This Halloween, Looney Labs releases a timely little gem: Zombie Fluxx. It updates the standard Fluxx rules with a fair number of new faces. I you do not know Fluxx, I will give you a brief update. If you do know Fluxx, you can skip the bit in italics.
As the name suggests, the rules are in flux all the time. It starts simple, you draw one card and you play one card, following the rules and description of the cards. You play Keepers to your table, Goals to fulfill (generally by having certain Keepers), New Rules cards which update the rules of the game, and Action cards that do a single, instant action. The basic idea is you win when you achieve a Goal. Game play goes on as long or as little as needed (some being won in a very short time frame).
Zombie Fluxx adds a couple new types of cards. Creepers, which are usually (always?) zombies that affect a few rules and Ungoals, which are played like goals but force a nobody wins scenario. Most of the keepers have a zombie genre theme: cars, gas cans, lumber, friends, brains, food stuffs. The Creepers have a few variant rules. One type flees from violence. One type comes right back if it is killed.
Some Keepers now also double as weapons, which is fun.
The zombies change the flow of the game, but not in any way that kills the fun. There are goals that require you to have no zombies, goals that require you to have all the zombies, goals that require everyone else to have a zombie. That sort of thing. As standard to Fluxx, the rules and goals keep changing, and you never know if you will be able to even keep cards in your hand until the end of the next turn, so strategy sometimes slams back and forth between building up zombies followed by trying to drive to other players. The themes of sacrificing yourself to save the others or leaving the others to die are represented. A few themes, like sending zombies after a sandwhich, don't quite come from the "canon", but work in the context of a Fluxx game.
This sort of ebb and flow of strategy seems to be the kind of thing missing from the original Fluxx, if indeed anything is missing. It might be better to say that this exposes a new side to the game not possible before, a twisted sense of resource management. Reminds me of the short, "fits on a postcard" game Fight the Power by Cheapass Games where you can get enough elves to win or you can get rid of the elves to win. There is that little factor of do or die, going here, and both might equally work depending on your approach.
This is still a Fluxx game, though, and hands get discarded, all cards in your hand get forced to be played, random goals dropped from the middle of nowhere jump up and there are more zombies than you can shake a can of zombie repellant at. The New Rules cards feel expanded here. They are always a good part of Fluxx, but here there just seemed to be more on the table.
As always, you can use blank cards to add rules and scenarios all on your own.
Final verdict? Excellent game and a perfect time to release it. It is fun, quirky, quick to learn and while it eschews long-term strategy it works as a zombie game should: you think on your feet and things change any minute. You will spend a lot more time laughing than being scared, mind you, but how better to welcome our new undead overlords?
With a special thank you going out to whoever designed the Groan card. When you draw a zombie, you have to Groan like one. I'm half tempted to make that a permanent rule.
New Rule. "Bub's Rule". Pick any one, and only one, zombie at a time to count as a friend card. (Creepers with more than one zombie are not eligible)
New Action. "That One You See Everywhere". Pick any one Creeper and move it to the center of the table under the current goal. This Creeper now counts as everyone's and everything that implies.
New Action. "I'm the One with the Gun". Player gets the shotgun, be it from the discard pile or draw pile (reshuffle) or from another player. If character already has shotgun, then player can use shotgun twice for this turn.
New Rule: "Sometimes They Come Back." Any Creeper sent to the discard pile, for any reason, is actually just flipped face down. On the start of the player's next turn, they are played back face up.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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