Cryptozoic Entertainment will be releasing an original new abstract strategy game from game designers Mark and Joan Wilkenson. The game? MOD X.
MOD X is a game that looks simple, but features plenty of in-depth decisions, and plays very different depending on the number of players you've got. My first play-through of MOD X was in a two-player showdown against board game designer Matt Hyra, who was kind enough to spare a moment away from his desk to show me the ropes.
MOD X features a game board with 64 open spaces. Players are given 15 X-shaped pieces of their respective color, along with score markers in their color. Players take turns placing their game pieces onto the board, as they aim to create a plus, X, or five-in-a-row sequence of their own color. Do so, and you remove your scoring game pieces off of the board and replace them with score markers, which give you points. Get enough points based on the number of players in a game, and you win!
The different ways you can score in MOD X.
To add a twist, the game also includes five Joker pieces. These pieces can be used by anyone to create a scoring pattern. However, when you complete a pattern using a Joker piece, you don't place a score marker where the Joker piece was. Also, you must move that Joker piece to another spot on the board. They are never removed permanently.
The score markers are how you win, but opponents can also create scoring patterns over your already placed score markers, so be careful! If an opponent makes a scoring pattern over a spot that you already scored, they get to cover up your score marker with one of their own, giving them an advantage.
This is where MOD X starts to get deep. Early in a two-player game, you and your opponent will spend some time countering each others patterns. Eventually, someone will score, and the Joker pieces will get moved around. However, as the board fills up with score markers, it will get harder and harder to protect your score markers from being covered up. The game quickly evolves from "create some patterns and counter your opponent" to "one false step, and your hard work can be undone by the opponent with the placement of a game piece"!
Which is what happened in my game against Matt. A lot. Especially after we both got our first scoring patterns.
However, games with two players are a lot different than games with four. And as more players are added, the board gets a lot more cluttered and scoring gets a lot trickier!