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Rating: 6 votes, 4.83 average.

Mutant Chronicles CMG - A Review

Posted June 14th, 2008 at 02:27 AM by ninthdoc
My review of the Mutant Chronicles Collectable Miniatures Game could be summed up by saying this: I really want to like this game, but Fantasy Flight seems to be making this really difficult for me. I had an opportunity to play this game and please believe me when I say that I wanted to like this game; I really did. Unfortunately, after pining over it for two years, I was literally heartbroken that it just didnít do it for me.

This might not be entirely fair, since FFG does not know me intimately. They donít know that I prefer true miniature games as opposed to turn-based strategy games. They donít know that Iím an obsessed completist. They donít know that Iím willing to sink an ungodly sum of money into a game so long as I feel that Iím getting my moneyís worth. They donít appear to know that theyíve produced some really awesome figures that I would love to incorporate into my other games (funny, but Heroscape comes to mindÖ). My question go FFG is simple: Shouldnít you know this since your mission is to make money by selling me games?

I will examine this game from its two core aspects: collectable and game play. In my opinion, a collectable game should be evaluated based upon both of these criteria since often times collecting the pieces becomes a game in and of itself.

Part I: The Collectable Aspect


Ah, blind purchase games, the bane of all gamers. Even gamers that are heavy into (*insert the name of any collectible game here*) hate the game, not the player. (Oh Lord, yes, I did just write thatÖ ) In my humble opinion as the person spending the money, if I invest the money in a case of product and said case costs in excess of $200, I should get everything in the set. The Mutant Chronicles Collectible Miniature Game (from hence forth referred to as MC CMG) is structured as follows:

1 Starter Pack of 6 nonrandom figures, dice, a double sided map, miscellaneous game play bits, and every unit and command card in the set. MSRP $29.95

1 Booster Pack containing 4 random figures. From what Iíve read, there will be one rare and one large in each pack. There are 8 large rares and these are what you might called ďsuper rareĒ since they are distributed 1:4 for each pack. MSRP $19.95

It might not be fair since this is FFGís first Collectible Miniature/Blind Purchase Game, but I will be comparing them to WizKids and WotC since these are the blind purchase miniatures games with which Iím the most familiar. FFG could be better, but right now thatís still an unknown.

Letís begin with the Starter Pack. The units included in it are all commons. This is unusual for a Starter Pack these days. Heroclix has been putting figures that are only found in their Starters for the past three years. Even the latest Starter for Dungeons and Dragons is nonrandom and has figures in it that you can only get by purchasing the Starter.

A further disappointment comes when you realize that one of the figures in the Starter has a special ability that actually prolongs its life in the game by transforming it into another figure, and when that new figure dies in transforms into another new figure. Guess what? The second and third figures and not in the starter and the second figure is listed as being a rare, which means that it will be more difficult to come by.

Another disappointment comes in the breakdown of the units in the game. There are 52 units in this game: 29 of them are rares. Iím sorry, did you just tell these fine folks reading this blog entry that more than 50% of the figures in the set are rares? Yep, I sure did. Even Heroclix, the game with which I have a passionate love/hate relationship has a break down of 12 super rares and then 16 commons, 16 uncommons, and 16 rares per release in recent years. So, doing the math, if I need 8 super rares and they are a 1:4 rarity, I would have to purchase 32 boosters at $19.95 each in order to get the whole set; assuming I did not get any duplicate super rares (not gonna happen).

To make matters worse, the case pack for boosters in this game is 6 boosters. I did find a retailer online that will sell these for $82 per case with free shipping over $150. Thatís pretty good, but a 1:4 breakdown means that some cases will only have one super rare each and some may have two. So I might invest $492 in the game and get 6 cases containing 36 boosters and only get 6 super rares. That just doesnít sound right. How about a 1:3 rarity so I can count on getting two super rares per case. I really donít think thatís an unreasonable request.

Letís talk a little about another bane of blind purchase: distribution. WizKids has been notorious through the years of having poor distribution. In their last major Heroclix release, I know of one brick that was opened and had all of one sort of card (Battlefield Conditions). The other brick opened from the same case had all bystanders (the pogs) and all of another sort of card (Feats). This is very bad distribution since the average Heroclix player buys one brick. There should be a mix of these game pieces throughout the bricks and spanning both bricks in the case.

Now comes the great fear of the unknown. FFG is untested when it comes to distribution of figures in their boosters. When WizKids first came out with blind purchase in 2000, they were the only ones making blind purchase minis. They could write their own ticket and make improvements based upon feedback from fans. Now itís 2008 and FFG is entering a world that has seen the rise and fall of several CMGs and will be competing with the best of the best, those that have stood the test of time. Of course we donít know how good their collation has been and we wonít until blind packs start getting opened.

One more note about the figures. A good portion of the rare and uncommon figures are merely repaints of common units with bases that are a different color. Even WizKids has moved away from this practice. If you are giving me something and telling me itís rare, that implies it is something of value. In my opinion, something of value should be unique and special. A repaint with a different base is not unique or special.

Part II: Game Play

I had the opportunity to play the base game. The rule book informs you of three different ways to play MC CMG: Skirmish, Tournament, and Epic. Sadly, only Skirmish and Tournament rules are included. Epic says that the rules are available online at FFGís website. I didnít go look for them, so I couldnít say whether they are or not. I took the advice of someone close to the game at FFG and made some corrections to the set up for the skirmish game that is recommended in the Starter.

One thing I immediately noticed was that several of the abilities of the included units did not interact with each other. For example, a Ranger Elite has a special ability called Scramble that allows other friendly Rangers to move at +2. There are no other Rangers in the Starter. As a matter of fact, the only other two units for this faction are Infantry, but not Rangers, despite looking like they could be rangers.

The Technomancer has a special ability called Force Shield that defends himself and all adjacent to him from damage incurred from the yellow (heavy melee) dice. Big deal, none of the human figures included in the Starter roll yellow dice.

Another mechanic in this game that will feel strange to folks who are used to playing Heroscape and Heroclix is that double based characters actually move slower. If they are moving in a straight line, the cost of movement is 1 per hex of the base. The standard move value in this game is 4 spaces, so if you would like move the double based Ezogoul (included in the Starter) straight ahead, his move is 1 per hex of base and therefore he only moves 2 spaces. This only gets worse when you find out that the Ezoghoul is a melee figure, so when itís down to just him and a ranged figure, youíre screwed (yes, this did happen to me in one game). I got tired of trying to be clever and win the game and just moved him out to put us all out of our misery.

The only figure with a useful ability in the starter is the Martian Banshee Sergeant. He rolls two additional green dice against double based units (Ezoghoul included in the Starter).

So I played two games in Skirmish mode. I played the humans first and the demons second. When I played the humans, I got my ass handed to me in no time and didnít even score a wound on the demons. When I played the demons, oh, you just read that; whatever.

There are some things I really do like in this game. For example, when you are drafting your army, you have some huge decisions to make. There are no point values in this game; each component has been weighted to be Gold, Silver, or Bronze. This includes, for your consideration: figures, command cards, and order tokens. A gold order token gives you 3 actions on your turn. A silver order token gives you two actions on your turn. You guessed it: a bronze order marker gives you one action. Some of the command cards have a buy back ability, so you may want to save order tokens to be able to do this.

Another weird thing is that the human units in the Starter have a breakdown of 1 Gold, 1 Silver, and 1 Bronze and have a total of 6 life while the demons in the starter have the same breakdown but have a total of 10 and if you were to use the Necromutant Defilerís ability to transform into a Necromutant Tormentor and then his ability to transform into the Necromutant, this would bring their total life points up to 15. So the same breakdown of units has a difference in lives of 9 I donít know but somehow that seems unbalanced to me.

Overall, I left this game after playing two Skirmish games and was very disappointed. Not because I lost, I was playing a friend and weíre pretty evenly matched. Iíve been waiting for this game for two years. First I found out the figures were going to be in 54mm and I was dismayed since I wouldnít be able to use the human figures in any other game. Then I saw it being demoed at GenCon last year, but the line to demo it was too long and so I didnít demo it. Now here we are two years later, and I get to play and it just doesnít do it for me. Iím concerned about its balance and how replayable it is.

This may be nitpicky, but how many times can I field an army on to the same map and not go to sleep? I know Iím spoiled on Heroscapeís ability to have a new board each game, but I got bored with Tanhauser very quickly for the same reason, the same board over and over again.

Maybe it plays better in Tournament mode, but frankly Skirmish mode sucks. UPDATE! The previous was written after having played on Sunday 06/08/08, on Thursday, 06/12/08 I tried Tournament mode. This game just does not do it for me. I won the game Thursday night and it was just a longer version of Skirmish mode.

In any event, itís best to try before you buy. Trying this game out saved me a couple hundred dollars in boosters. Maybe itís someone elseís cuppa, but Iím going to pass.
Total Comments 5

Comments

Old
whitestuff's Avatar
Thanks for the warning. I think I'll steer clear...
Posted June 14th, 2008 at 03:46 AM by whitestuff whitestuff is offline
Old
hextr1p's Avatar
As heavy a miniature gamer as you are (you have, what, four bedrooms of your home dedicated to storage space for the hobby ), I do respect your opinion, and thank you for your honesty in regards to the game. I do hope this isn't a game that hurts FFG in any way. Especially considering how long they've been working on the game. But I'm still thinking, as you touched on above, that scale and blind purchase will be a detriment to kindling interest in the game.

Albeit, we'll just have to wait and see what the masses have to say. Best of luck to FFG. I may not be interested in MC, but I do hope others are, and the final product does not disappoint them!
Posted June 14th, 2008 at 03:57 AM by hextr1p hextr1p is offline
Old
There are a number of errors in this review - I address these in my thread about Mutant Chronicles. Check it out here: http://www.heroscapers.com/community...d=1#post628607
Posted July 25th, 2008 at 05:03 PM by Wytefang Wytefang is offline
Old
Annerios's Avatar
You are a brave one, trying that tournament mode!

I really did not find anything special about the game that would draw my attention from Heroscape.

I hope you have more fun playing Monsterapocalypse and that you'll be doing a review of that one after Gencon.
Posted July 28th, 2008 at 04:56 PM by Annerios Annerios is offline
Old
ninthdoc's Avatar
Yes, I made some errors in game play. The game still sucks.
Posted July 29th, 2008 at 10:19 PM by ninthdoc ninthdoc is offline
 
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