Fluxx is nothing if not versatile. The combinations of keepers, goals, and other cards in the deck can be reskinned into almost any theme. There’s already at least 7 different varieties of Fluxx, but oddly enough, there’s never been a holiday-themed set. Considering the time of year, it seems as good a point as any to review the new Holiday Fluxx.
Now, when they say “Holiday” they really mean “fall and winter holidays.” The set covers Halloween, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s (though there's no Eid (Muslim), Chinese New Year (China), and Diwali (Hindu). But I don't overly-fault them for that. the deck can only hold so many cards). So there’s no Easter or 4th of July or anything like that. But honestly, in the vernacular, when people say, “the holidays,” they tend to mean the fall and winter ones at the end of the year (at least in most of the United States).
So how does Holiday Fluxx differ from the standard version? I’m going to focus on the cards entirely unique to this set. If you want an overview of how to play the game, check out my Fluxx 5.0 review.
The deck for Holiday Fluxx contains: 21 Keepers, 32 Goals, 18 Actions, 24 New Rules, and 4 Surprises (forming the standard 99 card deck for Fluxx).
All of the Keepers are various “holiday” items including Santa Claus, a Menorah, Lights, Greeting Cards, Ornaments, and Pumpkins. None of the Keepers have special rules associated with them (as Keepers from some other sets sometimes do).
Of course, since all the Keepers are specifically holiday themed, all of the Goals are as well. You might be trying to Trim the Tree (get Pine Tree + either Ornaments or Lights), or make Jack-O-Lanterns (get Pumpkins + Candles), or celebrate the New Year (get Calendar + Bubbly Beverages), for example.
Most of the Actions and New Rule cards are copies of cards from the “standard” Fluxx deck. However, there are several of each that are holiday themed as well. For Actions there’s Gift Give-Away, Clear the Table, and Today’s Special. Gift Give-Away shuffles around Keepers, while Clear the Table removes food-related ones. Today’s Special has you draw 3 cards and play a certain number of them depending on if today’s (being the day you’re playing) special in some way. The 3 New Rule cards that are specially themed are Regifting, Christmas Bonus, and Open a Gift. They allow you to turn Keepers into extra cards for your hand, draw and play extra cards (if you’ve got Santa around), and let you do a special action (if the Gift card is on the table).
The Surprise cards are a type that’s not found in the “standard” Fluxx deck. Unless it’s your turn, your interaction with others playing Fluxx is just the times when someone might take a card from your hand or swap out your Keepers. Surprises are like Instants (to use a M:TG term), in that you can play them even if it’s not your turn. They have different effects if they’re used as an interrupt or if you use them when it’s your turn. Each one interacts with one of the other 4 types of cards in the deck, either canceling an Action or a New Rule, or discarding a Goal or a Keeper. The Surprises can also cancel other Surprises. The four aren’t necessarily “holiday” themed, but they do add a bit of uniqueness to the Holiday Fluxx set, since most of the Fluxx expansions don’t have them.
Fluxx is one of those great games to get out when you’ve got a couple spare minutes. Holiday Fluxx would make a very welcome addition to any family game library. The simple mechanics, family-friendly artwork, and theme make it great for those holiday get-togethers. Since it covers a wide range of holidays, you can feel safe to bring this out anytime from October through I’d say the first week of January. The compact size means it can travel over the river and through the woods with you to grandmother’s house.