Critical Play 2: Fluxx

Fluxx is a turn-based game in which players draw cards and take turns to assemble a winning hand. In this player vs. player game the primary types of fun experienced are discovery, by uncovering all the different kinds of cards that are hidden within the deck; as well as challenge, as players compete against one another to collect and play a winning hand. The primary mechanics of the game are drawing and playing cards. The action of drawing cards leads to the dynamic of discovering and collecting new cards in the deck which is important for the aesthetic of fun as it requires players to investigate and learn about a wide variety of highly unpredictable cards in the deck. In my personal experience with the game, once I realized that these cards were highly variable and unpredictable I immediately wanted to draw more not only to see what possibilities existed in the deck but also to find out how these cards could be used to win. The mechanics of playing cards creates the dynamic of strategizing both with their own hands and investigating the hands of other players. Importantly, goal cards in the game are constantly changing (a mechanic we are also trying to replicate in the game my team and I are working on making). This changing of rules can expose the intentions of opponents which eventually leads to bluffing because players need to conceal their goals in order to avoid the inevitable rule changes and plot twists that the wide variety of cards in the deck provide. The graphic design and branding additionally plays into this vast variability of the cards in the deck because each deck has a different theme–the version I played was the Cthulhu version–which suggests different action cards and keeper combinations, etc. Each game with its respective theme is very much a new world to discover in itself.

Fluxx is a game unlike almost any other I have played before. While it is similar to other player vs. player games that take turns in a clockwise fashion (ie: exploding kittens, gin rummy, etc) this game fundamentally distinguishes itself in the way that the winning hand is constantly changing. In gin rummy it’s much easier to tell what someone is collecting as the goal is the same for everyone playing (ie: everyone is trying to get a run of seven), but in Fluxx you may have a theory of what someone is trying to collect, but can very well be caught off guard. Abuse isn’t addressed particularly well in this game because in the first few rounds of play the game can feel a bit overwhelming and complicated–if no one knows how to play it would be difficult to get people bought in and committed. I personally loved playing this game specifically because of all the possibilities and discovery to be had. I wanted to figure out how it worked and still feel like I could learn so much more about it. The one thing I would add to this game is some better instructions for play–maybe even admitting the chaotic nature of the game. I would start off by leaning into the discovery aspect of the game and then briefly laying out the card categories (in a video format preferably) but I would most definitely compare this game to rummy, as it provides a good framework for turn-based play and collecting winning hands. Overall this game will definitely be getting purchased by me, and I cannot wait to show my family at home.

About the author

heyyyyy! I am a mechanical engineering major but I identify as a designer! Excited to meet you all.

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