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materteral (mah-ter-tair'-ull) n. of or like an aunt, analagous to avuncular (of or like an uncle). [from Latin matertera "mother's sister" just as avuncular is from avunculus "mother's brother."]

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Thursday, January 5th, 2006
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

Coming Soon: Holy Fluxx Expansions!

Happy New Year! Did you have a nice holiday break? We certainly did... we went to lots of parties, ate way too much yummy food, gave away a lot of neat stuff and got a lot of swell gifts in return, played a lot of games, and generally had quite a merry time. We looked back with fondness on 2005, and looked ahead with excitement to 2006. And we even had some new product ideas!

At long last, we've decided to release some religious Fluxx expansion cards! ("Holy Fluxx, Batman! They're making religious Fluxx cards!")

If you want to see at a glance what these new expansion packs will contain, then jump on over to the Holy Fluxx page to get all the important details. What follows here will be a description of how this idea evolved into something we've decided is ready to release.

It started over 4 years ago, in October 2001, when we first thought up a series of church-themed promo cards, with the idea of sending them out to church youth groups. As described in my "What's on the Stove?" planning memo from back then, the set would consist of five cards (plus a cover card): two new Keepers (The Bible and The Cross) and three special Goals which required them (one featuring the new Keepers together, and the other two new Goals pairing up one of the new Keepers with something from the standard Fluxx deck).

Like many of our ideas, this one just sat around on the back burner for a long time, simmering. Since the promo card version didn't seem quite right, I started thinking about doing Christian Fluxx as a complete stand-alone special edition, much like our recently released EcoFluxx. Indeed, I described this as our new plan in the June 2004 update of my "What's on the Stove?" document.

But I've since gone back to the original idea. What's needed in this case isn't an entirely new set of Keepers and Goals, but rather, the addition to the original set of just a few vital concepts.

The set of things and concepts in the standard set of Keepers are a curious mix of elements (if I do say so myself). With everything from basic needs like bread and milk to celestial objects like the sun and the moon, and with specific human creations like television and toasters mixed in with intangible concepts like time, love, and peace, it's a hodgepodge of topics that are meant to include, in a way, the whole of everything.

But to the religious mind, the universe of Keepers featured in Fluxx has a serious and glaring omission: Where is the Lord in this game that otherwise includes everything from chocolate to death? (My stock reply to this has always been to point to the Love Keeper, saying "God is Love, right?")

Obviously, religious beliefs vary more widely than opinions on death and chocolate, and it wouldn't have been appropriate to endorse any particular religion in what's intended to be a mass-market card game. But Bible-themed versions of popular games are an increasingly strong sales niche, and more and more we've been getting questions: when will there be a church-oriented Fluxx game?

Once I realized that Bible Fluxx really should be mostly the same as regular Fluxx, but with a few Christian elements mixed in with the other concepts, I gave up on doing a completely stand-alone version and pondered again a small set of cards that could be added to your Fluxx deck to spice it up with the religion of your choice. And that's when I had my next idea.

The concepts I had back in 2001 were still good: the pair of new Keepers and the trio of Goals that make use of them are really just right. What's missing, however, are unique on-topic cards of the other two types in Fluxx: Actions and New Rules. Almost immediately, I came up with one of each, a New Rule called the Cross Bonus and an Action called Bible Verses. And suddenly, the set feels a lot more complete!

The next breakthrough that makes it all work was not my own. Having been raised as a Methodist, I found it easy to design a Christian expansion for Fluxx. But we also wanted to make a Jewish equivalent, and for that I needed some expert input. Fortunately, my wife's sister and her kids were in town for the holidays, and they were easily able to fill in the blanks for me!

Shown here are Ruth and her children, Dustan and Jennelle, as they try out for the first time the prototype Jewish Fluxx cards I drew the night before based on ideas they'd suggested in a brainstorming session the previous day with Kristin.

As you'll see on the Holy Fluxx page, the cards in the Jewish expansion closely match those in the Bible Fluxx version. (Of course, this was both expected and indeed mandated; part of the idea is to get both versions printed at the same time, and we'll enjoy some cost savings if the two versions have the same parameters.)

Anyway, all these new inspirations have us pressing forward with the first two entries in our new Holy Fluxx series of expansions. Obviously, there are plenty of other religions we could someday offer expansions for, including everything from Islamic to Pagan (and from Raastafarianism to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster); however, we're not even going to think about other editions until after we see how well these first two sell.

With luck, it'll only be a couple of months before the Bible Fluxx and Jewish Fluxx expansions become available! Each pack will (probably) retail for $2 and we'll be making them available in booster boxes (containing 36 packets each) so that stores can easily feature the expansion(s) of their choice right next to the basic game.

Jewish and Christian Rabbits, who want to help us promote these new booster packs, are encouraged to Sign Up Now for our new Jewish-Fluxx or Bible-Fluxx discussion mailing list -- Kristin is still working out the final details on packaging and price point, and wants to get input from Rabbits on promotion ideas, in the next few weeks, before printing up flyers for Toy Fair next month.

AndyThanks for reading, and Don't Forget to Play!

Thought Residue
During National Play Week, I caught up a little on my movie-watching. I really enjoyed 3 hits from last summer: Fantastic Four (I think it was the best superhero movie I've ever seen, though what I'm really looking forward to is the sequel I have to assume they're planning: The Coming of Galactus), March of the Penguins (which made us all really glad we're not penguins), and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (which I liked best of the bunch). I also really enjoyed a Disney classic I somehow had never seen before: The Parent Trap.

2005 was a great year for us in many ways, but it was a bad year for my collection of video equipment. I used to have several VCRs in active use, and they all broke down last year. (My primary unit started freezing up on New Year's Eve.) So now the question is: Does anyone know a good VCR repair place in the DC area? (Or is this a sign that it's time for me to finally upgrade to TIVO?)
"An alien invasion is coming to town,
So fire up your blasters and sit yourself down.
Or play paddle-tennis with a cubical ball,
Shoot very slow weapons and hide behind walls.
Oh what can console us now that this has been packed?
The new ones are fancy, but just don't take us back." -- clue from a Boxing Day scavenger hunt, written by Alison, leading to the spot in our video-gaming area where we used to have our Atari 2600 set up

"Then inspiration struck. Forget supplementing other presents with plush posable flowers, we had a bouquet for our little darling. Well, that bouquet of flowers was the first gift she opened, and the one she carried with her all day. She kissed them, she cuddled them, she showed them to everyone. We played guessing games where we hid one flower and she had to guess what colour was missing. They were in her hand when she dozed off in the car, and in her hand when she sleepily toddled into her auntie's home at eleven o'clock that night. They were the gift that the other kids wanted to look at and play with, and the gift that she guarded most fiercely ­ even overcoming her reticence to speak to one of her stepcousins (she'd never met any of them before) to ask for her flower back. So thank you to everyone at Looney Labs. You saved Christmas." -- blog entry by Melissa

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