We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Mutant Year Zero board game makes wasteland your real enemy

In upcoming miniature skirmish game Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars, the post-apocalypse is your foe just as much as the other players.

mutant year zero figures

We saw the upcoming Mutant Year Zero board game, Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars, in action at UK Games Expo, and were struck by the way it made the titular ‘Zone’ wasteland area the true enemy.

This weird wargame sees teams of scavengers battling it out to claim precious artifacts, but it seems perfectly possible that you’ll bite the dust without your opponent ever firing off a shot.

That’s because each turn, a certain number of random hazardous events are guaranteed to show up. If they all happen to land on the same person, they’re in for a bad time.

In the Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars demo I saw, one player was mauled by a bear, narrowly managed to fight it off, and then a building collapsed around him. Another player was hit with leeches, ghouls, and rats in a single turn.

Interestingly, many of these effects aren’t necessarily dangerous for you – you’re generally asked to pass a roll, and if you succeed, can make the powerful bad stuff happen to someone else.

The ‘broken’ system, which effectively gives each miniature two hit bars, helps you soak up some of the random damage that comes your way, but it still seems pretty punishing. I was surprised that matches can take 90 minutes, given how geared the system seems towards arcadey, fast-paced chaos. That said, for the show, each team has just two minis – whereas in the game, you can bring up to five.

In Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars, the Zone is a harsh mistress, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to stay. At any point you can just run one of your characters off the board to have them leave the Zone. They can’t come back, but you do get to ‘bank’ all their victory points.

In the scenario I witnessed, knowing when to flee from the hostile Zone was vital. Steadily intensifying acid rain lashed the battlefield, hurting everyone and slowly killing anyone who stuck around too long.

Mutant Year Zero: Zone Wars gets its full release in June 2024. For similar content, check out the best miniature wargames, or the best fantasy wargames.