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Subject: My name is Wade, and I like Chrononauts. rss

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Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
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Me: Hello everyone, my name is Wade.

The Audience: Hi Wade!


Me: I'm here today because I have a confession to make.

The Audience: Ooooooooh...


Me: I really like Chrononauts.

The Audience: *snicker snicker*



Me: Really! Chrononauts is a fun game! It's got a healthy dose of player interaction and you get to alter history!

The Snob: Oh joy. Isn't that game by the same people that make all those Fluxx games?


Me: Yeah, sure. But I don't see what that has to do with--

The Snob: Fluxx is a dismal collection of cards I wouldn't even call a game! There's no strategy or optimization, and I gave it a "1" rating!


Me: Maybe the problem is you. Maybe you just aren't any fun. Anyway back to Chrononauts. The basic premise is that you have three ways to win the game, a couple different ways to lose, and quite a few options for messing with your opponents.

The Snob: Pshaw! I have several games that provide multiple victory paths, intricate failure mechanisms, AND subtle ways to undercut your opponents while establishing your own superiority as a Master Merchant of the Mediterranean during the glorious 15th century!


Me: Well that's just fantastic. In Chrononauts I can eliminate Reagan and prevent the assassination of John Lennon, establishing a better future for all mankind. Now back on topic. You start the game with randomly drawn Mission and ID cards. Your ID card has a little bit of biographical background, and the alternate timeline you need to establish to win. Your Mission card is a bit different, it will give you some more background and list a few Artifacts you need to collect to win. Finally, you can also win if you manage to get 10 cards in your hand.

The Snob: That sounds so... simple.


Me: That's because it is. The rules are very well written as well. The types of cards you can play and take into your hand basically fall into four categories. First you have cards that can alter the timeline, but doing so will create a paradox. If there are ever 13 paradoxes in the timeline, everybody loses. Second you have patch cards, which fix paradoxes. You get rewarded by patching paradoxes by drawing another card. You also have artifacts and gadgets; Artifacts are played face-up in front of you to complete your Mission and Gadgets are played in the same fashion to give you some special abilities. Lastly you have Action cards which can do a bunch of fun stuff like steal artifacts from other players, search the deck for a card you need, and a few other nifty things.

Mr. A.P.: (wide-eyed) What do I do with all this stuff? Where's the timeline? Are Patches good?


Me: The timeline is a collection of cards laid out on the table, in order, before the game starts. The timeline starts in the middle 1800s and ends around the turn of the millennium. It's packed with major historical events as they actually happened. Your ID card, however, will require you to complete an alternate timeline in order to win using the timeline route. When you use a card to alter the timeline, you alter a point in time called a Linchpin. Doing so causes the Linchpin card to flip over and an alternate timeline is created. The Linchpin card has ripple effects, and cards in the future that represent the ripple effects will need to be flipped over as well. The flipped ripple cards are now Paradoxes that will need to be patched. Some ripple cards require multiple Linchpin changes to Paradox or un-Paradox.

Mr. A.P.: (eyes glazed over) Whaaa?


Me: It really isn't difficult. All of the cards have their associated Linchpins and ripples listed on them, and you'll understand it on your first turn. You'll need to patch those Paradoxes in order to win using the timeline path to victory. Some patches are unique to their ripple cards but some ripple cards have multiple patches, some are special circumstance cards that are major events that alter the game. It's possible to alter the timeline in a way that triggers World War 3, and the effective end of the human race. No timeline cards after WW3 can be accessed, so you'll need to find a way to alter mankind's fate if that special uberparadox occurs. It's very dynamic. You can also use the timeline-altering cards to unflip a Linchpin and potentially fix future ripple effects. It's a great way to really mess with your opponents and often necessary to win using the timeline.

Mr. A.P.: *passes out*


Me: Well that's odd, usually people catch onto this game real quick-like.

Turbo: Boooring! How do you attack the other players? How do you keep track of hit points?!


Me: You don't attack other players and there are no hit points, but you mess with your opponents plenty. Half the time in Chrononauts you're actively trying to prevent other players from winning. You really can't ignore them on your way to victory. You'll have to un-alter their timeline alterations, steal their artifacts, and try to keep your own goals from being too obvious. You'll want to bluff them into wasting their own action cards on baseless pursuits. You'll need to find ways to turn them against each other. While the artifacts and gadgets you've played are on the table in front of you, you never want them to know exactly what you're aiming to do with the timeline.

At it's core, Chrononauts for me boils down to a great way to play an interaction game. If you're sitting there quietly trying to manipulate the timeline for the win then you're probably doing it wrong. You won't find Chrononauts to be cutthroat, but you shouldn't find it dull either. It's lighthearted, and even has a couple expansions. One of them is post-2000 and called The Gore Years, the other adds new ID cards and such and is called Lost Identities. Lastly you can even buy the standalone game Early American Chrononauts and combine all the aforementioned games and expansions into a massive UberChrononauts game, although I haven't actually tried it

Get this game! It's cheap! It's what turned me on to the rest of the Looney Labs line, and I'm glad it did.
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Corey Douglas

Oklahoma
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Have you tried the Back to the Future retheme?
I've been hesitant but I, too, love Chrononauts!blush
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Rob Rob
United States
La Mesa
California
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Quote:
establishing your own superiority as a Master Merchant of the Mediterranean during the glorious 15th century!

I think I've played that game... whistle
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Pete Martyn
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Guilford
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I picked this one up within the last month after reading a little about the linchpin/paradox system. I'm glad I did. I'll never turn to it when I'm looking to flex some strategic muscle, but it's a lot of fun.

So...nice review! Maybe it drifted back through time and influenced my decision. Hard to say.
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Simon Lundström
Sweden
Täby
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Now who are these five?
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Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
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I've always liked Chrononauts. I never encountered gadgets, though. Might be because I bought the game like 15 years ago (or something).
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Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
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Zimeon wrote:
I've always liked Chrononauts. I never encountered gadgets, though. Might be because I bought the game like 15 years ago (or something).


Could be. The latest editions of Chrononauts have the Inverter (timeline modifier) cards updated with some smaller iconography in the corner that is used when played in combination with other Chrononauts expansions or titles. So there have been some changes over the years.
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Michael
United States
Lincoln
NE: NEBRASKA
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How far back in time can you travel in this game?
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Simon Lundström
Sweden
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Now who are these five?
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mylittlepwny wrote:
How far back in time can you travel in this game?


In my copy, the first linchpin is 1868 I think. Although you don't really "travel" in this game. You have a timeline spread out before you and you can revert certain events at certain points, which in turn causes other cards to revert, too. The first thing you can revert is Lincoln being assassinated in 1968 (IIRC).
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Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
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Zimeon wrote:
mylittlepwny wrote:
How far back in time can you travel in this game?


In my copy, the first linchpin is 1868 I think. Although you don't really "travel" in this game. You have a timeline spread out before you and you can revert certain events at certain points, which in turn causes other cards to revert, too. The first thing you can revert is Lincoln being assassinated in 1968 (IIRC).


Correct. You can add Early American Chrononauts to extend the timeline back farther to the beginnings of the American Revolution.
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Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
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Zimeon wrote:
Although you don't really "travel" in this game.

The deuce you say! Linchpins can only be flipped in person. Take the typical chrono-chaos surrounding "1963: Kennedy Assassinated" for example:

wibbily wobbly timey wimey stuff wrote:
mb Just as "Oswald" draws a bead on the President's head a time traveler steps out from behind a strange curve and brains the shooter with a tomahawk—

mb As "Jackie" suddenly pulls a switchblade and stabs Kennedy in the neck—

mb As "Connally" turns in the front seat and unloads a Model 642 Centennial Airweight .38 Special +P into "her" face, peeling "her" pink pillbox—

mb As "Abraham Zapruder" takes a knee on the grassy knoll and pops a goddamn RPG straight into the 1962 grille of the custom 1961 Lincoln Continental, blowing it to smithereens—

mb As a careening
[nondescript] garbage truck gets air off the knoll, pulping the would-be rocketeer—

mb As a guy with a limpet mine (originally intended for the re-sinking of the
Titanic) bolts from the crowd and clamps it to the side of the rapidly recombobulating limo—

mb As we all suddenly discover that limpet mine guy's mom was his dad while his
dad dad was still his dad and so he cancels out like some kind of pesky denominator—

mb As a Fairchild FH-227D full of Jesuit proto-cannibals makes a sudden detour from 1972 and nosedives into the scene in an obliterating cone of fire—

And so Dealey Plaza becomes an ever-widening stutter of doings and undoings, up to and including the probable detonation of the Sun itself.

Time travel, you see, is not for the faint of heart—it requires real grit and the kind of single-focus determination one would imagine necessary for continual mass suicide.
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