When you say “deck-builder” and “fighting game” in the same sentence, you have my attention. Mutants is the latest game from publisher Lucky Duck Games. The game has some unique mechanics, fantastic artwork and gameplay that will benefit the player that best utilizes their genetically altered monsters.
Each player will start with 12 common mutants (2 copies if 6 different cards). These are single gene creatures that have basic abilities. You’ll use these to combine and discard to upgrade to advanced mutants that will help you wipe out your opponents. From your hand of 6 mutants, you can take one of three different actions.
- Breed – Discard two mutants from your hand for an advanced mutant with matching gene-symbols.
- Incubate – Discard any card from your hand to place an advanced mutant into the incubator. This card will go on the top of your deck at the end of the round.
- Deploy Mutant – You’re placing a mutant from your hand into the Active Mutant slot in your arena.
Breeding a new mutant will allow you to have access to the new card immediately during the round while Incubating a mutant will set you up for the next round. There will be 3 advanced mutants available at the top of your player board. The majority of the cards abilities trigger when deploying the mutant or when the mutant leaves the arena for the discard pile. While there is a lot of iconography in Mutants, after 2 games, I felt mostly comfortable with what each icon stood for in the game.
Getting to Know Your Mutants
The first couple times you play Mutants, you’ll probably stick to the pre-constructed decks that come with the game. These decks are relatively balanced and you’ll be able to find some great combos no matter what deck you play with. Once you have some experience in the game, you can play one of the variants in the game. There’s a draft mode where players can draft from a deck of 36 mutants to create a unique deck of advanced creatures. Feeling like you can make some the best team? Construct a deck of mutants and see how you fare against your opponents.
Mutants lasts 5 rounds with players earning prestige on the Power Track in the center of the table. Players are awarded points based on their place on this track when the round ends (all players are out of cards). If a player can earn enough prestige, they can push their opponents into the red zone of the Power Track and end the round immediately. This can be a real game changer!
A New Take on Card Combat
Mutants really surprised me. Most card battling games have a difficult time keeping players from decimating a single opponent with their cards. This is an issue that we’ve seen with a number of games in the past. 3 players take out one player and then someone sits at the table watching others play. In Mutants, most cards effect the whole playing field and allows you to shift control on the Power Track. This mechanic of earning prestige works so well! When you reach the very top of the Power Track, each time you score prestige, your opponents will be pushed down the track and further from victory.
Setting up the perfect combo can really swing the game in a satisfying way. Attacking other opponents comes from a sword icon and will be carried out with any mutants that are in the same slot of the arena as the attacking mutant. The game is not too complex yet there’s a lot to learn here as you grow as a player. After half a dozen games, I’m still finding combinations that will help me earn prestige or shut down another players mutants.
Another way to earn victory points in Mutants is by using a “freeze” action that some characters can do. This takes the card out of your deck permanently but allows you to collect additional victory points at the end of the game based on the number in the top right of the card. This is a great way to slowly add points to your final score as your opponents focus on the Power Track.
Going into this game, I knew the pedigree of Lucky Duck’s work and this game is on par with what the other games they’ve published. Mutants has some great character art and unique creatures that pop off the cards. I think one thing I’d like to see is some background or story on this world of genetically modified creatures. The art and design is so well done that I feel like having some backstory would be a great fit for this game.
Playing this game over and over will give you more familiarity with the cards and give you better ideas on what cards work well together. Mutants is a fun and unique deck-builder that has great replay-ability. This is a Kickstarter project that I’m excited to see hit the mass market.
You can help fund Mutants from Lucky Duck Games now through November 20, 2018 on Kickstarter.
Lucky Duck Games provided us with a prototype copy of Mutants ahead of the Kickstarter campaign. This in no way influenced our opinion of the game. Previews are a glimpse into an upcoming game with the pros and cons that we experienced prior to production of the game.