(My photographer is currently in hospital. I took these myself and got a whole new appreciation for what it is she does)
Base Game Review
Play Time (Box): 5-30mins
Play Time (Goof): 5-30million years
Producer/s: Loony Labs
Designer/s: Andrew Loony & Kristin Loony
Take a deep breath Geoffrey. It’s okay. *hyperventilating* No really it is. I mean sure, you’re only about to disagree with 6000+ people online. But we all know most people online are reasonable people that wouldn’t crap all over your hard work… Much like you do to some of the games you review… like you’re about to do right now… huh.
Okay look, I want to make a disclaimer here: I have only played the basic version of Fluxx. And there are dozens of editions and expansions that I have no doubt would fix many of the forthcoming issues. But after playing half a dozen games with three very different groups of people of both adults and kids, the conclusion of each game was met with such a meh that it really can’t be denied. This game is just boring.
Let me explain.
In many of the games I’ve reviewed, I’ve pointed at simple rules as being a positive. If the rules are simple then it’s more accessible, easier for new players to get into. Now seems like a good time to examine why that works. Simple rules are normally countered with interesting cards, interactions and player choice. Maybe there are a couple of different simplistic mechanics working together to create something dynamic and fun. In the case of Fluxx, it’s an example of simple rules being… just… oh so dull.
The length of text on some of these cards is really long, and when the game is supposed to be about the chaos of the rules changing (in “flux” if you will. Okay, it’s a clever name), long card text isn’t contributing to this. If you’re trying to tap into the chaos then you need it to be fast. You need people to feel that whirlwind of being out-of-control. An example has come up in two of the various games we’ve played, the multiple draw x, play x cards has left new players studying their hands for an annoyingly long time. Experienced gamers are too busy looking for any sort of combination that would help them win the game. The cards you have in your hand, and the rules of the game are likely to have shifted by the time your next turn comes around so the opportunity to plan ahead and have things run smoothly just doesn’t exist. To say this game suffers from analysis paralysis would be accurate. Every. Damn. Turn. They could use this instead of anesthesia in hospitals.
I think my biggest issue with this game is that there doesn’t appear to be any way to strategize. As a gamer I like to feel that my choices matter. That I’ve made a calculated move, and maybe with a little bit of luck I can emerge victorious. Fluxx doesn’t give me that. I feel like no decision I make matters, and no amount of strategizing can truly affect the outcome. I get that this might be the point, that the idea of Fluxx is to let things spin out of control and to go with the flow. But that’s not really a game to me. That’s an experience. And not a very good one.
Pros: +Simple Rules
Cons: -Length of Card Text, -Slow, –Lack of Meaningful Decisions
Some may argue that clichés such as “time is money” where you have to have both the ‘Time’ card and ‘Money’ card in front of you to win, is itself a theme. Those people aren’t me, but even if it were true – So? That’s boring. It doesn’t piece together a story, make me feel epic or give me a chuckle. The corner of my mouth may rise slightly at forced bemusement. But my eyes, they reveal the truth. They’re dead inside, just like the hope of a good time (too much? Nah.)
There’s not much to say here about theme. I’m hopeful that the actually themed editions of the game make me feel different. Maybe they’ll provide some context of the whirlwind the game is hoping to make us experience. But I’m also not sure I want to go and spend money to get a copy of any of them after my experience with the basic version.
Cons: –Boring Theme/Lack of Theme… Same Theme (get it? I’m trying to make my own fun here)
The artwork is… functional (read as: boring). I feel like this again ties in heavily to the lack of theme. How do you create interesting artwork when there’s nothing interesting in the subject matter?
The card stock is good quality, and the colour coding of card types does make it somewhat easier. I’m just not blown away by any of it. And there doesn’t feel like a whole lot to talk about.
Pros: +Colour Coding, +Quality Cardstock
Cons: -Boring Artwork
Fluxx originally came out in 1997. I think it’s fair to say that I may have been spoiled with the new and exciting games that have come out since that time. But the copy I played was v5.0, and came out in 2014. My question really has to be: why? If I’m correct in my speculations that the themed versions would fix a lot of issues, why bother to release this copy? It might sell a copy or two, but I likely won’t be trying to other versions of this game now thanks to that decision.
Honestly, as I’ve been writing this review I’ve been trying to come up with interesting or different topic points to address. But every time I write something down I look at it and go meh. Which is the same way I feel about this game. I’d put it down to it being a meh kind of day except that I tried this game over several weeks to find out what the hell made it so popular. In the end there’s nothing to it – no strategy or real gameplay decisions, no theme and nothing much to the production value.
I give Fluxx:
I might go give another game a try tonight. Any suggestions?
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