- Designer: Andrew Looney
- Publisher: Looney Labs
- Year: 2017
I’ve always preferred the fantasy side of fiction. Sci-fi is great and all, but it’s never been my preferred flavour. Doctor Who is a series that I never bothered with until I met a girl who insisted that we watch the entire (new) series together. I quite enjoyed the first time watching each episode, but found the series didn’t hold up during a re-watch (perhaps I was just enjoying the company, not the show). Nevertheless, that girl is now my wife, and being a Whovian is a large part of her nerd identity. This materializes in Tardis socks and a Tardis dress in our closet, 2 Tardis blankets on our bed, and and Doctor Who Fluxx sitting in our date night bag.
How to Play
Each game of Fluxx starts with a single deck of cards in the centre of the table, a starting hand of 3 cards, and only 2 rules. On your turn you must draw 1 card, and play 1 card. Then play continues to the next player. Cards come in various flavours, including Goals, Keepers, Creepers, New Rules, Actions and Reactions.
The goal of the game is to fulfill the active goal card (once someone has played a goal card, that is), which generally involve having a specific set of Keepers and sometime Creepers on the table in front of you. Generally, Creepers will prevent you from winning the game, but there are some specific goal cards that require that you have a Creeper in front of you. As play happens and players put down more rules, the game will spiral out of control until one player manages to achieve the current goal, and declares victory.
Doctor Who Fluxx features characters from across the entirety of the series as keepers and creepers. From the robot dog K-9, to all 12 doctors and various companions and tools, all with associated goal cards. The Cybermen, Daleks, Weeping Angels, and The Master are all working together to prevent you from achieving your goals.
Fluxx is a weird beast. By all rights, I shouldn’t even enjoy it, if I stick to my assertions that I don’t like games that are heavy in luck. Fluxx is easy (usually) quick enough that I’m willing to relinquish control and just have a good time.
The majority of the time players win ‘by accident’, drawing the right keeper at the right time is what separates a victory from a loss. Not player choice or strategy. For some, the lack of agency will take away the joy of winning or the sting of losing, but for others Fluxx will just be frustrating. You’ll be close to a victory, the right goal is on the table, you have one of the two necessary keepers, then suddenly someone steals your keeper, or the goal changes, or you draw a Creeper. Alternatively, if you have a row of Keepers and someone plays the correct goal card, you just win.
The odds are, you’ve played Fluxx. If you haven’t, you can play it for free on Board Game Arena or as a phone app. If you have played Fluxx you already know if you like it or not. If you do, great! If not, changing the setting isn’t going to change your mind.
On the Doctor Who setting:
I think die hard fans of Doctor Who, or Whovian’s as they’re often referred as, who have a deep appreciation of the lore, will find themselves somewhat disappointed. Yes, Doctors 1 through 8 exist, along with K-9 and Sarah Jane Smith, but there’s very little specifically for those old characters. They end up just being generic wildcard Keepers with “The Doctor” trait that can be used to fufill several of the goals. Doctor Who Fluxx skews to the newer seasons for specific references, but, even those feel surface level. I do like the small references, like, Captian Jack Harkness can’t die, but there’s little that makes me feel like the characters are anything more than things to fill recipes. There’s absolutely no difference between Donna Nobel and Martha Jones, for instance.
I don’t expect deep cuts to the comic book story lines, nor can I expect every doctor to have 3 specific goals that work with them. The references cater to the casual fan (that’s me!) who vaguely remembers the important bits; one who couldn’t name the characters if put on the spot, but can recognize the references when the cards are played.
I enjoy playing Doctor Who Fluxx with my partner. We go to a pub, take in a pint, and casually flip cards at each other. A big part of my enjoyment is the Doctor Who setting, reliving the quotable quotes on the cards, and being seeing my favourite companions (like the Ponds) pop up. I’m indifferent to the Doctors who I never watched (1 – 8), but it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment. I enjoy Fluxx as a system, but I never take it seriously. It’s a fun, random card game that’s effective at passing the time and facilitating activity amongst friends and family.