First published 1996, Fluxx is both a card game and a state in which the card game exists. Published by Looney Labs, it is a game about matching conditional states which through the course of the game can flux and change. It is a chaotic game, one in which both the rules and the conditions to win can alter from one card play to the next. The play of Fluxx starts of simple. A player can Draw one card, Play one card. After that, cards can quickly alter the number of cards that a player can Draw, can Play, and even hold in his Hand. Each player’s aim is to get cards called Keepers down onto the table. If these Keepers match those on the Goal on the table, then the player wins. Of course, a player’s Keepers can change as easily as the Goal. Nothing is permanent in a Fluxx game, and that lack of permanency means that sometimes a player can win when it is not his turn because his Keepers meet the condition of the Goal.
Standard Fluxx, is well, Fluxx. It is a game about change and to an extent, chaos. Unlike many of the other variants, Cthulhu Fluxx succeeds in exacerbating that chaos in a pleasingly fitting fashion. It brings a complexity and a theme that fits the game mechanics, and in doing so, brings it a depth and a seriousness – all relative, granted – that other Fluxx games lack. More demanding, more complex, more chaotic, more Cthulhu, Cthulhu Fluxx is not your fluffy Fluxx of old.
Much of the game’s flavour and theme shows in the choice of Keepers that the players are trying to match with the Goals and thus win Cthulhu Fluxx. The designer draws on innumerable Lovecraft tales as inspiration for the game’s cards. For example, Keepers include “The Dreamlands,” “The Poet,” “The Necronomicon,” “The Cat,” “Innsmouth,” and “The Reanimator” and more. Some Keepers have special abilities, like “The Reanimator” being able to steal “The Body” Creeper if it is in play. The Goals include “Pickman’s Model” which requires the “Ghoul” and “Artist” Keepers to win; “Herbert West: Reanimator!” will want “The Body” and “The Reanimator” to win; and “Penguin Therapy” needs the “Sanitorium” and “Penguins” Keepers to win. Already the inspirations for cards – Pickman’s Model, Herbert West: Reanimator!, and At the Mountains of Madness – should be obvious to most devote and part of the pleasure in playing the game lies in identifying the inspiration and to a certain extent playing along to the narrative of the particular inspiration.