Magneto and the Brotherhood are planning something big, and the Professor has gathered a small team to find out what it is and shut it down. But the world doesn't stop just because the Brotherhood are on the move, and crimes are still committed, new mutants are appearing, Blob is causing havoc downtown and some of the X-Men just can't get along. But if you and the rest of the X-Men can get it together, and work as a team, you might just be able to keep the world from going under. Are you in? Then let's go.
X-Men Mutant Insurrection by Fantasy Flight Games is a cooperative game for one to six players. Each player chooses one of sixteen X-Men to play, ranging from original classics like Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, and Rogue, to the newer and some less well-known like X-23, Forge, and Magik. Each turn, players deploy their heroes to missions that appear around the world, or as part of the ongoing narrative of the scenario. Each mission has a set of parameters that need to be met in order to succeed. These parameters take the form of symbols that also appear on the X-Men Mutant Insurrection custom dice and players need to roll these specific symbols on their pool of dice in order to complete objectives and eventually defeat the mission.
Each mission card has two or three lines of symbols that act as objectives, and these are also color-coordinated to the current threat level, which goes up and down as the game goes on. Early threat levels mean that there won't be as many symbols required to complete an objective. In order to complete an objective, the player rolls a pool of dice that come in three different colors representing combat, special powers, and teamwork. The dice all have the same four symbols, but in different variations, ratioed in favor of the named quality. You get three rolls of your pool of dice, keeping any aside between rolls, and once finished, if you have enough to complete an objective, a token is placed over it to show it's complete. If all objectives are complete, then the mission card usually has a reward, if not, then a penalty and the threat level rises and the remaining objectives can be attempted again the next turn.
All of the abilities in X-Men Mutant Insurrection revolve around rerolling dice or forcing specific symbols, which may not sound thematic, but actually captures each of the heroes well. Wolverine can reroll all teamwork and power symbols, looking for the high fight numbers. Each hero also has a dice pool variation of the three different dice types, depending on where the focus of their abilities lies.
A large focus of X-Men Mutant Insurrection comes with the assist mechanic. Each character's card comes in two parts, a large tarot-sized card, and a smaller card. The smaller card has 2 dice listed on it, as well as an assist ability. The smaller card can be traded with another hero when they deploy on a mission together, unlocking the assist ability and altering the available dice pool with the dice on the assist card. When heroes attempt missions solo, they don't get access to their own assist ability. The assist abilities also tie in thematically, Colossus, with the highest health in the game, can take damage on your behalf and Magik can turn a dice showing the Magneto symbol, which usually gives a unique penalty depending on the mission, to a teamwork symbol.
As the game progresses, other allied mutants can also appear, offering special abilities like Sage, who lets you reroll two blue dice, ignore Magneto symbols. The X-Men can also build bonds with each other, which offer unique benefits when you deploy on missions with your bonded partner. Love for example lets you add an extra dice of any color to your pool. But bonds can be broken, and love can turn into regret, which takes away a dice from your pool.
While there is a narrative component to the game, which moves through different parts of the story to the final showdown, a set of mission cards that join together to create a large image across the set, the game is essentially just about rolling dice looking for symbols. As an X-Men fan, I found a lot to love with the different heroes and missions we faced together, but if you take that immersion away, the mechanics might not be enough for a non-X-Men fan. The game can be challenging, and sometimes the dice are just against you, but finding the best way to mitigate that with the right mix of mutants and assists is a part of the game.
The artwork throughout X-Men Mutant Insurrection is all brand new commissioned pieces by Fantasy Flight Games, which look great on the tabletop. There's also an included card 3D Blackbird, which acts as a centerpiece for deploying your heroes from. It looks good but doesn't serve a great purpose as your heroes spend most of their time on the mission cards. I would have preferred to have a tarot-sized card for the Blackbird and some additional scenarios for the cost of the 3D standup.
The great thing about the simplicity of the heroes stats and components is that it's easy to add new ones, and FFG has already released Dominio as a free single sheet print and play character, which means that extra scenarios and heroes can be easily added with card packs and we may even see more free print and play heroes.
The Bottom Line
X-Men Mutant Insurrection is thematic with the heroes and some mechanics, going some way to capturing each X-Men character it features. FFG have done a solid job with the artwork that's all brand new for the game, but the game itself is essentially a dice-roller looking for symbol combinations, which doesn't hold much repeat play for non-X-Men fans. The assist and bond mechanic is incredibly simple, adding an extra dynamic for the game. The different scenarios offer solid variation in challenge. The print and play option for new characters is fantastic, and if FFG keeps that up, along with card pack expansions for new scenarios and heroes, it will be a very cost-effective way to keep the game fresh.
Get This Game If:
- You're an X-Men fan.
- You like dice roller games.
- You want a simple mechanics game with great difficulty variation.
Avoid This Game If:
- You really don't like dice roller games.
- You're not an X-Men fan.
The copy of the X-Men Mutant Insurrection used to produce this review was provided by Asmodee UK.