Updated: Dec 26, 2019
With a design by Sen-Foong Lim and Jessey Wright, and art by Mateusz Komada and Katarzyna Kosobucka, Mutants is a new deck building game from Lucky Duck Games and Celcius Online. Like most other Lucky Duck games, it’s apparently based on an established video game but it’s not one with which we were previously familiar. However, players didn’t feel they were in any way disadvantaged by not knowing anything about the video game version.
Mutants is a tight game played over just five rounds. Cards typically score points when they come into play and when they are pushed off into the player’s discard pile but these points represent position on the ‘power track’ that records that round’s play. Victory points are scored for the player’s relative position on that track at the end of the round. That will be after each player has used the six cards they have for the round.
Players each begin with identical starting hands. They will also have in front of them a row of three more powerful cards that they can access, either by discarding a card to ‘incubate’ (make the card available to you in the next round) or by discarding two cards with matching coloured gene icons to ‘breed’ (make the card available for use this round). An unusual feature of the game is that each player is fishing in their own individual gene pool of mutants. These will be set by using the asymmetric pre-constructed decks suggested in the rules or by beginning the game with a card drafting phase. The latter is a good way of learning all the Mutants card powers but most players will want to get off to a quick start by using the pre-constructed decks.
And this is a game that plays quickly. The tight hand size and fixed round structure is reminiscent of Mike Fitzgerald’s Baseball Highlights 2045 (Eagle-Gryphon) but Mutants is just as good with three or four players as it is with two. Unlike many other deck builders that incorporate players ‘attacking’ each other, attacks in Mutants apply to all the other players, or, in some cases, all the players that are above or all those below them on the power track.
You can have a lot of fun with Mutants, not least because Mutants is a game where you can expect to see quite wide swings as the game progresses. It’s not unusual for a player to jump from last to first place on the power track due to the combined effect of the card they activate and the card they retire to their discard pile. Players can also ‘freeze’ cards, taking them out of play for the game but adding them to their end-game victor point score. Careful planning and judicious use of ‘variable freeze value’ mutants can generate some game-winning frozen mutant bonuses!
Mutants is currently midway through its Kickstarter campaign. The version shown here on Board’s Eye View is a pre-production preview prototype but you’ll see that the published version of the game has further improved components and is available with the option of neoprene playmats.