Sunday, March 30, 2014

Loonacy, by Looney Labs

Same size as a Fluxx box!
When I was 8 years old, I was the Morningside Elementary Third-Grade "Speed" champion. It's a simple card game of playing out your hand of cards as quickly as you can while your opponents try to beat you to the same goal. 

Flash forward 20-something years, and it's like my childhood has snuck up behind me - Loonacy reminds me so much of those days that I can practically taste the Star Crunch cookies. If you're looking for a speedy matching game that can be taught in three words - "play matching cards" - then you're looking for Loonacy! 

Loonacy supports 2-5 players, and a game finishes in about 5 minutes. Setup is easy - everyone gets 7 cards, and then the dealer makes 1-4 discard piles, based on the number of players. Just like in Fluxx, the player who plays first is the player who plays first, so as soon as the setup is ready, players start playing cards until somebody's out! 

Setup diagram 
Any card with a symbol that matches any face up symbol in any discard pile can be played at any time - it's a simple matching game, where speed matters more than anything else. Though the rules are simple, winning is a little harder than that - in my experience playing two-player games with Amy, there were a LOT of times where neither of us could play. 

In these moments, the game rules dictate that we should both draw a card and keep playing, and after we fiddled with drawing cards at our own pace, we decided that the rules as they stood were the best resolution. Even the four- and five-player games I ran had some issues with all players being unable to play, which was a little surprising until Amy and I sorted out the cards to take a look through them. 

There are 30 individual images on the cards, taken from "Keepers" from various Fluxx versions like Zombie Fluxx, Monty Python Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, and others. Because Amy and I are stats nerds, we did some counting and found that the frequency of images wasn't uniformly distributed - there are more of some images than others. This means the cards aren't all equally playable, and that's a subtle piece of good design that lends itself to a natural ebb and flow in the game, moreso than you'd see if you were using a simple deck of cards.

Chocolate is good for your brain. Love your brain.
Love the Looneys! The Looneys went to the pyramds!
...which were abducted by aliens that look like Cyclops. 

Pick up Loonacy, the maniacal matching card game, at your Friendly Local Game Store if you're looking for a simple matching game of speed and light dexterity (you've got to get your cards on the right discard pile!) to play with your kids, or to bring out for your local game nights in between big games, or with new players. 

Much like Fluxx, this is a sweet game to have handy for those lulls in game nights. I really like that the deck isn't perfectly symmetrical in terms of the number of each symbol in the deck, and that the cards are designed so that you can see the symbols on them in the top-left corner (however the card is rotated in your hand) so you can flip through them quickly while you're playing. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that these cards also make a sweet deck for story-telling elements, if you're into that kind of thing! All the pictures and pairings are a pretty neat tool for telling stories, or at the very least, calling out what you're matching while you're playing them. 

Thanks to Looney Labs for making another easy-to-teach, easy-to-play card game with fun art and simple rules! 

Loonacy on

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JR Honeycutt is a full-time husband and game-player, and co-host of The Nerd Nighters. You can find him on Twitter at @JayAhre or at a Friendly Local Game Store in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

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