aside from the increase in the base rule so we can get into the juicy cards quicker. Some things I've pondered:
* The starter pack comes with a good number of cards, so there's technically a good variety in what you get in your hand. On the other hand, the game also burns through cards *fast*, especially if you have rules that prompt you to play four cards per turn, so you do get familiar with the cards available by your fifth or sixth game. That's not really* a problem (you don't know in what order you'll see them), but the freshness doesn't last all that long, since after your first game you've probably seen all the possible cards. There are definitely blank Fluxx cards that you can buy so you can invent your own cards.
* The idea of the goal changing is pretty brilliant, but then again it doesn't really change all that much. The goal is pretty much always the same: two or three of specific treasure items. It might be interesting to create antagonistic goals; for instance, if you gain a specific set of cards before your opponent, then you win regardless of the current stated goal.
* Penalties. What if talking like a pirate was requisite under certain circumstances? With two players, it's probably not that hard to remember, but with four and above, things get hectic so it gets tough to work in enough "arrr"s and "matey"s to qualify as a hardened pirate.
* Mixing Fluxx decks? I don't know if different flavours of Fluxx are compatible, but it could be interesting to see how Cthulu and Pirate Fluxx combine. The goals might be problematic, but probably nothing some blank Fluxx cards couldn't solve.
Arrr, if yer lookin' for some fun tabletop gaming that's as steady going as Davy Jones himself, ye ought to play Pirate Fluxx, matey.