Q: Can a Surprise card be played to stop a card played previously during someone’s turn?

Some examples:

Example 1: Player A plays a Keeper, and then plays a Goal card to win. Player B plays That’s Mine (the counter-Keeper Surprise) to cancel Player A’s Keeper card hoping to cancel the win. Conversely, maybe Player A played a Goal, then a Keeper, and Player B tried to use Canceled Plans (the counter-Goal Surprise).

Example 2: Player A played the That’s Mine as an in-turn card and stole the Computer from Player B. Then Player A set down a Keeper. Player B then played a Surprise card, claiming that the wording on the card says it may be used on the Surprise card just played.

Example 3: Player A played Draw 3 Play 2 Of Them, drew three cards, and one of them is a Goal that let them win, so they played it. Player B then played Stop That (the counter-Action Surprise) to try to cancel the playing of Draw 3 Play 2, hoping to cancel the win.

A: In all of these cases, Player A’s actions stand, as the Surprise has been played too late. The counteractive Surprise must be played IMMEDIATELY after the card you wish to counteract. It also doesn’t apply to “the most recently played card of the target type played this turn.” Once another card of any type has been played, or a subsequent resulting action taken, it becomes too late to retroactively stop a previous card play with a Surprise.

Don’t be that person needing to ask for a special exception to the rules, and make sure the new players you’re teaching understand: Surprises need to be used in a timely manner. Whenever you have one in your hand, acquaint yourself with its power right away so that you can make a snap decision about whether to use it, since, if you hesitate too long, your opportunity is likely to pass.

So are there ever exceptions? It depends how relaxed you want to play, and how everyone is getting along. If Player B was a less-than-experienced player, it’s highly likely that it just took them a little while to read their own Surprise card to realize that it could be used in that way. If the results of a rewind are relatively inconsequential, one might cut them some slack. If Player A somehow anticipated that Player B was going to counter their play, and took their next action with barely a blink then that’s a bit rude. But if there was a heated disagreement, please do fall back on the official ruling. The ONLY reason you might choose to ignore it is if you wish to cut Player B some slack for being a n00b, or if you want to call shenanigans on Player A’s playing style for some reason.

Remember: it’s never appropriate to see the consequences of a previous card play, and THEN realize that you wish you’d stopped it before something else happened as a result of that play. In example 1, Player B probably didn’t realize that the first play would result in the win until the second card was played. In example 3, Player B couldn’t know when Draw 3 Play 2 was played that it would result in a win. Too bad. No exceptions for those cases.

This is where careful ordering of your plays and a good poker face are important so as not to broadcast your intentions. And people say there’s no strategy in Fluxx…