As I mentioned in my Ohio LinuxFest 2006 wrap-up, I was introduced to the card game Fluxx. Using an Amazon gift certificate I'd been sitting on, I purchased the game, along with the Family Fluxx version.
The games arrived today, so I invited the twins and Carina to play a few rounds with me. There was much giggling as the girls thought they were preparing to make some great play, only to have them groan loudly as the rules or objective changed before their turn.
The game is deceptively simple: the game starts with each player drawing one card and playing one card on their turn. Players place Keepers in front of them, trying to collect the right combination of Keepers to satisfy the victory conditions on the Goal card in play. A player can replace the goal card with another during their turn, though, so the goal of the game is constantly in flux. Rules cards change the rules in different ways: draw more cards, keep less cards in your hand, play all your cards every turn. Family Fluxx has three "bonus" rules: one for kids under 12 (play an extra card on your turn), one for parents (draw an extra card), and one for grandparents (I forget the bonus).
Say the "Draw 3" rule is in play, and so is the Parent bonus. As a parent, I'd draw 4 cards, while the kids would only draw 3. If the "Hand Limit: 1" card is in play, I'd only be able to keep only one card in my hand at the end of my turn. Most Rule cards take immediate effect, though, so I could play a "Play 2" card in order to play another card right away! The next player would have "Draw 3", "Play 2" and "Hand Limit: 1" all in effect.
Goals are things like "The player with the Tree keeper and the House keeper wins the game" (this is the "Treehouse" Goal). So, in order to win, you need to have both of those Keepers in play. There exists a fourth type of card -- Actions -- which make single-shot actions occur. Examples include drawing three extra cards ("Jackpot"), taking an extra turn, or stealing a Keeper from someone else.
So quite literally, your strategy for winning changes with every turn. It's a wonderfully entertaining game, and I'm looking forward to playing again soon!
The Family Fluxx version isn't terribly different from the regular version, but it's sufficiently simplified to make playing with younger kids actually enjoyable. In the regular version of the game there are rules like "Inflation", which increases every digit by one. So, if "Inflation" is in play with a "Draw 3" rule, each player would draw 4. This is further complicated by Rules that permit the person with the least number of cards to draw an extra card (2 cards, due to "inflation"!) which then elevates their card count and provides the bonus to someone else. During several rounds at Ohio LinuxFest we spent several minutes working through all the rules in play to make sure we were playing correctly. It's maddeningly fun!
Of all the cards in the regular version of the game, I think "First Card Random" is probably the Rule that produces the most interesting game. On your turn, you draw (however many, as necessary) and then turn to the person on your right. They select at random a card from your hand, and you must play it. If there's no Rule in play to provide for more plays per turn, then your turn is over. Strategy is basically non-existant at this point, and the players are all just along for the ride! At Ohio LinuxFest, we had the following Rules in play on one round: "Draw 3", "Inflation", "First Play Random", "Hand Limit: 0". So, each turn someone would draw 4 cards, allow the person to their right select a card for play, and then discard the remainder of their hand!
Games can be as short as two plays (first player plays a Goal that specifies a single Keeper win condition, and the second player plays that Keeper) or as long as 30-40 minutes! No two games are the same.
I'm itching to play with a group soon, so please drop me a line if you're in the neighborhood and interested!!