A while back, the classic card game Fluxx got a makeover in an edition that merges the game with a classic film. This certainly isn’t its first makeover for Fluxx, nor even the first time it’s merged with a classic film (there is a Monty Python Fluxx, for example), but given that Oz: The Great and Powerful is hitting theaters today, the version of Fluxx I’m going to talk about is Oz Fluxx (Amazon).
If you’ve never played Fluxx, here are the basics:
- The game continually changes, as players use Rule and Goal cards to modify every aspect of the game.
- Rule cards can modify the number of cards drawn, number of cards played in a turn, overall hand size, and pretty much any other asp
- Goal cards redefine the objectives needed to win.
- Keepers are cards you keep in front of you. Most Goals involve getting a certain combination of Keepers in play to win. Examples from this game include “The Artificial Heart” and “The Cowardly Lion.”
- Creepers (which are a type of card not in the original edition of Fluxx) are sort of negative Keepers, which get stuck in front of you and prevent you from winning … unless the Goal in play requires the Creeper as a condition of victory. Examples include “The Wicked Witch of the East” and “Angry Trees.”
- Action cards allow other actions, such as drawing extra cards, getting cards out of the discard pile, stealing or trading Keepers and Creepers, and so on.
- Surprise cards can be played either during your turn or on your opponents’ turn, to throw an even bigger wrench in your opponents’ expectations.
Probably the best way to get a feel for the game play is to watch this episode of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop game on the YouTube channel Geek and Sundry, in which Wheaton and his friends play Star Fluxx. This edition of the game is based upon science fiction classics, most notably (and unofficially) Star Trek, although I believe there are some non-copyright-infringing shout-outs to Doctor Who and other classics as well.
But, back to Oz Fluxx …
I have owned the original edition of Fluxx for at least 15 years. In fact, Fluxx is the only game that both my wife and I independently owned before we met. But this is our first time trying any of the many variant editions, so I was very interested to see how it held up.
The play is basically the same as the original, with the obvious thematic difference that all the cards are references to The Wizard of Oz. The Goals are fun combinations that make sense with the Oz-based Keepers, such as “No Place Like Home,” where you get victory by having both the Dorothy and Kansas Keepers in front of you at the same time.
This game was actually my son’s introduction to The Wizard of Oz, since we hadn’t yet watched the film or read the book, and he enjoyed the game even without having the emotional connection to the characters. When we did eventually watch the movie, I think he enjoyed having a context for the different characters, and I didn’t get any sense that it detracted from the experience.
The Creepers do make things a bit more complicated … and I’m not certain I’d say that it’s always in a good way. It’s tricky enough to get a Goal card placed to match with your Keepers that are in play, so the addition of the Creepers can cause the game to drag on a bit at times. Still, having cards for the villains that keep you from winning makes sense, so I can’t object too much.
One of my only complaints is that I’d like to have seen some references to other Oz books. The cards seemed to draw more from the original novel rather than explicitly from the film version of The Wizard of Oz, so I kept hoping to see appearances from Oz characters who came later in the series, such as Jack Pumpkinhead and Tik-tok (although I suppose these characters might have copyright issues related to the 1985 Disney film Return to Oz).
Overall, Oz Fluxx is a lot of fun and adds great dynamics to the play, but if you already own a version of Fluxx, I wouldn’t spend the money to get this version too. I don’t really see the need to buy a bunch of different Fluxx variations, though this edition does have the added benefit of being particularly appropriate thematically for young children (although kids could well get a kick out of Zombie Fluxx, I suppose).
Disclaimer: A demo copy of Oz Fluxx was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.
Andrew Zimmerman Jones is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. He has been a finalist in the Writers of the Future contest and received Honorable Mention in the 2011 Writer’s Digest Science Fiction/Fantasy Competition. In addition to being a contributing editor to Black Gate magazine, Andrew is the About.com Physics Guide and author of String Theory For Dummies. You can follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+.