Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars Review - Skirmish Done Right

Does this skirmish game's light ruleset serve as an entry into wargaming? Or does it suffer from a lack of depth? Find out in our Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars review!

Published: July 2, 2024 9:00 AM /

Reviewed By:

Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars Review image depicting the core components of the game against an illustrated backdrop.

A flannel-clad Moose/man hybrid comes stampeding out of the facade of a ruined old building. Your huge insect wings flitter in annoyance as you fly up to perch on the outcropping of a rundown soda shop. You take aim with this ancient artifact known as a rifle, waiting for your chance to take the shot. This is the world of Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars, a new skirmish tabletop wargame by Free League Publishing. We got a chance to try the game out for ourselves, so read on to see if this rules-light skirmish game is right for you!

What is Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars?

Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars is a new skirmish-sized tabletop miniature wargame for one to two players (and can be expanded to three or four players with the Robots & Psionics expansion), produced by Free League Publishing. In it, players take on the role of a number of characters in the post-apocalyptic world of Mutant Year Zero (which is both a tabletop RPG and a video game, which we previously reviewed).

Players will move their characters around a map with (included) 3D cardboard terrain, moving on movement templates and rolling dice to attack their opponents, all while attempting to secure ancient artifacts from a forgotten age.

An image from our Mutant Year Zero Zone Wars review featuring a duck-human hybrid man holding a crossbow
Dux (the aptly named duck man) is ready for anything!

Included in this core box is everything two players need to get started, with 10 high-quality miniatures (assembled and base-coat painted), cards for each character, custom dice, cardboard terrain, and more!

Getting Into The Action Quickly

One of the things that I most appreciate about Zone Wars is how easy and quick it is to get into the action with this box set. You'll choose an agreed upon amount of models per side to bring to the table (usually three to five), choose a scenario and follow along on the very simple setup instructions in the rules booklet, deploy your miniatures, and start chucking dice!

With no assembly required on these colored plastic minis, and what they call a "sun-drop coat of paint" (which is a phrase I've never heard before, but seems to mean "base coated and dry-brushed") on top, it takes zero time to get them to the table if you're not trying to do a full paint job.

An image from our Mutant Year Zero Zone Wars review featuring all playable characters
Each character comes in a base color according to their faction.

And the rules could not be more straight-forward. You have an attack value, and you'll roll dice equal to that value plus the attack value of your weapon, and you hit on a 6. You can also always push your roll, but that comes with a risk of damaging your weapon.  Though there are rules of cover, climbing, flying, special abilities (which you spend m-points on that you gain from rolling 1's), and more - it never feels overwhelming at all.

But Is It Deep?

This, to be honest, is where there's room for some valid criticism with the game. Because you're always trying to hit on 6's, each character can end up feeling somewhat similar (when it comes to attacking). There are other ways the characters feel special - like some are melee focused while some can fly, shout out a warning call, and more - but when it comes down to it, you're rolling a bunch of dice and hoping for 6's.

This is a strength for the game as it welcomes newcomers into the wargaming hobby, but more advanced skirmish gamers (like players of Warcry, Frostgrave, or even the new Warhammer Spearhead) may feel a little lacking for things to do or ways to make their units feel special.

An image from our Mutant Year Zero Zone Wars review featuring a burly man and a moose man fighting each other
A standoff for the ages!

A Deluxe-Feeling, Approachable Package

There's a lot packed into this box, considering its MSRP of $66 USD. The inclusion of two complete five-person teams of fighters is a great start, and hopefully you can see from the images throughout how fun, full of character, and detailed they all are. I also really, really like the cardboard terrain included in this box.

As a certified and proven lover of cardboard terrain, the stuff included within this starter set is super engaging, sturdy, and even has some signage in Swedish, which creates this sort of version of the apocalypse that I find most compelling about the Mutant Year Zero world.

It's not the rust-colored, irradiated Route 66 stuff we're used to seeing in the U.S. - instead, everything feels bombed out, overgrown, and dangerous in its own unique way.

An image from our Mutant Year Zero Zone Wars review featuring the character Franton
Franton, and his upgrade cards, ready to battle for scraps of junk!

Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars - Final Thoughts

There's quite a lot to like in this box, and I have to say overall I'm pretty charmed by this new little skirmish game. What you lose in the ability to list build (which will likely expand as time goes on, if the game sells well) with pre-built forces you make up for in an out-of-the-box, ready to play game and system.

Because this is based on a well-fleshed out, well-loved Tabletop RPG, it comes across full of engaging personality, little bits of humor (artifacts you secure could include expired medicine, a leather jacket, a vacuum, etc.), and a very realized sense of style.

If you're looking for a game you can pull off the shelf and have ready to go in about 9 minutes, Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars is the one for you. If, however, you need a bit more depth in your skirmish games (though, one would argue that's what full-sized miniature wargames are for!), then this may not have enough "meat on the bone." 

The copy of Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars used in the creation of this review was provided to us by Free League Publishing.

Review Summary

Though it may lack depth for more experienced gamers, this approachable skirmish game is full of fun rules and dice chucking action (Review Policy)


  • Fast-paced dice chucking action
  • Approachable, easy to learn gameplay
  • Incredible cardboard terrain pieces included


  • Rules may feel light for experienced wargamers
  • No ability, as of pub of this article, to expand these two factions

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| Tabletop Editor

Giaco Furino joined the TechRaptor team as a Staff Writer in 2019 after searching for a dedicated place to write and talk about Tabletop Games. In 2020, he… More about Giaco