Some card games have entire books and online forums devoted to debating their rules. The game Fluxx, on the other hand, has exactly two rules: draw one card, and play one card. That is, until you actually start playing cards.
There are four different types of cards in Fluxx: Rule cards, Action cards, Keeper cards, and Goal cards.
When you play a Rule card, the rule on that card becomes part of the game. For example, you might play a “Draw 3” card, at which point the rule is now to draw three cards instead of one at the beginning of your turn. Another Rule card might reverse the order of play, or require you to play all of your cards on every turn.
Action cards are cards that you can play on your turn to take an immediate action. Usually, this means drawing cards, stealing cards from other players, or resetting the rules. These are tactical cards that get discarded after use, and can be played to gain a strategic advantage.
Keepers are just objects you play, and they stay in front of you. They are generally useless, except when combined with Goals. Goals spell out how you win the game using Keepers. Goals may say you need to have the Sun card and the Moon card to win, or just the Love card and nothing else. Of course, just as soon as you think you’re about to win, someone can replace the Goal, and you have to start from scratch.
Fluxx is almost a completely different game every time you play. Sometimes the play is slow and strategic, and other times it is quick and frantic. I’ve played games where we’ve had to reshuffle the deck a dozen times because we’ve run through all the cards, and I’ve played games where I’ve won on the second turn.
My favorite thing about Fluxx, though, is that the game can be taught in just a few minutes. Since the rules are simple and always right out in front of you, it's easy to know exactly what you need to do. It's a great game to bring out at a party – instead of spending time teaching people how to play, you can use that time actually playing the game.
This commentary originally ran on June 6, 2013