Published on April 2nd, 2015 | by Justified Croak0
Cthulhu Fluxx Review
Average play time per game: 10 – 40 minutes
Suitable for ages: 13+
Number of players: 2-6
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Through much of the geek community the Fluxx games are almost a private joke. The conversation usually goes something like “oh dude, you haven’t played Cthulhu Fluxx? Aw you should, man. It’s so good! All you do is draw a card, and play a card – that’s all there is to it!”. If you ever hear these words then you are being deceived and must immediately shout “shenanigans!” and flee. This is not to say Cthulhu Fluxx isn’t worth playing, I just don’t want you coming to the table with a false sense of security. If you do that then Cthulhu Fluxx is going to hurt you.
Fluxx is a fast played card game designed by NASA scientists. Honestly. Whilst the rumours are true, initially you only need draw a card then play a card, very soon this ceases to be the case. The rules for how to play, how to win and how to lose are on the cards themselves, so each card played changes the conditions of the game. To begin with it’s complicated, and hard to keep track of what is going on but rest assured those feeling never go away – that is the charm of the game because everyone, no matter how long they’ve been playing is just as lost and helpless as you are. Fluxx comes in many themes, shapes and sizes so whilst I’m reviewing the Cthulhu edition be aware that the core edition and other themed editions play almost identically.
Place the basic rules card on the table in view of all players.
Shuffle the remaining cards in to one deck and place with in reach of all players.
Deal 3 cards to each player as their starting hand
Designate a first player however you choose.
Whilst the names of card types may vary between different editions, broadly speaking the same types are present in most editions
Rule cards: these cards depict the rules of the game. Rule cards often replace previous cards of the same rule type e.g. The “draw 3” card will replace any other “draw” card. Once played a rules card takes effect immediately which may mean the current player draws or plays more cards, and sometimes the other players must immediately discard cards.
Goal cards: these set the win conditions of the game. Once a player meets the requirements of a Goal, generally, they win. Playing a Goal will replace the previous Goal, unless otherwise stated on a card.
Action cards: Action cards have varying effects, just follow the instructions of the card. Once used action cards are discarded and everything that happens due to an action card is always considered only one play.
Keeper cards: To play a Keeper place it in front of you on the table. Most Goals require you to have a specific combination of Keeper cards to win.
Creeper cards: Not all Fluxx games have an equivalent to this card type. Creepers often prevent players from winning. Unlike a Keeper card which remains in your hand till played, Creepers cannot be held in your hand. If you start with one, it comes into play immediately, likewise if you draw one. The good news is this never counts as a “play” and you draw another card to replace the Creeper. Some times you’ll draw multiple Creepers but you must keep drawing and replacing until the required amount of non Creepers goes in to your hand. Some Creepers also must “attach” to a Keeper under your control; this is indicated on the Creeper card. [what???????] If there is no Keeper to attach the card to, then the Creeper remains in your play area until a Keeper is played; at which point the Creeper attaches to that Keeper.
Ungoal cards: just like a Goal except if the conditions are met then all players lose the game collectively. Not present in all Fluxx variants.
Surprise cards: can be played at any time, even in another players turn. The effects of a surprise card may vary dependant on whether played in your turn or an opponent’s. Surprise cards may also cancel out other surprise cards.
Cards may also have “doom” or “anti-doom” icons. For each icon on a card that represents one doom or undoom point. These icons are totalled and/or compared for various card effects, usually Goals and Ungoals.
As you may have gathered, Fluxx Gameplay cannot be neatly summed and explained as each round will play out nothing like the last, but the basic concept is to continue clockwise around the table with each player following the rules on the table as they were left at the end of the previous player’s turn. Doing their best to keep up and try to turn things to their advantage.
The game is won when the conditions of a Goal are met by a player and the game is lost when the conditions of an Ungoal are met by a player. If the deck is empty then the discard pile is shuffled and flipped, play then continues.
Fluxx is a game that sounds so easy, yet is so fluid that a game can escalate to complexity fairly quickly. At the end of the day all you have to do is read the rule cards in play and follow them in the most advantageous order you can. That said, I tried this one on my parents who are not gamers and well, they changed the locks on me. It’ll never be to everyone’s taste and it probably helps to have played a few other games regardless of Fluxx being truly unique.
For me it works. It’s a nice one to play because it creates a level field. I like to bring this out for those gamers who have to win, and then watch them squirm. You can try and strategize but chances are, when it‘s your next turn you’ll be playing a very different game. Try to hold on to that Goal until the stars are right? Nope another player made you discard it. Got more Keepers than any other player? Nope, another player just traded them for all their Creepers. Lost all hope so you‘re ending the game by playing a fatal Ungoal to end it all? Surprise! The game ends but your girlfriend was a secret cultist so she wins and the rest of you are devoured by an elder thing. So whilst Cthulhu Fluxx may have some players a little lost in the dreamlands, I think many will find it just want the psychiatrist ordered.