Sunday, August 4, 2013

Looney Labs: Fluxx: The Board Game Review

 

 Looney Labs was founded in 1997 by owners Kristin and Andrew Looney, a husband and wife duo. They met while working at NASA and gave up their jobs in order to pursue their hobby of making innovative card games. In 1987, Andrew wrote a short story about a fictional game involving pyramid game pieces. His friends helped him to create a prototype game design, and Icehouse Games, Inc. was built. This company produced only several hundred game sets, but was a building block for future game production and marketing. In 1996, Andrew invented the popular card game, Fluxx, and shut down Icehouse Games, Inc., to eventually create "Looney Labs". Iron Crown Enterprises was the publisher that the Looneys chose for Fluxx, but when that company went bankrupt, Looney Labs regained the rights to publish their game. From 2000-2003, Looney Labs operated out of a basement, with the PMC warehouse as a distribution center; they republished a newer, updated version of Fluxx. From 2003-2005, Looney Labs started to produce "themed" versions of Fluxx and international versions, though their expansion was limited to other houses in the neighborhood. From 2005-2008, Looney Labs operated out of a friend's attic. In 2007, they published the "Zombie" themed Fluxx, which greatly added to the rising success of their company. In the past few years, Looney Labs moved into a new office (in a house called "Pepperland"), and they continue to produce new themed versions of Fluxx, as well as other fun and unusual games.




 Here are just a few of the awesome games that Looney Labs offers which are not featured in this review. I've included a little blurb from their website with each:
  • IceDice - IceDice is a fast-playing, easy-to-learn dice game with great press-your-luck action that'll keep you playing over and over again! Your goal is simple: collect 3 matching sets of pyramids. If the piece you roll is gone from the bank, you get to steal it from your opponent! This game is for 2-4 players, ages 14 and up. It takes an average of 5-10 minutes to play and retails for $20.00.
  •  Treehouse - Treehouse is an award-winning, fun, easy-to-learn game for two to four players. Your goal is to rearrange your pyramids to match the set in the center of the table, using only the moves you roll on the custom die. But that’s not all, you get double the value - the bag includes a bonus game, Pharaoh, with a special gameboard and die! This game is for 2-4 players, ages 14 and up. It takes an average of 5-10 minutes to play and retails for $16.00.
  •  Pink Hijinks - Pink Hijinks is an elegantly simple yet surprisingly deep strategy game for 2 players. The special die determines which piece(s) you get to move each turn. Can you be the first to fill your row with 3 of the same-sized pyramids? This game is for 2 players, ages 14 and up. It takes an average of 2-10 minutes to play and retails for $12.00.
  •  Fluxx 4.0 - The card game with ever changing rules! It starts out simple, with just the Basic Rule card: draw one card and play one card during each player's turn. But New Rule cards quickly make things chaotic. Even the object of the game will often change as you play, as players swap out one Goal card for another. Can you get the Rocket to the Moon before someone changes the goal to Death by Chocolate? This game is for 2-5 players, ages eight and up. It takes an average of 5-30 minutes to play and retails for $16.00.
  •  Pirate Fluxx - Yarr! Grab yer Cutlass! Pirates have taken over Fluxx, the ever-changing card game, and their rules be new and strange. There'll be times ye must Talk Like A Pirate, and rules about how ye can Plunder from yer mates. But the most excitin' treasure fer Fluxx fans new and old is the Surprise! - a new card type that you play out of turn! Your trusty Monkey can watch over the Gold Doubloons while you commandeer Ships on the high seas, but only Fruit can protect you from Scurvy. You'll enjoy the privileges of wearing the Captain's Hat... but watch out for Mutiny amongst the crew! This game is for 2-5 players, ages eight and up. It takes an average of 5-30 minutes to play and retails for $16.00.
  •  Zombie Fluxx - Welcome to the dark side of Fluxx, the card game of ever-changing rules! Zombie Fluxx takes the award-winning card game Fluxx and cranks up the fun with a Zombie uprising. The Zombies arrive in the form of a new type of card, called the Creeper, which hangs around in front of you, preventing you from winning. The good news is, the Keepers include a Shotgun and a Chainsaw and various other things you can use as weapons against the Zombies. Plus you've got Sandwiches and Coffee and a couple of Friends to help you win. The bad news is, if your Friends become Zombies, you'll have to destroy them! This game is for 2-6 players, ages eight and up. It takes an average of 5-30 minutes to play and retails for $16.00.
  •  EcoFluxx - In the wild, you must adapt to survive! Will you win by having your Bears Eat Fish? Or will someone change the Goal so that their Frogs and Insects can make Night Music? Play ecology themed Actions and Rules like Scavenger or Composting, but watch out for Creeper cards like Forest Fire, that can hurt everyone! Discover a little about how things go together, with EcoFluxx - the nature game of ever-changing rules! This game is for 2-6 players, ages eight and up. It takes an average of 10-40 minutes to play and retails for $16.00.
  •  Seven Dragons - Seven Dragons is a fast domino-like game, where players attempt to be the first to create a connected territory of seven panels of their dragon. Secret Goals add the opportunity to bluff, and with aggressive Action cards in the mix, subterfuge is a necessity! Seven Dragons features original paintings by Larry Elmore, the greatest dragon artist in the fantasy industry today! This game is for 2-5 players, ages six and up. It takes an average of 20-30 minutes to play and retails for $15.00.
  • Chrononauts - What would YOU do with a Time Machine? Would you stop the sinking of the Titanic? Prevent the assassination of JFK? Kill Hitler before WWII? These are just a few of the possibilities in Chrononauts, the award-winning card game of time travel. To win, you must change history at key points called Linchpins, so that history transforms into the Alternate Reality your character calls home. You can also win by collecting a specific set of Artifacts, such as a live dinosaur, the Mona Lisa, and an unpublished Shakespearean play. But be careful - if you create too many paradoxes, you could destroy the entire universe! This game is for 1-6 players, ages eleven and up. It takes an average of 20-45 minutes to play and retails for $20.00. 
  •  Are you a Werewolf? A vengeful group of villagers must figure out who among them is a werewolf (before it’s too late...) Are You A Werewolf? is a deception party game for 7-15 players. Players are assigned roles secretly. Most players are Villagers, two or three will be Werewolves. The Villagers try to figure out who the werewolves are during the day, and the Werewolves eat the Villagers at night. This game is for 7-16 players, ages twelve and up. It takes an average of 20-60 minutes to play and retails for $6.00.
  •  Nanofictionary - Where are we? Who is there? What's going on? And how is it all going to end? These are the crucial questions each player answers, choosing from the cards they're dealt to tell a very short story. Players combine Settings, Characters, Problems and Resolutions to create a story they then tell to the other players. This game is for 3-6 players, ages ten and up. It takes an average of 30-45 minutes to play and retails for $15.00.

 
Looney Labs' games can be purchased online, at their website, and also in many major and local retailers, including: Barnes and Noble, Tree House Toys, Game Geeks, Toy Chest, Crossroad Games, The Comic Shop, Comic Depot, etc. 


I had the privilege of reviewing a BRAND NEW game by Looney Labs -- Fluxx: The Board Game. It was only just released over a week and a half ago, and I was able to get a review copy, so that I could share my opinions with you. I was so excited, because although I do not own the original Fluxx card game, I have seen my friends playing it during board game nights, and I have tried it once myself. They have the regular version and the Zombies version, which is also a lot of fun. I thought the game was very unique, and that is why I contacted Looney Labs to do a potential review in the first place. I had no idea that they were about to release Fluxx: The Board Game, and they offered to send me a copy if I was interested. When I told my friends, they were extremely jealous -- mostly because I just moved to Maine, and by the time I would receive the board game, they would still be in New York. They are huge Fluxx fans, so they can't wait until I go home so they can try out the board game before they purchase it. Luckily, my boyfriend moved with me, so we were able to test out Fluxx: The Board Game for this review. I have also found several other board game geeks at school (yay!), and hope to set up a board game night soon so that they can play Fluxx as well.


Fluxx: The Board Game is for two to four players, ages eight and up. It takes approximately fifteen to thirty minutes to play. Fluxx: The Board Game retails for $30 and includes: Instructions, 9 tiles, 2 Pegboards, 100 Cards, 12 Pieces, and 8 Pegs. The rules sound mildly confusing when you first read them, but once you run through the game or watch someone else play, you will quickly get the hang of it. Unfortunately, some of us get the hang of the game quicker than others; my boyfriend beat me every time we played! Fluxx: The Board Game has similarities to Fluxx the card game, but it is more complex and adds even more levels of fun! The basic concepts of "goals" are still there, but the path to achieving them is different, difficult, and more entertaining. 

The object of Fluxx: The Board Game is to be the first person to complete or collect the number of goal cards required by your pegboard. To setup the game, you first place the start tile down and then put the other eight tiles around the start tile so that you have a square. What's nice is that you get versatility this way, so that each time you play the game is different. Next, you place your pegs on your pegboards -- one peg goes in each of the left-most positions. Choose where to put the peg on the win pegboard immediately...the higher the number of goals required to win, the longer your game will be. Next, you choose a color card and the corresponding game pieces for each player. Then you take the first five goal cards (you have to rummage to find them amongst other cards), let all players look through them, shuffle, and place them face up on the "Place Goals Here" win pegboard. You shuffle the deck of cards and give each player three to start.

Before you officially start the game, each player gets to make one "rule change" on the pegboards. They can move any of the pegs to the right or left, but you cannot reverse the move of a player before you. After you have done that, the pegboards indicate what moves you will make every turn. You Draw the number of cards the pegboard says to draw first, then you Play the number of cards indicated, then you Move the number of times indicated, then you Discard to match the hand limit specified by the pegboard. You can move and play in any order, as long as you stick to the correct number of moves and plays. In order to move your three game pieces off the starting tile, you have to follow one of the four green arrows.

On your turn, you can choose to move one piece the number of moves indicated by the pegboard, or you can move each piece separately until you reach your number of moves. You must use all moves, and gameplay can move forward or backward horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally. Special moves of the board may be possible, if indicated by the rules pegboard. In this case, you can pick up the actual tiles of the game board and move them. If it says you can "Rotate", that is one game move, and you can rotate 90, 180, or 270 degrees (one tile). If you can "Uproot", you pick up a tile and move it to a different location. You have to keep the tile in the same direction and orientation that it was in originally when you move it. You must place the tile aside another tile, not isolated by itself. If you can use the "Wraparound" move, you can move your game piece off one end of the board and have it appear on the other side, as if all tiles were continuous and there were no spaces. 

Each space on the board can only have one game piece on it at a time (except octagons and portals). If you land on a space with another piece, you have to bump that piece to any adjacent space that is free (or an octagon or portal). If there is no free space available, you cannot move your piece there. This is also true of pieces that you pass when you are moving or jumping. Octagon spaces have no limit to how many pieces can occupy them. Portal spaces also have no limit, but when you land on one you are transferred to the other portal piece on the board. As for card types that you will encounter, there are five. The first is your color card, which you must hang on to, because you may end up trading colors with another player during the game, and that will get confusing. Goal cards are the cards that tell you what spaces you must land on in order to claim the goal card and get closer to winning. The first person to have both of their pieces on the required spaces for the goal cards takes that card. The next is the Leaper card, which is a card that you can play. This moves your piece onto the specified space, and if there is a piece there, that piece is knocked to start (unless on an octagon or portal). This is a play, not a move. The next card is a New Rule, which changes the existing rules on the pegboards. If the pegboard is at the maximum or minimum notch and you cannot move it any further, it stays where it was. The last type of card is an action card -- just follow what the card says for these.

For the hand limit, you must follow the rule by having only the specified number of cards in your hand at one time. Pay attention to this rule, because you cannot hold onto good cards that will get you closer to goals if there is a hand limit of zero or one card(s). At any one time, players can look through the goals without changing the order of the goal cards. If you play a goal when you have your pieces on those space already, you can just claim the goal card immediately. If you use all of the goal cards in the stack before someone wins, it stays empty until another goal is played. As soon as somebody claims the indicated number of goal cards, they win the game. If two people happen to reach the number of goals at the same time, play continues until one player has more goals.

Does that sound confusing? It really isn't! Actually, this game is a ton of fun. I found that you can play it very strategically; Fluxx: The Board Game isn't just about random luck...if you play your cards right, you can dominate the game. My suggestions are (even though I haven't won yet) to look through the goals and REMEMBER them, because even if you don't know the order, you can try to get your game pieces closer to the spaces that you know may be coming up. Think thoroughly about your moves and plays before you make them; depending on the number of moves and plays that you have, you might be able to accomplish a goal, or get very close. You may even be able to set other players back, or put them at a disadvantage by changing the rules or the goals. It's funny when you get a leaper card and you can knock somebody back to start when they were just about to achieve a goal. Every time I thought I was going to win, my boyfriend went and changed the goal on me -- or he had planned it out to where he could rotate the board or get his pieces to the goals before I could. It's very frustrating when you change colors, because then you keep moving everyone else's pieces, because you think that they are still yours! As I said, Fluxx: The Board Game has some elements of the card game, but now there are more goals to claim, more card types, the pegboards, and no removal of goals that you have already obtained. The Board Game is well worth the $30, especially for Fluxx lovers, to complete their collection! Playing the board game has made me want to buy all the card games. I love that the board game is so unique, easy to play, and competitive. It is a great conversation starter, and can really be played with any age group or intelligence level. It's good for both a quiet rainy night game, as well as a party game. I think it is well-adapted for multiple players, but it is still fun if you only have two or three. I think that the game play probably lasts longer when you have more players, because the rules change faster and it is harder to be the first to obtain the correct amount of goals.

If you have never played Fluxx the card game, there is NOTHING I can compare Fluxx: The Board game to. Honestly, that is one of its best qualities. How often can you say you have found a game that doesn't just combine elements of other popular games? This game is genius, and all its own. I appreciate the design and the quirkiness. It is fun for the whole family, and I think that over the next few years, the board game will gain as much popularity as the card game, and will easily become a "cult" classic. This is a MUST HAVE if you are looking for something original. What a great gift it would make for a board-game lover or someone who is really into strategy! Below you can see some pictures of what the game layout looks like, and how my boyfriend and I played it. Sorry for the poor quality in some of the pictures -- we are still working on the lighting in my new apartment.

























Interested in learning more about Looney Labs and their products? Check out the links below:

6 comments:

  1. We're a big board game family! Thanks for sharing :)

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  2. I've never heard of this brand of games before! I love playing board games so this sounds like fun. I'd especially like to play the Zombie game!

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  3. We have Fluxx the card game and my husband loves this game, I will have to tell him that they have a board game now! Thanks!

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  4. interesting game. never heard of it.

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  5. I had never heard of this game before, but I like that it doesn't take a long time to play. Sounds interesting and fun.

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