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Subject: Come for the time travel, stay for the puzzle rss

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François-Marie Arouet
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note: this is my first BGG review. Feedback welcome

What kind of gamer am I?
I would rather play a game for the 10th time than the 1st time. Dominion and 7 Wonders are two of my favorite games. I think "gateway" games are misunderstood and have far more depth than most give them credit for, though I'm agreeable and enjoy playing the likes of Terra Mystica and (losing) Twilight Struggle on occasion. I won't touch traditional wargames or most heavy Euros.

My experience with Temporum
10+ plays, almost all with 2 players. I make no claim to be good at the game.

What's the Temporum "experience"?
(I'm assuming you have a passing familiarity with the concept of the game in this section)
The first time you play the game, you're going to be thrown off by one thing - drawing and playing cards aren't "natural" actions! Each turn is, instead, (optionally) changing time, moving to a zone, and visiting (executing the text on the card) a zone. That's it. It's the zone cards themselves that allow you to draw, play, and score.

This is one of Temporum's greatest tricks - your actions during the game are fairly basic, but this fact is well-hidden without feeling like Temporum is shallow or "cheating" your gaming experience. It only takes 30 "scores" to move your crowns from Age 1 to Age 4 (the victory condition). You won't have to score a terribly large number of cards to accomplish this.

This leads to the real heart of Temporum - this game is tight. In almost all of my two-player games, both players are ready to win on back-to-back turns, leading to some fantastic end-of-game tension. I've sat on what I know will be a winning hand on my next turn, even if my opponent changes time, so I'm sweating bullets because they have no cards but a huge pile of money, and a means to draw and score a card on the same turn (an action that will require some sort of combo) - if they draw a cheap scoring card, they win. Will I even get my next turn and win the game?

(This sort of end-game most directly tells you whether or not you'll like Temporum - if your opponent draws that cheap card, will you complain and say the game came down to luck (which it somewhat did!) or will you begrudgingly see that your opponent carefully created the circumstances required to win on a good draw? Neither is the right answer - just know Temporum will create these moments, and know how you feel about them)

I expect that with more plays some separation should begin to emerge and this kind of ending will become less common as either I get better than my regular opponents or they get better than me. Why? Because it's clear that you've got to be efficient as heck in this game - I suspect that it only takes one or two especially efficient turns to jump out in front of your opponent. That kind of clever duel to be better is what has kept me coming back to Dominion for over 10,000 plays (yes, really) and what makes me strongly suspect I'll keep enjoying this game. Donald X knows what he's doing.

So this is a Donald X game - is it anything like Dominion?
Yes and no, mostly no. EDIT: See this excellent comment (not mine) for another take on this matter.

Like Dominion, the ten random zone cards will make the game start with players studying the board to spot any unique combos. Like Dominion, the entire mechanics aren't changing (Zone 1 cards always score / a Dominion kingdom probably has a way to draw extra cards). That said, to me all Temporum boards are more similar to each other than all Dominion kingdoms.

Like Dominion, it's about being more efficient than your opponent. However, Temporum feels like it has more direct interaction - you can literally move your opponent to another zone. Some Temporum cards will make other players discard, lose money, draw cards, etc.

That's about the end of the similarities, though.

Miscellaneous thoughts
- some components (arrows, money) are a touch disappointing. The arrows are very small (though RGG will be fixing this on future printings and replacing the arrows for those who bought the first printing and want replacements). The money is not double-sided. These are not dealbreakers for gameplay and shouldn't affect your playing/buying decision unless these issues specifically are most important to you in a game
- the art is gorgeous. The game has a consistent look to it, and while I'm not the biggest fan of generic steampunky stuff (not the game's only style - it does involve time travel, after all - but it feels like the "main" one, being on the box and all), it's all done extremely well
- I thought with more players you'd have less control over where you are, as more players change time and move everyone around. It's not nearly as big a change as I expected - possibly because multiple paths can (sometimes) lead to the same zone, possibly because being able to get to that one zone doesn't seem life-or-death
- Temporum is getting requested more among my game group than other games new to us

Final thoughts!
If nothing initially jumped out at you about this game, you can safely pass.

If anything makes you think you want to play Temporum, do it. You'll be richly rewarded when you discover the rest of the game.

Everything I've written above is trumped, though, by one fact: this game features the Age of Cats. Bam. Done.
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Shane Gelven
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I'm looking forward to trying this
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Dustin
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One of these days I'll get a review from someone who doesn't like Dominion :)
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Roger Howell
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SeerMagic wrote:
One of these days I'll get a review from someone who doesn't like Dominion

Ditto that!

Best review on this game so far. I have been on the fence but I know eventually I will own this game.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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SeerMagic wrote:
One of these days I'll get a review from someone who doesn't like Dominion


Probably not any time soon. This is firmly in the Donald X lite-puzzler wheelhouse, and it's unlikely that any who disliked Dominion are going to take the plunge.
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François-Marie Arouet
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kaziam wrote:
Probably not any time soon. This is firmly in the Donald X lite-puzzler wheelhouse, and it's unlikely that any who disliked Dominion are going to take the plunge.


I dunno - I think it's entirely possible for someone to dislike deckbuilding but otherwise be up for this sort of game.

I, too, am interested in the take of a Dominion-hater on this game. If you exist, write a review too!
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Dustin
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tytrain wrote:
I dunno - I think it's entirely possible for someone to dislike deckbuilding but otherwise be up for this sort of game.


exactly.
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Mike DiLisio
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I don't own Dominion. Don't plan on ever owning Dominion. I don't own or particularly like Kingdom Builder. I love this game.
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Sizzla wrote:
I don't own Dominion. Don't plan on ever owning Dominion. I don't own or particularly like Kingdom Builder. I love this game.

Might I ask what elements in Dominion and Kingdom Builder you dislike, and what Temporum has that makes you love it? Thanks.
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Roger Howell
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I don't like Dominion, I like Kingdom Builder. Two different games, nothing the same. I don't own Temporum yet but I think I would like it. I don't see any deck building in this game, why does it keep being compared to Dominion other than it's by the same designer?
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Mike DiLisio
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Stormparkiet wrote:
Sizzla wrote:
I don't own Dominion. Don't plan on ever owning Dominion. I don't own or particularly like Kingdom Builder. I love this game.

Might I ask what elements in Dominion and Kingdom Builder you dislike, and what Temporum has that makes you love it? Thanks.


Sure. I never actually said that I dislike Dominion, but I suppose that could be inferred by saying I don't plan on ever owning it. I appreciate it as the beginning of the deck building craze, but I found it a bit dry, and enjoy other deck builders more. Kingdom Builder I found far too abstract for my taste. Something about Temporum just drew me in at the first play. It's super fast, and you feel like anyone could win at a certain point, which ratchets up the tension.
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Bryan Doughty
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rogerramjet3361 wrote:
I don't like Dominion, I like Kingdom Builder. Two different games, nothing the same. I don't own Temporum yet but I think I would like it. I don't see any deck building in this game, why does it keep being compared to Dominion other than it's by the same designer?


The comparisons are fair because Vaccarino tends to bring a similar design philosophy to most of his games. Most are card games with a simple rule set that provide a diverse play experience through modular set-up and/or variable rules. Dominion is the first and best known game by the designer, and so the easiest point of comparison.
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Justin S.
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tytrain wrote:
kaziam wrote:
Probably not any time soon. This is firmly in the Donald X lite-puzzler wheelhouse, and it's unlikely that any who disliked Dominion are going to take the plunge.


I dunno - I think it's entirely possible for someone to dislike deckbuilding but otherwise be up for this sort of game.

I, too, am interested in the take of a Dominion-hater on this game. If you exist, write a review too!


I doubt she'll write a view, but I actually gave my wife (who doesn't care for Dominion) Temporum as a Xmas gift this year, and she's enjoyed it.

She doesn't like deck builders in general, and this doesn't feel like one. It's a very different sort of puzzle solving. I do like Dominion, but I may try to get her to tag team a review after a couple more plays.

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Roger Howell
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bryanldoughty wrote:
rogerramjet3361 wrote:
I don't like Dominion, I like Kingdom Builder. Two different games, nothing the same. I don't own Temporum yet but I think I would like it. I don't see any deck building in this game, why does it keep being compared to Dominion other than it's by the same designer?


The comparisons are fair because Vaccarino tends to bring a similar design philosophy to most of his games. Most are card games with a simple rule set that provide a diverse play experience through modular set-up and/or variable rules. Dominion is the first and best known game by the designer, and so the easiest point of comparison.


Fair enough, however, Kingdom Builder has simple rules, modular setup, and various winning conditions and it feels nothing like Dominion. Dominion's attribute is deck building and that is what didn't strike me very well. The idea of acquiring cards but only being able to use them at random just didn't click with me. Temporum is indeed a card game but it isn't deck building, and that's why I have a feeling I will like it.
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I don't care for dominion (because of play, draw, repeat, repeat, repeat, accomplish almost nothing, next players turn). I like Kingdom Builder and Splendor a little less than KB. I've played Temporum once and think I will like it more than dominion. It has more variety than Splendor and it plays quicker than the other 3 mentioned so it may hit the table more often, especially with supporting 5 players.
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Ryan Smith
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Temporum and Dominion actually have more in common than you might think. In particular if you like looking for synergies in a set of cards, you'll enjoy Temporum.

It does however avoid a lot of the common complaints that people have about Dominion. Speaking as a big Dominion fan I'd say some of the common complaints are legitimate, others are misguided, and many are legitimate for beginners but fade away at higher skill levels. I won't argue about which are which, but if you hate Dominion there's a good chance you'll care about one or more or these issues.

* People say Dominion doesn't have enough interesting decisions turn by turn: you pick a strategy at the beginning and then play it through to the end. You can't do this in Temporum because you don't necessarily know which Ages will be available, nor do you know what Player cards you will have to work with, and so forth. You have to adapt as you go.

* People say Dominion doesn't have enough player interaction (especially when there are no Attack cards). Temporum has player interaction baked into the core rules: you're always fighting for rulership and changing history which affects other players' options. I have to allow that your first few games may be a little less interactive than normal; in my experience beginners tend to be biased toward the status quo and don't change history as much as they ought to. But you get over that very quickly.


* People say Dominion is dominated by the boring Big Money strategy and its cousins, which turn the game into boring autoplay. Sometimes you try something more adventurous and get beaten by someone who went by the book and it makes you really mad. Of course BM exists for a reason: to guarantee that despite the random setup, there's always at least one decent strategy to follow. Temporum also has a basic general strategy: draw cards, play cards for money, score cards for points. But there are a lot of interesting nuances so that it's never boring to play. Which Zone cards do you use to do these things? Which cards to play and which to score, and in what order? How to place your crowns? How to change history to mess with people? Etc.

* People say Dominion turns can take too long: too much drawing cards and shuffling and so forth. Temporum flows very nicely.

* People say it takes too long to set up Dominion. Temporum is very quick, especially to set up a second game once you already have the board out. You can just grab a handful of cards from each Time pile and put them on the board; there's none of this "shuffle the randomizer deck, get 10 cards, and then go hunt down the real cards in the box."

* People complain about Dominion's theme. Temporum inarguably has a stronger theme. Perversely people seem to complain more about Temporum's theme than Dominion's. I think it's a weird mistaken-expectations thing: few people really expect a game about building a kingdom to be thematic and immersive, but I guess they really wanted a deeply immersive simulation of temporal warfare. I'd love that too, and this isn't it, but that doesn't mean it can't be a good game with some really fun thematic elements.
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Clyde W
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I rank them in this order:
1. Kingdom Builder
2. Temporum
3. Dominion
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I rank them:

1. Dominion
2. Kingdom Builder
3. Temporum
4. Nefarious
5. Greed
6. Gauntlet of Fools
 
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Matt E
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My current order of preference:

1. Dominion
2. Temporum
3. Kingdom Builder
4. Greed
5. Gauntlet of Fools
6. Piña Pirata
7. Infiltration
8. Nefarious
9. Monster Factory


Good to play with my family:

1. Piña Pirata
2. Kingdom Builder
3. Monster Factory
4. Greed
5. Temporum
6. Dominion
7. Gauntlet of Fools
8. Nefarious
9. Infiltration
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Brian B.
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I'll play, too.

1. Dominion
2. Kingdom Builder
3. Nefarious/Greed
4. Gauntlet Of Fools
.
.
.
99. Pina Pirata

Pina Pirata is the only Donald X. game that I haven't enjoyed. They're all otherwise very good, and both Kingdom Builder and Dominion are classics, IMO.

Temporum will be either the new #3 or equal with Greed & Nefarious in the "lower" tier. (Lower relative to Dominion/Kingdom Builder, not the general population of designer boardgames.)

I've played Temporum 7 times, all 2-player, and enjoyed it. Expansions might be needed for me to consider it a 9 or higher. I don't know yet.
 
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