MOD X Review


Score: 3 out of 5So many of us have fond–or perhaps not-so-fond–memories of playing the famous Milton Bradley tabletop game, Connect Four. And before that, there was the the paper-and-pencil childhood classic Tic-tac-toe. The joys of such games disappear, though, once you discover that the former can always be won by the first player, and the latter can always be played to a draw. What’s the point?

Enter Cryptozoic Entertainment, most notable for last year’s social deduction game Spyfall. Their newest abstract strategy game for 2 to 4 players, MOD X, is the modern board-gaming solution to the pitfalls of Tic-tac-toe and Connect Four. I would dare call it a complete replacement.

The board is essentially a chessboard sized, 8×8 grid of recessed square spaces that is molded from a nice, solid plastic with integrated rubber feet on its underside to keep the board from slipping. It’s immediately evident that the MOD X board and other components are durable, and will last many years without suffering damage or wear.

MOD X patterns

Players take turns placing plastic X-pieces of their chosen color (for some odd reason they’re black, red, orange, and yellow) in any unused space, attempting to complete 5-space patterns: Xs, plus signs, and diagonal or orthogonal straight lines. There are also five clear (again, I’m not sure of these color choices), “joker” X-pieces placed randomly around the board at the start of the game that can be used by any player to complete these patterns.

After a pattern is completed, the scoring player’s colored X-pieces are removed from the board and replaced by flat, square scoring markers that fit neatly at the bottom of the space, with room for new X-pieces to be placed on top of them. The scoring player moves any joker X-pieces used to complete the pattern–which don’t score, by the way–to any unoccupied space on the board, so long as it doesn’t complete another pattern, and then play moves on to the next player.

Just because a player has scored a square doesn’t mean that it’s then safe from being claimed by someone else. Remember when I said new X-pieces can be placed on top of scoring markers? That’s because other players can steal previously scored spaces from their opponents, making MOD X a constant see-saw battle that only gets more cutthroat and hectic as you add players. What’s more, the game not only ends if someone reaches the designated winning point total for that game’s player count, but is also triggered if any player runs out of either X-pieces or scoring markers.

Being careful to not let yourself get boxed into a situation wherein you’re unable to score and replenish X-pieces is increasingly important as the player count rises, right alongside blocking, manipulating jokers, and actually scoring points. Along these lines, however, one concern about the game’s mechanics is that it may be too easy for one player to take and maintain control of the joker X-pieces for the majority of the game. That player will have more scoring turns, just with fewer points scored per turn.

I was skeptical of MOD X when Cryptozoic sent a copy our way, with its simple look and bright, funky colors and box art. While I’d still choose player colors with greater color contrast–yellow, orange, and red are similar colors that blur together on the board–and joker X-pieces that are easier to see in all types of lighting, I quickly realized while playing this game that there’s a lot of room for strategy and tactical maneuvering as X-pieces cycle onto and off of the board.

It’s also very versatile in terms of player accessibility. It can accommodate a younger audience and completely replace games like Connect Four, or adults can enjoy a more thoughtful experience that scales beyond the common limit of two players found in many abstract strategy games. It plays very quickly, with games averaging around 20 minutes or so, and most players pick up the rules in about two minutes. This makes it a great candidate for replays or filling idle time within a larger game night. It also travels very well, and is relatively affordable at around $25-$30.

All things considered, MOD X carves out a place for itself as a fine staple game for any collection lacking in the abstract strategy department. It’s definitely worth a play and perhaps a purchase if the genre is of interest to you.

Buy on Amazon


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.