Fluxx is a difficult game to describe, because the rules and goals are constantly changing. I enjoy the crazy chaos of playing Fluxx, and I have had some very fun times with it. But it drives some people crazy because of that randomness and chaos. I think you need to approach it with a light attitude, knowing that you are unlikely to have much control over the outcome.
Basic stats: 2-6+ players, 5-30 mins, ages 8+
Fluxx starts out with the Basic Rules, which say that a player draws one card and plays on card per turn. At the start of the game, there is no goal yet, so there is no way to win. A player must play a goal card in order to create a way to win.
There are a few main types of cards in Fluxx. There are yellow rules cards that you can play in order to modify the rules. The rules do all sorts of things. Some of them make players draw or play more than one card per turn. There are rules that create limits on the number of cards in your hand or collection, cards that give special bonuses to certain players, and more.
There are blue action cards that give you a one-time action and then get discarded. The action cards are usually pretty silly and fun. They might let you trade hands with other players, replay a card from the discard pile, tax the other players and make them give you cards, draw extra new cards and play them, and more.
Last year, we played Fluxx on my birthday with some friends who didn’t know my birthday, and I actually got the action card that lets you draw three cards and then play all of them if it’s your birthday, two of them if it’s a special holiday, and one of them if it’s just a normal day. I surprised them by announcing my birthday and playing all three cards!
There are green keeper cards that you can collect by playing them on the table in front of you. The keepers are usually what you need to achieve the goal. They are silly random things, like the moon, a rocket, cookies, love, TV, a toaster, bread, etc.
There are also black creeper cards, which are similar to keepers, but they usually prevent you from winning. Some of the goals make it possible for creepers to help you win though. Creepers tend to be bad seeming things, like death, taxes, war, or a radioactive potato.
There are pink goal cards that you can play to change the goal. Most of the goals are combinations of two keepers. Many of the keepers are used in more than one goal, such as chocolate milk (chocolate + milk), chocolate cookies (chocolate + cookies), and squishy chocolate (chocolate + the sun).
To win, you need to have the keepers or creepers described on the goal card on the table in front of you.
Playing a keeper in front of you counts as a play on your turn, and if you are only allowed to play one card on your turn, this limits how many keepers you can get in front of you. There are also some rule cards that limit your number of keepers. And you might just be unlucky and not draw many keepers.
Usually, having a creeper in front of you prevents you from winning, even if you have the keepers to meet the goal. But some of the goals involve creepers. For example, death and taxes are creepers, so they normally prevent you from winning, but if you have both of them and this is the goal, you win!
Some of the goal cards specify other cards that can’t be on the table in front of anyone. For example, one of the goals says that you win if you have the Brain and nobody else has TV on the table. Or you can win if you have Peace and nobody else has War. There is even a strange goal that is unrelated to keepers or creepers; it just says that you win if you have 10 cards or more in your hand.
Players start out by drawing one card and playing one card, but this changes quickly as soon as players start playing new rule cards. The goals change quickly as well.
It’s difficult to do long-term planning or even short-term planning between turns. With a small number of players, you can do a bit more planning than with more players. But with a bunch of players, so much happens between turns that it’s difficult to plan.
It’s also difficult to predict how long a game will last. I have lost the game before even having a turn before. And I have also played some games that felt like they would drag on forever.
The main thing to know when playing Fluxx is to not let yourself think too hard or get too attached to your cards, because there are many ways that other players can mess with you and take your cards away, both those in your hand and the keepers and creepers in front of you.
In fact, some of the creepers move between players automatically, by being passed around at certain times. The cards have special instructions on them that describe how they should be used.
Some of the great things about Fluxx are:
- It is usually quick, although this is not a guarantee.
- It is very portable, with a small box.
- It doesn’t take up a huge amount of space while being played.
- It’s easy for players to jump in and out of a game in progress. For example, if three people are playing and a fourth wants to join, that person can just draw three cards and start playing.
- It’s silly.
The main downsides to Fluxx are:
- The randomness, which some people don’t like or aren’t always in the mood for
- The rare but possible outcome of a long game that drags on
- The also rare but possible game where you lose before you even have a turn
- The complexity involved in trying to follow the rules when the game gets a ton of rules at certain points (Fortunately, there are also cards that let you get rid of all or some of the rules, so the game won’t necessarily continue to be that complex.)
- The difficulty in judging how long the game will take, which can deter us from playing it when we have a small set window of time
When we played tonight, I was lucky and managed to win with Baked Goods.
For a while, Fluxx was one of the main games I carried around in my purse and pulled out in pubs and other public places. I think Sean and I overplayed it a little and got burned out on it. We don’t play it very often now; I am trying to rotate new purse games in and out more often to avoid overplaying them and getting burned out.