The Jumanji series is something that I have always found to be pretty interesting. A franchise based around a board game/video game that sucks people in to play a game is actually a really interesting concept which fits in perfectly with the theme of Geeky Hobbies as we spend a lot of time talking about board games, movies, and video games. The Jumanji series has undergone an interesting journey to get to it current state. The franchise began with books which were eventually turned into movies in the 1990s and early 2000s. As the franchise was basically gone for over a decade I and a lot of other people probably assumed it was dead. Two years ago the franchise was revitalized though and due to its success it seems like they are trying to make it into a blockbuster franchise as another movie is scheduled to release later this year. I bring this up because the revitalization of Jumanji has lead to tie-in merchandise including the game I am looking at today Jumanji Fluxx. Most people would think that Jumanji Fluxx is just a tie-in combining the Jumanji franchise with Fluxx. That is true but the addition of Danger cards to Fluxx really intrigued me. Jumanji Fluxx is basically what you would expect out of a Jumanji themed Fluxx while adding an interesting twist with the addition of the Danger cards.
We would like to thank Looney Labs and Cardinal for the review copy of Jumanji Fluxx used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
How to Play Jumanji Fluxx
If you are familiar with how Fluxx is played you only need to read the “Danger” section.
- Place the Basic Rules card in the middle of the table.
- Shuffle the rest of the cards and deal three cards to each player. The rest of the cards are placed face down to form the draw pile.
- The dealer or a player chosen at random will start the game. Play will continue clockwise throughout the game.
Playing the Game
Fluxx is a game of ever changing rules. The basic framework of each turn in the game is as follows:
- Draw the required number of cards from the draw pile (the default is one card). If the draw pile ever runs out of cards the discard pile is shuffled to form a new draw pile.
- Play the required number of cards (the default is one card). Players have to play the required number of cards even if it leads to another player winning the game.
- Discard cards to meet current limit rules. Players may have to discard cards from their hand and/or Keeper cards from in front of them. At the beginning of the game there is no limit on the number of cards in your hand or keepers in front of you.
The players may also be able to take optional actions at any time during their turn if a New Rule card or Keeper gives them an additional action.
After a player takes these actions play will pass to the next player.
Jumanji Fluxx has six different types of cards. Each type of card is used in a different way.
When a player plays a New Rule card it will change the fundamental rules of the game. The card is placed in the center of the table along with the other New Rule cards. If a New Rule card is played that contradicts a previous New Rule card, the old card will be discarded. Once a New Rule card is played its effects will go into effect immediately. If for example a player plays a Draw Two card and the rule was previously to draw one card, the current player will draw another card.
When a player plays a Keeper card they will play it in front of themselves. The player can have as many Keepers in front of them as they want unless there is a Keeper limit. Keepers are used to meet Goal cards in order to win the game. If a Keeper card has an ability the player who controls it has the option of using its ability once per turn.
Keeper cards may have special icons in the bottom left corner. These icons put the Keepers into different categories that may be referenced by Goal cards. If there is a hat symbol the Keeper is considered an adventurer. The paw symbol indicates that the Keeper is an animal.
Goal cards are played to the center of the table. When a Goal card is played and there is one already in play, the old Goal card is discarded. The current Goal card determines what Keeper cards the players will need in order to win the game.
When a player plays an action card the player will take the action printed on the card. After the player has taken the action the card is discarded.
Meta Rules cards are different from other cards. These cards are optional cards that the players can decide whether or not they want to use them. In Jumanji Fluxx there are two Meta Rules cards. The “Jumanji” card will be placed next to the Basic Rules card and goes into effect immediately. The No More Lives card is placed at the bottom of the Draw Pile at the beginning of the game.
The Danger cards are used to eliminate other players from the game. When one of these cards are played all of the players see if it applies to them. If a Danger card applies to one or more players, the applicable players are eliminated from the game. They will discard all of the cards from their hand as well as all of the Keepers from in front of them. If only one player remains in the game, the remaining player automatically wins the game.
Eliminated players will have to skip their next turn. As long as the “No More Lives” card is not in play yet they can rejoin the game. To rejoin the game on their next turn (after skipping a turn) they will draw three cards from the draw deck. They will then continue playing like normal.
End of Game
The game will continue as normal until one of the players meet the requirements on the current Goal card. This player will immediately win the game even if it is another player’s turn. A player can also win if all of the other players are currently eliminated from the game.
My Thoughts on Jumanji Fluxx
As I have reviewed quite a few different different Fluxx games in the past, I can say with good authority that Jumanji Fluxx shares a lot in common with your typical Fluxx game. The gameplay for the most part is exactly the same as the rest of the series. Therefore people already familiar with Fluxx should already have a good idea of whether they will like the game. I would recommend that you read what I have to say about the Danger cards though as they add a surprising amount to the formula.
For those of you who have never played a Fluxx game before, Fluxx bills itself as the “game all about change”. This actually does a perfect job explaining what it is like playing the game. At the beginning of Jumanji Fluxx you perform two basic actions: draw a card and play a card. Outside of eliminating all of the other players (very unlikely early in the game) you can’t even win the game when it begins. The whole game revolves around using cards to manipulate the rules in your favor. With the play of one card you can change how many cards are drawn and played, how many cards a player can keep, and even add additional actions that you can perform on your turn. By playing a card you can even change what the current goal in the game is.
This probably sounds a little chaotic and it kind of is. This is what I have always liked about the Fluxx franchise though. Things can totally change with the play of one card. This means that luck plays a big role in the game. This is what most people that don’t like Fluxx complain about. I totally agree that the game relies on a lot of luck. I think it is exciting that the game can totally change at any point though. I also don’t think Fluxx gets as much credit as it should for its strategy. Jumanji Fluxx doesn’t have a ton of strategy, but to increase your odds in the game you need to figure out the best way to utilize your cards. Players who are good at chaining their cards together will have a significant advantage in the game.
For most Fluxx games the distinguishing feature is the game’s theme. In the case of Jumanji Fluxx I think the game does a good job but not as well as some of the other Fluxx games. In general I like the Jumanji series, but I wouldn’t say that it is one of my favorites. I think the main reason that Jumanji Fluxx doesn’t do as great of job with the theme as other franchise Fluxx games is that it doesn’t have as much to work with. Basically the game has two movies to draw from for all of the cards. Of the two the game seems to focus more on the most recent film in the franchise. This means that there aren’t a ton of characters to use which leads to the game having quite a few cards dedicated to different animals featured in the movies. I give Looney Labs and Cardinal credit for what they did with the franchise, but there was no way they could have done as much with the theming as a game like Marvel Fluxx (review coming later this week).
At this point Jumanji Fluxx might sound like every other Fluxx game with a different coat of paint. The one thing I haven’t brought up yet though is the addition of Danger cards. Jumanji Fluxx is the first game in the series to feature Danger cards. Whenever Fluxx adds new types of cards I am always interested in seeing how they impact the game. When I heard about the Danger cards I was really intrigued because adding a player elimination mechanic seemed like something right in line for the Fluxx series. I was actually kind of surprised that it wasn’t added earlier. While I thought the mechanic looked interesting I didn’t know whether I was going to like it as I am generally not a big fan of player elimination in board and card games. I will say that for the most part I liked the addition of the Danger cards.
Basically the Danger cards seem to be a way to put a check on Keeper cards. In most versions of Fluxx the players who get the most Keepers will have a pretty big advantage in the game. The more Keepers you have access the more options you have with regards to goal cards. While you never want to play too many Keepers in front of you due to potential Keeper limits or other players stealing them, there was never too much risk in playing a Keeper card in front of you. With the introduction of Danger cards though you are taking a risk whenever you play a Keeper card. Most of the Danger cards eliminate a player from the game if they have a specific Keeper card in front of them. When a player is eliminated they lose all of their cards. They can usually re-enter the game after skipping a turn so most of the punishment for being eliminated is losing all of your progress.
For the most part I really liked the addition of the Danger cards. I hope Looney Labs decides to add them to more games in the future. I do see some people not liking them though. They do add some additional luck to the game as you can eliminate another player due to a lucky card draw. They can also be pretty cruel as you could be one turn away from winning and then one Danger card can send you back to square zero. The Danger cards also tend to make games take a little longer as players lose all of their progress. I liked the Danger cards for a couple reasons though.
I think the main reason that I like the Danger cards is that they add some additional strategy to the game. These cards make players really consider what Keepers they want to place in front of themselves. Normally the only reason not to play a Keeper is the fear of another player stealing or discarding it. In Jumanji Fluxx though each Keeper you play increases the odds that you can be eliminated from the game. This adds some interesting decisions to the game as players try to suss out what cards the other players have in their hands. This also requires players to be sneakier about their strategies and plan what they are going to do before they put it into motion.
The other reason I like the addition of Danger cards is that they add another way to win the game. Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies will know that I love it when games give you multiple ways of winning as it allows you more options when crafting your strategy. In the case of Jumanji Fluxx instead of just winning due to meeting a goal card, you can also win by eliminating all of the other players. For the most part this is going to be more of a long term strategy due to players being able to come back into the game after skipping a turn. Thus it is hard to eliminate all of the other players before they can come back into the game. This becomes a valid strategy though as you approach the end of the draw pile. Once you go through the draw deck players will no longer be able to come back into the game. This was necessary for a time reason (as the game otherwise could take forever), but it also changes the game in an interesting way. At this point it becomes almost as easy to eliminate the other players as it is to collect the cards needed to meet a goal card. This can lead to some really interesting decisions towards the end of the game.
Before wrapping up I want to quickly talk about the two different versions of Jumanji Fluxx that have been released. The first version of Jumanji Fluxx was released by Cardinal and retails for $15. Looney Labs has also released a special edition that retails for $20. For the most part the two versions of the game are quite similar as the gameplay is exactly the same and the components are pretty much the same. The only significant difference between the two versions is that the Looney Labs version includes seven additional cards. These additional cards are as follows: Keepers (Zebras, Crocodiles), Goals (Tigers and Zebras), and Dangers (Crocodile Attack Danger, Trampled By Zebras!, Deadly Venom!). Basically these cards are nice additions to the game but they don’t drastically change the overall game outside of giving you a few more options to win the game or eliminate the other players. Which version of the game you should pick up comes down to whether you want the additional cards.
As for the components Jumanji Fluxx is basically what you would expect out of your typical Fluxx game. The cards are apparently made of a different cardstock than your typical Fluxx game but I didn’t really notice any significant difference. The card layout is the same as other Fluxx games. The artwork utilizes the same style as the other games and does a good job. There are basically two main differences from your typical Fluxx game. First the outer box is quite a bit bigger. I would say that it is close to twice as big as the normal Fluxx box which isn’t a big issue as the boxes were quite small to begin with. The game also includes a collectible coin. The coin is basically used to indicate who is the current player and is also referenced by one of the cards. Thus the coin isn’t used much in the gameplay as it is not that hard to remember who is the current player. I will say that the coin is pretty nice though as it feels like a nice thick poker chip.
Should You Buy Jumanji Fluxx?
On the surface Jumanji Fluxx is your typical Fluxx game. It is a semi-chaotic game where everything can change based on the play of one card. This leads to the game relying on quite a bit of luck but there is also some strategy based on how you choose to utilize your cards. If you already have an opinion of the Fluxx series you should already have a good idea of whether you will like Jumanji Fluxx. The one unique thing about Jumanji Fluxx though comes from the Danger cards. The Danger cards basically add a player elimination mechanic to Fluxx which is something that I am surprised wasn’t added earlier. The Danger cards do add some luck to the game as well as make most games longer. I think they are a good addition though as they add quite a bit of strategy as well as give players another way of winning the game.
My recommendation for Jumanji Fluxx comes down to your feelings on Jumanji and Fluxx. If you aren’t really a fan of either franchise, I don’t think the game will be for you. If you are a fan of either though I would consider picking up Jumanji Fluxx as it does a good job with the theme as well as mixing up the Fluxx formula.