Gamers Alliance Report - Fall 2013

 

FLUXX: THE BOARD GAME (Looney Labs, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 15-30 minutes, $30)

   It seems the trend in gaming is to come up with a successful boardgame, let's say Game X (easier said than done, of course), and, building upon that success, spin off Game X into Game X: The Dice Game and Game X: The Card Game. But when has designer Andrew Looney ever followed the traditional course? Instead, he has built upon the success of his Fluxx card game (and its innumerable card spin-offs) to come up with a boardgame, not surprisingly called Fluxx: The Board Game.

   The bookshelf box holds a set of tiles which are shuffled and placed to make a 9 x 9 grid around the center, start, tile. And voila! we have a board! Every player gets three pieces all placed on the center tile. A "regular" tile has four spaces, each depicting a picture (of an item or person). Some pictures (the octagon and the portal) have special abilities. The octagon allows an unlimited of pieces to rest there unmolested; the portal allows a piece to teleport from that space to the other portal (wherever it happens to be). The center start tile has four arrows to indicate the paths available for pieces to take to get from the center to the outlying tiles. There are also two pegboards (and pegs) which track the always changing rules of the game. And, of course, plenty of cards.

   Card types include Action cards (triggering events such as drawing more cards, passing cards, rotating tiles etc.), New Rule cards (which change the established rules to something different), Leapers (allowing you to transport directly to a particular space without any detours) and Goals (which, when in play, you need to capture in order to win). The deck is shuffled and the first five Goal cards drawn are stacked on the Goal space on the pegboard. There are also Color cards so everyone knows what color you are playing (always useful).

   The rules of the game, captured for all to see on the pegboards, cover how many cards to draw (starts at 1), how many you can play on a turn (also 1), how many moves you can make (2), hand size (none), whether or not you can rotate, uproot and/or wrap a tile (all begin at "no") and finally, how many goals you need to complete to claim victory (starts at 3). Before the actual game begins, however, each player MUST move a peg on ONE of the established rules to create a new (albeit temporary) rules set for the game.

   On a turn, players play the number of cards allowed and move the number of moves allowed. Card plays and moves may be done in any order. Card plays are self-explanatory but moves need a little explaining.

   Spaces can only hold one piece at a time. A new piece entering an occupied space (except for the aforementioned Octagons and Portals) gets "bumped" to an adjacent, empty, space. (You can, if you wish, bump your own piece to stretch out your own movement or improve your position.) The special moves, charted on the pegboard, when permitted allow you to rotate (move a tile 90, 180 or 270 degrees), uproot (move a tile, with any pieces on it, to another position adjacent to a tile) and wraparound (allowing a piece to move off an edge and reappear in the spot on the other side and/or leap over any gaps that may occur in the tile configuration).

   Every Goal card depicts two pictures that appear, somewhere, on the tiles. Only the top Goal card in the stack is in play. If you manage to get two of your pieces to occupy the spaces matching the pictures on that Goal card, you have captured it. You take that card and the next Goal card is then revealed and in play. Capture the required number of Goal cards before anyone else and you are the victor!  

   Fluxx: The Board Game keeps the chaotic nature of the card game intact. The amazing thing here though is that the "board" is not superfluous. It actually plays an important role, keeping the game consistent with the card game but giving it a character of its own. The pegboards are a good idea to keep track of the constant rules changes. The problem, though, is that while the pegs are supposed to lock into the holes tightly, they don't always make the snug connection. Pegs falling out can be fairly annoying. On the other hand, not only do players have pieces of different colors, the pieces are also different shapes. A nice touch especially in a game where you may find yourselves changing pieces and colors in an instant. And there is also a touch of whimsy. Stylized pictures of both the designer and his wife appear on the tiles.

   Fluxx: The Board Game fits the mold of madcap mayhem that Fluxx the card game presented so many years ago. This is game play on the level of being a ball bearing in a pinball game, being constantly ricocheting from one position to another. Those who like unpredictability in their games will find this game fun. Predictably, gamers who enjoy planning long range moves and watching plans mesh together nicely will not. There is too much flux (no surprise there) for any grand scheme to ever come to fruition. This is a tactical exercise in the extreme where you need to strike quickly to be successful - and sometimes even quick is not quick enough. On the other hand, the game itself plays quickly so any pent up frustration gets released way before the breaking point. Until you take this out to play once again. - - - - - - - - - Herb Levy


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