This summer holiday I have added yet more games to the Cards or Die menu of gaming loveliness, most of which have been pocket sized and easy to travel with.
Two of our recent additions are Fluxx (Zombie) and We Didn't Playtest This At All. Based on similar theories of brutality, speed and chaos they are both great fun and I am convincing myself that they are character building. I'm basing this on the fact that so far everytime we've played, at least one of the children has stormed off in a strop or fought back tears of defeat whilst wailing 'But I had a plan' or 'I'd nearly won'. As a parent, I feel I am duty bound to describe this as character building. Amazingly, and perhaps despite their character building qualities, they have all been keen to play both games again.
A quick comparison
Zombie Fluxx We Didn't Playtest This
Playing Time 10-40mins 1-5mins
Players 2-6 2-10
Age 8+ 13+
Difficulty D6 D6*
Predictability Low Low
Fun High High
* Basic- you can play this whilst imbibing fine wines
Both games allow you to strategise but you must be prepared to adapt, ditching one strategy and adopting a completely new one on a minute by minute basis. And sometimes you will lose just because and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. Which can feel arbitrary and unfair. Because it is. If you object to Exploding Kittens or Uno on the basis that they are too reliant on luck and not strategic enough then these are not the games for you. But... if you want to build character then look no further.
A bit more summery....
(Summer - summary....do you see what I did there? If you've groaned that is the response I wanted. Thank you)
As the name suggests Fluxx is about constant change. Nothing is fixed. You begin with a hand of three cards and The Basic Rules: draw 1 then play 1. From there on in, it all goes to hell in a handcart. Players can introduce new rules which affect how many you draw, play and discard. New rules take effect immediately so if you place a draw 3 card on top of the basic rule card you immediately draw another two cards.
At the beginning you are goal-less. No one knows what they need to do to win. Madness I tell you! As soon as a player places a goal card then this dictates which cards you must have to win. New goals can be placed at any time cancelling out the previous card. One minute you need a shotgun and a chainsaw to win and the next you need a car and some gasoline: one minute you're squaring up to fight and the next you are running away screaming.
Just like a normal goal except if you fulfil these conditions, you all die. The Zombie Apocalypse is complete.
A good tip is to place these face up in front of you as soon as you can. You will need some random combination of these to win.
Action cards are used once and then discarded. "Simply" follow the instructions on the card to lend yet more chaos to the game.
These are played automatically, often have negative effects, and can prevent you from winning.
You can play without the zombies - but who in their right mind would leave these visions of loveliness out?
If you love Fluxx you should definitely give We Didn't Playtest This At All a go. It has less rules, less structure and less sense. It's also faster so you'll be a strong resilient gamer in no time. (Remember when you want to throw the cards at your opponent and scream something sweary about fairness a. life's not fair and b. it's character building)
We Didn't Playtest This At All
(Best played with a banana)
To play you draw 2 cards and play 1, following the instructions on the card as you place it.
For example, you ask opponents 'Do you want a present?' Card types appear more than once so although Yes is a safe answer for one card (who doesn't like presents) No is a safer answer when the present attacks and kills you. There is barely time to reflect on your safe escape from the reaches of a poisonous gift snake before you are working out whether to put your finger on your nose or not while someone counts to 4.
Chaos Cards add extra depth* to the game... for example you may not point, you must address players by a different nickname before each draw.
Delicious. Ridiculous. Nonsense. A great party game.