Review – X-Men: Mutant Insurrection

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Designer Richard Launius, Brandon Perdue

Publisher Fantasy Flight Games

Category Cooperative Game, Dice Rolling

Length 1-2 hours

Release Date 2021

Player Count 1-6

X-Men: Mutant Insurrection is a cooperative game of dice rolling and comic book action. Based on the system of the popular Elder Sign (which itself is based on Arkham Horror), Mutant Insurrection adds to Fantasy Flight’s roster of Marvel titles. Let’s check it out!

Review

X-Men: Mutant Insurrection brings Wolverine, Phoenix, Cyclops, and other iconic mutants to the tabletop as players work together to foil evil schemes. The goal of the game is to progress through a “plot” and complete all required challenges.

Mutant Insurrection does not have a central board, but rather a tableau of cards, which include missions, threats, villains, and more. The game is primarily dice-based—each round, players deploy their characters to various locations and roll dice to fulfill objectives.

At any given time, there are several location cards to which players can deploy characters. The 3 X-Mansion locations provide helpful boosts, and the continent decks are full of challenge cards. Once characters have been assigned for the round, players work together to resolve the challenges. This consists of rolling dice and trying to match the icons on the cards. If a player’s roll satisfies the requirements of 1 or more rows of icons on their current card, those rows are covered to indicate that they have been fulfilled. When all rows on a card are covered, the challenge is completed. As the game goes on, challenges may increase in difficulty.

When multiple characters are at the same location, they can help each other out. Each player has their own character card, as well as a smaller support card that can buff a teammate. The dice a player rolls for a challenge are shown on their primary card, plus any shown on a support card, if applicable. Two rerolls are allowed, but each die has the possibility of a bad result (the Magneto icon). If this result is rolled on a card with a “villainy effect,” the player must choose to either resolve the effect and reroll the die or skip the effect but lose the die.

After all dice rolls have been resolved, players move onto the threat phase. In this phase, they count up the number of visible threat icons (“!”) and move the threat marker up the track by that much. Then, they draw and resolve a threat card of the corresponding color.

The threat track is the primary game timer. If players would ever move the marker off the track, or if they need to draw a threat card but cannot, they lose the game. (Alternatively, if every character gets knocked out, they can lose that way as well.)

The game builds toward a final showdown with a boss, basically a set of super-tough challenges for players to overcome. If they succeed at these challenges, they win the game!


X-Men: Mutant Insurrection feels like a reimagining of Elder Sign. Admittedly, I parted with my copy of that game years ago, but I have fond memories of playing it; I always enjoyed the challenge it presented. As a lifelong comic fan, the X-Men theme really appeals to me, more so than the Lovecraft flavor of Elder Sign. Though the theme is quite abstracted—this is essentially just a dice game—it’s fun to see Gambit and Storm go toe-to-toe with a Sentinel.

Mechanically, Mutant Insurrection is a mixed bag. It makes some changes from the core Elder Sign system, most notably altering the way the dice rolling works. Instead of “roll the dice and keep something or else lose a die,” this game uses a standard roll-and-reroll system a la Yahtzee or King of Tokyo. Personally, I don’t care for this change, but I do like the villainy mechanism of “suffer a bad effect or lose a die.” I also really enjoy how players can assist each other with support cards. This provides some extra cooperation strategy as players try to figure out which mutants will be best suited to a challenge. Another annoyance is that the game often asks players to search for specific cards in the deck, which can take a while and interrupt the flow of play

The production of this game is decent, but not as strong as many FFG titles. The most glaring issue is the plastic character stands, specifically the fact that there are not enough of them. The game includes 16 character standees and a threat marker standee, all of which require plastic stands to use. However, the game only includes 7 stands, meaning that in between games—or even during play if a character gets KO’ed—players will have to remove stands to switch them around. Technically, 7 stands is enough to play the game (read: the bare minimum necessary), but given how cheap these components are, it is absurd and frustrating that there were not enough for all the characters.

X-Men: Mutant Insurrection has already been widely panned among critics, so these opinions are not terribly new. I don’t hate this game, but at best I find it an average, forgettable experience. Though I like the theme of this game more than that of Elder Sign, the gameplay in Elder Sign is stronger. As such, X-Men is probably a safe bet to skip.

A review copy was provided by Asmodee.

The Bottom Line

Despite a great theme, this game feels like a lesser version of Elder Sign, weighed down by silly production issues. Try before you buy.

 

5.5

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.