Game Name: Star Fluxx
Publisher: Looney Labs
Designer: Andrew Looney
Artist: Derek Ring
Players: Two to six players
Playing Time: 10 – 40 Minutes
Genre: Chaotic hand management and set collecting card game
Star Fluxx is the latest incarnation of the game of Fluxx. It has a spacey theme with nods to Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost in Space, Doctor Who, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and probably a few others. This is a big positive in my book as I am a big sci-fi fan. I suspect that this is the intention of the many flavors of Fluxx. Eventually there will be a version that strikes a chord with you and you’ll pick it up to give it a try. I’ve already made up my mind that I have to get a copy of Monty Python Fluxx; I just can’t pass up the theme now that I know how the game works.
The game itself is fairly chaotic, so I can understand why some people don’t like it. There is no real rhyme or reason, it’s just the luck of the cards and it is very difficult to really gain any kind of advantage as the rules change constantly.
This is of course the crux of Fluxx (Ha!). You play the basic rule card to start the game, which states “Draw 1 Card” and “Play 1 Card”. Each player gets three cards each and basically the first player to draw a card gets to go first, which led to a desperate grab for the cards which was pretty funny. My daughter sent the cards flying everywhere the first game, but managed to hold on to the top card and got to go first.
What threw me, and remember this is my first time playing Fluxx, was that there are no rules for winning the game when you start playing. The winning conditions are called goals and they are played as you plat the game. If a player satisfies a goal’s conditions, then that player instantly wins. The problem is that there can only be one active goal card at a time, and the other players can replace the goal card with a new goal card whenever they want.
The conditions on the goal card involve having two other cards, called keeper cards, in play. You play keeper cards in front of you on your turn. If you get the right combination of keeper cards that match a goal card, then you win, even if it isn’t your turn.
So for example, if you play the Doctor Keeper card in front of you, then later play the Time Traveler keeper card in front of you, then by some miracle draw the What Doctor? Where? Goal card and play that, you win!
The problem is that the rules keep changing. There are rules cards that everyone can play to change the basic rules. You might end up drawing four cards, but only playing one. Then you might get a hand limit of two cards and thus end up discarding cards every turn. The rules change constantly. Other players can steal your keeper cards too, or make you discard cards, or steal your luggage (well, not really).
This is why it is called Fluxx. I’ve heard nightmare stories of games that take forever, but so far I haven’t experienced it. I hear that the Surprise! Cards are a recent addition to the Fluxx line, and these allow you to cancel an action played by another player. This does come in really handy in stopping someone from screwing you over just as you are about to win. I actually had someone try that with me, but the rules say they if you meet the victory conditions you instantly win, so I believe I was in the right and won the game in fifteen minutes. I don’t know for sure, but it made sense to me.
There are a few other types of cards, like creepers that are bad and can prevent you from winning until you can get rid of them, and Action cards are used then discarded.
For those who already know how to play Fluxx there are no real surprises here. The main differences come with the theme. Whether you are looking for the Small Moon, or the Space Station, or trying to get together the Captain and the Doctor, or joining the Intergalactic Travel Guide and the Robot (“I’m SO depressed…”), you should find a few laughs here if you are a sci-fi fan.
This is a good game for the science fiction fans and those who don’t mind a chaotic game where anybody can win at any time. It is light and entertaining and sometimes frustrating. As with any version of Fluxx you will either like it or you won’t. It’s not for serious gamers, but for a family game, or a game to play with a couple of beers it works great. It does get a bit harder to win with more players, as the “Screw the other player” cards come up more often.
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