Fluxx is a game where all the rules are constantly changing. If you’re unfamiliar with how to play, check out my review of the base game of Fluxx here on Meeple Mountain.
As of this writing, there are 30 different versions of the Looney Labs card game Fluxx. Themed variations include pop culture (Cthulhu, Fairy Tales, Marvel), film and TV (Monty Python, four different Star Treks, Doctor Who), and science (Math, Astronomy, Chemistry), so there’s likely to be a version that would appeal to anyone interested in playing the game.
The latest addition to the Fluxx pantheon is Wonderland Fluxx. This version brings Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland characters to the game along with the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.
In the years since Fluxx was originally released, designer Andy Looney has made two notable additions to versions of the game where he feels “the subject matter requires it”: Creepers and Surprise cards. Both are included in Wonderland Fluxx.
- Creeper cards were first used in Zombie Fluxx as cards that, once drawn, must immediately be placed in front of the player who drew it. You cannot win as long as the Creeper is in front of you—unless a Goal specifically states you must have the Creeper. You can pass a Creeper to another player, provided you also discard one of your Keepers at the same time.
- Looney introduced Surprise cards in Pirate Fluxx as single-use cards that grant the player a special power. Given the way the rules concerning how many cards a player can keep in their hand and how cards are drawn and played, Surprise cards each have three ways they can be used:
- Out of Turn means you can play a Surprise card in your hand to cancel a card just played by another player. Depending on the Surprise card, you can cancel an Action, Rule, or Goal, or take that newly played Keeper.
- During Your Turn is for a Surprise card played during the regular course of your turn. (Despite wanting to hold onto Surprise cards, the rules may state you must play all the cards in your hand during your turn.) These options are similar to standard Action cards.
- At Any Time allows you to cancel the Surprise card played on you by another player.
It’s a great moment when someone plays a new Goal or a Keeper that would win the game, only to have a Surprise card played by another player that cancels the last card and stops that player from winning—and even better when that player then plays a Surprise card of their own canceling out the first Surprise card and wins anyways!
And, of course, there are the usual suspects: the Action cards…
… and the New Rule cards.
If I have a complaint about the original game of Fluxx it’s that the Keepers, and therefore the Goals, are too generic. Milk and Cookies, Death and Taxes, Time and Money, Rocket and Moon. They’re commonplace and, therefore, recognizable, but they just aren’t very engaging. Subsequent, themed versions of Fluxx have distinct personalities and are much more inviting.
The Tenniel-illustrated characters of Alice in Wonderland are both immediately familiar and right at home in the topsy-turvy world of Fluxx. In fact, it’s easy to see how Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole find an appropriate counterpart in Fluxx.
I’ve played Wonderland Fluxx with several people who were new to Fluxx. They were each drawn into the game both by the theme and Tenniel’s artwork. Fluxx’s constantly changing rules can be a bit difficult to get used to for new players. However, Wonderland Fluxx was more easily explained and saw greater buy-in thanks to the capricious nature of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.
Wonderland Fluxx has quickly become my favorite variation of Fluxx for the fits-like-a-glove theme and the way people react to the changes the cards bring to the game.
Whether you’re a fan of Fluxx or Alice in Wonderland, I recommend you go to your FLGS and pick up a copy of Wonderland Fluxx. Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar has given you the call.