Q: If a Surprise is one of the cards allocated for Dreams & Omens, does the player use it’s in-turn effect or out-of-turn effect when the time comes to play it?

…Dreams & Omens creates a situation where one card has been allocated to each player, placed in front of that person, to be played “before starting their next turn.” Does that mean it’s not the player’s turn, and they must use the out-of-turn effect?

A: Although it says “before starting their next turn” it is, for all intents and purposes, that player’s turn as soon as they start “doing stuff”. The point is that this card must be played before the regular draw and play phases, and even before any available optional Free Actions.

Here’s a nifty chart we made which details the order of various events in a Fluxx turn.

Furthermore, if you read the out-of-turn instructions on the Surprises, you’ll see that they are in reaction to a specific game event (a specific card play, or an UnGoal being fulfilled) and without that event occurring, there isn’t really any logical way to execute the out-of-turn effect.

See also: Many cards state that you can do something “on your turn”. When does one’s turn officially begin and end…

Q: My wife played the Secret Cultist AFTER the game had ended due to an UnGoal. Can she do that?

A: Yes, that’s exactly what she can do. The Secret Cultist, is, naturally, working for the downfall of everyone, staying hidden until the Old Ones rise to take control, at which point the Secret Cultist comes out of hiding and claim at least enough credit so as not to get destroyed. Being a Surprise card, it’s meant to be played out of turn, including, in this case, specifically just after the game has “ended” due to an UnGoal.

Sorry to break it to you… Thanks for playing our games. Maybe she can put in a good word for you after the apocalypse or something.

Q: What happens if a Goal and UnGoal are met at the same time?

… We were playing Cthulhu Fluxx, and what complicates things is that my wife had the Secret Cultist, so she would win if the UnGoal overrides the Goal, but my son would have won with the Goal if that overrides the UnGoal. [Note from Looney Labs, in Cthulhu Fluxx, a simultaneous Goal and UnGoal could arise from either Double Agenda or The Stars Are Right. Zombie Fluxx and Martian Fluxx could also generate this condition since they both have Double Agenda and an UnGoal. Zombie Fluxx also has the Zombie Boss Rule which can make a player win in the case of the UnGoal being met.]

A: Well, this IS a doozy. Andy and I had to think this through carefully.

But in the end, the answer seems obvious: on the rule sheet itself, at end of the first page in “Notes” is the ruling for ties:

“The game doesn’t end until there is a clear winner. If for some reason two of more players meet the winning conditions simultaneously, the game continues until a single winner emerges.”

So, for your situation, the answer is actually fairly simple: there were two players meeting winning conditions simultaneously, so keep playing until a clear winner emerges. Note that the “clear winner” need not be one of the two originally tied. It could happen that someone else manages to break the tie and win instead of either one of them.

What got a little tricky for us, is that we also wanted to rule in cases where the Cultist/Secret Cultist/Zombie Boss wasn’t invoked, which is to say when there is one player winning, but the conditions for “all players losing” is also met. How could that be? Would we rule that there is only one player winning? Or would we rule that there is “no clear winner”, since that player should simultaneously be both winning and losing?

We went with the latter: If a Goal and UnGoal are met simultaneously, then, even if there is not an actual player that can claim victory in the case of the UnGoal conditions, having the UnGoal met is like having the “forces of evil” be the winner. So if a player meets the winning condition, they are actually tied with “the forces of evil” , thus play would continue until a clear winner emerges.

In a way, all that the Cultist/Secret Cultist/Zombie Boss does is make an actual player represent those forces of evil, thereby claiming that victory.

Q: Do Creepers prevent the Secret Cultist (or the regular Cultist) from claiming his win on an UnGoal?

A: No. The idea is that the Secret Cultist benefits from the end of the world in ways regular players do not, so everything is backwards — that which would normally make you lose now helps you win. So if victory is found through the Minions of Darkness, it’s just a bonus if Cthulhu himself also joins the party!

While the win conditions for the (non-secret) Cultist are more narrow, the same is true, since they’re winning with an UnGoal, reveling in the destruction of all we hold sane.

Q: After I’ve been revealed as the Secret Cultist, can I still win on an UnGoal?

I know I lose my next turn, but is that ability still available to me?

A: You can only win with the Secret Cultist if you are playing it as an out-of-turn play. If you are forced to play it as an actual in-turn play, you take the penalty instead of the out-of-play ability. Thematically, the idea is that you’ve been exposed as the Secret Cultist and your plans therefore ruined. They locked you up until you came to your senses (your lost turn) and you no longer worship the Ancient Ones.

Note that if you play the Secret Cultist as a counter-Surprise, it does not count as using its in-turn function, and does not “reveal” you, so you don’t take the penalty. It’s more like you were a Secret Cultist for a while, but then you got tired of hanging out with those losers, and just decided to leave on your own.

Either way, whether you’re thinking about it thematically or not, there’s no way you could retain that special status/ability. Since you can only claim your Secret Cultist win by playing it out-of-turn after the game ends with an UnGoal, you need to still have it in your hand when that happens. If you’ve already played it in any fashion, that card has been used up, and is now in the discard pile. You’re no longer the Secret Cultist. In fact, if the discard pile is reshuffled, someone else might end up with it in their hand, in which case THEY would be the (as yet unrevealed) Secret Cultist. You’re just some failed has-been wannabe Secret Cultist (or successful survivor of a dangerous cult experience!)