Gaming This Christmas With Holiday Fluxx

Image: Sarah Pinault

No Christmas is complete without gathering the family round the table for a rousing game of (insert favorite game here). In our family, no Thursday is complete without it, but that’s just us. We’re a big fan of Looney Labs for a quick and fun card game, and this holiday season they have done it again with a seasonal twist on their most popular game: Holiday Fluxx.

Image: Looney Labs

The basic rules and tenets of the game remain the same. Each player starts with three cards, and the rules are draw a single card and play a single card, until a new rule card changes the rules. The goal is an ever changing object that you determine by playing certain cards. On your turn you can create a new goal, lay down a “Keeper,” or play an action card and do something immediately. It’s a game of both short- and long-range goals, all of which can be thrown out at a moment’s notice. All of the cards are rather more holly jolly than usual.

Unlike the most recent iterations of Fluxx, this version does not have any creepers, those dastardly little cards sent to thwart your victory. I am, however, tempted to make up a blank creeper card and create a few myself; Scrooge, the Grinch, and Bill Murray spring to mind. There was a special card issued in their holiday package this year: Mrs. Claus, a keeper that has the same properties as the Santa card. Also, this version includes a few ever popular surprise cards to throw an extra turkey bone in the works.

There are twenty-one new keepers, four surprise cards, thirty-two goals, and twenty-four new rules—a new rule for every day of Advent. The holiday game incorporates elements of Thanksgiving and Chanukah, though it is heavy on Christmas. Holiday-specific rules are the “Xmas Bonus” and “Regifting” cards. Some of the best themed cards come on the action cards however. In “gift Give-Away” every player must give away a keeper that they have before them. If you don’t have any, you are to be the first to receive a gift. In “Clear the Table” you must remove any keepers, held by any player, that are food related, such as Side Dishes or The Roast. In “Today’s Special” you get to draw three cards and play a different amount of them depending on what day it is. If it is your birthday you can play all three; if it is a holiday or a special day in your family, you can play two. For a normal day you can play one card.

Image: Looney Lab

The production value is of the high quality we have come to expect from Looney Labs, but it is the illustrations by Ali Douglass that absolutely steal the show. In an old time style, Douglass has created some wonderful images that add greatly to the enjoyment of game play. The old fashioned ornaments and twinkle lights are my favorite. Douglass’ Etsy store is on hiatus for the holidays but I thoroughly recommend checking it out in the new year. Her Sound of Music illustration is wonderful but the cityscapes are stunning: classic and eclectic in the best ways. It is rare that a game introduces me to a new artist, but this was a wonderful treat from Looney Labs.

All in all this game is a great stocking stuffer, great office gift, or just generally a great addition to both gaming closet and holiday repertoire.

GeekMom was provided with a copy of Holiday Fluxx for review purposes.



How Ecological! A Review of EcoFluxx

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Designed by Alison and Andrew Looney, EcoFluxx is one of the many games in Looney Labs’ line of Fluxx card games. Santa gave it to my son for Christmas, since he is such a huge fan of Cthulhu Fluxx and also because he’s a big lover of cute natural things.

But I wondered: Was it worth buying yet another Fluxx game? We already had three of them.

The blurb on the Looney Labs website is as follows:

In the wild, you must adapt to survive! Will you win by having your Bears Eat Fish? Or will someone change the Goal so that their Frogs and Insects can make Night Music? Play ecology themed Actions and Rules like Scavenger or Composting, but watch out for Creeper cards like Forest Fire, that can hurt everyone! Discover a little about how things go together, with EcoFluxx—the nature game of ever-changing rules!

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

The packaging of the game is kid-friendly and appealing, at least to my kid. The same goes for the artwork on the cards, done by Derek Ring. Even I enjoyed looking through the cards at the various critters. Shockingly enough, the game is educational. Throughout play, my son was asking questions. “What’s this?” He was reminded about photosynthesis, recycling, and how composting works. There are predators and decomposition. And of course, all the fun gameplay that always comes with Fluxx.

To get an idea of how to play the game, the Looney Labs website has a copy of the rules. Gameplay can last anywhere from 2 minutes (I’m not kidding) to an hour, averaging about 15 minutes or so.

We’ve played with two and three people, but you can play with up to six. It’s the perfect game to play after dinner for a nice family activity, or even to take on a trip to play in the hotel.

The rules are super easy to learn, and it’s not a complex game. There is strategy involved, though, so don’t let the simple concept of the game fool you. The instructions say ages 8+ will enjoy, but I think that with some reading help, most 6-year-olds could enjoy it.

I would note that this is a nice addition to any homeschooler’s game library. There are so many opportunities for discussion about how life and the environment work together. It makes teaching the subject almost effortless. There is even a learning guide online for those who are interested.

All in all, I have nothing negative to say. EcoFluxx is a fun game for the whole family!

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Pirate Week: Gamin’ Like a Pirate

Image By Rebecca Angel

Avast! What will yer hearties be doin’ to pass the time on deck September 19th? Idle pirates are a dangerous lot, so here are some suggestions fer gamin’:

Loot be the best pirate-themed table-top game me crew has ever played. It says ages 10 and up, but younger have been able to join in. Always most fun while talkin’ in pirate-speak!

A close second is the pirate version of Fluxx!

Now if ye want to get fancy with some historical pirate games (or at least ones shown in a pirate movie), check out the rules for Liar Dice.

And if ya want to put some effort into a game fer yer mini-pirates, here are ideas for Pirate Scavenger Hunts.

Or if ye be a lazy pirate fer online fun:
Silly Pirate Personality Test
Pirate Name Generator
Plus a whole list of online pirate-theme games

Enjoy a gamin’ day at sea with yer hearties enjoying International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Fluxx: The Card Game Gets a Board

All Images: Sarah Pinault

We’ve been playing Fluxx in our house since discovering it over a decade ago. We have played all of its iterations: Zombie, Oz, Star, Monty Python, and we have enjoyed every single one. To say that there was excitement in our family upon learning that Fluxx had become a board game would be an understatement. If you have never played Fluxx: The Card Game before, I suggest you start there. It’s a great game. For those who have already experienced the awesome that is Fluxx, get ready for the rules to be changed yet again.

The basic premise of Fluxx, the notion that has made it so popular, is that the rules are not static. You start with a set of basic rules—pick a card, use a card—and from there the cards that you lay down in the game play allow you to alter the aim of the game, and the rules by which you play.

Fluxx: The Board Game has a familiar feel to it. The same rules begin the game, only this time you have the chance to change a rule pre-game, just because. The Goal cards, New Rule cards, and Action cards all look the same, but gone are the Keepers that we have hoarded in the past. Instead you use a game piece to mark squares on the board. These squares do have a card counterpart. The Leaper cards each represent squares on the board, and allow you to leap your piece to that square. While in the card game much time was spent trying to match your Keepers to a goal card, in Fluxx: The Board Game, you are trying to accumulate Goal cards that match the positioning of your game pieces.

Flux HandThe other major change is that instead of tracking the rule changes with played cards, you track on a peg board. This will tell you how many cards to draw and play, what the hand limit is, and even how many moves you get. It also tells you of the new elements of the board game, the ability to use certain cards, and to jump from one side of the game to the other. The peg board does feel like it was only used to get away from the notion of using cards to change the rules, to take it another step closer to a board game. At the same time, it was nice to have one place to refer to instead of reading the cards for every turn. The peg board is made of cardboard, and not quite of the high quality I have come to expect from Looney Labs.

The card game can last from thirty seconds to an hour, with 45 minutes as our longest round. With Fluxx: The Board Game, you gain a little more ability to plan ahead which puts the game play in the 15-30 minute bracket. Almost every round we played lasted around 15 minutes, though I continued to play more with the card game rules in mind, and I suspect this hampered my ability to win, therefore shortening the game.

Looney Labs has done well in reaching out to the classics of board gaming to create this new game. The portals that you use to jump from one side of the board to another are very reminiscent of Clue, while the ability to bump a player from one space to another, or even to send them back to start, had me flashing back to the Sorry games of my childhood. These are both aspects of the game that I feel will endear it to my friend’s sixth grader, who loves both of these classic games.

While I still prefer the original version of Fluxx, this is a decent game to put into the rotation on family night. It feels as though it would be easier for younger/tired minds to track what was going on! It has a more finite play space, so you don’t need up to an acre of table to lay down new rules. At the end of the day, when the rules change this often, it keeps everyone on their toes and provides a giggle along the way.

To find out which Fluxx is the best fit for your family, you can check out previous reviews on GeekMom:

Lisa’s review of Monster Fluxx for something a little spooky.
Sophie takes a look at the Fluxx app, if you are more of a point and slide gamer.
My own take on Oz, Star, and Pirate.

Though, every version has its own merits, so I would have to advise having one in the house for every occasion!

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Review: Monster Fluxx—A Spooky New Addition to the Fluxx Family

All Photos by Lisa Kay Tate
Looney Labs’ new Monster Fluxx, the latest in their line of Fluxx card and tabletop games. Photo by Lisa Kay Tate

We’ve always been a tabletop gaming family, as well as Halloween enthusiasts, so when Looney Labs announced Monster Fluxx, a variation of its wildly popular card game Fluxx, we couldn’t wait to give it try.

The best thing from this mom’s point of view is the compactness and portability of this and all the Fluxx games. I can keep these in the kitchen drawer for easy access on game nights or toss it in my travel bag for overnight road trips. I’m forever looking for ways to avoid the television during hotel stays, and games like these are perfect pre-bed family activities.

This variation, featuring artwork of “premier monster artist” Derek Ring, features many of the favorite mainstays of the monster genre, including the classic mad scientist and creature, vampires, zombies, ghosts, teenage detectives, and a one-eyed moon man.

hand with cards
Keep an eye on the goal and actions, as they will change throughout gameplay. Photo by Lisa Kay Tate

The basic starting premise, as with most Fluxx games, is simple: draw a card/play a card per turn. However, that simplicity gets laid to waste once the first card is played. Thanks to the use of new rules and ever-changing goals, Monster Fluxx goes off in more directions than a confetti canon.

This frenetic quality caused the biggest points of frustration regarding the game, but also created some of the most fun moments. This is not a game for the easily distracted, as close attention must be paid to ensure you don’t get utterly, completely, and devastatingly lost (like I admittedly did a time or two).  There were also a few times when we weren’t entirely sure we were playing correctly. This is part of the beauty of the game, as it made for some big laughs and silly conversation; one of our main reasons for enjoying these types of games.

Patience is a key to getting the most out of this one as a family. Some younger players might need a few go-rounds before they catch on, while others who enjoy role-playing card games like Pokémon or Magic: The Gathering might find this a snap.

Two things are certain: it won’t be the same game twice and there will never be a dull moment for any player.

Monster Fluxx retails for $9.99, and is intended for 2 to 6 players, age 8 and older. Learn more at

 GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Fall Fun With Looney Labs

All Images: LooneyLabs

What do you do on your anniversary when you suddenly find yourself with a babysitter on a week night, a few extra hours and cash in hand? Why you sit in Starbucks, drink cider and check out two new games from Looney Labs, that’s what!

My love of the card game Fluxx is certainly no secret, having played it for years and reviewed Pirate Fluxx already for GeekMom. I consider myself fairly well versed in its intricacies regardless of the edition at hand. Star Fluxx, released on September 30,  however, is a whole new ball game. Well, actually it’s the same ball game but with a superior field, superior equipment and an extra dose of humor. You can view the rules on the Looney Labs website but the premise of the game remains unchanged from its original incarnation. Basic rules are that you start with a hand of three cards, then you draw a card and play a card until someone changes the rules. I love that every time you play this game something new comes into the experience.

Star Fluxx has now done the impossible and surpassed Monty Python as our favorite version. Getting past the aesthetic joy in the old style Trek font of the card titles, it’s the cheek of the game that gets me. In fact, I’m not quite sure how this manages to remain immune to copyright, so blatant are the references. For example, one of the Goal cards is “42” in which you win by having  the Intergalactic Travel Guide and the Computer Keepers. The screen of the Intergalactic Travel Guide reads “Remain Calm.” For those of you with no working knowledge of Douglas Adams, perhaps the Expendable Crewman card (pictured to the right) or the Unseen Force will tickle your funny bone. Of the new action cards, my personal favorite would have to be the Sonic Sledgehammer. Where some of the cards in Pirate Fluxx left us wanting more, Star Fluxx only left us wanting to play more.

I hate to start talking Christmas this early (who am I kidding I’ve been listening to Christmas music for two weeks now) but when playing Ice Dice, also released on September 30, my first thought was – stocking stuffer. It may be that after two hours of chess this was the perfect fast-paced antidote, but this game was thoroughly enjoyable and drew many questions from those gathered at our local Starbucks for that night’s poetry reading. You start with two sets of Looney Pyramids, described by Looney Labs as “not so much a game, as a game system – like a deck of playing cards, a set of components that can be used to play all sorts of different games.” With Ice Dice, you receive the basic rules as well as the rules for Launchpad 23. While we preferred the basic rules to the alternative, we were very excited to find out that you can obtain many different sets of rules from Looney Labs. As a game designer wannabe, my husband was intrigued to learn that he could take the pieces, make his own game, and submit it to Looney Labs. I predict many more evenings in Starbucks.

With Ice Dice the aim of the game is to get three Trios, that is to say, three pyramids comprised of three sizes of each of three of the five colors. You do this by rolling the dice and putting pieces on deck before you roll the same color again and bust. If you bust, all pieces earned on that roll get sent back, if you choose to stop rolling they go into your vault. Thanks to The Weakest Link I couldn’t stop saying “Bank” though I’m sure there’s a more Looney term for the action.

It’s a mindless diversion and yet, at the same time, not mindless at all. Though the game is rated for 14 and up it seems like an exceptionally good way to introduce younger children to gaming strategy. Something that might preface the introductory course to Risk or Stratego. With so many variations of the game it’s a great “deck” to have on hand.

I received copies of both games for review purposes.

GeekMom Talk Like a Pirate Day!: Ahoy Matey, No Parlay In These Rules

Image: Sarah Pinault

Many moons ago, before the onslaught of home ownership and parenthood, when flexible income  and free time were to be had in abundance, ah good times, I’m sorry where was I? Back in the  day, my husband and I used to play a lot of games. My husband is a board game geek, and I  tagged along for the ride. We would play games with each other, with friends, with family,  with anyone who would agree to learn the rules of Risk or Ultimate Stratego. With one group  of friends we focused on card games, they led to the fewest arguments amongst spouses. After  exhausting Phase 10, Rook, Skip-Bo and the like, we happened upon a new game in our local  everything store: Fluxx by Looney Labs. You may have heard of it, if you haven’t I suggest  you educate yourself quickly. The game is remarkable, it can take a minute from start to  finish, or it can take up to an hour. Both rules and the aim of the game can change with every card that gets played, so  the game you start playing is not the game you eventually win or lose. There are cards you  keep, cards you play, cards that change the rules, and cards that change the whole point of  the game. It’s not for the feint of heart. For the really obsessive, you can even join the fan club now, I’d better not tell my husband!

When Looney Labs came out with a Monty Python edition we lapped it up, likewise when the  Zombie version came out so did the bowl of brains and salsa. Then they sent me a copy of  Pirate Fluxx, needless to say my timbers shivered with excitement! What better way to  celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day, than to get points for every “Pretty Polly”  against your family and friends.

Image: Looney Labs

This version plays a lot more like the original game than the other variations we have  played so far. Of the additions to the variations, Looney Labs have kept the creepers, cards  that work against you but are required to be played, but don’t seem to have included as many  pirate specific action cards. That’s okay, you get extra plays for talking like a pirate so  I’m happy. The first game we played lasted close to 50 minutes, a long game by Fluxx  standards, but then we were playing with newbies. It seemed to be much harder to win at Pirate Fluxx than in the other versions, or perhaps just harder to pay attention while  people are Yo-Ho-Ho-ing around you. When that “Talk like a Pirate” card gets played it’s contagious, people will start in on the action before their next turn even starts. In our case, after the game has finished too. That aside, the goals did seem much more unattainable. Yet that is the beauty of the game, the next time we play will be a completely different experience.

My husband and I really enjoyed the addition of surprise cards, these can be played during  your turn or at random during someone elses turn. You play them differently depending on  whose turn it is. My dad did not enjoy the surprise cards, but mostly because he couldn’t  figure out how to play them, bless! The plunder card was interesting in that it was  completely separate from any other theft card normally found in Fluxx. A bit more plundering  would have greatly added to the game we felt, though we never got to use the actual plunder card. It would have been nice had the plunder rules applied to cards such as “Steal a keeper.” The Captain keeper and shackles creeper were the most  sought after/despised cards and added extra depth to the game which heightened  the enjoyment.

I don’t think this will be our go-to Fluxx game in the future, as Monty Python is our family  favorite. However this will be a good one to bring out for September 19th every year, and  to celebrate Johnny Depp’s Oscar for Pirates of The Caribbean 57: Curse of the Retirement Home.