Arr, matey, there be treasure to be grabbed, ships to be sailed, and, well, cards to be played. Pirate Fluxx, the latest edition of the Fluxx games from Looney Labs, applies the Fluxx formula to the pirate genre -- with great success.
Pirate Fluxx follows most of the rules from previous editions of Fluxx. You start the game with a hand of three cards, and at the beginning you draw a card and play a card. Keepers are items that can help you. Goal cards have the requirements for a player to win; it's usually two Keepers together, like Key Lime Pie (the Key and Limes) or Treasure Ship (the Galleon and any two Booty Keepers). Action cards are used and then discarded, letting you do things like stealing Keepers, playing more cards, or getting rid of New Rules. And New Rules affect how many cards all players can draw, play, or even keep during their turns. There are also two Creepers (Scurvy and Shackles), which get played automatically and can keep you from winning -- but they're easy to get rid of, and they can often be given to another player!
Pirate Fluxx introduces a new type of card to the Fluxx system, and it adds a very strategic element: Surprise! These are the first cards that can be played during someone else's turn (allowing you to stop a player from winning as they complete a goal), or they can be played during your own turn for greater effect.
While it's to be expected that Pirate Fluxx has a pirate theme, it's impressive how well that theme works in gameplay. The Captain's Hat gives a number of bonuses (plus everyone else has to call the player with it "Captain"), so it's also a target for the other players to discard -- or steal for themselves. Several Keepers are designated as Booty (treasure cards) or Ships (large vessels), and many other cards affect these, for good or ill. And, as with all Fluxx games, Pirate Fluxx is very quick to teach and very fast-paced to play. If you're a fan of the pirate genre, Pirate Fluxx is a real blast; if you're not, it's still a lot of fun to play!
Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch