Q: If multiple Surprises are canceled by each other, how do you figure out what happens in the end?

Player A uses That’s Mine for its in-turn function to steal a Keeper from Player B
Player B uses It’s A Trap! to cancel the steal, and instead steal from Player A
Player A uses Canceled plans to cancel It’s A Trap, since Surprises can cancel Surprises.

Does the original steal go through? Player B argued that there was no steal in either direction, as both That’s Mine and It’s A Trap had been canceled by subsequent Surprises.

A: The short answer is that That’s Mine is carried out for it’s in-turn function for the Keeper steal.

The long answer:

  • That’s Mine is played in turn: Keeper is stolen
  • It’s A Trap is played out of turn by victim: That’s Mine is negated and the Keeper steal is reversed
  • Cancelled plans negates It’s a Trap, which had previously been reversing the Keeper steal and negating That’s Mine. This leaves That’s Mine un-negated to steal the Keeper as originally played

It’s not that cards just get put on the discard pile, covered and they’re gone. Think of each card as going into a “being played” area only into the discard pile when they are done being used, or when negated for good. There was sort of a little wrestling match out there in the “being played” area between all the Surprises, and It’s A Trap lost.

Here is a generic version of what a battle like this could look like. It can continue until you run out of Surprises. Keep in mind that it’s totally possible and allowed for some other player, for example, Player C, to jump in on either side, potentially confusing the toggle state of the original play. If things come to this, it may be very important to keep track of the original play being canceled, perhaps putting it in the middle and flipping it over to indicate which state it is in: effective, vs canceled.

  • A plays some card X.
  • B plays Surprise 1, canceling X.
  • A cancels surprise 1 with Surprise 2, so X is in effect again.
  • B cancels surprise 2 with Surprise 3, so Surprise 1 goes through, and X is canceled again.

and so forth. If there were more, it would look like this:

  • A cancels surprise 3 with Surprise 4, so Surprise 2 goes through, canceling Surprise 1, so X happens.
  • B cancels surprise 4 with Surprise 5, so Surprise 3 goes through, canceling Surprise 2, so Surprise 1 is in effect again, so X is canceled.

So far, the maximum number of Surprises in a version is 6, in Batman Fluxx, but here’s the page where we would update that info:
Complexity Factors for Fluxx editions