Thursday, 1 August 2013

Zombie Fluxx: The Ever-Changing Zombie Card Game

Following on from our reviews of Monty Python Fluxx and Zombies!!!, Games & Tea are going to combine the two as we take a look at Zombie Fluxx from Looney Labs.
Zombie Fluxx, as the name implies, is a Zombie themed version of Andrew Looney's flagship game.  Seeing as all Fluxx decks follow the same set of basic rules, there's very little point in us going into them in great detail.  If you're a Fluxx newcomer then you can check out our Monty Python Fluxx review here to get a breakdown on how the game is played.
The very first thing you'll probably notice upon starting a game of Zombie Fluxx is the incredibly high number of Creepers in the deck.  Most Fluxx variations contain 3 or 4 Creepers, but with Zombie Fluxx they have well and truly gone to town...
That's right, you're looking at a whopping 15 Creeper cards right there!  This may, at first glance, seem like Looney Labs have gone slightly overboard, but with Zombie Fluxx this high Creeper content works, and does so for a number of reasons.
First of all, this is a zombie game.  The very nature of zombies is that their strength is in their numbers.  In order for Zombie Fluxx to keep the feel of a zombie apocalypse the gaming table needs to be overrun with zombies, and that's just what this Creeper overload achieves.
Secondly, they feel more like a different level of Keeper than your typical Creeper.  Many of the goals require zombies in order to win the game, so you'll often find yourself wanting to collect zombies.
Thirdly, they don't stick around.  With a higher number of Creeper cards comes a higher number of Creeper-removal cards.  Keepers like The Shotgun allow you to kill one of your zombies each turn, and there are New Rules such as Zombies Ain't So Bad which allow you to win on a non-zombie goal even if you have Creepers galore, or you can use Look, Over There! to move a zombie to an opponent who has Brains, Sandwiches, or a number of other food-based Keepers on the table..  On top of this, several of them move of their own accord.  A Zombie Trio (or a Trio of Zombies) travels to an adjacent player when it would be destroyed, a Pair of Zombies can be palmed off onto any other player if another on of your Creepers dies, and Larry The Zombie quite merrily wanders around the board in a counter-play direction every time the Goal changes.  Larry is also perhaps the only true Creeper in the deck, as there are no conditions under which you can win whilst he's in your possession.  Oddly this seems to make him something of a fan favourite, rather than a hated nemesis.
The other thing which makes Zombie Fluxx a little different is the addition of a new card sub-type.  This was first introduced in Zombie Fluxx and has since crept its way into a few other Fluxx variants where appropriate, but is by no means a standard part of every deck.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present you with the Ungoal!  This is played in the same was as a regular Goal, but results in every player losing the game.  After all, what kind of zombie apocalypse would it be if there wasn't the chance of a Zombie Victory?  This card is especially fun when playing with a team of hardcore zombie fans, as you'll often find at least one player who will throw this down out of nowhere, having been secretly hoping for the zombies to win all along!
Aside from those two interesting notes, the rest of the deck is very much standard Fluxx fare, albeit with a zombie theme.  The New Rule and Action cards consist largely of those found in standard Fluxx, with a few zombie-themed cards thrown into the mix.  The Keepers, and subsequently the Goals, are all zombie-themed, with several zombie clich├ęs available to aim for.
Throughout the course of the game you may find yourself needing to Barricade The Windows.  You could get your Chainsaw at the ready and declare Zombie Season open.  But be careful, if your Friend is turned into a zombie then the Dead Friends New Rule means you'll have to kill them first!
So how does it compare to the other Fluxxes on offer?  The high Creeper content gives it a very different feel of play to its counterparts, but this is by no means a bad thing.  If anything it makes the game feel more fun, as forward-planning goes straight out the window and thinking on your feet becomes the only viable plan.
Unlike the previously reviewed Monty Python Fluxx, there is no specific franchise here, just a general zombie theme.  Zombies have been a firm favourite in popular culture for a very long time, but especially with them being in the ascendency in recent years, you'll be unlikely to have a hard time finding willing players.
At the end of the day though, even with the zombie element driving the game, it's still Fluxx at its core.  As we mentioned in the Monty Python Fluxx review, this is something of a Marmite game amongst gamers, as the strong focus on chance and almost complete absence of tactics will not be everyone's cup of tea.  If you aren't a fan of Fluxx on the whole, then Zombie Fluxx is unlikely to do anything to change your mind.
The Good Points
  • Zombies!  Not only is this a good point on account of the fact that zombies are awesome, but also because of the fact that most people agree that zombies are awesome!  This very popular theme means that willing Zombie Fluxx players are rarely hard to come by.
  • The standard Fluxx benefits apply here; it's easy to learn, easy to customise, and a nice compact game to carry around.
  • Whilst it can be a quick game with a few players, Zombie Fluxx is quite enjoyable to play with multiple players for an extended period.  The chaotic nature of the zombie outbreak is fun to get caught up in, and it doesn't feel as though it's dragging when the games start to approach the hour mark.
The Bad Points
  • As a luck-based, largely non-tactical game, it won't appeal to some gamers.
Recommended Number of Players: 3+
Fluxx in general doesn't work quite so well with just 2 players.  It's still a good game, but with 3 players or more then the whole game can change whilst you wait for your turn to come back around.  For a good all-round Zombie Fluxx experience, this is the minimum number you want to be aiming for.
Replay Value: High
Zombie Fluxx is an excellent wind-down game, and with it being an enjoyable yet generic theme, it's a lot of fun to keep returning to.
The Future: n/a
Each version of Fluxx is its own game, and as such the contents of the box are all you'll ever get of Zombie Fluxx.  However if you've enjoyed the mechanic then there are several other themed Fluxx sets to choose from, including Monty Python Fluxx, Oz Fluzz, Martian Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx and Stoner Fluxx.
Price: £12
Zombie Fluxx will set you back roughly £12, which is a thoroughly decent price for a stand-alone card game.  The various Fluxx sets seem to be standard fare in most specialist game shops, and with zombies more popular than ever, Zombie Fluxx does seem to be one of the most easily available.

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