Monday, 29 October 2012

Review: Zombie Fluxx

Gaaahhhhhh... braaaiiiinnsss!!!

I've never played any version of Fluxx before. I know plenty of people who have, but card games aren't necessarily my favourite sort of game in the world. Sure they can be simple, quick, easy fun, but I'm the sort of gamer who wants to sit down and play a full on game with little toy soldiers and counters. Whether that be a board game, wargame or indeed a card game. Fluxx doesn't really come onto my radar therefore, because it is so simple and so straight forward, and more importantly so quick to play. But, I figured that I can't really judge the product as not being for me if I'm not willing to at least give it a go, right? Besides many people have raved about Fluxx and I feel like I don't want to miss out, it is after-all an Origins Award Winner. So why not review Zombie Fluxx given I'm doing a week of zombie articles?

Product description

This is what you get in the box.

Zombie Fluxx isn't a complex product. It comes in a really small tight and compact box, it contains100 cards and some fold out rules to let you know just exactly what you've let yourself in for. However, I'll post a video from the games creator to give you

It all starts with some basic rules...
Gameplay 8 out of 10

Trying to explain what the Fluxx card game concept is to somebody new, is sort of like trying to herd cats. You think you're getting there then the buggers shoot off in a hundred different directions! That's actually waht a game of Zombie Fluxx can be like, you think you know what's going on and then everything is turned upside down and flipped. It's actually a blisteringly simple concept. You start a game of Fluxx with a simple and basic set of rules, they're on the card to you left. You draw one card and you play one card, and then the next person has a go and so on and so forth. Sounds simple, except you start the game with absolutely no goal to begin with, there is no end target, you don't know how it is you are going to win or lose the game. You see the game is in constant flux... hence the name. I have started writing this review, because of this fact a number of times now as it's hard to nail exactly what the game is, because you don't know what it is until you actually start playing it. What I can confirm right at the beginning of the review though is that the game is utterly bonkers and loads of fun. Yeah OK so how the game progresses is completely and utterly random, and although you can affect the game direction far more than you can in other card games I've played recently, it still remains a mostly random slice of luck thing. But, it doesn't seem to matter for me, as I've had a riot playing it.

A selection of each card type.

I guess the best place to start with me trying to review the game is to discuss the type of card that exist in the game. Hopefully some of you will have watched the video from the games creator Andrew Looney, who seems to be appropriately named! It's quite a simple idea but one that gets increasingly complex. The first type of card I want to talk about are Rules Cards. These are the cards that create the rules for the game as you play, and if you and your fellow gamers aren't careful you can end up really screwing yourselves over early doors. However, playing a rule change at the right time can really mess with your opponents plans and give you the advantage that you need. They do though make games of Zombie Fluxx very difficult to predict, because how you play the game can be wildly different from one turn to the next. Which brings me onto the next type of card I want to discuss, Goal Cards. These are cards you play in the middle of the board that set up what everyone needs to do to win the game. You need to be very careful with these cards though.

Goal cards, these are pretty important, because without one you can't win the game!

Because it is mainly around the goal cards that the game seems to be played for me. It is by mixing and changing goals that you have the biggest direct impact on your opponents. You might notice an opponent only needs one more Keeper Card to win the game, and in a rush of blood to the head you might change that card to one that nobody has any keepers for out in play. Only to discover that somebody has been holding two keepers back in their hand and they win. So while the game is utterly bonkers, bizarre and random, you can and will steer the cause of play. So what are the keeper cards? Well these are items and things that you play on the table in front of you, think of them as an inventory of the crap you have. If you manage to have the combination of things in your inventory that match the current goal you win. Yes at it's core Zombie Fluxx really is that simple. The other type of card that you'll find is common across all FLuxx games is the Action Cards. These allow you to directly mess with things like taking cards out of the discard pile, nicking Keepers from your opponents. They're fun cards that are direct interactions, but you should use them wisely as they often allow your opponents to see what you plan is... so strike at the right time.

It wouldn't be a zombie game without the creepers.

There are two new card types though in Zombie Fluxx that really need discussing. The first is what makes this game a zombie game and thus eligible for inclusion in my zombie week, Creepers. Creepers are zombie cards. They're a bit like keepers in a way, insofar as they go into your inventory, but here's the kicker, they actually normally stop you from winning the game and you have to play them. There are a couple of cards which nullify the effect of Creepers, or indeed allow you to win with them or actually require you to have a set number of Creepers to actually win the game. But as a general rule of thumb Creepers suck bad, and are a big old pain in the ass. You can get the chance to kill them though depending on what Keepers and rules are in play, for instance if you have a shotgun you can blast zombies in your turn. The final card that needs to be discussed is the Ungoal card. in effect this is a Goal card, but one that means if all conditions are met you can all lose the game, which sucks because it's not nice if we all lose.

The rules come on a double sided fold out sheet. One side has the FLuxx rules...

So that in a nutshell is Zombie Fluxx. Is the game highly random? Yes, because it is based on a randomly shuffled pile of cards, and what is drawn into your opponents hands and your own hand are pretty much out of your control. However, what you do with your cards once you've got them is very much in your control. The game does have tactics within these confines, but if you are dealt a stinker of a hand and one of your opponents gets a great hand there is often very little you can do. The great thing though is that if this eventually does occur games will be mercifully short. I played a game where somebody was genuinely dealt a winning hand. They had the two keepers they needed based on their goal. The players in front of them played rule changes which meant we had to draw two cards and play three. When it got to their turn they played their two keepers and the goal and won the game. I didn't even get to play a card!!! That's Fluxx for you, a game can last less than 60 seconds or it could last over an hour. This does make it a difficult card game to predict in terms of it's suitability for any given moment, but I think I'll let it off because it's such a fun and silly game to play. I've found it very entertaining.

...while the other side contains the special rules that are specifically for Zombie Fluxx.

Detail 6.5 out of 10

Right... the biggest detail I guess is how utterly random the game feels, but how cleverly constructed the mechanics are to allow players to influence the game. The cards themselves are very basic looking. The artwork is clear and simple, and nothing fancy. And the rules governing each individual card are clear and crisp and well written. It's also really easy to identify what each type of card is from looking at it. So the game does feature some clear, function and effective card design... but they're not art laden cards you'll want to flick through the deck just to look at. they're definitely function over for, which is a shame, because I like my card games to feature nice artwork on the cards. The rules though are well written and very easy to understand, not that there's actually too much to the game in the first place, but it's nice that given the games slightly off the wall concept that it's all presented nice and clearly.

Quality 6.5 out of 10

There's only really one component as such to talk about, and those are obviously the playing cards.The print quality on them is fine and the cards are good enough for the price you pay, but I would have liked them to be a bit sturdier if I'm being honest. Having played as many games as I have some of the card edges have begun to get a bit tatty and dog eared from all the constant shuffling. Nothing too serious, and given how many games I've played of it I guess it is to be expected. The rules are resented on a flimsy bit of rough paper, but you don't need anything more than that given the nature of the product. However, it does drag the score down because it's not as nice a product as it could have been.

Some of these cards can really mess with your opponents game plan.

Price 8 out of 10

Looking on Amazon it's possible to pick the game up for under £12, and I've walked into many game stores up and down the land and found it on sale for similar prices. Honestly at that price I don't think you can go too far wrong. If you only ever get a few partial evenings entertainment out of the damn thing it is still worth it at that price. I think it's certainly worth having on a book shelf at that price.

Overall 7.5 out of 10

Zombie Fluxx isn't the greatest game ever made, it wouldn't even make it onto the list of possible best games in the world for me. However, I have had some really fun games and nights reviewing this product and isn't that what playing games is about? Being entertained? I personally think it is and on that score Zombie Fluxx is a success. Would I want the cards to look nicer? Yeah sure I would, and I'd like the cards to be a bit harder wearing, but then I guess the price of the game would go up and I'm not so sure I'd be as happy with it as a product if it cost say £18 to £20. No, I think Looney Labs have pitched the product just about right if you ask me. It's a pocket money impulse buy, and one that offers what I think is a pretty unique style of play right now. If zombies aren't your thing there are plenty other versions of Fluxx to give a go, and I urge yu to at least consider picking it up as a game. Peace out!


  1. Ah yes I have the original Fluxx game its always good for a down the pub with your mates after 5 pints kind of a thing... if I ever went down the pub, or had any mates :(

    1. Now I can't believe you don't have any friends!!! Although if you don't go down the pub perhaps that's a reason!!!

      I've actually found it's quite a good family game.