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Subject: Fluxx: a game of random strategy! rss

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Kyle McGreogr
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Introduction

Fluxx was the game that got me back into gaming again. Before I picked my copy in my junior year of college, I had not purchased a board/card game since I was about 14. For me Fluxx was the game that rekindled my obsession with games to the point that it is now. Note that since I have had this game for a number of years this review is based on the 3.1 version instead of the newer 4.0 one.

Components/Card Overview

Fluxx has 4 different types of cards that you can play:

Rule cards change the way that the game is played. This can be as simple as changing the number of cards that you draw/play or add new rules entirely such as limits on cards in hand/keepers in play. These cards are what make Fluxx as much fun as it is. The fact that you have to always adjust your strategy to deal with the rules is a big part of the appeal of this game for me.

Action cards are cards that have a one time effect and are then put in the discard pile. Examples of these are cards like Taxation, a card that forces each player to give you one of their cards, and Jackpot, which allows you to draw 3 cards.

Goal cards are played to change the victory condition of the game. There may only be a single goal card in play at a time unless someone has played the 'Double Agenda' rule card which allows there to be 2 goal cards in play. At the start of the game there is actually no way to win in Fluxx until someone plays a goal card. There is a wide range of different goals, but the majority of them have to deal with having different keeper combinations.

Keepers are the final card type in the 3.1 version of the game. These are cards such as chocolate chip cookies, the sun, and the rocket ship. Keepers are played left in play and belong to the player that plays them. On their own, keepers do nothing but there are special rules that grant bonuses based on the number of keepers a player has. Keepers are also the requirements of most of the goal victory conditions.

Gameplay

Players start out being dealt 3 cards and the player with the biggest desire to play goes. Turns start out simple enough where players draw one card and then play one card from their hand. As the game continues the game becomes more complex as more cards are drawn and played and as players start using cards to screw over their neighbors. A game of flux generally lasts around 8 to 15 minutes with the small group of people that I normally play with, though it can take quite a bit longer. This is especially true when playing with new players who are trying to wrap their minds around the strategy involved in the game.

There is that word again! STRATEGY. I understand that many people of this site are fans of strategy over randomness. I feel that this games does hold a lot of strategic that a lot of reviews have seemed to overlook. As a CCG player who played in tournaments as a teenager, I quickly learned the best way to overcome my enemies was by 1) maximizing the use of my cards so they only benefited me and 2) maximize card draw to mitigate the randomness of drawing from a deck.
I feel that these same principles can still be applied to Fluxx even though it is a very different type of card game.

Example tactics would be for me are to play a draw 5 during my turn, draw my extra cards, drop a take another turn (to take another turn after this one). Draw 5 more cards the next turn, play a 'jackpot' (draw 3 cards) or 'lets do that again' to get back take another turn and use it again. Draw 5 more cards and either go for the goal or find a way to clear the draw 5 rule so my opponents will be far behind me in card draw. While that is obvious a power play that can't be pulled off every game, it does demonstrate a play style that shows that the game does have some strong combos that can help mitigate the randomness involved. It also helps to learn the keeper combos for the goals to make sure no other player has any winning combos on the table.

That being said the game is still pretty random by nature. It is still possible to pull a first turn victory from your starting hand. For example: play all (rule: play all the cards in your hand), peace no war (goal: have the peace keeper in play and the war keeper cannot be in play), peace (keeper). Instances like this are rare though as I have only seen something like this happen once or twice in my 200+ plays of this game. The game does generally end pretty abruptly when It ends even in the late game too, which can be jarring for some players.

One thing about the game that may turn people off is that you can be forced to play a card that causes another player to win. There is a first play random rule card that makes it so the first card that you play each turn is randomly pulled from your hand by the player on your right. There have been a few games that I have played where the first card randomly pulled was a goal that handed the victory to an opponent. There are also some cases when the 'play all' rule is in effect and you can't do anything to counter that rule which leads can lead to a victory for another player as well.

One thing that 3.1 does not contain that 4.0 does are creeper cards. Creepers were a rule added in zombie fluxx that I really didn't like. The are essentially cards that if drawn are placed in front of you and prevent you from winning. There were so many of these cards in zombie fluxx that is you didn't get a weapon they would pile up. I really felt like creepers in that game detracted from the core game play as they took away from cards drawn and added a reliance on certain weapon keepers cards to be able to remove them. They also added another card type another card type which for me, ruined the streamlined, simple game play of Fluxx.

From what I understand there are only 4 creepers in Fluxx 4.0 that have different interactions based on cards played. I am really tempted to try the newer 4.0 version because it seems like they might have fixed a broken mechanic from the other games.

Conclusion

The thing that really hooked me on the game was the unique concept and the quick play. I have played Fluxx at parties, at bars, while waiting for a train, while eating lunch, and at game nights. This game is really hit or miss with people but for me it is a big hit. If it is as big of a hit with your gaming group as it is with me and my friends, this might be the only filler game that you need to own.

Fluxx holds a special place in my heart as the game that got me back into board gaming. Some rule combinations can suck some of the fun out of the game, such as: Draw 1, Play 1, First play random; however, most are games are fun and exciting to the end. Fluxx is simple, fun, fast, and the ladies love it! I rate it an 8/10.




tl;dr: You will love or hate Fluxx. I love it.
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Steve Duff
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Great review. thumbsup
 
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Arthur
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mcgregok wrote:
Some rule combinations can suck some of the fun out of the game, such as: Draw 1, Play 1, First play random; however, most are games are fun and exciting to the end.

First play random is only followed if the play rule is greater than 1.
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Kyle McGreogr
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OldestManOnMySpace wrote:

First play random is only followed if the play rule is greater than 1.


Good Catch. I think it might have been a Draw 1, Play All, First Play Random, Hand limit 0 situation now that I am thinking about it a bit more...All I remember was that it was awful.
 
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Stephen Blanzaco
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Quote:
I really felt like creepers in that game detracted from the core game play as they took away from cards drawn


How so? When you draw and play a Creeper, you then draw a card to replace it as if you hadn't drawn the Creeper at all.

Nice review!
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