Fluxx, the card game that has taken the world by the scruff of the rulebook, thrown it away and literally re-wrote all the rules. There are now more versions of Fluxx out there than any one person could hope to own, but that won't stop anyone trying! One of the latest versions is for the fans of the Joss Whedon TV series, Firefly.
Fluxx is a simple game at heart; you have a hand of cards, on your turn you draw a new card and play a new card until someone achieves the goal. But, the rules change throughout the game with cards changing the number of cards drawn, played and even held in hand. But the rule changes don't end there, other rules can be played the turn the game around, upside down and on its head.
The goal of the game is to have a number of cards indicated by whatever goal card has been played by a player, and this can change from player to player! The ever-changing state of the game leads to some games lasting a few minutes to others lasting much longer. Firefly Fluxx is no different to the other versions, except it is based in the popular cult TV hit Firefly created by Joss Whedon. All the cards are therefore based around the characters, events and theme of Firefly.
Take me out to the Black
Like in all Fluxx games the set-up is quick and easy. There is one card to be played to the table that has the starting rules; draw one card and play one card. Each player then gets a starting hand of three cards. The game begins with the player who has the initiative to draw their first card. And as long as the rush of players to draw a card doesn't send the draw deck skimming across the table and onto the floor, play continues from there.
There are few games with such a quick and easy set-up to contend with, no markers, counters, boards or tokens to lay out. Shuffle a deck of cards, and you can start.
The cards themselves are of decent stock though not as thick or sturdy as some games. But this does mean that they are easy to handle, manipulate across the table, shuffle and so on. The ease of set-up means that after a game is completed it can be reset in as long as it takes to gather cards and shuffle them, meaning that this is a great go to game as a filler or when you just don't have time or space for large games.
Firefly Fluxx Review - Components (Credit: Looney Labs)
I aim to Misbehave
As I've already said, the rules vary depending on what cards are played, indeed this means that it is possible, in theory, to play an entire game of Fluxx without changing the draw one play one rule - but that would make a very dull game. Firefly Fluxx comes with the same rule variations as the other versions of Fluxx, including drawing more than one card and playing more than one card.
The rule cards are similar to other versions of Fluxx, a rule that lets you have two goals instead of one. One that lets you redraw your hand, steal a keeper and playing the top card of the draw deck; all of these are very familiar to any seasoned Fluxx player. These rules are solid, but they are not thematic to Firefly in anything except what they are called, such as Shiny or Plunder
There are a few other rules such as discarding a keeper and drawing three new cards, or getting free action cards and getting cards if you have no hand. Although again not overly thematic these do seem a little different from other versions of Fluxx.
One new rule that can be played is the Goal Mill, this lets the players discard their goal cards and replace however many they discarded with cards from the draw deck, letting things get shaken up again. Like all versions of Fluxx there are a variety of cards that are colour coded for ease of play, the artwork is somewhat thematic with a faint sepia colouring on the cards, that not everyone will like but it does make it stand out from the other versions. The artwork and text is a little more subdued than other versions with duller colours but again this seems to match up with the theme.
Keepers are thematic and lifted straight from the TV show, the crew of Serenity are included along with some of the gear and items from it and some of these keepers do something, wash can steal serenity and Vera can stop people plundering from you, but most are just to meet the goal cards.
Goals are also taken from the show, either in a general theme or a specific aspect of Firefly, such as; "No power in the 'verse can stop me," or the Washburns or Browncoats all very familiar to those who watch the show. There is a small secret joy to completing a goal linked to your favourite episode or scene.
In Firefly Fluxx, there are only two creepers, Hands of Blue and Reevers, both deserve to be creepers but given the scope of who and what else could have been included to up the creeper counter. it does seem too light even for lighthearted card game (Star Fluxx even has more than Firefly Fluxx). Having only two creepers removes the risk of getting creepers and stopping you winning but also the strategic usefulness of having them, such as the few goals that you can win with them. It also leaves a lot of the iconic bad guys out of the game for no good reason.
The action cards are another mix of generic Fluxx familiar things with a few Firefly twists, if only in name for a few of them. Where rule cards change the core nature of the game action cards change it only for a moment. Lastly, the surprise cards give Fluxx a 'take that' aspect that increases the player interaction by interrupting other's actions, perhaps even stealing victory out from under you!
Some versions of Fluxx add more unique cards to the mix, Cthulhu Fluxx added the infamous Ungoals where the result was all players lost unless the meta-rule and cultists were in play, along with investigator and doom points which added another level to the game without it bloating. Firefly feels like it could have done something similar and that not having some unique aspect to the game seems like this is just an additional Fluxx game with different pictures and card names which is a shame. Some cards could have had 'reever points' or 'alliance points' linked to ungoals for example.
Firefly Fluxx Review - Rules Explanation (Credit: Looney Labs)
Final Thoughts on Firefly Fluxx
Firefly Fluxx is quick to play, it can be random based on what you draw and play, and you might have no way of knowing if you have just handed victory to someone. But there can also be some strategic thinking involved, such as the order that you play your cards that can stop others or guarantee your own victory.
There is no way to tell before each game which type of Fluxx you are about to get into. So, does this work? Yes and no, it adds replay-ability but can be a problem for strategy-loving players and those who like luck and randomness alike, and vice versa something that both types of players would really like.
Firefly is about getting a crew, finding a ship and getting a job to keep flying in the face of the Alliance, that isn't here in the game and that in part is why the thematic feel for the Firefly Fluxx is limited, but this is only a quick and simple card game and not the vast sprawling immersive, deeply thematic game that you could find from Gale Force Nine's Firefly board game. Firefly Fluxx is a must have for any Firefly fan, and I would recommend it for any Fluxx fan who wanted to add something a little different to their collection.
The artwork is nice enough and is kept simple which keeps the cards looking clean and straightforward but is just enough to make it look unique among the plethora of Fluxx games. While the theme of the game is somewhat lacking it is still fun to play, whether it is a five-minute luckiest person wins, or a 40-minute slog in strategic play order of cards - so this can make it feel a little hit and miss at times. It does call out for a deeper sense of the theme and could have been turned into something a little more unique than another version of Fluxx.