Make Numbers Fun With ‘Math Fluxx’

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Math Fluxx box courtesy of Looney Labs. All other photos CC BY-SA Ruth Suehle.

We’re all well into the start of school now, and the last warmth of summer sun is waning. If that has cast a cloud of sadness over your house, may I suggest you inject a little fun in the return to learning with a new edition of Fluxx?

Math Fluxx is a variant on the much-loved original Fluxx from Looney Labs. These games meet some of the best criteria for family games. They’re compact (easy to take it with you anywhere) and generally quick (so you can get a round in while you wait for the pizza). They also meet my game-dream criteria of being easy enough for the youngest in the family but interesting enough for the oldest. It’s a small subset of games that fall into that category.

Like all Fluxx games, you start with one basic rule: draw one card, play one card. Cards come in types:

Rules, which change that draw-one-play-one basic rule (hence the name of the game — the rules are always in flux)
Actions, things you can do (e.g., trade hands or discard something)
Keepers, cards you put down in front of you (in this version, they’re all numbers)
Goals, the ever-changing mission (usually a combination of Keepers you need to have to win)

In other editions, the goals are pretty straightforward. Usually, it’s to have 2 or 3 keepers on a theme. In Math Fluxx, it’s the same, but you might have to do–surprise!–math. Very, very basic math. No calculators, slide rules, or tears required.

Again, the Keepers are all numbers, which means your Goals are also numbers. It might be “Today’s Date,” or it might be a specific number. Of course, because this is Fluxx, they generally come with geeky references to things like Back to the Future or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

There are also new rules, which use the Plan B Meta Rule, allowing for special victories using math with the Combo, Times, and Plus Victory rules. These change how you might win. For example, if the Plus Victory is in play, you can use addition to form the number on the goal using your Keepers. If you instead replace the basic rules with the Plan C Meta Rule, you must use a Victory calculation in order to win.

Using the new Meta Rules is a sneaky but effective way to get numbers on your kids’ minds a little more without staring at another page of addition and subtraction worksheets. It’s definitely worth an add to your Fluxx collection–or a great place to start!

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