Looney Labs knows how to have serious fun. The rocket scientist duo of Kristin and Andrew Looney (both formerly of NASA) have churned out another two additions to their award-winning Fluxx series of games. For those of you who have never heard of Fluxx (what?!?), it’s a card game where the rules change with every card that is played. Introduced over 20 years ago, Fluxx has won many awards, sold millions of copies, and spawned several spin-off games, including Zombie Fluxx, Martian Fluxx, Monty Python Fluxx and various foreign language versions of the game. With the rules changing based on what cards are played, no two games will ever be the same.
The Fluxx games were designed by the Looneys and are, as usual, illustrated by them as well. They are about the size of standard playing cards, but have rounded corners so you won’t get any dog-eared cards standing out from the rest of the deck. Also, with the back of every card being identical, you can mix and match your cards to build your own custom deck, because, with the exception of Martian Fluxx, where you are the Martians, every game has the same basic playing rules and ever-changing goals.
Fluxx is easy to play and starts with one basic gameplay rule: draw one, play one. From there, everything changes, because every card has a different set of instructions on it. Each variation of Fluxx includes the following types of cards: Rules, Goals, Actions and Keepers. Most versions also include Creeper cards, typically a card you don’t want in your hand. When you play a rule card, you change the rules of the game for everyone. For example, you could place the Draw 2 or Hand Limit 1 rules, or perhaps you place the Play All rule where, instead of only playing 1 card per turn, you have to play your entire hand each turn. Play All, by the way, creates some crazy and fun twists in the game because you don’t get to choose what cards you play and, sometimes, playing those cards can make it easier for someone else to win the game, but that’s okay because you’ll laugh while you’re losing. You don’t like a rule? No problem, just replace it with one you like, if you have one in your hand.
The Keeper cards can be people, places or things, depending on which version of Fluxx you are playing. They are collected and held or discarded throughout the game as you try to accomplish the Goal or Goals. When the game begins, there are no goals until you play a Goal card. The Goal card will typically specify two or more conditions that must be met in order to win the game. For example, the first player to have two specific Keeper cards wins the game. If you are playing a version with Creeper cards, some goals may specify that you can’t win the game, even if you have met the goal, if you have a particular Creeper in your hand, or may require you to have a particular Creeper in order to win. The Creeper cards are similar to the Keeper cards in that they are usually people, places or things, but they typically have a negative impact on your hand. Action cards are just that, the action you take on your turn. Actions allow you to change the rules, steal your opponent’s cards, draw extra cards, and a myriad of other things that can turn the game around quickly.
The two newest Fluxx games live up to the same artful, fun, high-quality standards you’ve come to expect from Looney Labs.
While all of the Fluxx family of games are fun and easy to play for everyone (most include rules for gameplay for younger players), Family Fluxx was intentionally designed for a family gathering of all ages. From 6 to 96, everyone can play and enjoy this game because there are no rules to learn and every card has instructions on it. Featuring easy to understand Goals, Actions and Keepers, Family Fluxx has no Creepers and all of the Goals are to collect familiar objects you find around your home. Example goals are “Cheesecake: The player with Cheese and Cake on the table wins” or “Mice Love Cheese: The player with the Mouse and Cheese on the table wins.”
Keepers in Family Fluxx include things like colorful toy balls, yummy cake and ice-cream, household pets and pests, rainy weather and even a playground. The Action and New Rule cards are similar to other versions of Fluxx but add a few new, family-friendly rules such as the Child Bonus (if you are 12 years old or younger, you can draw an extra card each turn), the Parent Bonus (if you are a parent, you can draw an extra card each turn), and the Grandparent Bonus (if you are a grandparent, you can ignore hand limit rules).
Alison Looney’s artwork for Family Fluxx is similar to a children’s picture book, and with all the cute little pictures, it should keep the minds of young’uns from wandering too far from the chocolate cake or the kitty cat in their hands.
Looney Labs has a history of being an eco-friendly company, and with EcoFluxx, they continue to follow that tradition while making learning about ecology fun.
My mother is an elementary school teacher whose favorite subject is science. The moment I showed her EcoFluxx, she was thrilled. She oooed and ahhed over the cards as she read them, and pointed out how each one would help with lesson plans. By design, EcoFluxx helps develop and reinforce understanding of the ecology and life sciences, and actually meets the National Life Science Content Standard for grade levels 5-8 and 9-12. The illustrations by Derek Ring are detailed and similar to what you might find in a junior high science book.
EcoFluxx follows the traditional Fluxx gameplay, with wildlife featured on their Keeper cards and environmental hazards on their Creeper cards. The Goals require having 2 Keepers to win a step further by making them Eats cards where a bear might eat a fish, thus teaching kids about the food chain. Rules such as Recycling and Composting further educate about how every event and action in life has an effect on other aspects of nature. My favorite, and perhaps most impactful, Creeper card is Forest Fire. It’s pretty straight-forward in its statement — “Nobody can win while this card is on the table.” Its special rule is that, while it’s on the table, one of your Keepers must be discarded at the start of your turn, thus demonstrating the destruction that fires wreak in nature as you watch it “devour” your bears, frogs and insect life along with the trees.
Another very important card included in the deck, but not used for gameplay, is the EcoFluxx Pledge, a challenge issued from Looney Labs to do your part and make a difference:
We Pledge Allegiance to the Earth
Our planet is finite. Our resources are limited. We as human beings have a conscience and free will. We have choices and are aware of our impact on nature and the world around us. We can choose to be compassionate, and care about other people (both present and future) as well as our environment. Or we can be selfish and greedy, only caring for ourselves. Every single thing we do in our daily life affects the health of the planet and the well-being of other people. When you play EcoFluxx, think about the choices you make and the interconnectedness of all things and share your insights with others. Let’s choose to treat the Earth right! Spread the word! Looney Labs will donate a portion of the proceeds from EcoFluxx to environmental groups. For immediate actions you can take and for a list of recipient organizations, visit: EcoFluxx Foundation
Thanks for helping us make a better world!
Not only does EcoFluxx have a positive impact on players by teaching about ecology and raising environmental awareness, it maintains the ecological standards that Looney Labs has always held for their games. All Looney Labs games and packaging are made from recycled materials, the packages are compact and use minimal resources in their production, the inks are environmentally friendly, and everything is made 100% in the USA. Also, as part of the EcoFluxx Pledge, Looney Labs is donating 5% of all sales of EcoFluxx to environmental groups to help further their protection of our environment.