Looney Labs’ Fluxx gets another new look - this time with a sci-fi spin to it! Welcome to Star Fluxx!
I must be in the minority, but up until a year or so ago, I hadn’t played a game of Fluxx at all, it was completely off my radar. Once I went hunting for small, fun after-dinner card games to add to my collection and came across the range of Fluxx games, the massive space nerd in me knew immediately which one I wanted.
Intergalactic Travel Guide
Star Fluxx is a very flexible game for 2-6 players. To begin with, however, each player is dealt three cards and on their turn draws one card and then plays one card. Simple right? Until the rules change that is! The draw deck is full of surprises, like:
Playing New Rules cards is a major source of the constantly changing nature of the game. The most common of these cards change the amount of cards you must draw or play, others change the limit of cards you are allowed in your hand or the amount of Keepers you are allowed in front of you.
Keepers are the cards that win you the game. When you play a Keeper it sits face-up in front of you and is considered ‘in play’. Winning conditions - set by the current ‘in play’ Goal card - will require a combination of Keepers and/or Creepers and if you have these sat in front of you - you win! The Keepers in this version of Fluxx are, of course, satisfyingly space-themed!
The Goal cards determine the winning conditions for the game. Playing a new Goal card will result in the previous one being discarded, so you need to work quick to fulfil it before someone plays a new one!
Undesirable (and thematic) alien brain parasites or equipment malfunctions that, when drawn, automatically attach themselves to one of your Keepers and prevent you from winning while they are in play.
Action cards allow you to do fun things like search the discard pile for any card to put in your hand, or draw five cards and discard two of them. Using these at the right time to manipulate the game can really help you.
AKA the Take That! cards. These can be played on anyone’s turn and have different consequences depending on when they are played. If somebody is trying to steal one of the Keepers sat in front of you....Pull out ‘It’s a Trap!’ and steal one of theirs instead!
The Power of the Dark Side
One of the key things I love about Star Fluxx is the fact that a lot of the Keepers have specialised abilities; take a card from someone’s hand each turn, remove a Creeper from a Keeper you have ‘in play’, or my favourite: win using someone else’s ‘in play’ Keeper! Not only does this make your options each turn a little more unique to you depending on your current Keepers, but also gives more intricacy to your decisions when choosing to discard them, either because they’ve a Creeper attached or because of a Keeper limit - typically this choice is arbitrary when you don’t really know what goals will be coming out of the deck next - but special Keeper abilities becomes a big factor and makes it a lot more interesting!
The other major thing that keeps Star Fluxx at the top of my go-to after-dinner game list is of course all the sci-fi and space references. For a simple, unspecific card game (and yet another re-imagining of this popular game) the theme fits well on top, with tons of Easter eggs for keen-eyed sci-fi fans in lots of the Keepers, Goals and Surprise cards particularly.
From the expendable (red-shirt-wearing!) crewman, to the engineer that bears enough resemblance to a certain shiny mechanic that you’ll start to wonder if this game spawned the idea for the Firefly incarnation of Fluxx, to the cute fuzzy alien creature that you can never seem to shake, there is so much packed in here for you to enjoy.
I think a mark of good small card games is that when you finish, it has you saying ‘shuffle and deal, let’s go again!’ and that’s definitely what happens to us whenever Star Fluxx is played. It’s also very small and easy to transport and take with you to play on the go. It’s a travel favourite of ours!
Final Thoughts on Star Fluxx
All that being said, the nature of Fluxx is difficult to keep up with sometimes and this game is no different. If you haven’t played Fluxx before and like some stability in your games - like core rules and a set way to win - then the fun references and theme may not be enough to overcome that for you. It’s a little mind-bending to get your head around how it works at first, and to keep on top of the changing rules can be a chore, especially at higher player counts when you have so many people’s actions to keep a track of until your next go to make sure you’re following all the most current rules.
For people that have played Fluxx before, I’m not going to kid you - this is your standard Fluxx game with a sci-fi theme. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but for the small price and box, I didn’t expect there to be. If you’re not a fan of Fluxx, or sci-fi, it's probable that you won’t like it. If, however, you enjoy a game of Fluxx and/or you’re a bit of a sci-fi nerd and like small card games, I’d definitely recommend it.
The other copy of Fluxx played in my house is the Holiday version - I’m very festive so I like to pull that one out during December, but I do find that I’m ready to put it away again come January - it’s quite basic and there’s just much less to it than Star Fluxx, with it’s creepers, surprise cards and functional keepers that keep it from being dull upon copious plays. The sci-fi winks and nods definitely appeal to the space geek in me, and I’m sure there’s yet more references that completely go over my head still to be enjoyed.