Batman Fluxx (****)
I've been torturing my children by making them watch Batman: The Animated Series with me, with the intent to watch every DC Animated Universe (DACU) show that's available on Amazon Prime and Netflix. We've made it through two seasons so far after one year in, and it's clear that any scene with the Joker is a real kid pleaser. My eight-year-old boy and my five-year-old girl are already familiar with Fluxx, so it was an easy leap for them to play Batman Fluxx. And all things considered, it's a pretty iconic representation of the animated series in its final incarnation.

First, more on Fluxx. Essentially, it's Magic: The Gathering, but instead of the rules constructed by a single card, other Rule cards define how the game works. The non-branded cards include Rules, Actions, and Surprises.

It starts with one Rule: draw one, play one. That can be endlessly tweaked by other Rule cards that other players play. One of my favorite rules is anyone wearing a Batman-themed shirt gets a free action on their turn, but there's plenty of others like changing how many cards you draw, how many you play, and how many you can have in your hand. Action cards change the game on your turn, but Surprises act as Interrupts (to use Magic parlance) that you can play on your turn or during another player's turn.

There are Goal cards which change how you win the game -- and yes this means that in the beginning of the game nobody can win because no Goal cards have yet been played. Goals can include combinations of Keepers or Creepers, like a bank robbery requiring a Bank Goal and a Villain Creeper. Goals can be changed as new cards come into play, so you could be in the lead on your turn and suddenly be way behind the next.

Keeper cards are win conditions to achieve whatever Goal card is in play. This includes our heroes: Batman, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, etc. One strategy is to not play your Keeper cards right away until you know what your Goal is, so you can strike quickly if need be to win.

The new addition to basic Fluxx are Creepers. Creepers prevent anyone from winning the game until they are eliminated...unless a Rule card says otherwise. This means that you spend a lot of time trying to eliminate Creepers from the game. There's a lot of use of Arkham Asylum, which stores up villains normally in the discard pile and the right combination of cards can release them all at once.

Fluxx's strength and weakness lies in its variability. The game gets easier to win the more cards in play, which is fun if you have a large party playing (four or more) and becomes increasingly complicated if you have only a few players. It takes longer to get cards into play, which makes them game drag and get so complicated with Rule cards that it's very easy to forget one of them.

I played with my kids and the game went on for some time, as we would suffer Rules bloat with six or more Rules on the table, and then a card would come along that would reset the Rules and things would get simpler again for a little while.

For those only passing acquainted with the Batman animated series, these characters are the "New Look" revamp, which means some of them look drastically different from their original incarnations. Tim Drake is the younger Robin (unlike Dick Grayson, who was in college). Catwoman looks like Tim Burton's version with bluish-white skin. Conversely, the Penguin no longer looks like the Tim Burton version but more the classic unmutated character. The Riddler looks like Jim Carrey's version, a green full-body suit.

The fun part about Fluxx is that it's almost entirely based on visually matching up the Keepers with the Goals, which means you can brand it as just about anything. In that regard Batman Fluxx is right at home with the rest of the Fluxx family -- just don't plan to play a quick game with a few people.

You can purchase this game at Amazon.

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