Batman Fluxx Game Review

batmanfluxx_top

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 to 6 players
  • Variable game play length

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Reading
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Take on Gotham’s worst criminals and send them to jail, once and for all

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The city of Gotham has become a cesspool of crime and villainy. The police are helpless to stop the onslaught, despite the backing of politicians and the general populace. All looks helpless in the light of day, but in the darkness of night, Gotham’s savior emerges. Part detective, part vigilante, Batman now hunts the hunters, bringing them to justice one Bat Punch at a time.

Batman Fluxx, designed by Andrew Looney and published by Looney Labs, is comprised of 100 cards. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card. Illustrations are provided by Derek Ring and from Batman: The Animated Series.

A Gallery of Rogues

Batman Fluxx is completely card driven and the game changes as each card is played to the table. Sometimes the rules change and sometimes the victory condition. Understanding how the cards work is not very complex as each card will clearly describe what needs to be done and when. Even if you’ve never played the game before, by simply reading the cards, a player can play the game right out of the box with little difficulty.

Basic Rules Card

All Fluxx games start with 2 simple rules. On a player’s turn they draw 1 card and play 1 card. The Basic Rules card is placed during game set up to remind players what they can do. It won’t be long before this rule card is discarded, however, so don’t grow attached to it.

batmanfluxx_basic

New Rule Card

As the game progresses, new rules will be introduced. New Rule cards add and remove new game play elements, including trumping the Basic Rules card. Players shouldn’t become attached or attempt to form a strategy around any rule in the game, since there is no guarantee the rule will remain.

In Batman Fluxx, New Rule cards will do more than just alter how many cards can be played or drawn. For example, the “Batman Logo Bonus” New Rule card awards any player who is wearing a Batman logo an extra card. Talk about wearing the right boxers at the right time, eh, guys? The “Arkham Asylum” New Rule card is one of my favorites. It “holds” the Creeper cards, thematically locking them up until such time they bust out and return to the draw deck.

batmanfluxx_newrule

Action Cards

Action cards allow players to bend the rules currently in play once and are then discarded. Action cards usually let the player do something nasty to an opponent or temporarily cheat. For example, the “KPOW!” Action card allows a player to collect all the Creeper cards and place them under the “Arkham Asylum” New Rule card. A nasty bit of business, especially if working on a Goal card that needs a Creeper card. But everyone knows that Arkham is not the “Fort Knox” of prisons. Use the “Get Out of Jail” Action card to set a nasty villain free to cause chaos in Gotham!

batmanfluxx_action

Goal Cards

Goal cards define the game’s victory condition. Since there are no Goal cards at the start of a game, no one knows what they need to do to win. As the game progresses, Goal cards will start to be played. Goals are for everyone, which means if you play a Goal card, you are also giving your opponent’s a way to win. Players complete a Goal card by playing the right Keeper cards (most of the time). Only 1 Goal card is in play at a time in the middle of the gaming area, until the rules say otherwise. If a new Goal card is played, it replaces the previous Goal card.

batmanfluxx_goals

Keeper Cards

Keeper cards are used to complete the requirements described by a Goal card. Keeper cards are played in front of a player and belong to them until they are either stolen or discarded. In Batman Fluxx, a good number of Keeper cards provide extra abilities while in play. These should be considered special rules and how they are used is described on each card. Only the player who controls the Keeper card can use it.

batmanfluxx_keeper

Creeper Cards

Creeper cards are the villains in the game. Traditionally, Creeper cards in Fluxx simply stop you from winning. They are the proverbial stone in your shoe. Creeper cards in Batman Fluxx are, indeed, bad and will stop a player from winning UNLESS a Goal card says otherwise! This makes Creeper cards somewhat desirable, but also a gamble, as the majority of Goal cards favor Keeper cards. Players now have a choice in the game. They can back the Caped Crusader or side with the Rogues’ Gallery.

batmanfluxx_creeper

Surprise Cards

Surprise cards can be played out-of-turn or during a player’s turn, but when they are played changes what the card does. Surprise cards are great for canceling other cards and quickly changing an opponent’s plans for their turn.

batmanfluxx_surprise

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first find the Basic Rules card. Place this in the center of the playing area. This card defines the starting rules of the game that all players must follow until such time a New Rule card is played and trumps it.

Second, shuffle the remaining cards and deal out to each player a starting hand of 3 cards. If any player has been dealt a Creeper card, they must immediately play it in front of them and are dealt a new card. Players should keep their cards that have not been played to the table hidden at all times.

Third, place the remaining cards next to the Basic Rules card, face-down. This is the draw deck. Leave room for a discard pile.

That’s it for game set up. Determine who should go first and begin play.

Patrolling Gotham

Batman Fluxx (and every Fluxx game, for that matter) is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. What a player can or cannot do is dependent on what the current rules state. Since the rules in play are always random and changing, it’s impossible to provide a comprehensive summary of a player’s turn. Instead, I’ll provide the most basic options.

Step 1: Draw Cards (Maybe)

Cards are drawn from the draw deck and only if a rule allows it. It’s possible to draw 1 or more cards during this step. Drawn cards are placed in the player’s hand. If the draw deck is out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to make a new draw deck. Creeper cards, unless otherwise stated by a rule, are always placed in front of the player, face-up, when drawn.

Step 2: Play Cards (Maybe)

The player now plays as many cards as stated by the current rule. Any card the player has in their hand is playable. If a New Rule card is played, it supersedes the old rule cards immediately. If the new rule change would have influenced the current player’s turn (for example, drawing cards), they now resolve the new rule. Action and Surprise cards are discarded when played, Goal cards are played to the middle of the game playing area (replacing previous goals), and Keeper cards are placed in front of the player. If you are pondering all the different ways the cards could be played and cause confusion, you are not alone. The game comes with a FAQ that addresses the majority of strange game conditions caused by the cards.

Step 3: Discard Cards (Maybe)

The player now discards down to the hand size limit set by the current rules. If the player doesn’t have any cards, this step is skipped. If they have more cards than allowed, they select the cards they want to put in the discard pile.

Step 4: Comply With Keeper Limit (Maybe)

The player must now discard down to the Keeper card limit set by the rules. This only applies to the Keeper cards the player has in play in front of them, not the Keeper cards in their hand or all the Keeper cards in play.

And that’s it! Well, not entirely. Recall that the rules will be changing constantly which will impact players when it’s not their turn and Surprise cards could be played at anytime to throw everyone off their game. Such is the chaos that is Fluxx. The player’s turn is now over and the next player now takes their turn.

Crime Never Pays

The game continues as noted above until 1 player has completed the requirements of a Goal card. It’s perfectly possible that a player could win the game by playing a Goal card that requires cards already in play or a new Goal card awards victory to one or more players simultaneously. Players could also win out of turn.

To learn more about Batman Fluxx, visit the game’s web page.

Final Word

The Child Geeks loved the game. When they weren’t playing Batman Fluxx, they were looking at the cards and talking about the DC Comic Book World. The game really captured their imagination, which was both surprising and energizing. According to one Child Geek, “I really like this version of Fluxx! It captures everything I love about Batman, perfectly! Just like the cartoon!” It’s important to note that the Child Geeks who were familiar with the cartoon and Batman immediately fell in love with the game. For those who were not, they had a different point of view. According to one Child Geek who was a bigger fan of Marvel than DC, “I like the game. It’s fun. I don’t like Batman and I don’t know who some of these characters are, but I liked the game all the same.” All the Child Geeks voted to approve Batman Fluxx, finding it to be a game that engaged and thrilled them in equal measure.

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One of the Child Geek shakes his fist at the heavens as he collects his 4th Creeper – he later went on to win the game

Some of the Parent Geeks were not happy to be playing “yet another Fluxx game”. Fluxx is often seen as an overly casual and nonsensical exercise bordering on a waste of time. The first hint I received that attitudes might be changing is when a Parent Geek said to me, “What is the name of the game my kids just played? It was some kind of Batman game. That’s all he’s talking about.” And so, when it came time for the Parent Geeks to try the game, many of them were already familiar with it due to their children telling them all about it. Their impression of the game? According to one Parent Geek, “A neat new take on Fluxx, I think. I like how they used the characters and story in the comics with the game mechanics. Feels like a perfect fit.” Another Parent Geek said, “This feels like a Batman game. Not a Fluxx game.” All the Parent Geeks enjoyed themselves and enjoyed the game even more when they played it with their children whose enthusiasm was very contagious. When all the games were over, the Parent Geeks voted to approve Batman Fluxx, with  some even doubting it was a Fluxx game to begin with.

The Gamer Geeks were much more critical, but open to the idea of trying a game featuring Batman. After all, most Gamer Geeks tend to have a little Comic Book Geek in them. Lack of new rules upset the Gamer Geeks right from the start and they incorrectly assumed the game was just Fluxx with a Batman theme duct taped on. After the first game, they felt differently. According to one Gamer Geek, “I think they did a great job of mixing Batman with the game, bringing out the essential elements that make up a Batman story without bolting them onto the game’s rule.” Another Gamer Geek said, “I don’t care for the game because of its basic game play. This game and others like it, drive me nuts. But I do want to recognize that the game did a great job of not looking like it was just a Batman flavored Fluxx game. It feels new, but is still too Fluxx-like for my taste.” The Gamer Geeks all agreed that the game’s theme and game mechanics were in perfect unison. What they couldn’t agree on was if that made for a good game or not. The result was a mixed level of approval from the Gamer Geeks.

Damn… I like another Fluxx game. My all-time favorite is still Cthulhu Fluxx because it captures, thematically speaking, the chaos and aggravation you’d expect to find when attempting to either thwart or champion the Great Old Ones. It was the game’s thematic element and how it was used in the game that made it enjoyable. I can say the same thing for Batman Fluxx. Under the game’s covers is the standard Fluxx game with all of its bells and whistles. Not very exciting, but what made it an enjoyable game was how it combined the simple card rules with stylish and highly thematic elements from the Batman: The Animated Series universe. Some were subtle and some were just flat-out fan service. For example, you cannot have both “Batman” and “Bruce Wayne” Keeper cards in play at the same time. Why? Because they are the same person! It’s a small rule, but boy, did it make everyone smile.

batmanfluxx_brucebat

There’s no way Bruce Wayne is Batman! Bruce doesn’t wear a cape…

This is not just Fluxx with Batman gravy slathered on top of it. Nothing feels pasted or haphazardly thrown on. I get the very real impression that the designers started with Batman and then worked the Fluxx game in using the characters and cartoon plots as the guiding force. This resulted in a Batman game that just happens to be Fluxx, rather than it being a Fluxx game that features Batman. That’s a very important distinction that made all the difference with our groups.

Look, man, I’m not going to oversell this. Batman Fluxx is Fluxx. It’s also a bit more, but not a lot more. It’s Fluxx after all. It’s still random, it’s still chaotic, and now all of that is wrapped up in a game with Batman. And you know what? It works.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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