Beam Me Up, Luke: A Star Fluxx Review

Ready for a fast and fun casual card game? Whether you are a fan of the Fluxx series or not, I can guarantee you are at least a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Firefly, and the rest of the sci-fi genre. That should give you the basis you need to appreciate what must be the largest mashup of sci-fi references I have seen since Spaceballs. If that sounds like your cup of tea, than pull up a chair, set your hyperjets to ludicrous speed, and get ready to enjoy Star Fluxx.

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-5

Playing Time: 5-30 minutes

Age: 8 to adult

Publisher: Looney Labs

MSRP: $16.00

Release: September 30th, 2011

The Gameplay:

Fluxx differs from the average card game in that it is both simple and complex at the same time. Its simpleness stems from gameplay that boils down to "read the text on the card to find out what it does," but Fluxx's complexity is the result of an ever-changing set of rules. This is not to say that the game is complex in a deep thinking sort of way, but rather that it's constant changes force you to stay engaged with the game.

To begin, each player is dealt a hand of three cards. On their turn, they will draw one card and play one card. Throughout the game, players will lay down six basic types of cards:

  • Keepers –Played in front of you to show you have possession of them.
  • Goals – Set the victory criteria for the game. Usually this will be some themed combination of two or more Keeper cards. Achieve the goal printed on the card and you will immediately win the game.
  • Creepers - These are "evil" versions of keepers that immediately go into play when drawn. Creepers typically prevent a player from winning, although there are a very small number of goals that will actually require the presence of a creeper.

  • New Rules – Played in the center of the table to modify the rules of the game. It may institute a hand limit, increase the number of cards players draw or play on a turn, or change the game in more creative ways
  • Actions – One-time use cards that give the player the power to take some special action, such as stealing a card from another player’s hand or digging through the discard pile to bring an already-played card back into the game.
  • Surprises - Cards that can interrupt the game with an instant effect when played out of turn. Alternatively, each surprise can be played on your own turn for a different effect similar to action cards.

Play continues to the left, with player constantly manipulating who owns what, what it will take to win the game, and even the basic rules of how turns progress. It’s a lot to follow, but can be a lot of fun.

Each version of Fluxx typically adds some small new element to the game. The original only had four types of cards, with creepers and surprises added in through later sets. The twist in Star Fluxx is that the creeper cards attach themselves to keepers rather than existing on their own. They now represent status effects that can cause a keeper to become its own evil doppelganger, become possessed by brain parasites, or experience a malfunction in the case of equipment. The net effect is that your precious keeper is now married to that creeper, and you may have to lose both in order to remove the latter's victory-preventing effects.

The Components:

  • 100 Cards

    • 25 Keepers
    • 33 Goals
    • 16 Actions
    • 18 New Rules
    • 3 Creepers
    • 5 Surprises

There's not much to say about the components here, as they are pretty much in line with every other Fluxx game. The card design and art is not fantastic, but it's not awful either. The same goes for the box, since it's nice that it fits in your pocket, but feels a bit on the flimsy side. Let's face it though, these choices keep Fluxx inexpensive, and you're not looking for glitz with this type of game. Given these circumstances, having middle of the road components isn't really that big of a knock.

Final Thoughts:

One thing you'll definitely notice when compared to standard Fluxx is that Star Fluxx has just a touch less craziness, which can be attributed to a lower number of new rule cards in the deck. Star Fluxx has 18 rather than traditional Fluxx's 24, a significant cut. My personal favorite version, Martian Fluxx, had just 18 new rules as well, and I now realize that must have played a large factor in my enjoyment of it. Star Fluxx lets the fun of its theme come through by slightly shifting the spotlight away from ever-changing rules, but don't fret, Fluxx is not moving away from what made it fun. Rather, it's just perfecting the formula.

The cards on the whole present a good mix of sci-fi parodies and interesting actions. The humor is not just limited to keepers, as the goals present some funny combinations themselves. Some of the better pairings include "What Doctor? Where?" which puts the starship and time travelling doctors together, and "We Need More Power!" which requires the engineer and "energy" crystals. Of the action cards, the most interesting (read: craziest) has to be "Brain Transferrence" which has you pick another player and literally swap positions with them. You'll get out of your seats, swap chairs, and take each other's hands and keepers.

A sample of the sci-fi parodies you'll find in Star Fluxx

If you've never played Fluxx before, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. In fact, I would go as far to say every gaming home should own at least one copy. The franchise can take a lot of heat from the hardcore hobby gaming crowd, but those detractors don't realize that sometimes a game can serve as a social lubricant more so than as a challenge or skill or a series of interesting decisions. If you need a game for those situations, then check out the different versions of Fluxx to see which one is right for you. Star Fluxx doesn't separate itself from the pack as a must-buy, so it's really up to what your group prefers. At the moment, you can also grab the classic edition, or different versions themed with zombies, martians, pirates, and even Monty Python.

Disclaimer: MTV Geek received a complimentary review sample of this game