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Card Game Review: Family Fluxx

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Fluxx, the flagship game system of Looney Labs, has sold over a half million copies, and there seems like there's always room for more versions of the game to be released. The grounds for the franchise's success is simple: great gameplay. The idea behind the card game is to start with two simple rules: draw a card, play a card. From there, the rules build and expand. Not uncontrollably, like the infamous Mao (Remember that from high school? Started more than one fist-fight that I can remember), but as a system that changes the system from within the system.

Deep, huh?

Actually, not so much. The learning curve only takes a minute or two. And now Looney Labs has made it even easier with Family Fluxx. To quote Looney Labs, “Easy enough for children, yet still challenging for adults,” it describes the game well. The Fluxx aspect of the family version game has been simplified with many of the more advanced rules and actions cards taken out. Without such chances for confusion, the game really is just picture-matching, but with the added level of knowing how maFamily Fluxxny cards to draw or play. Younger kids might need a reminder from Mom or Dad every so often, but they'll catch on as soon as they overcome their attention spans.

Said attention spans (or deficits) are the trick. Since we're programmed to complain about a twenty-second commercial being boring, it's hard to imagine a family sitting down to play a card game. Fortunately, Family Fluxx has plenty of action to hold everyone's interest. Players collect their Keepers like badges of honor (or luck), change the rules, and establish new Goals — something is always happening.

Plus, the bright pictures don't hurt. They've held my interest, and I consider myself about five-years-old judging from the amount of cartoons and Spider-Man mac & cheese I consume.

The game follows a “family” theme with cards like “Cake,” “The Cat,” “Rain,” and so forth. Goals piece the cards together, such as the subtly hilarious “Walk the Dog” Goal consisting of “The Dog” and “The Tree.” I mean, that's what ya do when you walk the dog, right?

Beyond game-play itself, Family Fluxx also incorporates new cards which take into account players themselves. Specialized cards apply only to grandparents, parents, and children that are playing the game. The “Grandparent Bonus” allows no Hand Limits, the “Parent Bonus” gives an extra draw, and the “Child Bonus” supplies an extra play (I assume from unabashed childlike energy). A family sitting around the table, playing cards, and finding one person pull out a card that helps him or her and jokingly enrages the rest of the family just seems like a Norman Rockwell portrait to me.

While not as in-depth as other Fluxx games, Family Fluxx does give younger folks a chance to play without trying to tie them down too long.  Each games is fairly short, ranging from two to 30 minutes, nothing like the endurance test that is Monopoly. Much of the victory is luck, which is fine for younger players who'll gladly match colors on a Candyland board, but there's still enough skill involved to keep elder folks engrossed as well.


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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.