Everything in Fluxx

Most of my Fluxx Games

Let me tell you about one of my favorite games, a little card game called Fluxx.

Example Fluxx Rule: Talk like a pirate.

New Rule: Talk like a pirate.

It starts very simple.  There is a deck of cards.  Each person is dealt four cards.  The rules are simple.  On your turn, you draw one card, and you play one card.  As soon as the game starts, though, it gets more complicated.  Every card tell you how it’s supposed to be played.  Some of the cards change the rules of the game, for example to say you have to draw two cards instead of one).  Other cards will help you win, while their opposites will actually prevent you from winning.  Some cards contains surprises that you can spring on your fellow players.

In other words, the game is always “in flux.”

There are lots of different flavors to this game, and I’ve enjoyed every one that I’ve tried.  It starts with basic Fluxx.  After that is Star Fluxx, a sci-fi themed game that adds in two new ideas, surprises and creepers, which prevent you from winning.  Pirate Fluxx is completely pirate themed and very similar to Star Fluxx.  Eco Fluxx is ecology themed and has new concepts like player interdependent goals and removing cards from the game all together.  My friends and I were not sure about it before we played, but it is indeed fun.

The most complicated in Cthulhu Fluxx.  It has everything all the other games has, but with a few other new mechanics as well.  It’s possible for everyone to lose in Cthulhu Fluxx.  One of the best games of Fluxx I had was with a friend where a card was played and we knew someone won, but we had to unwrap four layers of rules in order to figure it out.

There is little that is predictable about a game of Fluxx, including how long a game could take.  It could be over within a few minutes, or it could take more than an hour.

The next step, and the one I’ve not taken yet, is to try Fluxx the board game. It goes even crazier, and to give you an idea, check out the introduction video below. Have fun playing!

A Roll of the Dice

My Set of Dice

Last night I had my bi-weekly table top RPG session with a number of peeps online. Does it still count as a table top if it’s all on a website instead? I’m going to say so. We started about 9 months ago playing a short campaign in Pathfinder, and then we moved to a Fate campaign, which just changed into a modified Numenera game. Really, though, the system doesn’t matter.

You see, Table top RPG’s are not about winning or losing. They’re about creating a narrative. Over the course of hours, weeks, months, and even years, you and your group of friends create an epic story that you build collaboratively using random and non-random events.

It starts with character creation. You create a character that has certain attributes. You create their history. You decide what their motivations are. The others create their characters too, and then you bring them together, and let your imagination run wild. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s really an embodiment of the adage: “The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”

It doesn’t even need to be a lot of work. A really simple game of this type is called “Everyone is John” (free PDF). To play, you need at least three people with great imaginations. One of them is the GM (stands for Game Master). He controls and describes the world. The other two take turns playing the different personalities of the player character, a guy named John. You decide ahead of time what you’re skilled at and what you want to accomplish. When the game starts, the gm places the character somewhere and then the player takes over.

When I played it the first time, I decided my skills would be ironing, writing letters, and playing darts. Based on those skills, I decided I wanted to iron a shirt, write a letter to my mother, and win a game of darts. The GM started the game by saying “You’re wake up in an alley, covered in trash.” Then I got to play by saying things like:

  • “Stand up and brush my clothes off.”
  • “Go to the end of the alley.”
  • “Ask someone where nearest post office was

Then I would roll a regular dice. If it was a one or two, I would fail, and control of John would pass on to another character who would find themselves in my position. If it was a three or four, I would succeed with failure. For example, maybe I would stand up and brush my clothes off, but then fall back down. If it was five or six, I would succeed. It’s pretty simple.

The key to playing, though, is imagination. There is no game board. There are no complex rules. The game can only be as fun as you make it. If you really buy in and go for it, the results are absolutely hilarious. I highly recommend it!

A Summer of Awesome

This summer is shaping up to be really great.  I have two major trips planned.  The first is next week to Madison, Wi, for the Games+Learning+Society conference.  This will be my first major academic conference and I couldn’t be more excited.  One of the themes for my summer is gamifying education, a topic that apparently will receive some staunch criticism from a giant in the field.  I am going to be very interested in what Dr. Gee has to say.

This trip is also going to be great because the two people that really got me into this field are going to be there: Constance Steinkuehler and Sean Duncan.  Their 2008 paper “Scientific Habits of Mind in Virtual Worlds” [PDF] was posted to reddit (or somewhere I happened to stumble upon) pre-press and it opened a new world to me.  Since then, I’ve earned my M.Ed., hope to start my Ph.D. soon, and I have no doubt that my career will be focused on this area.

My next major trip will be in July, as I head off to The Amazing Meeting!  I know every year this conference is packed with awesomeness, but I can’t help but feel like this year is the best yet.  Just take a look at their list of speakers.  It’s going to be my first time to Vegas, and I’m kind of skeptical that it’s all that great for someone like me.

I have a few big projects I’m working on this summer.  I’m not ready to talk about Democritus in depth, yet, especially without hearing the criticism I will hear next week, but I am excited about it so far.  My gut tells me that this is something that is really needed and will be huge, but I also realize that I must be skeptical of my gut, as it tends to be wrong.  I will go ahead and offer a short explanation of the project.

Democritus is a next-generation Learning Management System that includes social networking and game mechanics as core features.  On the technical side, it is an HTML 5, with no java / flash / other third party plugins.  I’ve said for years that BlackBoard is crap, so I’m finally doing something about it.