Our next game in the grand A to Z game-shelf play-through brought us to our first Fluxx game – Chemistry Fluxx.
Basic Info: Chemistry Fluxx
Time: 5-30 Minutes
Designer: Andrew Looney
Artist: Andrew Heath
Publisher: Looney Labs
The Fluxx series of games all have essentially the same game-play — with the exception of “meta rules” and the presence or absence of “creepers”. Each game of Fluxx starts out relatively easily – each player has a hand of three cards and on a turn they draw one card and play one card. The first player to have the necessary “Keepers” in front of them to fulfill the current Goal immediately wins the game.
The cards come in a few varieties – Keepers are played in front of a player and stay there throughout the game unless stolen or discarded due to Keeper Limit restrictions (which come into play with New Rules), New Rules change the rules, Goals define the win condition, and Actions change things up even more. Every rule can be changed – different goals, hand-limits introduced, drawing more cards each turn, playing more cards each turn, and limits on the number of Keepers in front of you. Plus there are usually some crazy rules specific to that Fluxx variant.
In each Fluxx variant, the theming is everything. As the name implies, Chemistry Fluxx concentrates on the elements around us, how they combine to make compounds, and what you might find in the laboratory. The Keepers are all either elements or lab equipment. Most of the Goals represent chemical compounds such as water, battery acid, or salt, with just a few goals requiring specific lab equipment.
The new rules are also thematic. In our game, I played the “Helium Effect” rule. The player who plays this card gets helium in their Keepers, but is then required to talk in a high-pitched voice (as if breathing helium) the entire time. If they fail, the player who notices gets the helium Keeper, and the burden of talking in a high-pitched voice.
Andrew got rid of that rule at his first chance. For my part, I was having fun!
The original Fluxx was one of the first games in our collection. We have several of the Fluxx variants, and I had sworn off buying new ones, but I couldn’t resist the theme on this one. Sure, my background is physics, not chemistry, but sometimes you have to say “close enough”!
I do like this game, and I love the addition of the science to the game. It’s hard, though, to review this as anything but another Fluxx game. Fluxx is very light – easy to teach and sometimes quick to play (except when you want it to be quick, then it drags on). Chemistry Fluxx is one of the lighter versions of an already light game, because it does not have the compilations of Creepers (cards that hang out with your Keepers, and typically prevent you from winning).
How is it as a 2-player game? Fluxx in general isn’t a great 2-player game. It plays fine, but the game just works better with more players changing the rules, replacing the goals, and generally creating chaos.
How about the art and component quality? I love the art of this variant. The lab equipment is cute, but I especially appreciate the thought that went into the element Keeper art. They include the chemical symbol, name, mass number, and atomic weight, as you might expect. However, they also include a visualization of the electron orbitals for each element, which is a great touch. The cards themselves are good quality, and they come in a sturdy box.
Will this stay in my collection? Yes – I love pulling out Fluxx on game nights, and this is a variant that speaks to my geeky side way too well.