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Mutants Solo Review

Review of: Mutants Solo
Board Game Review by::
Austin Charlie

Reviewed by:
On May 22, 2024
Last modified:May 22, 2024


We review the solo mode for the Mutants Board Game, published by Lucky Duck Games. You can play Mutants either multiplayer or solo, and we give you the rundown on the 1 player mode.

MutantsSome years ago, fellow BGQ reviewer Tahsin Shamma took a look at Mutants, and discovered an innovative and interesting (if distractingly abstract) card game. It seemed like a neat, Euro-driven twist on traditional CCG mechanisms, but I doubted I could find someone else to play with me, so I passed it by.

Fast-forward to now, when I learn that Mutants has a solo mode built into the base game, and I am immediately pulled back in. I’m a complete sucker for a game with a solo mode—but does this one manage to capture the mutant magic?

Gameplay Overview:

In many ways, Mutants’ solo game plays identically to the multiplayer game. (If you want to know how the multiplayer game works, you can check out Tahsin’s excellent review here). You get to craft a deck (or you can use one of the suggested starter decks) instead of drafting your cards during setup, but your turns play the same as normal, with little to no modification. Most of the solo rules have to do with running the Boss’ turn.

Mutants Solo Cards
The base set of Mutants comes with two different Bosses to play against, Singularity Wizard and Jack Ice.

The Boss has its own sheet (with three slots and a discard pile, just like a human player), a deck of cards unique to that Boss, and a starting amount of health. On its turn, the Boss plays the top card of its deck to its Active slot, triggering the card’s effect (if applicable). Cards are pushed to the left or right according to the arrows on the back of the cards, and their effects tend to mimic standard player effects—knocking down your cards, pushing up the power track, and so on. The Boss always takes its turn after you, and will continue to take turns after you until your hand is empty.

In addition to normal effects, some Boss cards have a Weakness printed on them, displaying a specific action you have to take to “shatter” that Weakness. Shattering a Weakness can be costly, but the benefits are often worth it. The boss loses a little life, and the card is permanently removed from the Boss sheet and the game, substantially slowing down the Boss’ momentum. You can also damage the boss by freezing your Mutants—instead of earning points, the Boss immediately loses Health equal to how many points that Mutant is currently worth.

Aside from these changes, the mechanisms remain largely intact. You can crush (or be crushed by) the Boss, you still score (i.e., damage the Boss) for having the most power at the end of the round, and the game still lasts exactly five rounds. You win if you manage to bring the Boss to 0 health before the end of the fifth round.

Mutants Solo Gameplay
Your ever-cycling tableau of cards is still the highlight of the game–and fortunately, Mutants’ solo mode leaves this part of the game unchanged.

Game Experience:

As a solo mode for a multiplayer game, Mutants gets a lot right. The solo rules closely approximate the multiplayer experience, with little to no additional upkeep required. Running the Boss’s turn is incredibly quick, and it replicates the interaction points of a real player very well. You can generally see and plan against what the Boss will do next turn, but you never know their exact intentions, which means you have to remain flexible and willing to react to unexpected happenings.

Mutants’ solo mode also makes some nifty modifications to the multiplayer experience. Weaknesses incentivize you to pursue suboptimal actions for a substantial bonus, which adds more tactical interest than the standard multiplayer game. Similarly, the fact that you immediately score any Mutants you manage to freeze may sound minor, but it significantly alters the choice of when to freeze Mutants with a variable score. These are small tweaks, but in a game as clean as this one, they have a notable impact.

Mutants Solo cards
Mutants has so many cards to play with, and different configurations create very different deck-building considerations.

Unfortunately, as clever as the solo system is, Mutants is lacking as a dedicated solo game, for a few key reasons. First, the lack of drafting to create your deck removes a lot of tactical interest from the game. The setup draft is one of my favorite aspects of Mutants, and I hate to see it cut from the solo mode. More importantly, though, the two Bosses on offer in the Mutants core set are pretty weak. Neither Boss is particularly interesting on a mechanical level, and they fail to create new or different experiences on repeat plays. This, combined with the lack of drafting, causes the replay value to vanish after just a handful of sessions.

It’s a shame, because Mutants has the potential to be an excellent solo experience. With more content and more effort put into the deck construction, I could see Mutants being a mainstay in my solo collection. As is, though, the solo mode is relegated to a fun novelty, only worth pulling out once in a blue moon.

Mutants Solo power
The Boss board works very similarly to the player board, but the Boss only plays cards from its own deck.

Reviewer’s Note: There are actually expansions to Mutants that add new Bosses to the solo game. It’s possible this additional content would fix my primary issue with the game (i.e., the lack of content), but I’ve chosen to ignore them for this review, because (a) I don’t have access to them, and (b) I believe a game shouldn’t need expansions to be fun for more than a handful of plays.

Final Thoughts:

Your mileage with Mutants’ solo mode will depend on what you want from it. As a variant to play every now and again when you can’t find other players, the solo mode is simple, clever, and feels extremely close to the multiplayer experience, which is great. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a game to play primarily solo, Mutants just doesn’t have the legs to stand on its own. The solo game has potential, but the experience in the box leaves a lot to be desired.

Final Score: 3 Stars – A great solo mode, but only a decent solo game.

3 StarsHits:
• Easy to run solo mode
• Faithfully replicates the multiplayer experience
• Core gameplay is really good

• No drafting
• Bosses grow stale quickly
• Lack of content

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