PN Product Review: Star Trek Fluxx: The Archer Expansion and The Porthos Expansion


[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

Crossovers have always been part of the fabric of Star Trek. The Next Generation‘s debut episode had Dr. McCoy (and later cameos by Spock and Scotty), Deep Space Nine‘s debut had Picard (and later Worf joined the cast), and Voyager‘s debut actually launched from Deep Space Nine. Intermingling across time and space made the franchise feel like one enormous, interconnected, living universe, and it made each show stronger.

So it’s only natural that the folks at Looney Labs would want the same thing for their Star Trek-themed editions of Fluxx. Star Trek Fluxx and Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx could be played together with The Bridge Expansion, but there was no way to introduce cards or characters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Fluxx or Star Trek: Voyager Fluxx.

Until now, that is.

Yes, now you can combine all four decks into one massive, constantly changing game with The Archer Expansion and The Porthos Expansion.


For the uninitiated, Fluxx is a straightforward card game. You collect keeper cards and put them into play. Different combinations of keeper cards complete different goals, and each player has the chance to put different keeper cards and goal cards into play in order to win. So you might find yourself working toward completing the goal at hand when suddenly somebody plays a new goal, and the object of the game changes.

Along the way, players affect how the game is played by utilizing action cards and new rule cards which alter what players can and can’t do. Suddenly, you’ll have to trade your hand with another player, or start drawing three cards each turn instead of one.

The game can turn against you or spin in your favor in an instant; that’s both the challenge and the fun of playing Fluxx.

expansions 2

The Archer Expansion introduces elements from Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as time travel references that allow the cards from other Star Trek Fluxx decks to overlap (including having Goal cards in play from multiple decks).

Although the original four games will be overwhelmingly represented in your now massive mixed deck, multiple playthroughs quickly revealed that clever players still managed to use the expansion cards to their advantage more than expected. The sheer variety of Goals available meant that no one could keep track of every possible way to win, so a casual scan of the Keepers on the table wouldn’t reveal if anyone was close to winning.

And for anyone worried that mixing the decks would make it hard to return the cards to their original decks, the team at Looney Labs is one step ahead of you.

expansions 1

From top to bottom, you’ve got the unique fonts for Star Trek Fluxx, Star Trek: TNG Fluxx, The Bridge Expansion, Star Trek: DS9 Fluxx, Star Trek: Voyager Fluxx, The Archer Expansion, and The Porthos Expansion. Although it’s easy to mix up cards from the expansion decks, there’s no mistaking any of the cards from the main four decks.

Speaking of expansions, let’s take a look at the other new offering on deck.

expansions 3

The Porthos Expansion introduces a few more Star Trek: Enterprise characters (including Captain Archer’s dog Porthos), but is mostly focused on tying together the five Star Trek shows through new Goals and Keepers.

Easily the highlight of the deck is Data’s cat Spot, though I’m also a fan of the Starfleet Medical Goal and the New Rule card that grants an extra card to every player if Star Trek is on TV while you play.

Not only that, but the cards are packed to capacity with inside jokes and fun references to events from the series. (The “Former Borg” card even feels like a reference to the recent Star Trek: Picard show.)

expansions 4

Star Trek fans could easily lose plenty of game time unearthing all of the connections, quotes, and moments from each show that are represented across both expansion packs. Seeing all the ways the franchise is interconnected is truly a joy, both as a Star Trek fan and a regular Fluxx player who is always looking for new opportunities to snatch victory from my fellow players.

Yes, mixing all four decks virtually guarantees much longer games — the sheer volume of cards makes matching Keepers and Goals tougher! — but if you’re looking for a dynamic, enjoyable way to get more out of your Star Trek Fluxx decks, these expansion packs are a brilliant way to go.

The Archer Expansion and The Porthos Expansion are both available from Looney Labs for $5 each. And you can find the Star Trek Fluxx decks for The Original SeriesThe Next GenerationDeep Space Nine, and Voyager for $20 each.

And you can check them out, alongside dozens of other great puzzles and games, in this year’s Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide!


Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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PN Product Review: Zendo Expansion #2

[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

Even the best designed games need a little sprucing up from time to time. This is especially true of logic/deduction games, where after a while, it can feel like you’ve seen every trick either the game or the other players can offer.

And there are very few game companies that consistently deliver great expansions. It’s a brutal tightrope to walk; you have to add to the established game in an interesting or fresh way, but without breaking the rules, introducing problems that players won’t know how to handle mechanically, or betraying in some manner the spirit of the original game.

For the team at Looney Labs, though, creating an expansion pack seems like another day at the office. We’ve reviewed expansion packs in the past for Fluxx (Fluxx Dice), Just Desserts (Just Coffee/Better with Bacon), and Star Trek Fluxx (the Bridge Expansion), and each one revitalizes the game and adds delightful new wrinkles without hampering any of the qualities that made the original game such a treat.

Today, we’re looking at a new expansion pack for one of the company’s most immersive and challenging puzzle games: Zendo.

In Zendo, the players pull pieces from a communal pile in order to build different structures, using pyramids, wedges, and blocks. One player, the moderator, chooses a secret rule for the players to uncover, and builds two structures. One of these structures follows the secret rule, and one does not, and both are marked as such.

Secret rules can be as simple as “must contain all three shapes” or “must contain exactly four pieces.” They can be as complex as “must contain more blue pieces than blocks” or “must contain at least one yellow piece pointing at a blue piece.” Some rules involve how pieces touch, or how they’re stacked, while others demand no touching or stacking whatsoever. The field is wide open at the start of the game.

Players then try to deduce the secret rule by building structures themselves, arranging pieces from the communal pile into various patterns and asking the moderator for more information.

So, how does Zendo Expansion #2 affect the original?

[Here are two sculptures: one that follows the secret rule and one that doesn’t. Can you figure out the secret rule? Is it about shapes? Colors? Placement? More?]

Zendo Expansion #2 is a ten-card deck of new secret rule cards that allow the moderator to create fresh challenges for the other players to unravel. The structures and arrangements may look the same, but players must reexamine what they think they know and observe to figure out the new secret rules.

Because, you see, the cards offer more than just the new rules. They demand greater cleverness from the moderator, in order to create designs that are fair for the players — not immediately obvious, but not impossible to discern either. It’s a difficult task for moderators.

And the challenge is even greater for players. After all, it’s not just about the shapes and how they interact, but all aspects of what the players see. Zendo Expansion #1 had cards where the rule involved the shape of the structure’s shadow. You could look at the pieces, the colors, how they’re placed, where they’re placed, how close, how far away, how many of each, and the shape of the shadow could NEVER occur to you.

[Here’s another sculpture that removes blue pieces as a possible
element in the secret rule. Have you figured it out yet?]

With one medium rule card and nine difficult rule cards (as opposed to the easy-to-difficult range of the first expansion pack), the game will only become more surprising and thoughtful from here.

These cards include rules about relationships between pieces, conditional rules (example: something that’s true of the sculpture if something else happens theoretically), and even rules regarding something that ISN’T happening in a particular sculpture. Players will have to wrack their brains and truly example both sculptures from every angle to puzzle out these new rules.

There are even decoy tags on certain cards, to make players think the card has more variables than there actually are! Diabolical!

Although I’m a moderator far more frequently than a player, I’m excited to try out both sides of these new rule cards. After all, with the base set and two expansions’ worth of cards, there’s no way I can remember ALL of the possible combinations available. I’m as likely to be outwitted and outpuzzled as the next player.

[One more chance. Here’s a much simplified version that DOESN’T
adhere to the secret rule. What can we learn from this one?]

And that’s the charm of Zendo. From a small gathering of pieces and rules, you can make practically any scenario you wish. Will the players figure it out first try, or will the moderator’s ability to reinvent their sculptures as needed be put to the ultimate test?

Zendo is at once the most collaborative and one of the most curiously devious puzzle-games in the Looney Labs catalog, and with this expansion pack, only the truly inventive and observant will thrive. What a treat.

[Zendo and the new Zendo Expansion #2 are available from Looney Labs, and the expansion pack is only $5!]

Oh, and if you figure out our secret rule for the post, we’ll send you a Zendo-themed prize!


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