The game will change from out from under you, will it help or hurt?
Android & iOS
# of Players
Fluxx is a card management game from Looney Labs, brought to the digital world by Playdeck, Inc. Players take turns drawing and playing cards which constantly change the rules of the game and even the winning condition. Once any player manages to fulfill the current win condition, the game immediately ends. This takes about five to ten minutes, but the nature of the game invites a variety of possible play times.
The rules always change, but without any rule modifiers, on a turn players draw a card then play a card from their hand. The cards come in a few different types. Keepers are cards which are played in front of you and stay there until some other card makes you discard or trade them. Goals define the current winning condition, each goal card will show two keepers and if any player, at any time, has the two keepers in play which match one of the goal cards currently in play, they win. There are also rule cards which adjust what players may or must do on their turn. Starting rules would include “draw 1” and “play 1”, there are rule cards which replace those to make it draw two or three or more, and the same for playing. To recap, you begin by drawing one and playing one, but later in the game you might find yourself drawing four and playing two, for example. The rule cards don’t simply replace the starting rules, there are many which expand on them in a variety of ways.
The last card type are the action cards, these allow you to perform one time actions. These can be anything from immediately drawing and playing cards, to trading hands, to emptying the trash, among many, many others.
Fluxx is a mess. Depending on your vantage point, it is either a beautiful mess or a garden variety mess. The game is constantly changing. Rules and win conditions get swept away or added on almost every turn. You might find yourself ready to seal a win by playing the second half of a goal card when your turn comes around, only to find that one opponent traded hands with you through an action card and the other trashed the goal you were going for. You either embrace the chaos in Fluxx or you run and hide, there isn’t a ton of room for a middle ground. To its credit, Fluxx never tries to be anything besides a giant, random mess. It embraces the chaos and the game ends up being one you can have some fun with if you accept the wild luck swings that occur every single turn.
Barrier to Entry
Fluxx is more confusing to explain than it is in practice. There are only four different card types and two of them (keepers and goals) have no effect other than the icons on their face. The actions and rules cover a large range of rules, but they are fully explained on the cards themselves. As such, Fluxx isn’t a difficult game to learn, but the app still provides a full tutorial and text-based rules. This ensures you will have no problem jumping into Fluxx if you’ve never played before.
Look and Feel
Fluxx is bright and vibrant, full of color at every turn. The app looks great, the cartoonish avatars and artwork match the feel of the game perfectly. The menus are well laid out as is the gameplay screen. The only complaint in this area is that the animations run a bit slow which causes the game time to be a bit higher than necessary. The cards slowly drag across the screen when being played or drawn.
Control wise, everything is performed via drag-and-drop. In a few corner cases, the game will provide button prompts to complete an action such as choosing which direction cards are to be passed. You can double click any card to get a detailed view, the layout of cards in play hides the text to keep things looking clean, so zooming into read the action text is necessary. There is no undo button here, but most actions result in some form of hidden information being revealed, so this isn’t a big omission. The game conveniently automatically advances turns when you have no more available actions to take.
Fluxx can be played online and is cross-platform. The game offers timeout options from 15 minutes for a real-time game to 21 days for long asynchronous games. You create or join games via lobby, complete with a chatroom. You can also invite friends via your Playdek friends list. Online play works well, notifications work, and you can juggle a few different games at once.
The game features pass-and-play and does the right thing by hiding hidden hand information between players until you confirm the correct player is now holding the mobile device. This mode works well and is a nice way to play Fluxx without all of the shuffling.
Single player can be played against up to three AI players. There appears to be an easy/hard modified, represented by a green or yellow block, but I haven’t been able to tell much of a difference. Truth be told, I haven’t lost many games of Fluxx against the AI. This feels mostly random because, well, the game is built around randomness. After a while, however, it has started to feel like something more. Some wins are unavoidable based on the cards I draw, other times I am running way behind the whole game but manage to pull a quick turnaround for the win later. All of this makes perfect sense in the land of Fluxx, but it does feel like I am benefiting from the luck a bit too frequently. That’s not to say I’m winning all of the games, but it does feel as though the Fluxx gods are shining a bit more brightly on the human player. Or the AI makes some sub-optimal moves.
Fluxx has been rethemed into almost any popular culture IP you can imagine, some even adding expansions. None of these are available in the app, you get unthemed Fluxx in all of its glory.
The Wrap Up
It’s Fluxx. I really don’t have a better summary than that. If you want a totally chaotic game that will turn in an instant and winning generally feels like you got lucky, Fluxx will be fun. The app is well made. The only real downside is that the AI seems to, somehow, be lacking.
If you enjoy Fluxx, the app offers a lot of positives. It looks great, controls well, and does a great job delivering the chaotic nature of the game. You can play online or off and they both work well. The app isn’t going to change your mind on the game, but, to its credit, it doesn’t try to. It does a great job of presenting the game in a highly approachable package which is all you can really ask for in a digital port.