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"That's gotta be the best 20 minutes of chaotic, concentrated fun I've had all weekend." -- Brett Nicholas, commenting on Giant Circular Fluxx at GenCon 2005 (as reported by Marc Hartstein)

Thursday, August 25th 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? Playtesting Giant Circular Fluxx @ GenCon

Ever since announcing the Fluxx Buxx contest, which challenges you to play Fluxx with as many different people as you can, I've been thinking about a way to do that literally, i.e. to allow a large group of people to play Fluxx together at the same time.

Just before Gen-Con, I came up with an idea for something similar to a M:tG "Grand Melee" game, which I called Giant Circular Fluxx. I didn't have time to do any playtesting (other than some late-night test cases with me and some stuffed animals gathered at the game room table) so I quickly whipped up some written rules and sent 'em off for playtesting at Gen-Con with Kristin and Alison.

I myself skipped Gen-Con this year (I decided to stay home instead, to focus on packing for the move), so again I have to imagine what it was like... but from what I'm hearing, it was a big success!

Taking charge of the playtesting in my place were Julie Haehn and Marc Hartstein. Thanks Julie & Mark! And thanks to everyone who played! Thanks for putting up with the bumps of playtesting, and for suggesting various tweaks and improvements to the rules!

Mark sent me a huge playtesting report, filled with comments and improvements they came up with, and I haven't finished the task of incorporating his suggestions into my first draft of the rules. I'm planning to get that done and posted here by next week, since I need to have the next revision of the rules ready for playtesting at Dragon*Con. (BTW, I'm skipping that event this year, too.)

I'm sure you're curious about how 32 people can all play Fluxx together at once, so here's a brief overview.

Everybody sits in one big circle, and everybody is playing in one big game... but it's also kind of like you're playing a regular sized game with just 3 or 4 other people. There's this concept called the Zone of Control (ZoC) and you are only affected by cards that fall within your ZoC. So, no matter how many people are in the game, when you play an Action, the effects of that Action are limited to the person on either side of you, just as if you and those other 2 people were all alone, playing a 3 player game.

Things get a little more complex with the handling of the New Rules and Goals. Players sitting in certain positions are called Goalies, and they're in charge, as it were, of the current Goal for the people nearby. Similarly, other players are called Deck Captains, and they'll have the Draw, Discard, and Rule piles in their space, holding sway over the players near the Captain. The Goalies and Captains get the unique ability to choose, when their turns begin, which rules they'll live under (if they're a Goalie) and which Goal they'll be eligible for (if they're a Captain) during that turn. And since these different roles in the game will be coveted, a call of Musical Chairs will periodically shift all players one seat in the opposite direction of the turn order.

Speaking of the turn order, Giant Circular Fluxx also has turn markers, to denote whose turn it currently is. There will be one turn marker for every 4 players in the game, meaning that multiple people will be taking turns at the same time! You can't start your turn if there's another Turn Marker within your Zone of Control, so bottlenecks can (and did) sometimes occur, but it still allows for lots of exciting, simultaneous action.

Of course, it would be pretty silly if the whole game ended as soon as someone achieved a Goal somewhere, so in GCF, the object is to collect as many victory points as you can during the allotted time for the game (20 minutes apparently tested well). Whenever someone achieved a Goal, Mark had them yell "Goal!," holding up both arms in a victory gesture that also reminded the Controllers to go give them their victory point token. Whoever had the most tokens when the time ran out was the overall winner!

Well, that's the gist of it... if I get the detailed rules page done before next Thursday, I'll post the URL to the Fluxx mailing list.

There are, admittedly, some downsides to playing Fluxx this way. Not only do you need a big stack of Fluxx decks (1 for every 4 players) but the cards also tend to get mingled together during the game. Obviously, this leaves you with a complex sorting job when the game is done. Fortunately, our Rabbit Coordinator Russell just happens to be a 16th level Sorter...

Here we see Julie and Marc and Mike contemplating rules tweaks while Russell and his team of sorting Rabbits prepare the decks for the next round.

As for the rest of GenCon, it sounds like it was also a great success. Sure, there were undoubtedly some people who never found us, since our Little Experiment room was hard to find, and we were continuing the No-Booth experiment of 2005 (by not having a booth of our own but partnering with 5 other vendors to sell our games for us). Again, as at Origins, the booths offering Looney Games were giving away promo cards as part of our scavenger hunt, and again they had a great time making card-requesters earn their promo card by performing various stunts.

But we did miss having a booth of our own. One of the drawbacks was that our name didn't appear on the Exhibitor's List, and since we also didn't put an ad in the program book this time, some people probably assumed Looney Labs wasn't even there. But we have other ways of attracting attention, like playing giant IceTowers out in the hall. Also, our Rabbits had these great little flyers (called Lab Reports) in the pockets of their lab coats, which they gave away as they wandered the convention.

We had an awesome team of Rabbits working at this event:

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Thanks to everyone for all your help in throwing a rockin' good party at Gen-Con! (Thanks also to Peter and Joshua (we don't have their pictures yet) and to anyone else we've forgotten!)
AndyThanks for playing our games and reading our webzine, and have a great week!

Thought Residue
"With American sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office -- the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President." -- LBJ's "Renunciation Speech," delivered on March 31, 1968

"I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so." -- George W. Bush, on his refusal to take time out from a 5-week vacation to see the grieving mother of a dead soldier camped out on the edge of his ranch (seen quoted in "Biking Toward Nowhere" by Maureen Dowd)
"I too suffer from migraines and daily chronic headaches and through this past year, and many many MANY different types of costly prescription medications, herbs, accupressure, acupuncture, chiropractor, massages, you name it I'm sure I tried it, weed still seems to be the only thing that instantly relieves most of my pain. I can't say enough how much I appreciate your devotion to this cause as there will be millions who will benefit from this." -- email from a reader named Elisa

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