Batman Fluxx
Publisher: Looney Labs
Release Date: August 2015
Price: $20.00
Game Designer: Andrew Looney
Format: Card game
Number of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 5-30 minutes
Product #: LOO-067
UPC: 857848004291
Age Rating: 8+
ICv2 Rating: 4 stars out of five

The Fluxx series of games is not for everyone.  There are gamers who will not appreciate the chaotic wackiness of the game mechanics, in which the play of cards affects the actual rules of play immediately and in strange ways.  For instance, the basic rules are: Draw one card. Play one card.  That’s simple, right?  Only the card you play might affect either of those rules, and the player after you might change the other one, or add an extra rule, so that by the time it comes to your next turn the cumulative rules may be: "Draw five cards.  Play four cards.  Before you play your final card you may discard your entire hand and draw three new cards."

This kind of game works surprisingly well in the setting of Gotham City, from the animated TV series, which is the source of the license.  A city in which caped vigilantes battle killer clowns and sentient mud can deal with a little fluidity in the rules.

The artwork, taken from the recent animated series, is outstanding for the purposes of the game.  The game-themed victory conditions are good, and the thematic elements were very well thought out.  This may be the best-designed Fluxx set in some time, and it can be a lot of fun for casual fans to try to achieve the thematic victory conditions.  For instance, if the Joker is on the loose and in play, no one can win.  The same is true for Harley Quinn. If, however, a single person has both of them in play, and the victory conditions change to the Mad Love card referring to that "romantic" duo, then that person wins.  There are hero and villain victory conditions that cover a wide range of things that work both game-wise and as if in a superhero cartoon or comic.

That said, there is a minor drawback that will bother some players.  It is easy to make the rules in play so complicated that it can be hard to keep track of their combined effects.  In one play-through a group of our experienced gamers had ten rule modifications in play at the time the game ended, down from a mid-game eleven.  One of the rule cards, played early in the game, created a victory condition that no one noticed for several plays of the cards.  The combination of wacky play and close concentration can be interestingly difficult.

In other words, if you’d like to play a game of cards where Harley Quinn was making up the rules each turn, then this is for you.  If you want a serious, sedate game, then it is not.

--Nick Smith: Librarian Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.