If a standard deck of playing cards was Kansas, then a Fluxx game would be Oz. Shuffle the deck, deal out your hand, and get transported to a land where the rules are constantly changing, nobody is quite sure how to win, and the game could turn upside down at a moment's notice. With a few friends to help you along the way, though, you'll wind up wanting to stay a long time.
Oz Fluxx is the latest entry in a line of casual card games from Looney Labs. There's Zombie Fluxx, Martian Fluxx, Monty Python Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, Star Fluxx, and more. In addition to the different themes, each has its own slight twist on the classic Fluxx rules set. Read on to see how Looney Labs handled the Oz theme, and how Oz Fluxx stacks up against the rest of the Fluxx family.
Just the Facts:
Playing Time: 5-30 minutes
Age: 8 to adult
Publisher: Looney Labs
Release: March 23rd, 2012
Fluxx is a game all about collection. Throughout the game, you'll get "Keeper" cards that represent people, objects, or locations, such as The Scarecrow, a bucket of water, or the land of Oz. You'll collect these Keepers face-up in front of you and hope that what you have matches the Goal card. For instance, the "Welcome to Munchkin Town" Goal card requires you to have the Yellow Brick Road and Munchkins. If you have both of these Keepers, you immediately win the game!
Sounds simple, right? It is, but don't get your hopes up if you've got a strong hand. The Goal card can change at any time, and new game-changing rules always threaten to shake things up.
Clockwise: the basic rules of the game, the current victory goal, two additional rules that have been added to the game, the draw deck, and the discard pile.
Each player gets a hand of three cards to start. A turn consists of drawing one additional card and playing one card from your hand. That is, until the shake-ups begin. In your quest to collect the right set of Keeper cards, you might be drawing 3 or 4 cards each turn, and could be playing just as many. There are also hand limits that can spring up, as well as some more off-beat rules such as "Magic Shoes" which lets you draw an extra card each turn if you click your heels together three times.
Aside from the Keepers, Goals, and New Rules, there are a few other card types you'll encounter in a game of Fluxx. Here are examples of each card type seen in Oz Fluxx:
The only card types we haven't touched on are Actions, which are one-time effects that allow you to do things like steal a player's Keeper card or draw additional cards into your hand; Creepers, which are just like Keeper cards except they typically prevent you from winning; and Suprises, which are effects that can be played out of turn to interrupt the current player.
- 100 Cards
- 1 Basic Rules card
- 31 Goal cards
- 20 New Rule cards
- 22 Action cards
- 18 Keeper cards
- 4 Creeper cards
- 4 Surprise cards
There are no complaints here. The box is just big enough to fit all of the cards, so there is not a drop of wasted space (compared to companies who would put 100 cards in much larger boxes to take up more shelf space). This means you'll be more likely to play Oz Fluxx on the go, which is important for a quick-playing casual card game such as this.
I'm also continued to be impressed by the card stock that Looney Labs uses on Fluxx games. It is not an exaggeration when I say this it is my favorite of all card games in my collection. These cards have just the right amount of give, yet aren't prone to bending or fraying. When I shuffle a Fluxx deck, I look like I'm a Vegas-trained professional, but I'm usually a rather clumsy shuffler.
The last aspect of Oz Fluxx's components to address is the art. Typically, this is not a strong point for Fluxx games, but I'm honestly impressed here. First-time Fluxx artist Michael Hays seems to have hit a sweet spot with a "less is more" approach to detail. He has given Oz Fluxx the cartoony feel that a Fluxx game deserves, while also providing a faithful interpretation of well-known characters. Give the box cover another look. It's good!
em>Fluxx games are a tricky beast to pass judgement on. Typically, my definition of a game is strictly limited to a test of skill or a series of interesting decisions. Fluxx is more of a roller coaster ride. You don't really need any strategy to play, and the winner is often a complete surprise. What makes it tricky to judge is that it's still incredibly fun.
Games like Fluxx force us to look at hobby gaming from a larger perspective and realize that not everybody in the world wants to play ultra-competitive German board games or go on a 6-hour thematic dungeon crawling adventure. Sometimes you just want to sit down with friends, gamers and non-gamers alike, and play some cards as a social lubricant. Fluxx is perfect for these situations, and is the go-to choice. Every gamer should have a version of Fluxx at his or her disposal.
But should that one version of Fluxx be Oz Fluxx? Or should it be Zombie Fluxx, or Martian Fluxx, or one of the numerous other versions? Theme plays a large part here. If your audience is into Oz (or would be turned off by zombies, aliens, and pirates) then Oz Fluxx is a great choice.
We can also try to dissect the gameplay of Fluxx a bit. Oz Fluxx has only 18 Keeper cards and 31 Goal cards, both of which represent low points when compared to the last several Fluxx releases (the 100-card balance has been made up mostly with a bump in the Action card count) . This means the possible set of winning combinations has been reduced, so rounds of Oz Fluxx might be a tad shorter as players won't waste time pursuing winning combos that are not likely to occur.
Coupled with the Oz theme, this makes Oz Fluxx one of the more casual-playing Fluxx games, and the best choice for entertaining a crowd of casual or non-gamers. For what it's worth, Martian Fluxx is still my favorite of the series, though, as that appeals more to my gamer geek tastes with a slightly more complicated game (due to a high 13-card Creeper count).
Regardless of your tastes, Oz Fluxx proves that Looney Labs still has a lot left in the tank as far as Fluxx is concerned. If you're a long-time fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. And if Oz isn't your bag, just wait until the end of the year, when Fluxx will dip into the mind of H.P. Lovecraft with a Cthulhu-inspired set!
Disclaimer: MTV Geek received a complimentary review sample of this game