By January 8, 2010

Zombie Fluxx Card Game Review

I received Zombie Fluxx as part of my 2009 Ars Technica Sekrit Santa gift. I had some limited, prior exposure to the original Fluxx game several years ago when I worked in Maryland and remember not liking it. I wasn’t entirely sure why I didn’t like it, and in fact I don’t remember if I played it or just watched it being played. However, I think it had something to do with all of the rules and that it seemed confusing.

Now, we all like zombies out here, and most of us like games, so I thought Zombie Fluxx would be worth a try, despite my reservations. We gave it a shot on the tail end of Christmas break, and have run it a few times since with different groups of gamers. Here’s what we thought.

Game Summary

The core mechanic to Zombie Fluxx is that the rules and win condition(s) may change at any time. The game starts out with two rules: draw one card per turn, and play one card per turn. All other rules (including how you win the game) are put into play by players. Rules of the same type overwrite each other; for example, if you put down a draw four cards per turn card it would take the place of the draw two cards per turn card I may have put into play several turns earlier. The same goes for Goals.

There are also “Keeper” cards that stay in front of you until the ever-changing rules of Fluxx say otherwise. A Keeper might be a sandwich, or a brain. Keeper cards are generally used to win the game via a random goal. Some Keepers have more utility, like the chainsaw. The chainsaw and other Keepers designated with a “POW!” icon, are able to kill zombies under certain conditions.

Speaking of zombies, those are called “Creeper” cards in Zombie Fluxx. I reckon that’s in case other Fluxx variants feature Creepers in the future, and that you could mix them all together for a really wild game. Anyway, for the most part, you can’t win with a zombie in front of you, and different zombies are treated differently when killed.

Game Play and Player Reactions

As you can see, the game starts off pretty simple. Deal out three cards to each player, draw one card per turn, play one card per turn. However, things can get complicated quickly, and this is where some of the complaints started. Game play would suffer if people didn’t read the card completely, or over-analyzed the card. There could be many rules in play as the game goes on, and keeping track of all the little conditions can be annoying. Some of the rules are optional, and some must be carried out. If you skip a mandatory rule it could really change the game.

The rule booklet doesn’t do a very good job of illustrating play, and we went through the majority of our first game before realizing you can have multiple Rules cards in play as long as they’re not of the same type (Draw, Play, Hand Limit, etc).

Overall, my gaming groups liked Zombie Fluxx. A few players really didn’t like it, often citing the number of rules or how “complicated” the game felt. The game isn’t really complicated at all unless you make a big deal out of it, but I do agree that the number of additional rules can make the game much more “heavy” feeling than it should. There were several times that the add-on rules were removed by a rules card (see? it gets hairy), and players sighed in relief because we went back to the basic “draw one, play one” rule.

Another common complaint was that the game is so random that it removes all strategy from play. I would mostly agree, and follow up that deep strategy is not the point of Zombie Fluxx. The only strategy revolves around Keepers — do you play your Keepers immediately, or try to hold them until appropriate goals show up?

Everything else about the game play is tactical. Often times you will have to play multiple cards per turn, and the turn order can make a huge difference. Zombie Fluxx isn’t completely brainless, but it takes a lot less concentration than the other games we play.

Summary

Overall, I like Zombie Fluxx. I normally hate random outcome games like Killer Bunnies, but the short length of the game — and provisions for adding players on the fly — make it a winner as either a warm-up game or a “just one more” game. At about $15 or so online, Zombie Fluxx makes a nice addition to an already well-developed game library.

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Posted in: games, review, zombies

1 Comment on "Zombie Fluxx Card Game Review"

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  1. bc says:

    I have the standard Fluxx game, and I love it. We played it a bunch over xmas, and everyone enjoyed it. It’s pretty easy to pick up, even for people who aren’t “gamers”.

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