Looney Labs

100 cards/$16.00/January 2021

Fantasy Fluxx

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

In 1997, Looney Labs released the first version of Fluxx, a deceptively simple game whose rules and goals are constantly in a state of flux. In the years since, more than thirty themed variations of Fluxx have been released, including Astronomy Fluxx, Oz Fluxx, and Martian Fluxx. The latest addition to the massive Fluxx library is Fantasy Fluxx, which, much like Star Fluxx plays of common tropes from fantasy fiction and films.

The mechanics of Fantasy Fluxx are the same as all other versions of Fluxx. There are six types of cards: rules, actions, keepers, creepers, goals, and surprises. The rules cards plated determined the current rules of the game, actions allow players to do things aside from the basic rules. The goals, combined with keepers, determines who wins. Creepers can prevent someone from winning and surprises can prevent an action from being taken. What sets Fantasy Fluxx apart from other versions of Fluxx (and, in fact, is the distinction between all the different versions of Fluxx) is the branding.

Fantasy Fluxx is not tied to any specific fantasy setting, although it is clearly influenced by some of the most popular ones. While most of the keepers in play are generic, from "The Dragon" to "The Humble Young Hero," others strongly evoke Dungeons and Dragons ("The Bag of Holding") or The Princess Bride ("The Inconceivably Smart Fellow"). Sometimes the link has more to do with the artwork that the actual text. "The Cranky Magic Teacher" bears a resemblance to Minerva McGonagall. Many of the keepers allow the player to perform specific actions as well. Spellcaster keepers are required to most fully take advantage of some actions, others allow for movement or destruction of keepers and creepers or the player with the card in front of them to ignore specific rules. Similarly, Creepers also do more than just block a player from winning and often allow the player to perform additional actions. The "Evil" creeper also turns a regular keeper evil.

While most of the action an rule cards could belong to any version of Fluxx, a few of them have been very specifically designed for Fantasy Fluxx. The rule card "City of Thieves" allows the players to steal a keeper from other players, with limited exceptions. The action card "You Killed my Father..." removes all keepers with swords from the table while the "Healing Spell" action revives a keeper representing a living being from the discard pile. The "Fireball Spell" action removes all cards of a tpe selected by the player from the table and the "Invisibility Spell," along with certain keepers, means that other players can't impact any keepers in front of the player who used it. Related to actions, surprise cards can be used to cancel another player's actions when played out of turn or performs a specific type of action when used during the player's own turn.

Just as with the keeper cards, many of the goal cards are generic to any fantasy setting, but some of them are clearly designed to evoke specific worlds. "Dragonrider" is clearly a call out to Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, while "You Shall Not Pass!" and "Second Breakfast" point to The Lord of the Rings. Not surprisingly, some of the keepers based on The Princess Bride are also used to achieve goals based on the same book. The clever ways Looney Labs has combined Keepers to form fantasy goals is typical of the company, but no less enjoyable for the fact that it is expected by this time.

Fantasy Fluxx is an excellent addition to any Fluxx library and is perfect for readers and watchers of fantasy. It evokes many different books and films in clever ways and some of the fantasy-based gameplay adds to the traditional versions of Fluxx in unexpected, but enjoyable ways. As with other versions, a game can last many shuffles through the deck or be over in seconds. Either way, the players can enjoy the game and the fantasy elements that have been added to Fluxx.

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