If there’s one thing I enjoy more than finding an abstract game at Goodwill that I don’t have in my collection, it is getting to try out one that is brand new to the market. Sadly there aren’t many new ones being developed any longer. Most are just reissues of older classics. One exception was the discovery of Portuguese-designed and manufactured Trench, a war simulation turned board game.
I’m excited to tell you about another brand new abstract being issued by Cryptozoic Entertainment, Mod X. At first you might notice the age claiming 15 & up. Rest assured, this is not an adult game. Many game publishers elect to put these higher age recommendations on their games so they do not have to go through the expense of submitting their product for certifications for younger ages. Mod X is definitely suitable for ages 8+.
Mod X is also unique in that it is one of the few abstract games made that supports up to four players. Most traditional titles (chess, checkers, etc.) are designed to be a head-to-head match between two people. The addition of a third (or fourth) player to Mod X doesn’t seem to create any imbalance or any serious 1st-player advantage, and adds complexity and chaos to the round.
Your ultimate goal is to score points by placing your color-coded “X” tiles in either a row of five in any direction, a larger 5-tile “X” shape or a 5-tile “Plus” shape. Of course your opponents are trying to do the same, so some blocking (and cursing) might occur.
Here’s where the game becomes different. Instead of simply being the first to complete your shape, you remove your five tiles from the board and replace them with matching colored markers in their place. These spaces are now open for anyone to subsequently play on. Points are awarded for however many of your tiles are removed when you create the successful shape.
Wait, thought I said five tiles per shape, right? That’s true, but thanks to the placement of five clear (wild) tiles at the beginning of the game that anyone can use, you might only be removing four or less of YOUR color and a couple wild tiles. You only score for your color, but the wild is then removed and placed in a different empty space of your choosing.
Depending on the number of players, the first to 10/12/15 wins the game. Again, Mod X is more than just a race to a final total. If a competitor creates a shape that overlaps some (or all) of your scoring tiles, their tiles are placed on top of yours! You have to have 10/12/15 on the board at the same time! Thanks to this unique scoring mechanic, no pen/paper is needed to keep track!
Each game is expected to last around 15 to 20 minutes, and as I mentioned earlier can easily be enjoyed by kids as young as 8. We thoroughly enjoy playing Mod X and it has quickly found its way to the top of our abstract pile, especially since it does support four players.
If I had any complaints it would be one that doesn’t affect us, but we know does affect many. The decision to color code the pieces in similar shades will probably be difficult for those who have difficulties seeing certain colors. I appreciate that they didn’t use the typical primary colors as it would have made Mod X look like any of the games from the 80’s. They might wish to take a similar step as Breaking Games did with Circular Reasoning and add some abstract shapes to the scoring tiles or even a printed number to distinguish them from each other. Or maybe they made them similar on purpose to make it harder to see the patterns in the game…
Set that aside, and you still have a VERY good abstract game for the family or game group. And at the current discount offered on Amazon for under $27 (only 6 left!), I would not hesitate to add it to my collection. Unlike other abstract titles that feel the same as the next, Mod X breaks new ground with its unique scoring coupled with the addition of the wild tiles. No two games will be the same!
Cryptozoic has a number of other titles in their catalog worth checking out and are pretty active on both Facebook and Twitter. Drop them a line and let them know you’d like to see more of their games previewed here!