The card game known as Fluxx has been around since 1997, and since then has spawned oodles of variations, from Zombie Fluxx to Oz Fluxx. The underlying idea is that it’s a game in which the cards you play change the rules of the game, from the number of cards you draw and play to the goal of the game itself. Fluxx tends to be pretty crazy and chaotic—you can try to plan your next turn, but you may not even find yourself with the same cards by then.
Well, Looney Labs just released a new take on Fluxx that’s more than just a theme change: they’ve turned it into a board game. Fluxx: The Board Game is for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, with a retail price of $30. The game takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to play. Like the original card games, you’ll play cards that mess with the rules, but the board adds a new dimension—not to mention the ability to plan ahead, at least a little.
If you’ve played the card game, a lot of the cards will look familiar: there are Goal cards, New Rule cards, and Action cards. But the “Keeper” cards have been replaced with “Leaper” cards showing the various items on the board sections—ice cream, TV, moon, money, and so forth.
The objective of the game is to be first to collect a number of Goal cards—but the exact number can vary, of course. You collect a Goal card by having your pawns on the two symbols shown on the card.
The game starts with all the square tiles in a 3×3 grid, with the Start tile in the center. Five Goal cards are placed on the Goal board, and everyone gets a hand of three cards. Then, each person gets one free rule change.
The rules changes (and the number of Goal cards required to win) are tracked on two little peg boards. You check the board to see how many cards to draw, how many cards to play, how many moves you get, and whether there’s a hand limit. In addition, there are rules that will let you rotate tiles, move tiles around, or wrap around (by moving a pawn off one edge of the board and entering from the opposite edge).
Oh, and one more thing: you get a card which shows what color you are. But, as you may expect, even that is subject to change. There are Action cards which will allow you to rotate colors around the table, or swap colors with a particular player.
Each tile of the board (other than the Start) has four spaces—some items and an octagon. Any number of players can stand on the octagon, but only one player can stand on an item at a time. What that means is that if you enter a space that’s occupied, you bump that pawn onto another spot. There are also two portal spaces that are connected, allowing you to travel across the board quickly (assuming they’re not right next to each other).
On your turn, you draw the number of cards shown on the board, and then you may play cards and move pawns in any order until you’ve played and moved the number indicated. Goal cards are played to the goal board, and only the topmost card can be collected. Action cards are self-explanatory: you do what the card says, then discard it. Leaper cards allow you to immediately move one of your pawns to the indicated item (it counts as a card play, not a move). Finally, New Rule cards change the rules—instead of accumulating cards on the table as in the card game, you get to adjust the peg on the board.
The quality of the components is fine but not top-notch. One of the peg holes on the rules board tore didn’t punch out cleanly, and as a result the peg doesn’t stay tight in that particular hole. In fact, the pegs stick out through the bottom of the cardboard, so the boards don’t lay entirely flat on the table. I do like the fact that the four colors of wooden pawns are all different shapes.
The game itself will certainly appeal to fans of the card game—you’ll recognize a lot, from the goal combinations to the various items on the board to the rules and actions. But the moving board does add an interesting wrinkle. Since the top Goal card is there for everyone to see, you often know where people are trying to go, unless they’re hiding other Goal cards in their hands. Giving yourself more moves is great on your turn, but then all of your opponents get more moves, too. If somebody is close to getting the required number of Goals, you can increase the number … but it hurts you, too.
Being able to bump pawns around, as well as trading colors with people, is a fun way to mess up potential plans, but it can backfire as well. I once had my color swapped twice before it was my turn again, and ended up right next to the items on a Goal card in my hand.
If you really dislike the original Fluxx, I’m not sure that the board game will change your mind, but it does feel a bit different in terms of potential strategies and ways to get to your goal. And since you need at least three Goal cards to win, it’s a little harder for somebody to sneak in a win (compared to the card game, where the first person to the Goal wins).
Either way, Fluxx: The Board Game is a fairly light game, and doesn’t take too long to set up or play. If you’ve never tried any of the Fluxx games, you might enjoy the novelty of constantly changing rules. Or it may drive you nuts. My wife was always a fan of Fluxx, and I think the board game will be a fun new way for my family to enjoy it together.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy.