Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a superhero? According to the Reckoners series from Brandon Sanderson and the TV Show The Boys most of us would abuse that power for our own gains. Masters of Mutanite takes that concept and makes it into a fun, deck building game. It doesn’t take itself seriously as witnessed by the awesome 90s throwback Kickstarter video (think Crossfire when watching it!), the artwork, and the fun gameplay. Spoilers, I really like this game, but read more to see why.
Let’s Get Started
Masters of Mutanite, at its core, is a deck building game. Everyone starts out with the same 8 cards and has 4 they can play on their turn. A player does not have to play all 4 cards but can keep any unplayed cards for their next turn. Players also start with a trait that is unique to their character. Each character sheet has 3 starting traits players can choose from. One of those traits is chosen and kept in front of the player for the rest of the game. The 2 not chosen will be shuffled back into the trait deck.
The play area consists of location tiles arranged in a different configuration based on the number of players. Each location tile has 2 separate features that are placed on them at the start of the game. The features are standees of a water tower, tree, electric pole, ice cream truck, car, or a poison tank, all of which will be used throughout the game to cause damage and add elemental items (fire and water) to the location tiles.
The goal of the game is to be the last mutant standing by causing the other players to lose all of their health. In a 4-player game players will play in teams of 2. If one player on the team has zero health at the start of their turn they can take ½ of their teammates health and continue. Once both team members are down to zero then that team loses and the other team wins.
Gameplay in Masters of Mutanite is similar to many other deck building games. Any of the 4 cards you start the turn with can be played for its ability or to move. Discard any number of cards to move one location tile per card. Card abilities range from melee attacks, ranged attacks, cleanse (getting rid of negative items), or defense. Some of the ranged attack cards, including two of the cards you start with, have a fling icon. This is where the tactical nature of this game really shines. If you have a fling icon on the card you are playing, you will take one of the features on your location tile and literally toss it to an adjacent tile where an opponent is. Depending on what you fling the damage it will cause will be as follows:
- Tree – does 2 damage to an opponent.
- Poison tank – your target gains 1 point of damage and gives an opponent a Poison card which is put into their discard pile.
- Car – gives 1 point of damage and adds a fire counter into the space.
- Water Tower – gives 2 points of damage and adds a water counter to the location tile.
- Electric pole – gives 2 points of damage and causes an electrical effect.
- Ice cream truck – gives an opponent a Frost card.
Many of the abilities of actions in Masters of Mutanite will cause Elemental Effects. These effects can combine with others to cause heavy damage to you or your opponents.
- Fire – Fire counters cause 1 damage to a player for each counter on their Location Tile.
- Water – Water counters on a Location Tile allow players to remove Fire counters from that same tile.
- Poison – Each time a player draws a Poison card from their hand they gain 1 point of damage.
- Frost – Frost effects cause a player to receive a Frost card in front of them. Players earn 1 point of damage for each such card. Players with a Frost card cannot move diagonally.
- Electricity – Target earns 2 points of damage, plus 1 extra for each water drop on their Location Tile.
The fun part is trying to chain different items to cause the most damage. For example, you fling a water tower onto a space which adds a water counter and then fling an electric pole causing additional damage because of the water counter you just added. I can just imagine how that would look on the big screen and it makes me smile.
And of course, since this is a deck building game, you want to add even more powerful cards into your deck. To do this you will use the Pick Up card (you start with 3 in your deck) to take the card that is on the location tile you are in as long as an opponent is not on that spot. The card goes into your discard pile and whenever you need to draw a card and can’t, you’ll shuffle your discard pile to create a new draw pile.
Let’s Have Some Fun
As I mentioned at the beginning I really like this game. Deck building at this point is one of my favorite mechanisms and I love when a game takes a basic game mechanism and makes it feel fresh. Masters of Mutanite does just that. You aren’t adding cards into your deck to just add more damage to an opponent (think Star Realms or Ascension), but those cards allow you to interact with elements of the game to change the state of the board and even set you up to inflict major damage! Having that tactile nature into the game just amps up the fun for me.
The game doesn’t overstay its welcome. A 2-player game takes under an hour and is just a blast to play that you’ll want to play again right after it. With a 4-player game it will be a little longer especially the first play through but once people understand the iconography (which the player boards do a good job of stating what each icon means) then the game goes pretty smoothly.
The artwork – fabulous! I adore this style and the vibe it brings. It is bright, colorful, and a little cartoony which helps with the non-seriousness of the theme and overall fun game play. Each card has its own unique artwork and ability, and the names of the cards, along with the ability and artwork, all work together to make the theme shine through. This goes for the ability cards as well as the trait cards.
I haven’t talked about the trait cards yet, but that is another cool aspect of this game. You can upgrade your character by getting permanent traits that give your character unique abilities. Every character starts with one trait but as you pick up cards into your deck you gain Mutanite which is shown on the board under the card you pick up. At the end of the turn you gain the number of Mutanite based on the number of Mutanite symbols shown on the location tiles. For example, if you pick up 2 cards on your turn you will reveal 2 Mutanite symbols gaining you 2 Mutanite. At the end of your turn if you have 3 Mutanite you can spend it to gain another trait card. Draw 3 cards from the trait deck and choose 1 putting the other 2 at the bottom of the deck. Well, that is cool, why wouldn’t I always want to do that? Well, Mutanite also can be used to boost different ability cards. At the bottom of different cards there is a small line with a Mutanite symbol, a number, and an ability. When you play the card you can spend the number of Mutanite indicated to use the extra ability. It is always optional but can sometimes cause some really intense damage!
The variability in this game is also a big plus! I have played this game quite a few times and I still haven’t seen every card – traits or abilities. Each character is also different with its starting traits. You choose 1 out of 3 traits to start with so even if you play with the same character you can start with a different trait to see how it works. The location tiles are also placed in different patterns based on player count. So each game will feel slightly different just based on the state of the board.
Let’s Be Serious For A Minute
As you can see I adore this game but that isn’t to say it isn’t flawed. I don’t have many negatives but it wouldn’t be fair to you to not include them so you can make your decision on whether they would be a bigger issue for you.
Mainly, my negatives are on some of the production choices. The card size is a bit small – they are not your normal hand size cards and everyone I’ve played with has commented on the card size. I get why they are the size they are. If they were any bigger the location tiles would have to be slightly bigger since that is where the cards are laid for you to pick up.
Also, you use sliders on the player boards to indicate health and Mutanite. They can be a bit flimsy at times. The price of the game for all you get is pretty low on Kickstarter so I can imagine the developers wanted it to be cost effective and this was one way of doing that. I appreciate that but having an add-on with an upgraded player board would be worth it to me!
And really, those are my only negatives, and to me they are pretty minor! They do not hinder me from wanting to play this game over and over!
Let’s Wrap This Up
I’ve said it over and over, and I’ll say it again, I adore this game! From the artwork to the game play this game just fits right into my wheelhouse. I’ve played it at all player counts and enjoyed it every time. Seriously, if this sounds at all interesting to you, don’t hesitate, go back this on Kickstarter right now!! You won’t regret it!
Masters of Mutanite Unite!!