Friday, April 15, 2011

Card Game Review - Pirate Fluxx

In a market full of silly card games, Fluxx is the standout leader. The goal of the game is to complete the goal. The rules of the game are that you follow the rules. The goal continually changes, and the rules continually change, and it's goofy and fun and occasionally ridiculous.

It also has more than a half-dozen expansions. There's Martian Fluxx and Zombie Fluxx, Eco Fluxx and Monty Python Fluxx. There's even Stoner Fluxx, though that game does not appear on lots of promotional material, being a version of Fluxx about smoking weed. And I guess Looney Labs believes that if it works once, it will work another ten times, so they just released Pirate Fluxx.

Pirate Fluxx is just Fluxx, but with pirates, which I suppose is how they came up with the name. There are a few unique twists in Pirate Fluxx, though, and while they won't make you think you're playing a brand new game, they do change up the game enough that it's not exactly like every other Fluxx.

There are a ton of keepers in Pirate Fluxx. These are the cards you have to gather to win. Like if the goal is Pirate Pets, you have to have the monkey keeper and the parrot keeper. If the goal is Keg of Rum, you need the keg and the rum. If the goal is Powder Monkey, you have to sell a bunch of cocaine to gorillas (not really. That would be silly). And yet the 'you can't win with this card' creepers are few and far between.

The reason for all these keepers is that you have all kinds of cards that steal keepers from each other. In fact, there's a rule you can play where every player steals a keeper on his turn. Some keepers, like the gun and the captain's hat, keep you safe from being plundered, but there are still lots of other ways to swipe stuff, so it's a pretty chaotic game.

One nice addition to Fluxx (and one I think was overdue) is the surprise cards. These let you respond to other players out of turn, so when someone tries to run off with your jewels, you can stymie the play and not have to worry about stealing them back later. Given the psychotically chaotic nature of Fluxx, and the fact that it's impossible to be good at a game this random, it is kind of nice to have a card that you can play and say, 'You know what? Let's not.'

While the creators did take a good swashbuckling stab at bringing the theme to life, this still doesn't really feel like a pirate game. Sure, there are pieces of eight and a card that requires everyone to talk like a pirate, but for a thematic version of Fluxx, I still prefer the one where you all play Martian invaders.

Pirate Fluxx is pretty fun. You can still mix it up with other Fluxx versions to make pointless cross-pollenated Fluxx, though I can't imagine why you would want to do that if you weren't stoned. But then, a company that makes a game about getting baked and having the munchies is probably not exactly chock full of tee-totallers, so there's a good chance the folks at Looney Labs have some humongous Fluxx deck containing every card ever made, and they sit around after work with a bong that starts up like a chainsaw and play Fluxx while they wait for the pizza guy.

In fact, I think Fluxx is probably the perfect game to play if you're high. It doesn't require concentration or strategy. The rules are ridiculously simple, yet unlike a streamlined European game, the simple rules lend virtually no depth. There's funny art, and you barely have to be conscious to play. Yet it's still enjoyable if you're not on drugs, as long as you don't take your games too seriously. I wouldn't invite a group of friends to play every Friday night, but I'm not above breaking it out now and then when I want to play a game and I don't want to think about it.

Pirate Fluxx adds a few things to Fluxx, but basically, it's still Fluxx, which means it's still a game you can play while you smoke a bowl.


2-6 players

Incredibly easy to learn
Turns go very quickly
Light as a feather but still fun
Goes great with hallucinogens

No tactics or strategy or planning or smarts of any kind
You can't get good at a game this insane
Not as heavy on theme as Martian or Zombie Fluxx

Noble Knight Games has Pirate Fluxx. It's a pretty cheap game, and when you buy it from Noble Knight Games, you're supporting Drake's Flames. You can pick it up here:


Carmen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carmen said...

Great review as always, Matt. I have been interested in Fluxx for a short while, and my wife and I are huge Monty Python fans. How would you rate that version. Is it worthy of a decorative shrubbery, or should we toss the holy hand grenade of Antioch at the idea?

Matt Drake said...

I haven't played the Monty Python version. I assume it's a lot like the other versions - silly, random, and chaotic, but this time, with Monty Python gags.

Wind Lane said...

Hey, Matt - the copy we've got feels like the cards aren't as high of a quality as the other Fluxx sets we have. Did you find that true for yours too?

Anonymous said...

Great review as always, if I ever work for game company you have sold me on it being Looney Labs, it sounds like my kind of place I tell. I have never played any of the fluxx games yet, but I am young and there is plenty of time!


Matt Drake said...

Wind Lane, I didn't notice that my cards felt cheaper, but I haven't compared them to the other versions I have.