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The Blending of Chrononauts and US Patent Number 1

Wanda Davies
United States
Washington (WA)
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Something occurred to me as I sat down to type about the work I've accomplished on blending the two games. This work is sort of a love letter to these precursors to my current obsession with contained games. Back before I'd heard of this website, back when I scoffed at getting into a contained game, thinking them always inferior to an RPG, I purchased and played several offerings from Looney Labs and Cheapass Games. I didn't really sit down to type down memory lane, however; it's just interesting to my personal historian that the games are being blended now, in my era of contained gaming.

So, Rocking Horse Dreams mentioned something about throwing Chrononauts into the middle of Time Agent. Time Agent deals with a completely different timeline than Chrononauts, so I dismissed the idea as anything more than what I believe he intended it to be- a hypothetical example of game blending for the sake of discussion. A bit later, I was thinking about US Patent Number 1 and my concerns that it wouldn't be a strong enough game on its own for a solitaire multi-player game video. I wanted to spice it up, somehow. Eventually, after proposing and mehing a number of different ideas, Rocking Horse's hypothethe came back to me. I decided I'd blend them and that it would work before I dug out the respective games (I haven't played either in several years.)

I figured I'd definitely need to be using the US Patent board and the Chrononaut flippy cards in order for both component games to be recognizable. So I layed out the sections of the US Patent board in chronological order and tried to match up the Chrononaut flippy cards to the different years. I figured that in order to alter a flippy card, you'd have to be in the nearest year backwards in time (in order to arrange events so that history could be changed.)
Before I could distribute cards, I had to eliminate the cards that occurred before 1814 or were dependent upon an event in 1814. I decided that the junkyard space would be too powerful if it could also change history.
Ultimately, there was some nice overlap between the two sets of years, but also some weak areas. I own only Chrononauts and Early American Chrononauts so the flippy cards ended prior to 2020, thereby leaving two whole blocks (2020 and 2138) without any flippy cards to alter. Also, the earliest date not already buffed up by housing the junkyard and the mechanic, 1814, had only two flippy cards. 1920something held roughly twice as many as its nearest contenders. I got rid of the cards I felt I could in the middle years in order to even things out, but was unable to be rid of World War 2.

Of course I wanted each block to have the same number of cards, but I didn't want to have to write a rule for each card. So, I dithered for awhile, and then decided to look to the other cards for balance. First, I came upon the Gadget cards and tossed them out pretty quickly. There aren't that many of them and the gadgets seem, naturally, to be more geared towards a card game than a board game. Then, I looked at the artifact cards.

By now, I'd come up with a goal for the game: accomplish your secret mission, secure your reality, and then get the first patent so that no one can alter the fact that you accomplished your goal and secured your reality. This, I'm sure, was inspired by Time Agent (in which you accomplish numerous goals involving changing the past and then make it so time travel was never invented.) Given that, artifacts would be pretty important. So, I decided it made sense for artifacts to be obtainable in the nearest year after the year on their card. Since the junkyard/mechanic year is not included, this made most of the artifacts obtainable in 1814, the year I needed to be buffed up. Many of the other artifacts are found in "The Future" which became the last year of the game- although not enough to make it on par with the time flippy areas, especially since it's a dead-end.

2020 was the biggest problem. Nothing was there, not artifacts, not flippy cards, not anything. That is, until I came up with the Time Cartel. Going to the Time Cartel allows one to buy favors, which are action cards. Thematically, it the action cards work quite well with this idea- stealing artifacts, fixing things so this happens instead of that, etc. The trick will be to come up with a fair price for "favors" (card draws.) For my first play test, I intend to go with 1 gold for 1, 3 gold for 2, 5 gold for 3, and 9 gold for 4. The reason the price is hiked for more cards is because taking the cards is your action for the turn.

The Time Warp cards I figure can go in the ultra-future. It makes sense, it's ultra technology. I'm not sure of the price yet, but I'm thinking, perhaps, 3-5 gold per card.

Players alter history by going to the relevant time block, spending an action and either rolling dice or simply flipping the event. If another player is in the same block and doesn't want the event to be flipped, they'll definitely have to roll dice- a US Patent attack/defense. I have to decide if events have their own resistance to change and, if so, how that's determined (probably based on the number or ripples they have in the timestream.)

Overall, pretty simple. On paper and in my head, anyway, the game seems like it's going to play pretty smoothly/intuitively.
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