Anthropology Fluxx

I’m a big tabletop gamer and my wife has supernatural card playing abilities inherited from her mother. When our schedules synch up and we have a night off together we’re liable to put away a couple of bottles of wine playing Ticket to Ride after the kids go to bed. In my search for new games I happened upon the Fluxx series and now we’re hopeless addicts. I conceived this anthropology themed version of Fluxx in the haze of summer. It was printed and beta tested in the fall. Now I’m bringing it to the AAA’s. If anyone wants to play, hit me up!

Fluxx is a humorous card game of winning tricks that is very chaotic because the rules of the game are constantly changing. So there is a fair amount of luck involved, but the more you play the game skill can become involved as you learn how to navigate around the obstacles that randomly pop up along the way. Obviously you can get them on Amazon, they also carry them at Barnes & Noble and Target so run out and get a pack if this sounds like fun to you. There’s a bunch of titles in the series and they’re all great in their own way, but the best one to play with little kids is Monster Fluxx.

The core game concepts go like this. You have a draw pile, a discard pile, cards in your hand, and Keepers which are (green) cards played on the table in front of you. The object of the game is to match Keepers to (pink) Goals. There are also (blue) Action cards which give you different advantages and allow you to change the rules or attack your opponents. There are (purple) Surprise cards that you can play whether or not it is your turn. Finally there are (yellow) New Rule cards which define how each turn is played. The New Rule cards dictate how many cards you draw, how many cards you can play in a turn, how many Keepers you can have in front of you, and how many cards you can hold in your hand. There are lots of other weird things along the way that I’m skipping over for the sake of brevity.

To make this deck I borrowed cards from our Fluxx collection. Fanboys will spot cards and concepts taken from the original Fluxx, Eco-Fluxx, Space Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx, and Monster Fluxx. I’ve also stolen New Rules and Actions from Pirate Fluxx and Zombie Fluxx. This is supplemented with cards of my own creation.

Anthropology Fluxx Keepers:

This first set of Keepers are all meant to represent archetypes of fieldwork: The Shaman, The Grandmother, The Artist, a Tourist, Mushrooms, a Ghost, a Fetish, a Monument, a Tomb, an Angry Mob, and the Unseen Force. Note that some of these cards have special abilities. If you play the Shaman and your opponent has Mushrooms or the Fetish you can steal them. The Grandmother cures Nightmares, which is a special bad card we will see bellow. You can give away the Angry Mob of Villagers and cause your opponent to loose a Keeper. And the Unseen Force allows you to steal a card from your opponent’s hand.

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This next set of Keepers are all tropes of academia and academic life. There’s the Professor, the Dean’s Office, a Grad Student, the Librarian, a cup of Coffee, a Party, a Computer, “Quotation Marks,” Mimesis (for theory), and a Book You Haven’t Read Yet. Again you see how some cards are ordinary and some have special powers. A player who has the Professor can steal from another player the Grad Student, the Librarian, or the Coffee. If you have the Dean’s Office then everyone at the table has to call you Dean. The Grad Student is an important defensive piece because if anyone ever attacks your Keepers the Grad Student will take the fall (think the Red Shirts on Star Trek). The Librarian was borrowed from the Cthulhu deck, unfortunately the Necronomicon is not in play in Anthropology Fluxx. If you have the Computer then you can exceed all rules limiting card play, a very powerful card. Quotation Marks can be used to protect yourself against Creepers (defined below). And Mimesis is the most powerful card in the game because it allows you to win with other people’s Keepers.

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The Creepers are like bad Keepers because they prevent you from winning and they each hurt you in their own way. When you draw one you must play it right away. Nightmares attach themselves to any of your Keepers that are people which then turns off any of their special abilities. Nightmares can be cured by the Grandmother, unless your Grandmother has Nightmares in which case you’re fucked. The Flood prevents everyone at the table from winning as it moves from person to person causing them to discard their hand. At a small table the Flood passes quickly, but at a big table it can take many turns to get rid of. War is probably the worst Creeper because unlike Nightmares it doesn’t have a cure and unlike the Flood it doesn’t go away on its own. Any of the Creepers can be hidden behind Quotation Marks, there are a few Action cards which will let you discard them, and there are a few goals which require Nightmares. Otherwise, they’re bad news.

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Anthropology Fluxx Goals

So the point of the game is to make a match between your collection of Keepers on the table (Keepers in your hand don’t count, they haven’t been activated yet) with the requirements of the ever changing Goal card. Usually there’s only one Goal although there is a New Rule card which allows the game to have two. Zombie and Cthulhu Fluxx are unique in that they have Ungoals where everybody looses and the Zombies or Cthuhu wins, but that game concept didn’t translate well to anthropology. Rather than scan in all the cards, which aren’t as pretty as the Keepers anyway, I’ll just list them for you here.

Goal………..Requirement
All-nighter = Computer + Coffee
Altered States = Shaman + Mushrooms
Annual Conference = Coffee + The Party
Bad Trip = Mushrooms + Nightmares
Cultural Tourism = Tourist + Monument
Database = The Computer + Librarian
Folklore = Grandmother + Artist
Ghost Dance = Shaman + Ghost
Happy Hour = The Party + Either Grad Student or Professor
Interview = Quotation Marks + Any Two of Artist, Grandmother, Shaman, or Tourist
Local leaders = Grandmother + Shaman
Magic = Fetish + Unseen Force
Memory = Tomb + Monument
Possession = Nightmares + Ghost
Power as Knowledge = Quotation Marks + Unseen Force
Preserving Traditions = Artist + Fetish
Publication = Professor + Book You Haven’t Read Yet
Reference = Librarian + Book You Haven’t Read Yet
Ruin = Ghost + Monument
Seminar = Grad Student + Professor
Service Obligation = Dean’s Office + Professor
Souvenir = Tourist + Fetish
Unnecessary Citation = Quotation Marks + Book You Haven’t Read Yet

So there are 21 Keepers and 23 Goals. Plus Creepers, Actions, New Rules, and Surprises. You start the game with three cards in your hand and the rules are draw one, play one. Over the course of the came the rules become more chaotic as you and your opponents amass a collection of Keepers. Eventually by hook or by crook somebody wins a Goal, then you can start over or play best two out of three. Usually this takes 15-45 minutes.

It’s a lot of fun. Go out and buy some Fluxx decks so you can practice, then find me Thursday or Friday night at the AAA’s and we’ll order some beers and cocktails, claim a table or some floor space, and geek out.

Matt Thompson is Project Cataloger currently working to describe a collection of approximately 14,000 photographs produced by the Army Signal Corps during WWII. He has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a Masters in information science from the University of Tennessee.

3 thoughts on “Anthropology Fluxx

  1. How about a ‘hau’ card? It is a keeper, but each time someone else is required to pass you a keeper you have to pass them the hau? Then they do the same, etc.. etc…

  2. We could also have special events – generalized reciprocity, balanced reciprocity, etc…I am sad I will not be at the AAA to work on these…

  3. I have a Ziploc baggie of tested Keepers and Goals that didn’t make into the final deck. (eg. Unionization = Angry Mob + Grad Student). My theory was that if you just doubled the size of the deck it would retain the balance of the original design, there would just be more of it. This didn’t pan out. The supersized deck had a very different game play/ feel. Eventually I decided to cut out a lot of fun stuff to get the card count closer to the original design. So while a lot of good ideas got dropped the game play benefited.

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