Review: Mutant Meeples – thriller from the world of meeples
Tires of a car screeched, when it was moving away from an intersection. Angular creature named Skewt was at the wheel. Excellent driver, who could drive through corners in full speed. It was just a few seconds, since dispatch reported a murder. And Skewt got is as well as other detectives. But only one of them can get the case in the end – whoever will be first on the crime scene.
And Skewt wants to please his paycheck and his boss. His biggest fear was, that Forrest Jump will be in place before, he does. He spotted his car in the next lane once and knew, it would be very close. Intersection of Dakota Street and Broccoli Avenue slowly was approaching and tension was rising. Crossroads flashed one after the other, and when Skewt had finally scene in sight, he saw a Sidesteps car parked there. Damn, he is second again! But never mind. Murders are happening every moment in Meeptropolis, because its residents are made of wood..
And this great city inhabited by characters of wood, so-called meeples, is the scene of board game coming from Pegasus Spiele. But Mutant Meeples, how the game is called, has a much longer history, than might seem. Before Ted Alspach worked on its new incarnationin 2012, it was called Ricochet Robots (1999) and even earlier in the same year: Rasende Roboter. Author of the original game is Alex Randolph. What is new with this version over the previous one will be a topic of our today’s review.
Mutant Meeples is a game, that will welcome you with illustration on the cover from the author of the whole game (Ted Alspach), who created all the images inside the box. The final version was published under the auspices of Bézier Games, and then was taken under one umbrella by the aforementioned publisher Pegasus Spiele. They brought us such hits as Yedo (review) or Santiago de Cuba (review). Publication of the game has also been supported by Kickstarter campaign.
Figure of a familiar wooden hero smiles at you. You have known him from many board games. His most famous engagement is in a Carcassonne series. Hans im Glück granted authors permission to use the shape of their pieces. Game seems at first glance in such a homely style, which immediately endears you and will make you feel right at home.
Most important for the investigation is game board of the city. Streets are done in the American style – that is, only horizontal and vertical direction are allowed, no curvy and dangerous roads. And among them, you will find a lot of houses, that will make obstacles for your detectives on their way to crime scene. Game board succeeds in showing two cities – one on each side. One city is Meeptropolis, which is denser with more homes – is the simple side, while the second Meepville has fewer people, but also navigating in it is unexpectedly more difficult. Strange? Maybe for you..
In a detective game, there must be also some investigators personally. They are represented by a wooden figures in eight different colors, which you must identify using supplied stickers. They add a special superhero power to each person. They also get their picture in cardboard 2D world. Eight pieces of round tokens will be used to indicate position of each character, when they caught transmission about new crime. There are 48 tokens with corresponding images of eight detectives for all six players. A similar square shape have also pieces with numbers, which are called motion tokens.
There are also player boards prepared for ever contestant. They will impress you with their special appearance, because they contain only thirty boxes – ten squares in three rows and above these columns are corresponding numerals ranging from one to ten and description of special detective skills. It remains to mention only round tokens with letters determining crime position and one small plastic hourglass.
At the start of every match, you first choose the side of the board according to desired difficulty. Surprisingly you will not represent any color in the game, instead you get one square token from each investigator into your property. You lay them over your gaming board with thirty square boxes, that remain empty for now.
Game plan must be filled in diagonal line from upper left to lower right corner with eight characters. You also place circular token with their portrait under them. Their order may be completely random, but you can just put them, where indicated. Above game board, you place movements tokens with numbers in a series from one to 24th. Nearby must be also a circular locations and hourglass in reach of all the participants.
Mutant Meeples game runs in real-time and all players are simultaneously trying to find the shortest path possible to actual crime scene. You need a place at start of each round. You draw two random letter coordinates and mark this spot with a token. Now everybody can start planning and searching.
Detectives are moving like on a really slippery ice. Once their movement starts, they cannot stop sooner, than they reach nearest obstacle in their direction. This whole slide counts as one move. They are gradually stopping, turning and bouncing off walls on the board (frame around the city counts as a wall as well), in attempts to get to crime scene as soon as possible. The task does not read to get there first, but to find the shortest way, using any of the available detectives.
But everything in this planning takes place only in your heads. Figures are still located on their starting positions so far and it is only up to you to imagine their movement. At the same time, you should also count, since each bump into an obstacle counts as one step.
Whenever any player feels, he has found a good quick option, he can announce it out loud. He selects all character tokens above his player board, who move during this devilish plan. Moving more characters is sometimes necessary, because you can create a barrier to stop your character sooner, than is otherwise possible. This player then places their tokens in columns corresponding to number of moves they made, sum it up and take token of value equal to total movements made by all detectives from above the board.
This is a moment, when he must turn the hourglass and give others a time limit. They have now only a short time to finding a better way, than he/she did. Also these players must deploy characters tokens and obtain token with total number of movements. If any of other players comes up with a series of movements, whose total number is already not available over the game board, he must take the next highest available number. But even now, his cause is not lost, because the other solution can be wrong.
Round is won by the player, who reached the right destination in the lowest number of steps. He can add that detective, who reached the goal, to his superteam. But because this investigator is employed by solving this crime (even superdetectives need time to solve their case), he can no longer be used in subsequent rounds. At the beginning of next round, you again reveal new coordinates and game continues. Target for all opponents is the same: to get a total of six members into your team. This makes you the sole and undisputed winner.
Mutant Meeples is an amazingly fun game, that puts incredible demands on the imagination and planning abilities of players. You need to be able to almost perfectly imagine trajectory of pawns and plan their movement stalled on each wall so long, before they reach the finish line. Its incredibly simple concept, needing a lot of hard thinking.
It remains on the decision of players, how long will actually one round be. But as soon as one of them decides, he is satisfied with his solution, takes a number token and turns hourglass, a cliffhanger starts. In the last tens of seconds, it is almost impossible to find anything better. You therefore often take a slower road to crime and hope, that your opponent made a mistake in his planning.
And these mistakes are not-so-rare during this game. It is very easy to overlook some movement or incorrectly remember a step and even otherwise good and quickly thinking players can be wrong from time to time in here. This leads to immediate disqualification from actual round and verifying plan of the second player in line according to number of steps needed. Makes you always hoping for victory until the very end of each round, although others have seemingly fastest solution. And this hope makes you involved in the game at all times.
Difficulty can be set yourself by choosing the board. More walls mean easier game, because detectives may stop more often.. Yet, very often you have to help yourself out with another pawn. As a result, police officers get out of their starting positions and start the next round on their actual place instead of in the middle. This is true even for the detective, who successfully arrived at the scene.
We have not mentioned also two other groups of objects, that vastly inflate replayability and are included in the box. First, there are demolishing and adjusting pieces. There are altogether twelve, and with their help you can customize look of town absolutely to your own image – either add buildings and simplify the way or vice versa, and make it more challenging.
Even more fun accompanies a small expansion, that is supplied with game. It’s called Sidekicks and includes new characters with new capabilities. They further extend the capabilities of the game and above all allow you to choose only those detectives, you want! This makes variability even more amazing.
But what is absolutely the most important are special abilities, which can be used to access the crime. You must think of them, while you search, because they can offer easier way and successful solution to a seemingly unsolvable cases. Even with all those options, the whole game has no problems to cram under one hour of gametime.
This does not mean, that Mutant Meeples gameplay will satisfy everyone. First of all, this game is altogether a little puzzle to solve. For lovers of riddles, this game becomes a paradise, because they can solve an infinite number of tasks and even measure with others. A feeling of victory is really sweet here. For many other players, this is a sign, that is becomes a little solitaire game, without any need to perceive others. This is due to the very principle of the game and also indicates, that it actually does not differ in experience in any number of players.
Some players found soon out, that they are not good in this kind of planning and imagination. They often make mistakes or are not able to find the right path. They can approach it in two ways – either do not play it or take is as an option to improve. This game requires careful concentration and really specific type of imagination. And that we are all imperfect, some players can feel inferior during the game.
But even these disadvantages have not prevented Mutant Meeples from making us excited. Not all of us, because some members cowardly resigned from detective work, but there are still great moments waiting for you, especially with idea of adding a superpower. Change from Ricochet Robots is not so large to justify the purchase itself, but if you do not own previous version, then this will definitely properly exercise your brain.
Review: Mutant Meeples – thriller from the world of meeples
Mutant Meeples is a detective story, where you have to deal not with the felony itself, but you have to arrive on the crime scene, so the investigation can start. You leave the whole examination part on professionals and this is not part of the game. It offers a unique idea of move planning of joint pawns on the board in a way, that one of them arrives safely to picked spot on the board. Crime happens each time on different coordinates. You can’t turn, while you move. Detectives stop, when they encounter first obstacle in their way and then can rotate as they like. Everybody is trying to plan the shortest route in quickest time possible. Players need really good imagination for this and not everybody is good in this kind of stuff. This is also reason, why there can be distinct differences among players. Everybody fulfils this task at the same time, but as a matter of fact – alone. Each character has its own superpowers, which add to flavor of the game and also new options, how to reach final spot. And there is even a small expansion in the game with two more detectives. Houses on the board can be moved using additional boards and this makes the game’s option practically infinite. Mutant Meeples offer great fun, which simply is not suitable for some players because of their vision. Otherwise, its a brilliant idea and we can only recommend it at least for a test play for everybody.
Reader Rating0 Votes
excellent and original idea
all players are acting simultaneously
game is different every time
expansion in the box
demanding on your visualisation
two-sided board offers two difficulties and infinite variants
superpowers of detectives
some people are quite bad at this type of imagination
each player plays on his own, there is almost no contact