My family enjoys Fluxx, and owns most of the myriad versions of what amounts to the same game. Mostly we have play a combination deck of Fluxx, Jewish Fluxx, Christian Fluxx & Family Fluxx. My wife & I often play Fluxx, or Treehouse (or Martian Coasters but I digress) in restaurants while waiting for our waiter/drinks/food/in-laws whatever. So when Fluxx 4.0 came out I bought a copy for my wife for Christmas. I figured the new colored art & changes were worth looking at, and a smaller deck might be handy for carrying around. We finally got around to playing it the other day, and I thought some of the changes were worth mentioning.
A brief Overview:
There are many fine reviews which might give you a better idea about the game than I can, but I will give a brief overview for those of you who are not familiar with the beast. Fluxx was first published in 1997. (according to BGG) As the name implies, it's all about change. All the rules & victory conditions are determined by
card play. And play consits entirely of drawing cards and then playing them. While how many cards you draw & play are generally determined by card play you will never draw or play less than 1 card. (unless you have particularly brutal house rules/homemade cards).
The types of Cards are:
Goal Cards: These cards determine the victory condition of the game. Generally spelling out a set of keepers a player must have in order to win. Newly played goals replace previous goals.
Keeper Cards: These are objects that you play in front of you in the hopes of matching your set to an in play goal card. They generally have a name, a title & a picture.
Rule cards: These change how the game is played. Hand size, turn sequence, how many cards to draw or play, etc. New rules replace old rules.
Action cards: These are one time use cards that generally allow you to help yourself or hinder your opponent.
Those are the basic cards and on your turn you draw & play a certain number frustrating the plans of others, (while others frustrate your plans) until somebody finally wins.
***this is generally a love it, or hate it game. But if you have never tried it's worth finding somebody who owns it and giving it a sample play..***
So what's up with version 4.0?
First off there is the Art upgrade. Not a major improvement, or change. Just colorization. Tastefully done, and makes the
cards pleasant. It doesn't change gameplay at all, but it's a nice touch. (My wife says the colors are pretty)
The 1st major change is the addition of Creepers.
Creepers: A new(ish) type of card kind of like an anti-Keeper. They have been used in other Versions of Fluxx (Monty Python Fluxx & Zombie Fluxx) and now they have been added to the main game. In any Fluxx game when a Creeper is drawn it immediately gets played in front of the person drawing it. It then keeps the person it is sitting in front of from winning. (Unless the current rules say different, or the goal includes creepers.)
There are 4 Creepers in the basic game:
Radioactive baked Potato
The thing I REALLY like about the creepers in the 4.0 deck is that they are thematic.
Death slowly kills off all of your keepers & creepers until it is the last card in front of you then it kills itself. (or you find another way to get rid of it.)
War can be moved to another player if you have the Keeper Peace.
The Radioactive Baked Potato rotates from player to player every time the goal changes. (like a game of hot potato) This card alone makes 2 player games much more interesting.
Taxes can be discarded if sacrifice the Keeper Money.
When creepers have been used in the past, they were more generic bad things, and tools which got rid of some creepers would get rid of any creepers. In 4.0 each creeper has a specific counter. (there are also generic tools) It gives them a more personal feel. I think this lets the creepers interact with the game a little more. At the same time there are only 4 of them, so they aren't going to be a major burden to playing.
The other major change is the addition of META rules:
Meta Rules are permanent rules players have to agree on before the start of the game. They will then be in place for the entire game. (As opposed to rule cards which can be discarded & superseded) The one included with 4.0 was entitled Rules Escalation. Summarized it states that any time the deck is re-shuffled the basic rule increases by one. (the basic rule is Draw 1, Play 1) So if somebody plays Trash Day an action card which (among other things) causes the discard pile to be shuffled back into the draw pile, then the basic rule becomes draw 2, play 2). And increasing every time the deck is shuffled.
I like the concept of the Meta Rule (kind of like a semi-official house rule) as it allows some customization of the basic game. I don't know if I am a fan of the Rules Escalation rule specifically. My wife & I tried it in a 2 player game. In 5 games we never re-shuffled the deck more than once, so there was not an escalation past 2. Also, more often than not there were draw & play rule cards in effect which made the escalation pointless. I can see where it might be more signifiant with 4+ players, but other than one of us occasionally saying "oh I should have draw 2...rats" there was not a huge effect on the game.
All in all If you like Fluxx, I would heartily recommend getting a copy of version 4.0. I know there are lots of Fluxx versions out there and it's hard to muster enthusiasm to buy one you already have. It would not be worth it for the just the colorization, or Meta Rules (unless like my wife you like the "pretty colors".) But the Creepers really make it a different game and worth the Re-Purchase.