When I posted my thoughts on game different game elements including luck and strategy a friend asked why I didn’t talk about Fluxx. “Strategy in Fluxx?” I asked incredulously, “Is there such a thing?” Fluxx is one of those games where you can try to come up with a strategy but usually the game flow has a mind of its own and all your plans end up for naught. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun and more people need to know about it so I thought I’d give you the basic rundown.
Fluxx is a proprietary game made by Loony Labs. The four types of cards in a Fluxx deck are: Keepers, Actions, Goals, and New Rules (a fifth type, the Creeper, was added later). Keepers are items like Milk, Dreams, Chocolate, and The Cosmos that are played by simply putting them in front of you. They’re yours from that point on (unless someone uses an Action card to mess with them). Action cards allow for various things such as Take Another Turn, Jackpot (draw 3 cards), Steal a Keeper, and many others. Goals are how you win the game; if you have the Keepers that match the goal you win. For example, if the current goal is Chocolate Cookies you would need the Chocolate Keeper and the Cookies Keeper. But there can only be one goal at a time: if another is played the first one is discarded.
But the heart of the game, and what makes it unique and fun, are the New Rule cards. Fluxx starts out with very simple rules: Draw 1 (card), Play 1 (card). But when you play a New Rule the game rules are immediately changed, including for the person who played it (with a couple exceptions)! Things like Draw 5, Play All, and Hand Limit 0 really change the game. And it can get pretty intricate; it’s best to play with someone who has played before and can decipher all the current rules. It makes it a lot of fun though, and pretty much everyone I’ve ever introduced to Fluxx ends up really liking it.
As far as strategy goes…you can try to play a certain way but usually the cards themselves decide how the game is going to go. Really the only thing you can do is try to get as many Keepers in front of you as possible and then hope to catch the right Goal (the Goal changes way too often to do it the other way, i.e. put the Goal down and then get the right Keepers). There are lots of little tricks and neat little plays you can make, but there’s really no such thing as an overall strategy. What are those tricks? You’ll have to figure them out yourself 😉
Actually I take it back, I guess there is one strategical choice to make. I’ve found that Fluxx players fall into two categories: those that like as many New Rules and as much chaos as possible and those that want to keep it as simple as possible. The former (such as myself) love cards like Play All, Inflation (adds 1 to every number on every card), and Draw 5. And we usually hate cards that the other group likes to use, like Rules Reset (reverts to the Basic Rules), Let’s Simplify, etc. I love it when people are drawing 8 cards, playing them all, switching hands with other people, and just doing all kinds of crazy stuff. Some people prefer a more mellow game though, and I can’t blame them at all. It can be quite a bit to keep track of. But don’t worry, if you play with me I’ll keep track of all that for you 🙂
And for even more fun there are different versions of Fluxx. Besides the basic edition there’s Eco Fluxx, Zombie Fluxx, Martian Fluxx, and others. There’s even a Monty Python Fluxx for getting your serious geek on! Zombie Fluxx introduced Creepers into the Fluxx universe, and they’ve since been added in to other additions, including the basic one. Creepers are like anti-Keepers: if you have one you can’t win the game, even if you meet the current Goal. But of course there are New Rules that can change that, and there are Goals that actually require you to have certain Creepers in order to win. In Zombie Fluxx there’s even a Goal that let’s the zombies (zombies are all Creepers) win and all the players lose!
Fluxx is a very fun game and can be played by anywhere from 2 – 8 or so players, although it works best for 4 or 5 I would say. You can find it at any dedicated game store, and a deck runs around $10. And for even more fun you can buy blank Fluxx and create your own cards! I actually once designed a whole set of cards based around a group of friends but sadly it never made it into play.
The only downside of Fluxx is that the cards themselves are really flimsy and not durable at all. I’ve bought 4 or 5 sets of basic Fluxx over the years because the cards wear out so easily. Which was probably their plan all along. But hey, if you’re playing a game so much you’re wearing out and have to keep rebuying it then it must be pretty fun, right?