Some people live for the rush, the adrenaline, the thrill. They have to go 100mph with their tails on fire. Act without thinking. Get a little crazy. Well, if that’s not your lifestyle, but still feel that call gently nudging the back of your mind now and then, today’s little card game offers a safe environment to let your hair down. Although, the artwork may make you a little dizzy.
How it Plays
Loonacy is a speed game. Your goal is to empty your hand of cards by playing them to one or more piles by matching images. Fans of Spit (played with a traditional deck of cards) or the commercially produced Dutch Blitz will feel right at home with this often eye-boggling design.
It’s quite simple. Even simpler than “quite simple.” You have a hand of cards. Each one shows two pictures, which turn out to be images from various versions of the same publisher’s Fluxx card games. On the table will be one or more piles, depending on the number of players. Game play is simultaneous. As soon as you see a match between one of your cards and one on top of a discard pile, lay it there as fast as you can. Only one of the two images need be identical.
Players furiously and continuously lay cards to the table hoping to beat each other, while at the same time avoid scattering piles, bending cards, and breaking fingernails. If at any point no one has a legal play, then everyone draws a card and reveals them at the same time, and the game resumes. The first player to go out wins.
Crazy Fun, Crazy Stupid, or Crazy Stupid Fun?
When something is ridiculously easy, I like to fall back by way of explanation on a reference from an under-appreciated, sci-fi show that aired in the mid-90s, Space: Above & Beyond. An old grizzled, veteran flight leader would fondly say, “It’s easy as eating pancakes.” Sounds like something John Wayne would say, too, come to think of it. Anyway, Loonacy is easy as eating pancakes. In fact, it’s so straight-forward, there’s really not even any butter or syrup.
It does have a slight twist from other pattern recognition and matching games, though, so perhaps it’s more like buttermilk pancakes? That is in the dual imagery. Since each card has two possible plays, it almost feels like you’re straining twice as hard to spot a match. Which makes things more frantic! Plus, one of the images will always be “upside down” to your point-of-view – both the cards in your hand and those in the piles on the table. They’re designed well with thumbs of the images printed in both indices for better reference, but it can still be disorienting. On top of that, the pictures can be bizarre – from alien dogs to floating cities to an eerily disturbing eye – contributing to a sort of mosaic perception.
Even though it sounds incredibly simple, actual play can prove misleading as your eyes frantically bounce from your hand to the discard piles and back again for possible matches. So most of the time, the game is fast and exciting with your nerves and muscles tensed and ready to spring into action. This is as a speed game should be. However, there will be times, even in a 2-player game with four discard piles, that no one can play, or only one person is playing, or when everyone is really scrutinizing their hand and the table closely to make sure they haven’t missed anything during a lull in play. So then everybody draws…and still, no one can play. That really slows the game down. Until that is, a draw or more later, all of the sudden one player can lay a card down which sets off a frenzied chain reaction of renewed activity! For a speed game, the pace can be a bit swingy.
The scale is interesting. It’s not necessarily bad vs. good, but the number of players really changes the style of game. With less players, there are more piles to play to, thus a greater chance of finding matches. However the competition over piles is not always as tight. Therefore, the speed element is the source of most of the tension. Having said that, it doesn’t shine much with two players. With more players, there are fewer discard piles – only one in a 5-player game – and so the fight over those limited options adds a bit more anxiety.
Loonacy is not a “game” in terms of planning and decision-making. There’s nothing innovative that will create a significant splash within the hobby. But that’s fine. It doesn’t pretend to be anything beyond the light, family accessible activity that it is. If you don’t have a basic, speed game already in your collection, this is a suitable design to represent. It provides some frantic laughs as you race to empty your hand. And it just might be a good title to introduce to non-gamers hoping their response will be, “That was fun. What other games do you have?” Well, let me show you…
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Looney Labs for providing a review copy of Loonacy.