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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of MOD X) rss

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Michael Carpenter
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West Virginia
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For the Meeple, by the Meeple


SUMMARY




MOD X is an abstract strategy game for 2-4 players. The objective of the game is to get five of your own colored pieces into one of the five scoring patterns. Do so and you can score up to five points per pattern, however your points are never permanent. An opponent can steal the location you scored with a pattern that overlaps your scoring tile, thus stealing the point and altering your score. First player to a designated number of points wins the game!


THE BOARD


The board is a large hard plastic board featuring 64 spaces distinctly separated by small plus signs that create squared corners. The board is very well made and holds pieces in place firmly. The only complaint I have heard and seen is that the pieces can be difficult to fit into the spaces. I have seen this issue with several players but it is a minor issue that is resolved with more plays.




THE COMPONENTS


There are two different components in the game. There are X's used as the player's pieces and flat squares used as the player's scoring tiles.There are four different colors of X's (orange, black, yellow, and red) used for the players and there are eight clear X's used as jokers (wilds or free spaces) that can be used by any player when attempting to create the scoring patterns. Each player receives 14 X's of their color and 18 scoring tiles of their color.





All of the components in MOD X are very hard plastic that looks good and feels good to hold and maneuver. I have zero complaints with the components!


THE GAMEPLAY


MOD X is played to a designated number of points based on the number of players in the game.

2 players: 15 points
3 players: 12 points
4 players: 10 points

It should be noted tat a game may also end if a player used all of his or her X's or scoring tiles but has not scored the designated number of points.

To setup the game the oldest player places five clear X's (Jokers) on the board in any spaces they wish as long as none of the Jokers are adjacent to one another.



Then players take all the pieces matching their color and play begins. Players are attempting to get five of their own pieces into one of the five scoring patterns below.

Vertical:


Horizontal:


Diagonally:


The Plus Sign:


The "X":


If a player is able to get five of their own pieces into any of these scoring patterns they will score up to five points. I say up to because players may use the Jokers (clear X's) to help complete a scoring pattern. However, players do not score points for the Jokers used in the scoring pattern.

You are also able to score combination patterns. This is done when more than one pattern is completed when you place your X. There is also an instant win pattern that occurs if you are able to achieve a scoring pattern with only Jokers.

Players take turns placing one of their own X's on the board. Once a player has formed one of the scoring patterns he or she replaces the X's of his or her color with their scoring tiles, being careful not to place a scoring tile in the space of a Joker. If a Joker or Jokers were used in the scoring pattern the player who scored must move the X's to new empty spaces on the board, making sure not to place the Jokers in a location that would form a scoring pattern for any player.




The exciting part of this game is that just because the scoring tiles are placed does not mean that they close out spaces on the board permanently. An opponent, or the player that scored, may place new X's on top of scoring tiles.




If an opponent forms a scoring pattern using an X of their color that was placed on top of a scoring tile the opponent places one of their own scoring tiles on top of the scoring tile that was already placed. The other player does not take the scoring tile back.



The running score of the game is based on how many scoring tiles each player has showing on the board. Since players may place scoring tiles on top of other scoring tiles the player's scores can fluctuate throughout the game. This is especially true as you add more players.

Play continues like this until one player has the designated number of scoring tiles showing or a player uses all of his or her X's or scoring tiles without scoring the designated number of points.


FINAL THOUGHTS


I must admit, I have not played many abstract strategy games so I was a tad skeptical going into this game. However, I picked this game up in the auction store at GenCon for a very fair price so I figured it was worth a shot. While the game is produced very nicely I don't think I would pay much more than I did for the game. This is not because the game is bad. I just don't think I would want to add it to my collection for too big of a price tag. Again, I would like to stress that this is a personal opinion because my family does not play a lot of abstract strategy games. I do enjoy the game and I am very glad I was able to pick it up inexpensively though.

With that out of the way let me get to my thoughts on the game play. There is a lot more going on in this game than meets the eye. Several players I have played with, including myself, have sat down to play this game and gave it no more thought than... tic-tac to five instead of three... should be easy. That couldn't be further from the truth. I am not saying this is the deepest abstract strategy game ever, but it certainly is not tic-tac toe. The addition of the plus sign and the X scoring patterns alone would make this game interesting but the Jokers make this game demand your focus. If you are not assessing most, if not all, of the possible moves you and your opponent can make you can find yourself giving up points left and right. This isn't because the other player is deploying some incredible strategy, though they certainly could be, it is because there are so many possibilities and the Jokers seem to have the ability to disappear just long enough to make you miss a big move for your opponent. That is just in the two player game... in the four player game you could find yourself stopping and thinking... what in the world should I do??? Again, this isn't just strategy of the game, it is the sense of overwhelming options you have on your turn and the moves you feel like you need to spot to stop your opponents. Some people may love this feeling. personally, I do. Others may hate it. I have played with more than one person who has expressed frustration mid-game. This frustration is not a dislike of the game, it is simply a sense of being outdone by an opponent, losing the chance to play out the strategy they were trying to use, or in some cases the shear number of choices the game provides.

For me, I find the decisions fun and have learned not to paralyze myself while attempting to find the optimum move for too long. It is a quick enough game that you can play a series of games to determine a winner anyway. Where I feel there is an issue is that even though there is a lot of opportunity to play this game multiple times in one sitting, I think it falls into a situation where it could become samey with two players and three and four players often forces multiple players into a lot of defense, whether that is the optimal strategy or not, I am not sure. Most players don't find much enjoyment in simply placing an X to block the obvious scoring pattern of an opponent just to allow the next player the opportunity to place an X in a more offensive position and this can happen multiple turns in a row. These factors make the game seem like it will be fun for awhile, then begin to tail off somewhat.

If you are looking for an abstract strategy game that looks nice on the table and will be extremely easy to teach to any player of nearly any age then this is a good purchase for you. If you are looking for an abstract strategy game that resembles the depth of chess then this is not your ideal purchase. I do want to say that I am sure there is a level of mastery of this game that could be achieved, and there is likely even higher level of strategy that I play myself, I just don't know that it is the same as a game with moving pieces and diverse pieces. Overall, I would say MOD X is a good game that will be easily accepted by most the first few times they play it but it may become a game you pull off the shelf every few months when the perfect moment comes up. This is not necessarily a bad thing to have in your collection because you will inevitably have moments where this kind of game will be appropriate. Definitely worth the amount I paid to grab this game.



Rating: 6/10


If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple

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