Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chemistry Fluxx (Looney Labs)

Today, I am reviewing Chemistry Fluxx, another game from the educational catalog of Looney Labs. I would dub this game the sister game of Math Fluxx, as they were introduced in the same year and with the same audience in mind. Like it's sister game, Chemistry Fluxx plays 2-6 players, ages 8+. It can take 5 to 40 minutes to play and retails for $16.

Setup
1. Place the Basic Rules card in the middle of the table.
2. Remove the Meta Rules cards from the deck, unless all players agree to play with one or both of them. If so, place them next to the Basic Rules card.
3. Shuffle the deck, and deal three cards to each player. Place the remaining deck of cards face-down next to the Basic Rules card.
4. Randomly determine a start player and go!

Game Play - Fluxx, as the name implies, is a game of constant change...change in rules, goals, win conditions, etc. On your turn, you will always do four things in this order:
1. Draw the number of cards required. The Basic Rule has you drawing one, but new Rule cards can have you drawing up to five cards.
2. Play the number of cards required. The Basic Rule has you playing one, but new Rule cards can have you playing your whole hand in the order of your choice. There are four types of cards you can play:
a. New Rule - Played near the Basic Rule card, and either adds a new rule or replaces a current rule.
b. Goal - Played face up in the middle of the table, this sets the win condition for the game. New goal cards replace old Goal cards unless there is a rule stating multiple goals may be in play.
c. Keeper - Played face up in front of you, these cards win you the game by matching the current goal.
d. Action - Played face up, these cards have a one time use effect, and then are discarded. They allow you to break the rules, like drawing three extra cards or trading hands with someone.
3. Discard down to the current hand limit (if any) - If a rule is in place that says you can only have two cards in your hand at the end of your turn, then you must pare down your hand and discard cards of your choice until you reach the hand limit.
4. Discard down to the current Keeper limit (if any) - If a rule is in place that says you can only have two Keeper in front of you at the end of your turn, then you must pare down your Keepers and discard cards of your choice until you reach the Keeper limit.

The game is won immediately when someone completes a Goal, even if it is not their turn.
Review
In addition to all the normal cards you get with Fluxx, Chemistry Fluxx adds some fun new Rules to the game, each with an appropriate science theme. There's "Spontaneous Reaction," which lets you take the top card from the draw pile and play it, and there's "Compound Effect," which lets you draw two cards if you can form a compound from the Keepers you have in front of you. However, the best new rule is "Helium Effect," which makes you talk in a high-pitched voice if you the Keeper Helium in front of you. It's torture for me, because of my deep voice, but it's hilarious for everyone else, so I guess that's a win for them?

The other cards different in this game from other Fluxx games are the Keepers and Goals. The Keepers are a mixture of chemistry equipment (beaker, test tube, Bunsen burner, etc.) and common elements (Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon, Oxygen, etc.). The Goals focus primarily on combining elements with a few of them focusing on the chemistry equipment. What's great about the ones that form compounds is that it teaches your kids the name of the compound, the elements that it is composed of, and is clever in the presentation. For example, NaCl is Sodium Chloride or Salt. H2S is Hydrogen Sulfide or "Smells like Rotten Eggs."

When I compare this game to Math Fluxx, I found myself enjoying this game a bit more. I think it's a combination of subject matter preference mixed with it feeling a bit more age appropriate for myself. If I had to recommend which one to buy, I'd tell you to buy both, as they are both super-affordable and teach different subjects. If you had to force me to pick one, I'd say it depends on the age of your children. Math Fluxx is better for younger children, but Chemistry Fluxx would be more appropriate for middle school to high school aged. That said, I think your younger children would benefit from learning Chemistry basics at an early age, so again, I say, "Buy them both!"

This game was provided to me for free by Looney Labs in exchange for an honest review.