Zombies Ain’t So Bad

It’s my personal opinion that games are a great way to teach, and if a game has zombies in it, well hey—that’s a bonus in my book. There’s nothing like a little undead to liven things up.

Zombie Fluxx is a riff on the original Fluxx, a card game put out by Looney Labs (www.LooneyLabs.com). The game starts out with only one rule—draw one, play one. There are four different kinds of cards: Keepers, Goals, Actions, and New Rules. Keepers are cards you place in front of you to help you win, such as “bread” and “the toaster.” Goal cards specify what keepers or conditions you need to have to win; for example, if you have the previously mentioned keepers in front of you and you can put down the “Toast (must have bread and toaster)” goal card, you win. Action cards let you do things like steal a keeper, or switch hands.

The real fun of the game comes with the New Rule cards. Each New rule either adds on to or supersedes the previous ones—so at any one time there are likely to be multiple rules (i.e. “Draw Three,” “Play Two,” “Hand Limit One,” “Dual Goals”) that you need to keep track of. The rules, and goals, change all the time. It’s great for encouraging reasoning, logical thought, and rule-processing skills.

Needless to say, this type of game appeals largely to boys and left-brained people. I’ve tried to play this game with a bunch of women on a girls’ cabin weekend, and nearly got chucked out on my head in the snow.

Zombie Fluxx is all this and more. In addition to Keepers, you have “Creepers,” or zombies—individuals, pairs, trios, and the occasional undead quartet. Part of the challenge is figuring out what to do with your zombies (isn’t that always the case?); do you keep them, try to kill them, or better yet, force some to flee to your neighbors? With some of the goals, you can only win if you have no zombies (for example: “Getaway Driver…You win if you have the Car and at least one Friend Keeper on the table in front of you…and no Zombies!”) For some, you must have Zombies (i.e. “Brain Baseball…You win if you have Brains and the Baseball Bat and at least one Zombie on the table” or my personal favorite, “Zombie Baseball Team…You win if you have at least 9 Zombies in front of you along with the Baseball Bat.”)

My nine-year old son and two of his friends (including one girl who, granted, is a rather left-brained fan of Norm from “This Old House”) had a great time with this game. At one point, they successfully juggled ten rules, full hands and multiple Zombies. “I’ve got Zombies and I’ve got Wood!” one of them cried excitedly.

In addition to Fluxx and Zombie Fluxx, one can get Eco Flux, Spanish Fluxx, and Jewish and Christian Booster packs. I’ve even seen a teacher-made version of “Music Fluxx.” If you’re up for a challenge, you can mix your games together. Can you just imagine—“Rosh Hashanah…You win if you have Friends and Challah…and no Zombies!”

My favorite part of Zombie Fluxx, however, is the New Rule “Zombies Ain’t So Bad.” With this card on the table, you can win with Zombies even if the current Goal says you can’t win if you have any Zombies. Sometimes, things just aren’t as bad as they seem—now isn’t that a great message to send our kids?

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