Review by KC Carlson
Fluxx is the best game to come down the pike since 43-Man Squamish. (Look it up on Wikipedia — it’s worth your while!) In fact, it’s better, as not everyone has a Flutney in their backyard. In fact, all you need for Fluxx is the deck of cards and a big table. Chairs are optional, depending on if you like your friends.
As card games go, Fluxx hasn’t been around long relative to more “classic” card games — only a little over 10 years. And it’s not quite a “classic” — yet — but there definitely is a strong cult following for the game. You should be able to find it in better game or hobby stores, and good comic book stores should have it sitting by their cash registers, as it’s the perfect game for those whose thought processes are just a little bit skewed — as are most good comics fans!
Fluxx has been around long enough now that they’re starting to muck around with the formula a bit. There’s a Fluxx for the younger set (Family Fluxx) and an ecological-friendly version as well (EcoFluxx). Zombie Fluxx was creepily released last year and they’re reportedly working on Martian Fluxx for next year. I wonder if there will be a Illudium Phosdex, “the shaving cream atom” card? Or Sarah Jessica Parker’s head on a dog?
But just hitting stores in the last few days is Fluxx’s big experiment in licensing — Monty Python Fluxx. Never before has there been such a perfect teaming of two more wonderful, unique, and downright odd things. It’s even better than mustard and cross-trainers!
The Basic Fluxx Cards
In its basic form, Fluxx is a very simple card game that starts out with one rule — Draw One, Play One — and could end up with dozens of additional, different rules, not to mention numerous different goals. Two to six players can play the game, but it’s generally better when more play (you will soon find out why). Anarchy rules from the very beginning of the game as the player who goes first is determined by whoever “calls” it first. Really.
There are four basic kinds of cards in the very large deck, which is usually around 80 cards depending on which variation you are playing. NEW RULE cards (yellow) add to the basic rules, usually increasing or decreasing the number of cards that can be drawn and/or played during each turn. It’s not unusual to have NEW RULE cards played that have you drawing 5 cards and playing 3, or drawing 4 and playing 4. There are also Hand Limit cards which mean that at the end of your turn, you may only have that many cards in your hand, even if you have to discard them. (A Hand Limit of 0 is frequently irritating.) There are also cards that limit the number of KEEPER cards you can have exposed, or even something more complicated like Double Agenda (two GOALS) or Reverse Order. I have played in games where there have been up to 10 different rules in effect for each turn.
GOAL cards (pink) define what is required to win the game. Most goals are some combination of two KEEPER cards (green). For instance, if your GOAL is “Squishy Chocolate,” you need to play both the Chocolate KEEPER card and the Sun KEEPER card. Some GOALs have different combinations of KEEPER cards (If “All You Need is Love” is your GOAL, all you need to play is the Love KEEPER to win) or sometimes the Goal has nothing to do with the KEEPERs at all. One GOAL is “10 Cards in Hand” and it doesn’t matter what 10 cards they are. The thing about the GOAL cards is, about a third of the cards in the deck are GOALS, so that means that the GOAL changes frequently and without warning, as any player can change it during their turn, so you can’t really plan ahead much.
The final kind of card is an ACTION card (blue). ACTION cards allow players to do a lot of different things, from stealing KEEPERs or digging through the discard pile or changing or eliminating NEW RULEs. Skilled players can combine certain ACTION cards to obtain and play additional cards that will allow the player to occasionally play up to a dozen different cards — and create just as many game-changing situations — in a single turn.
A Typical (?) Game
The manufactures say that the average game of Fluxx is about 20 minutes, but I have been involved in games that ended within a minute or, occasionally, a few games that were called after several hours on account of sleep. The latter is probably accountable to playing what I refer to as “Madison-style,” as in Madison, Wisconsin. “Madison-style” Fluxx is notable for having at least one player (Don) who has no intention of actually winning the game, preferring instead to act as “spoiler” to see how badly the rules can be warped to extend the game into a several-day affair. Don has no idea how close to death he has come on several occasions, most notably from Maypril (not her real name, or so I am told). I often spend time during the game seeing if I can get another player (Roger) to laugh so hard that he’ll spray soda out his nose. (Mmmmmm. Nose soda.) This makes him try to do the same to me, which garners glares from Maypril as bad jokes and puns fly left and right. This leads to not paying too close attention to the game so we don’t notice that Don has just added another five NEW RULEs that makes us draw 20 cards and then discard them all. The fact that Don now has a wife and young son has been no deterrent in changing his game-playing habits. In fact, I suspect that his long-range plan is to slowly outnumber the rest of us, methodically building his Fluxx Family Dynasty and crushing us all to powder.
Uh… where was I ?
Monty Python Fluxx
Oh yeah. Monty Python Fluxx. If Fluxx wasn’t as confusing and strange enough, now the Pythons have gotten involved with the proceedings and made it even more hysterical. Monty Python Fluxx now includes singing, fake accents, reciting Python dialog for extra cards, and pretty much everything else, short of farting in your general direction. (It is, after all, a game for the whole family!) Loosely based on concepts from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there are guest appearances from King Arthur and all of his Knights, coconuts, a shrubbery, an unladen swallow, a trojan rabbit, a catapult, an airborne cow, the Holy Hand Grenade, and the Finger of God, as well as such Python classics as the giant foot, the nude organist, a resting parrot, and the Spanish Inquisition — which, of course everyone was expecting.
The Spanish Inquisition is one of the new CREEPER cards (first developed for the Zombie Fluxx game) along with the Killer Rabbit and The Knights Who Say “NI!” The CREEPER cards are like the KEEPER cards, except evil. You have to play them immediately when you get them, you cannot normally win the game if they are exposed, and they are difficult to get rid of. They are the equivalent of having gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. But in true Python fashion, if you play the Always Look on the Bright Side of Life card, it negates the CREEPERs evilosity and will allow you to win.
Other amusing cards include One, Two, Five, where every time there is a 3 on a card, it will be treated as if it is a 5; the My Brain Hurts card, where you can discard all the NEW RULE cards that make your brain hurt; and the This Game Has Become Too Silly card and the My Hovercraft is Full of Eels card, neither of which am I going to attempt to explain. The only thing missing is a Fish Slapping card.
I haven’t been able to break it out with a whole gang of players yet, but Johanna and I played a few hands last night and the game play was smooth and much fun. And a lot of laughs! Adding a touch of Python to an already wonderful game is just the thing. Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink… Know what I mean? Know what I mean? SAY NO MORE!