Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Crappy Game Review - Mutant Chronicles CMG
Here's a hypothetical:
You're in a bar. You're talking with a very hot woman, who you're pretty sure is about to invite you back to her place, where you can meet her extremely open-minded female roommate. So far, so good, right? You're thinking the worst that could happen is, she could be saving herself for marriage. Well, you're wrong. You're in for a disappointment much bigger than that - she's a dude.
In the past, I've compared games I didn't like to boogers, poop and prison sex. Now I can add surprise transvestites to the mix, because the Mutant Chronicles CMG could only have been more disappointing if the miniatures all wore short skirts that let you see their hanging johnsons.
When the word first hit that we were going to get a pre-painted Mutant Chronicles game, I was giddy. The game could suck, and I would still buy it by the bucketload, because the minis almost had to be awesome. Even if I didn't want to play, I could use them in other stuff. I could use them in sci-fi RPGs, or other minis games, or put new bases on them and turn them into Heroscape customs. Boy, I couldn't wait to see these minis.
For those who don't know, Mutant Chronicles is one of the coolest science fantasy/alternate future franchises in gaming. I don't even know the whole background, but I know there are cool demons and cybernetic heroes and four-legged horsey monsters with giant weapons. The awesome factor is off the chart. The old classic, Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, is a decent game, but the miniatures are outstanding. Then there was Warzone, the Mutant Chronicles miniatures game, with tons of great figures. But now we were going to get new figures, and we wouldn't even have to paint them! I almost wet my pants when I first heard that Fantasy Flight was going to give us this awesome game.
And then the news came - the game was a lesbian. No, even worse, the miniatures were supposed to be 54mm. That's insane, kids - I have action figures smaller than that. Sure, miniatures games are basically toys with rules, but these would be the only 54mm figures in my collection (assuming I bothered to get any), so they wouldn't work with all my other miniatures. The idea of buying huge lots of the figures even if the game sucked - that's out. Now the only way I'm interested is if the game is fun. And even then, I'll buy the base game and play it with Warzone figures.
So then I played the game. Turns out, the game is gay, but not because it has a thing for girls. The game is gay because it has a thing for men. Sure, the game looks great in a tight skirt and halter top, but drop that thong, and you're about to have yourself a Crying Game moment. Not only are the figures humongous, but the game is total ass.
It seems like it has promise, at first. The starter includes all the cards for all the figures, so it should be easy to sub in other minis (of course, the ones you bought are useless for that, because they're FREAKING GIGANTIC). And the dice mechanics are similar to Descent or Doom, with numbers and explosions on the dice, and different colored dice, so that you can get range and damage in one roll. That's handy - but it's implemented horribly.
First off, the game is incredibly unbalanced. The demons are overpowered, big-time. They have more life, more dice, better dice, and more deadly abilities. The humans suck, but they cost just as much.
And even if you can figure out how to build a human army that's more than cannon fodder, the game itself is boring. These ludicrously large figures don't allow me to use my miniature terrain (all built to accommodate 25-30mm figures), and besides, you have to play on a flat hex map. So you can't build a fire base on a hill, or a blasted factory, or anything else. You have to use their crappy, ugly map, because the figures all have to stay on their hexes. At least with Heroscape (which also plays out on a hex map), you can make just about anything you want.
Finally, the rules blow. They're not interesting at all. There's promise, but there are weird order marker rules and goofy initiative (for instance, if you win initiative at the beginning of the game, you've got it the whole game). You can put a guy on guard - but then he either quits guarding at the end of the turn (stupid if you're the last guy to move) or he doesn't get a turn next time, making guarding any time a pretty lame proposition.
And don't get me started on the pricing. The base game goes for thirty bucks, and you get six figures. That's five bucks each, not counting the game (and there's no reason to count the game, because it sucks). Then the boosters are twenty smackers, and they each have four figures. Five clams per miniature is insane.
And finally, allow me to address the entire reason FFG gave us for making these figures the size of my old Star Wars action figures - detail. These are supposed to be wicked detailed and beautifully painted. Well, they're not. I've got 28mm figures with more detail, and the paint jobs are awful. In some places, the dry brush is so bad, it looks like it was applied by slapping it with the unwanted part you found on that not-exactly-a-girl.
The end result is a game that at first had all the appeal of one of those drunk chicks from Girls Gone Wild, and then wound up with an Adam's apple and hair on her chest (not to mention the bait and tackle in her pants).
I wish I could have been in the strategy session when they decided to make stupid big figures. It seems like the idea had to come from someone who has never played a miniatures game. Some marketing goofball, probably, said, 'hey! Let's make 'em as big as those old-school GI Joes my neighbor used to have (but not me, I only had educational toys)!'
Fantasy Flight couldn't have done a better job of making me not want anything to do with the Mutant Chronicles CMG, and my wallet is better off for it, so I suppose I should thank them for saving me hundreds of dollars. My psyche, on the other hand, may never recover from finding a sausage where I was expecting a pie.
The entire game is included in the base box, including all the cards
Interesting dice mechanic
Odd, nonsensical rules
No ability to customize the map
Obvious and confusing errors in the rulebook
Horrid paint jobs are only made more evident by the elephantine figures
Way too expensive
Has a penis
If you really love this game, you might also get a kick out of this guy: