Introducing Fairy Tale Fluxx

The Fluxx series of games has been around already since 1997. Created by Andrew Looney his publishing brand Looney Labs, it's spawned a growing number of games using the Fluxx game system. It's a card game with ever changing rules, hence the name "fluxx", which means change. The aim is to get two "Keeper" cards that match the current "Goal" card in play, which represents the win condition of the game. On a turn, you typically draw a card or play a card, but the game-play is very dynamic. The amount of cards you draw and play, along with various hand and other limits, can fluctuate depending on what happens, and there are game cards that mess with the rules or introduce actions that modify things. Despite a fairly high luck element, Fluxx can be a very fun social game with the right group, due to its unusual and even chaotic game-play, also because it plays so quickly.

In recent times the Fluxx brand has been growing with the addition of more titles into the Fluxx stable. Some of these introduce different themes, like Nature Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, Star Trek Fluxx, and Zombie Fluxx. Others introduce an educational component, like Chemistry Fluxx, Math Fluxx, and Anatomy Fluxx, while still keeping the game-play fun. But because Fluxx is ever-changing, we shouldn't be surprised to discover that the publisher has found yet another way to change up the game. And that's by introducing a whole new style of art, to fit with a fairy tale theme.



Enter Mary Engelbreit, whom the Looney Labs team brought on board for their latest version of the game, Fairy Tale Fluxx. Mary is a well-known and highly respected graphic artist and children's book illustrator. She is famous for her Home Companion magazine and her greeting cards, all of which feature her unique style of artwork, often along with pithy sayings or quotes. Her artwork has been licensed by other companies for a wide range of products, and so you'll find her charming style on everything from including calendars, stationery, t-shirts, fabric, mugs, gift books, ceramic figurines, dinnerware, and more. Her recognizable style tends to feature recurring elements like cherries, checks, cottage roses, and straw hats, all depicted with vibrant colours and decorative borders. People magazine has stated that "her signature greeting-card style has become as recognizable as the work of Norman Rockwell."

That makes Mary's enchanting and timeless style just perfect for a Fluxx game set in the world of fairy tales. So let's tell you more about this 2018 game, which even features Mary's name on the box.



COMPONENTS

Box

Mary's name is displayed prominently on the box, and the castle artwork with decorative features immediately invites us to enter a fairy tale world.



The back of the box covers the basic concept of the Fluxx game-play by summarizing the four main types of cards in the game and how it works as follows: "New Rules change the way the game is played! Actions shake up your turn! Collect the Keepers shown on the current Goal to win!"



Component list

So what's inside the box?
● 100 cards
● instructions

A full list of the cards in Fairy Tale can be found here.



Basic Rules card

There is a single "Basic Rules" card, which is what you start the game with. It remains permanently on the table, and indicates the basic flow of the game: Draw 1 card, Play 1 card. A different coloured back ensures that it won't easily get mixed up with the other cards from the game.



New Rule cards

The 21 New Rule cards adjust the flow of play, such as by increasing the number of cards that can be drawn or played (Draw 2, Play 3, etc), or imposing limits to the cards in hand or Keepers in play (Hand Limit 3, Keeper Limit 4). These cards will be familiar to anyone who has played Fluxx before. There are a couple of rule cards specific to Fairy Tale Fluxx, like "Magic Spell", which allows you to take and play the top card of the draw pile on your turn if you have the Witch, Wizard, Fairy, or Genie in play.



Keeper cards

The 23 Keeper cards are what you'll need to play to win the game. They get put in front of you when you play them. All of these are characters from popular fairy tales, like Princess, Prince, Giant, Bears, Gingerbread Man, Wolf, or Frog, and items like Glass Slipper or Lamp, and places like Woods or Tower.



Goal cards

The 35 Goal cards represent the win condition of the game, which will change whenever one Goal gets replaced by another. There's a large number of these, and they typically consist of combinations of fairy tale characters or items, to keep with the theme, like "Genie of the Lamp", "Kiss Me Princess", or "Little Red Riding Hood". For example, "Who's That Nibbling On My House?" requires the Gingerbread House plus the Witch cards, while "Jack and the Beanstalk" requires the Little Boy plus the Giant cards. Due to the fact that fairy tales often have characters common to several of them, like the Wolf, or the Princess, there's a lot of fun combinations here.



Action cards

The 20 Action cards give a player opportunity to take a special action when played, like "Trash a Keeper", "Trade Hands", or "Use What You Take". The vast majority of these are the same as cards from the original Fluxx. But there are several that specifically fit with the fairy tale theme, like "Your Wish is Granted" and "Robin Hood".



Rulebook

The game rules consist of a single double sided sheet. It has a very practical and clear graphic design that helps make learning the game easy. You can view and download it on the publisher's website here.



GAME-PLAY

Set-Up

Many readers will have played Fluxx or one of its incarnations, but if you're completely unfamiliar with the game, it's very easy to learn. Everyone gets three cards from a shuffled deck, and you're ready to play. The initial rules are very straight forward, and are summarized on the "Basic Rules" card which remains on the table throughout the game: on your turn you Draw 1 Card and Play 1 Card (doing whatever the played card says).



Flow of Play

In clock-wise order, you take turns drawing and playing a card, although the number of cards drawn or played can vary as the rules change. At the end of your turn you must discard to comply with any Limit rules that are in play.

Card types

There are only four types of cards, which are played as follows:

New Rules are played next to the Basic Rules card, remain in play and take effect immediately.

Actions are performed immediately and then played to the face-up discard pile.



Keepers are played in front of you, and remain in play.

Goals are played to the middle of the table, replacing the previous Goal which is discarded.



Sample game

Here's how a typical game in play might look, showing where the different types of cards are placed.



Game End

So how do you win? It's very simple - you just need to have the Keeper cards corresponding to the ones listed on the Goal card. For example, if the current goal is "Happily Ever After", and you have the two Keepers "The Princess" and "The Prince", then you immediately win.



CONCLUSIONS

What do I think?

Fluxx-like: This game is very, very close to the original Fluxx game that I have. It has a whole different look and feel, of course, but the majority of the New Rule and Action cards are the same. That isn't a bad thing, because it's a tried and true game system, and it does mean that it is well balanced and fun. Of course if you never liked the original Fluxx, this isn't likely to change your negative opinion.

Uncomplicated: Some of the later Fluxx games introduced other card types, like "Surprises", "Creepers", and even "Ungoals". Pirate Fluxx, for example, also has different icons corresponding to different groups of Keepers (e.g. ships), which also has significance for the game-play. Those looking to really change things up from the original Fluxx will appreciate the extra complexity and twists these additions bring. But Fairy Tale Fluxx has none of those things, and keeps things simple. Considering that the target market is families and children, I think this is a good decision.

Fairy tale theme: I'm always amazed how a different theme can really change the feel of a game, and that's definitely true with many of the Fluxx gmaes, including this one. There aren't many rule changes with Fairy Tale Fluxx, and it's quite true to the original. But all the Keepers and the Goal cards are entirely different, and emerge from the world of fairy tales, and that makes the entire game feel quite different.

Fairy tale artwork: The artwork by Mary Engelbreit deserves special mention, and will be one of the things that makes this version of Fluxx particularly appealing. My first experience with the original Fluxx was with a game that had very simple black-and-white illustrations. But with Fairy Tale Fluxx that all changes, because we get colourful and detailed images, in the usual Mary Engelbreit style. That really does add something to the game, and help make the world of fairy tales come alive.

Fairy tale graphic design: It's not just the theme and the artwork that has changed, but the whole graphic design of the cards has had a makeover with this edition. This is especially evident with the titles at the top of the cards, with the words "Action", "New Rule", "Keeper", and "Goal" all employing a more playful font that is in keeping with the theme. The creativity of the font can perhaps distract from its clarity, but fortunately the colour coding of the card types ensures that we'll never get anything mixed up, and the different card types also have helpful icons to keep them distinguished. The rest of the card text is all in a sensible and plain font that is easy to read.

Family friendly: The original Fluxx was never intended to be a serious strategic game, and Fairy Tale Fluxx continues the same simple formula that has made the series popular. There's a good dose of luck, but that doesn't make the game frustrating to play, because you always feel that things could suddenly fall your way if the right card shows up, and there's always this chance of winning. The game-play is all about the fun of interaction, and capitalizing on the cards in your hand. The short game-time helps, with games usually only taking 10-15 minutes. Given how easy the rules are, this makes it an ideal game for families and non-gamers, and it can really be enjoyed as a light social game in almost any group.



Recommendation

So is Fairy Tale Fluxx for you, and is it a fairy tale wish come true? If you've never played Fluxx at all, and are considering picking it up, then you might want to consider getting this version instead. The fairy tale theme should especially appeal to children and families. And yet it doesn't feel childish, because even adults are more than familiar with the classic tales underlying the cards, and it's still fun to try to put together the Keepers needed to win the game.

In many respects the charming artwork of Mary Engelbreit and the imaginative theme add some welcome colour and life to the more generic Fluxx, even though the game-play is largely the same. It isn't a game that will start a revolution, but Fairy Tale Fluxx certainly can add some fun to your tabletop and to a social event with family or friends. Enjoyable for everyone - even with the ugly step sisters!

Where to get it? Fairy Tale Fluxx is available from most game retailers. For more information about the game, see the publisher's official page about Fairy Tale Fluxx here.



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mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

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MC Crispy
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EndersGame wrote:
Mary is a well-known and highly respected graphic artist and children's book illustrator. She is famous for her Home Companion magazine and her greeting cards, all of which feature her unique style of artwork, often along with pity sayings or quotes
Poor boy, he failed to proof-read, so the pedants got him! Is that what you mean?
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Thanks for pointing that out - I missed that error despite multiple proof reads.

I've changed it to the intended word, "pithy".
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David Brain
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It was mildly distracting to see the rules for Pirate Flux included - is that because there wasn't an image of the rules for this one?

(Anyway, nice write-up. I don't like much of the extra stuff that has been introduced in recent years, so going back-to-basics appeals to me. The graphics do look nice.)
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Scurra wrote:
It was mildly distracting to see the rules for Pirate Flux included - is that because there wasn't an image of the rules for this one?
Yikes, don't know how I missed that! Correction made!
 
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Peter Schott
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Not sure how I missed this. Not a huge Fluxx fan, but the special editions almost always add something to make it more interesting. This has great art and would go well with the younger set. I'll probably keep an eye out for it.
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