PuzzleNation Product Review: Holiday Fluxx


The hallmark of any great card game is replayability. Unless you’re playing an epic-length game of War, you’re bound to be playing multiple rounds of a given card game. But how do you keep the gameplay from stagnating?

Simple. You change the rules every game. Or sometimes, every hand!

That’s where Fluxx comes in. Fluxx is one of the flagship brands of Looney Labs, a company dedicated to wildly interactive, adaptable gameplay that offers high replay value. In Fluxx, everything can change by employing a single card. The number of cards you draw, or the number you discard, or the number you’re allowed in your hand… even how to win the game can change with ease.


Not only does this require constant attention, but it keeps the game from ever getting boring. One round, everyone had to pass their entire hand to another player and use their opponent’s cards!

There are numerous variations on the Fluxx design offered by Looney Labs — including Star Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, Monty Python Fluxx, and a board game version, among others — but in today’s review, we’re taking a look at the latest version: Holiday Fluxx!

The mechanics of the game are the same as any other version of Fluxx: collect Keeper cards and be the first to match a pair of Keeper cards to the current Goal card. Since Goal cards can easily be changed (along with all of the other changes inherent to the game), this is more difficult than it sounds.


While most of the action cards will be familiar to Fluxx players, the new holiday-themed Goals and Keepers (representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, and even a touch of Halloween and Thanksgiving) are bright and colorful, adding seasonal charm to the gameplay. There are also new rules cards (many involving “gifting” cards to others) in keeping with the holiday theme, as well as surprise cards that can be played at any time. Every game is festive chaos.

Holiday Fluxx is a solid card game for puzzlers, mixing pattern-matching and strategy elements to keep you on your toes, employing rule changes to your advantage. And the game’s tendency to shift suddenly will definitely challenge solvers more accustomed to slower, steadier card games.

[To check out reviews of other Looney Labs products, click here and here!]

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Prep for College the Puzzly Way!

It’s summer here in the United States, which means many high-school graduates are already looking forward to starting college. But for those soon-to-be freshmen, as well as high schoolers looking for an edge before university, have you considered puzzles and board games?

Now, it comes as no shock to me, but this article from the U.S. News and World Report website might surprise some, since it lists puzzles and board games as two of its five tools to develop critical thinking skills before college!

Naturally, I’ve been an advocate of puzzles as a learning tool for a long time, so it’s gratifying to see a major publication sharing the same views and ideas.

From the article:

Collections of crossword puzzles, logic problems, riddles, sudoku, word problems and word searches can be found at your local bookstore or library. The puzzles in these books are a wonderful strategy to activate different parts of your brain for a round or two of mental gymnastics, and many collections even discuss what each puzzle is meant to target within the mind.

Allow me to expand on this for a bit. Different puzzles can target different skills, so which puzzles you solve can make a big difference when it comes to critical thinking.

Crosswords encourage deduction (figuring out words from a few common letters) and a facility with wordplay (dealing with crafty clues and alternate definitions), while word searches offer great practice in pattern recognition and quick reaction times.

And the demand that Sudoku puzzles place on active attentiveness and concentration exercises parts of the brain associated with forming new memories, encouraging better memory retention.

[All three of the above pics come from our line of puzzle apps! Perfect for puzzly pre-college practice! Shameless plug now concluded!]

But the article also mentioned that certain board games can be excellent tools for honing valuable mental skills for college.

Choose board games that require more than luck – namely, strategy – for players to win. Any game where players must carefully consider their next move, recognize patterns and remember details will aid in honing critical thinking skills.

The article goes on to suggest some classics, like Chess, Checkers, and Mastermind for learning chain-thinking (planning several steps ahead) as well as Scrabble and Boggle (speedy information analysis, as well as word formation) and Clue and Risk (anticipating and reacting to the gameplay of others).

But I think they’re excluding some prime examples of board games that could benefit younger minds.

  • You could pick a cooperative game like Pandemic or Forbidden Island, which not only encourage strategic thinking, but teamwork and the free exchange of ideas (something that forced group exercises in school never really managed).
  • You could choose a rapid-change game like Fluxx (either the board game or the card game), which forces the players to adapt quickly to constantly changing rules and gameplay (a perfect microcosm of problem-solving in the real world, where things rarely remain static for long).
  • You could select a mixed-play game like The Stars Are Right, which incorporates several forms of gameplay (in this case, pattern-forming, tile-shifting, and a strategic card game akin to Magic: The Gathering or Munchkin) and forces players to exercise different forms of strategy and puzzle-solving all at once.

Just think about it. You could turn Family Game Night or Family Puzzle Time into College Prep Time in a snap. It’s win-win, or perhaps even win-win-win. What could be simpler, or more fun, than that?

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out our library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation Product Reviews: Loonacy


Looney Labs is a game company with a creative model everyone can get behind: high replay value through wildly interactive, adaptable game play. Perhaps best known for their card game Fluxx, Looney Labs games are designed for portability, packing a lot of punch into smaller, more efficient packaging.

Their latest release is Loonacy, a pattern-matching card game that requires quick reflexes, a quicker eye, and no small amount of strategy.

In Loonacy, players compete to drop all of the cards in their hand by dropping them one-at-a-time into various piles by matching one of two symbols on the card. For instance, if you’ve got a card with a cookie and a brain on it, you can drop that card onto a pile with a cookie on top or a brain on top.


You can try to strategize by arranging cards into your hand by symbol or possible chains — brain/cookie, cookie/ship, ship/puppy — but you have to play each card individually before you can drop the next card. And since everyone is racing to empty their hands at the same time, it can rapidly become a very chaotic playing experience.

(And in your enthusiasm, you’ll probably end up bending a few cards. Hey, it happens.)

But there is an element of strategy to the gameplay. If you have multiple cards with a cookie, you’ll want to play the card where the other symbol doesn’t help your opponents. (For instance, if there’s already a brain symbol showing and no one can play on it, play the cookie/brain card.)

That way, you can play your second (and hopefully, your third) cookie cards in a row and decrease the number of cards in your hand in a hurry. Of course, if someone drops their card on top of that cookie card, your strategy might go right out the window.

But that’s part of the fun. Loonacy tests observation, reflexes, and decision-making skill, all in the matter of a few minutes per game.

While it’s light on the puzzling, it’s high in charm, replay factor, and style. The sheer number of potential images to match makes this far more interesting than the average card game or pattern-matching challenge.

Looney Labs has a winner on their hands with Loonacy. I suspect it’ll be a big hit on Saturday during our International TableTop Day celebrations at home.

[Click here to check out our reviews of several other Looney Labs products!]

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation Product Review: Pink Hijinks, Chrononauts, and Fluxx: The Board Game


Looney Labs is a game company with a creative model everyone can get behind: high replay value through wildly interactive, adaptable game play. Perhaps best known for their card game Fluxx, Looney Labs games are designed for portability, packing a lot of punch into smaller, more efficient packaging.

They offered us the opportunity to try out three of their games for the Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide, each with its own unique flavor and playing style, and we put them to the full PuzzleNation Blog test.


The set-up for Pink Hijinks seems simple enough. Three stacks of pink pyramids (small on top of medium on top of large, like a little tree) occupy the middle row of a 3×3 grid.

Based on the roll of the die, you and your opponent maneuver your pieces with one of two goals in mind: either trying to either fill your home row with all three pyramids of a given size, or pushing all nine pyramids into your opponent’s row.

It’s a miniature chess game, allowing for offensive and defensive strategies. After a few rounds, we started improvising new rules and different gameplay styles, and discovered how much fun you could have with nine little pink pyramids. Pretty good for a game that fits in your pocket.


Pink Hijinks is part of Looney Labs’ multi-colored Looney Pyramids series, an ever-expanding line of puzzle games built around their signature pyramid game pieces. Not only can you buy individual games, but the company is constantly releasing new variations on their games through their website, allowing players to combine pieces from multiple Looney Pyramids products and play brand-new games. (They’ve even compiled a listing of fan-designed games using Looney Pyramids!)

As far as I can tell, the Looney Pyramids series has the loftiest of goals: to offer as many unique playing experiences as a deck of cards, arguably the most adaptable tool in a gamester’s arsenal. And based on their lineup thus far, Looney Labs is well on their way toward reaching that goal.


Time travel isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. And Looney Labs takes that idea to the next level with Chrononauts, a card game where multiple time travelers are manipulating history, capturing artifacts, and racing to return to their own time with their missions complete.

Chrononauts is all about the cards. You’ve got mission cards, ID cards, timeline cards that make up the playing space, artifact cards, cards that change history (and others that change it back), as well as cards that can help or hinder your fellow time travelers.


The history-changing aspect is the most puzzly part of the game, as you determine what moments to change (and which to protect from your opponents) in order for your timeline to come to pass, but ensuring you don’t accidentally end the game by creating too many temporal paradoxes. The designers did an impressive job figuring out how major points in history were interconnecting, and watching the effect ripple down through the cards after making a bold history-altering move is arguably the best part of the game.

My one caveat regarding Chrononauts is that the game goes far too quickly with only two players. It’s a game designed around consequences, and the more consequences that are out of your hands, the more engaging and challenging the game becomes. I’d recommend you always recruit as many players as possible to make the gameplay last.


There are certain things you take for granted when playing a board game. You pick your game piece, and that’s yours for the duration of the game. You draw a given number of cards per turn. The board itself is static, so you can strategize.

But in Fluxx: The Board Game (titled to distinguish it from Fluxx: The Card Game), all of these givens are up for grabs, making for easily the most gleefully chaotic board game experience I’ve ever had. The board is made up of nine individual tiles, which can be shifted or rotated by your fellow players. The rules can be changed, affecting the number of spaces you move per round, how many cards you can hold, and even how many goals you must achieve before the game is over.


[A simple punch card helps players keep track of the ever-shifting rules.]

It’s mind-melting fun, a game that demands constant awareness and a strong ability to think on your feet, since the rules can change in an instant. (One game, a card was played that made the players switch game pieces, so I went from little blue men to little green circles, and the swerve threw me off for at least two rounds.)


Fluxx is the perfect example of the Looney Labs creative model: high replay value through wildly interactive, adaptable game play. Every game of Fluxx is different, not only because the rules are so malleable, but because with multiple games under your belt, you and your opponents become craftier, more adeptly manipulating the board and the rules to your advantage. It’s a great time.

I think puzzle fans and board game fans alike will find quite a bit to enjoy with the games from Looney Labs. So if you’ve got some Christmas cash burning a hole in your pocket, check them out!

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