I’ve played the latest version of the game (“4.0”) and Zombie Fluxx, so this is what I’ll focus on most in this review. Since I played this game with a bunch of kids, I’ll give my thoughts from that perspective.
For those interested in trying out other versions, I’ll try to list its various expansions and variants, too.
Fluxx is based on a dynamic rules structure. As the game progresses, the rules evolve and the conditions for winning change. Players are allowed at successive points in the gameplay to change the rules, depending on the cards they draw. Virtually everything which dictates game play (number of cards played, number of cards draw, stipulations for winning) are dictated by the ever-changing rules. While this might sound confusing, it’s pretty easy to keep track of what’s going on, because the rules are on the cards. When a new stipulation is in place, the corresponding card goes on the table. When that rules is changed, the card goes in the discard pile.
Good for Children
As it is, the rules are basic enough that nothing in itself gets too complicated. Those who don’t like keeping up with details or who get confused easily might not like the game, but I found that a group of children between 9 and 14 had no trouble keeping up with what’s going on. If you’re a parent who doesn’t think zombies or Monty Python are appropriate for children, you can buy the Christian or Hebrew expansions, instead.
The variable winning stipulations provide a challenge that might frustrate some kids, if it confuses them. Even for adults, changing the rules can be a double-edged sword, because you don’t know what cards are in people’s hands, so the stipulation you add might be the one that throws victory to an opponent.
Each game tends to play out differently. Some games are going to end quickly, while many play in the 30 minute range.
A number of different card types exist in the main deck. New Rules are just that: when played, new rules go into effect. Keeper Cards are how you win the game. Often, rules stipulate that you need to collect 2 or more Keeper cards to win the game. Many new rules involve which cards are needed for the win. Creeper Cards prevent players from winning (though specific rules make them winners), so often you have to get rid of creepers to win. Creepers are played immediately when drawn, and then a new card is drawn.
Action cards are one-shot cards which let you do something useful, such as eliminate a rule you don’t like or steal other players’ cards. Goal Cards change the goal of winning in the game. Surprise Cards are used in the Star and Pirate games, and can be played at any time during the round. Essentially, they keep other players from winning automatically. Meta Cards are used in the Cthulhu, Martian, and 4.0 decks and they allow house rules to count throughout the game–no matter what. When you play Meta Cards, everyone at the table agrees to use these special rules for the entirety of the game.
Blank cards are sold in some decks. These aren’t as elaborate as the expansion blanks, so they are called semi-blank cards by some.
0.5, 1.0 (poker-size cards), 2.0 (bridge-size cards), 2.1, 3.0 (more balanced), 3.1, 4.0 (100 cards, creepers, Meta rule), and the Mass Market deck sold at Target.
Expansion sets have been sold. The Monty Python set has a Castle expansion for the “Castle of the French Persons”. A Christian expansion has a Holy Bible and a Crucifix, while a Jewish expansion has Torah and Candles additions. The Blanxx expansion simply allows blank cards for those who want to make up new rules or cards, while the Flowers expansion has six plush Happy Flowers cards, sold as a gift set with the 3.0 deck.
Stone Fluxx 2.0 and Ecofluxx 2.0 are versions people can play, while a boardgame version exists. Also, several other variants have bee released between 2008 and 2013: Monty Python, Family or Fluxx Jr, Zombie, Martian, Pirate Star, Oz, Cthulhu, Monster, and Wild West versions. Finally, a basic Target Stores version exists, which is the most basic introduction to the game.
You’ll also find a Spanish-language edition with Hispanic-centric cards under the name Fluxx Espanol. A German, Japanese, and Dutch version also exist.
Given the many variants, you might get the notion these are like the many Munchkin versions put out by Steve Jackson Games. While it’s neat to play those games, the jokes are more or less the same from each card deck, and the way the games play out are (almost) exactly the same. In comparing the basic 4.0 set with the Zombie version, I found a significant difference in how players win or lose. While the rules were close enough for kids to retain their knowledge of the game, the endgame scenario was so different that the ZombieFluxx game was an entirely different challenge. It tended to play quicker, too.
Because I was playing with a 13 year old and a 14 year old, they always wanted to play the Zombie variant. It’s only two young teenagers’ opinions (a boy and a girl), so take it for what it is.