by Nate French
|Mutant Chronicles | Published 14 October 2008|
"3/3/3." "10/10/10." "90/90/90."
"Skirmish, Tournament, Epic."
"Gold, Silver, Bronze."
To the uninitiated, the above phrases are meaningless, and a potential stumbling block along the (relatively painless, at least until you hit the battlefield) path of entry that leads to the Mutant Chronicles Collectible Miniatures Game universe. These arcane phrases, however, are nothing to be afraid of, and once you understand them you will understand the innovative army building process that sits at the heart of the Mutant Chronicles CMG. By the time you've read this short article, you'll understand all of this "mutated" terminology like an old pro, and you'll be ready to construct an army of your very own.
All Mutant Chronicles CMG armies are built out of army components. As a player, you are able to custom-build your army by selecting the components that you feel will be the most useful in the battle (or battles) to come. In this game, there are three types of army components: units, order tokens, and command cards. Units are the soldiers, monsters, machines, mutants, and unmentionable creatures that fight it out with each other other on the field of battle. Order tokens represent the lines of communication between the units in your army and you, their commander in chief, and they are used to activate your units each turn. Command cards represent special powers, abilities, and tactical maneuvers that can be employed by specific units in your army. Of the three types of components, units and order tokens are essential parts of your army, and command cards are optional.
While there's a great deal of freedom at your fingertips in Mutant Chronicles army building, the process is not a complete free-for-all. Otherwise, the game would be just another variation on the tired theme of "he who hath the most toys, wins." The restrictions that prevent the game from devolving into such a free-for-all are all encapsulated by the seemingly arcane terminology you encountered at the start of this article.
One important feature that all army components possess is rank.
Bronze, Silver, and Gold Order Tokens
There are three distinct ranks in the Mutant Chronicles CMG: Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
Gold is the highest of the three ranks, and Bronze is the lowest of the three ranks. This means that Gold units are more powerful, or more useful, than Silver units, and that Silver units are more powerful, or more useful, than Bronze units. Gold order tokens allow your units to do more than Silver order tokens, and Silver order tokens allow your units to do more than Bronze order tokens. And the effects of Gold command cards have more of an impacton the game than the effects of Silver command cards, which in turn have more of an impact than the effects of Bronze command cards.
Given the above discussion on rank, it would make sense to build an army entirely out of Gold components, right? Sure it would, except for the existence of army slots, one of the aforementioned checks that keep the game from devolving into a complete free-for-all. Army slots are simply a limit on the number of components you are entitled to include, at each rank, in your army. So whenever you hear a Mutant Chronicles player say something like "3/3/3," or "10/10/10," or "90/90/90," chances are good that that player is saying something about the number of army slots he used in the construction of his army. Saying you built a "5/5/5 army" is simply an abbreviated means of saying you have 5 Gold components, 5 Silver components, and 5 Bronze components in your army.
With this army-building system, you'll never have to add up hundreds of figure points, trying to get as close to the maximum as possible. Filling up your slots at each rank is as simple as counting. Mastering the system, finding the perfect mix of figures, order tokens, and command cards for the army you're trying to put together, however, is one of the most subtle and compelling aspects of the Mutant Chronicles CMG... and you can experience this part of the game before you even sit down to play.
What kind of army will you build? Do you want to try to out-swarm your opponent with a ton of figures, a few order tokens, and no command cards? Your horde will look intimidating, but with only a few order tokens it will be difficult to mobilize them effectively. Or maybe you'd like to try using a small force of elite units, with an order token for each of them, and a number of tactical command card options, thereby creating a flexible force that can adapt to a number of battlefield conditions. If there's a single command card that you love, you can build an army around that effect, and use it to pummel your opponent into submission at the right moment. Or maybe you want to find the perfect balance between figures, order tokens, and command cards. The possibilities are endless, and you are in control.
The Standard Formats
The standard formats for Mutant Chronicles demo and tournament play are Skirmish mode, Tournament mode, and Epic mode.
Skirmish mode is the smallest and fastest version of the game. Players enter a Skirmish game with a 3/3/3 army. Skirmishes are great when you only have about 10-15 minutes to play, when you want to play a series of fast, casual, chaotic, exciting games with a number of different armies, or as a demonstration of the basic mechanics of the game.
Tournament mode is where the competitive players will most likely flex their muscles, and are played with 10/10/10 armies. Army building, strategic planning, tactical shots, battlefield conditions, and the tides of fate will all have some impact on the results of a Tournament game, but they still play fast enough to complete in a single sitting.
Epic mode is designed for the truly hardcore fan, the player who wants to recreate a long, extended bloodbath of a battle that has the potential to stretch on for days. With both players bringing a 90/90/90 army to the table, the epic game is not intended for the faint of heart, or for those with short attention spans! But for those who enjoy the vast, sweeping clash of two immense forces, Epic mode is the only mode to play.
Of course, the enjoyment of the Mutant Chronicles CMG is not limited to the standard formats listed above. If Tournament mode seems a little daunting, but Skirmishes are feeling a little light, try playing the game with 5/5/5 or 8/8/8 armies. If you have a great idea for a tournament army. but can't quite fit the necessary components into the 10/10/10 format, try playing a game with 12/12/12 armies. And if you need to scratch a truly gargantuan itch that even Epic mode cannot satisfy, 100/100/100 isn't outside the realm of possibility.
You're now ready to dive in to the world of Mutant Chronicles army building, and it's time to bring on the Dark Legion! Over the next few weeks, we'll be taking a close look at a number of Mutant Chronicles figures and command cards, starting with everyone's favorite Nepharite Overlord, Alakhai the Cunning. Until then, Happy Mutations!