Game Brewer's Rulebenders is, as the title suggests, a game where players will be changing the basic rules (for example, the number of cards you can hold in your hand) along with their personal modification to those rules. The core idea will be familiar to those who have played Fluxx (Looney Labs) in one or more of its various themed incarnations and it has been experimented with in innovative game designs by Friedemann Friese. With Rulebenders, however, designer Tom Vandeweyer has taken the idea to the ultimate extreme...
The game is played over four rounds on a circular board made up of sectors. To change the rules for any sector, you'll need to win area control for the round by placing out more cubes than any of the other players. Rulebenders uses cards drawn from decks that each focus on disparate themes: Arabian, Fantasy, Pirates, Prehistoric, Science Fiction and Zombies, and the 2-5 players can have a lot of fun with the interactions between the different themes.
Ultimately, players are competing to collect the most victory points, tho' some of the basic actions on the board will require you to spend victory points in order to take them. This is a game then with some interesting ideas and some key choices for players to make. There's much to enjoy here. However, several of the cards are grossly overpowered and so give the game a very high luck factor. Whilst being at the mercy of random card draws can be laughed off in a short card game like Fluxx, you may well find it off-putting in this rather longer board game where plays will typically take around an hour.
The artwork from Xavier Gueniffey Durin makes use of an impish character named Flexo (not Fluxxo) that reminded us all of The Great Gazoo - the all-powerful time-travelling imp that appeared in the final seasons of The Flintstones. Just as Gazoo piled more anachronisms into Fred and Barney's lives, so Rulebenders plays on the anachronisms generated by the different themed card decks.
It's casual gamers to whom Rulebenders will probably appeal most; more seasoned gamers may find it too chaotic thanks, primarily, to the several unbalanced cards. However, for many casual gamers Rulebenders may seem prohibitively complex. It isn't - Rulebenders isn't a particularly difficult game. It's just that there are quite a lot of rules to bend.
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