Fluxx Critical Play


I played two 3-player games of Fluxx in person. In the beginning we all mostly focused on simply setting up and fulfilling goals, but by the end of the first game, and throughout the second, there was a lot more focus on playing spoiler, and a lot of negotiations re: who was ‘in first’ and needed to be targeted. Fortunately, there’s enough randomness in the game, with the wide range of various goals and changing rules, that it often wasn’t clear how to tell who was winning or how to stop them, which headed off what could have been a kind of intense experience. Knowing neither the cards that were coming next nor the possible range of cards really helped with that.

For me, my enjoyment of this game really hinges on the aforementioned randomness: I think what makes it fun rather than frustrating is the fact that so much of it is effectively outside of your control, and the ways that you get in one another’s way can often backfire or have unintended (and unknowable) consequences. Paired with the short playing time, it ends up being a fun, silly, shared experience rather than feeling like a competition that really demands a lot of thinking. That said, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword: it sometimes felt like I didn’t really have meaningful choices to make, either because their impact was ambiguous or thanks to restrictive rules.

Formal Elements

Players: 2-6 players, in competition with one another.

Objective: To fulfill the goal, i.e., to get a specific combination of ‘keeper’ cards on the table. As new goals are played the specifics of the objective change.

Procedures: Players take turns in order. They start with 3 cards in their hand, then each turn draw a card and play a card. As the game progresses these numbers can be changed by new rules. 

Rules: The rules are, as the name suggests, in flux. Aside from the basic rules described above as part of the procedure, there are also additional rule cards players can add that dictate what you can do on your turn, and how you can use the other types of cards, described below.

Resources: The basic resource is cards: goal cards (objectives), keeper cards (cards you play to potentially fulfill an objective) and action cards (one time use). There are separate limits on these resources: the limit on the cards in your hand, yet to be played, and a limit on the keepers you can have in play. As with everything, these resource limits can change throughout the game.

Conflict: The basic conflict is between the players all attempting to achieve a shared, but ever-changing, goal. One level of this is trying to achieve whatever the current goal is, and stop others from doing so, but another layer is changing the goal to a more favorable one.

Boundaries: There is a clear delineation between the game itself, and the rules and components, and the real world.

Outcome: Ultimately, someone fulfills one of the goals and wins.

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